51. Minutes of a Meeting of the Verification Panel1


  • SALT


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Kenneth Rush
  • U. Alexis Johnson*
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
  • Seymour Weiss
  • Boris Klosson*
  • Harold Brown*
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Paul Nitze*
  • Frederick Wikner
  • JCS
  • Admiral Thomas H. Moorer
  • LTG Edward Rowny*
  • *Member, SALT Delegation
  • **SCC Chairman
  • CIA
  • LTG Vernon Walters
  • Carl Duckett
  • ACDA
  • Dr. Fred Ikle
  • Sidney Graybeal**
  • Ralph Earle, II*
  • NSC Staff
  • Maj. Gen. Brent Scowcroft
  • Jan Lodal
  • David Aaron
  • Peter Zimmerman
  • Jeanne W. Davis


It was agreed that:

—the Working Group would prepare analysis on:

. . . a conceptual approach on reductions;

. . . the bomber issue;

. . . a new generation of single RV missiles with higher yield and greater accuracy;

. . . a test ban on the SS–X–16;

—the Verification Panel would meet again on Tuesday, February 5;2

—the issues will be discussed with the President in an NSC meeting, hopefully by the end of the week beginning February 4.3

[Page 178]

Secretary Kissinger: Before we have the briefing, I have been getting calls from Senators telling me that certain things musn’t happen—that we must not discuss certain proposals.4 This is absolutely intolerable. We cannot have people making calls to various Senators on their favorite options or on options they don’t want discussed. We have no position yet. We are still discussing this whole issue. But we are going ahead with SALT and we won’t be stopped. No one can stop us from considering a proposal that everyone will have a crack at. We’re not steering this toward some fore-ordained conclusion, but we must not be told what we must not even discuss. It is a great strain on the President to have to answer questions on things he hasn’t even seen or which have not been suggested and may never be suggested. I assure you that nothing will be accepted that all the people around this table don’t know about and haven’t had a chance at. Now, let’s proceed with the briefing.

[Omitted here are Duckett’s briefing and discussion of it.]

Secretary Kissinger: The first issue I’d like to discuss today is that of throw-weight limitations on MIRVs. We have three issues: 1) at what level to set the limitations; 2) whether to include the SLBMs from the beginning or as a fall-back; and 3) if SLBMs are included, whether we should have a sub-limit for ICBM throw-weight, say no more than X number of pounds of throw-weight in ICBMs. That would give freedom to mix but would not permit conversion of SLBM throw-weight to ICBM throw-weight. Positions are shifting so rapidly these days, that I’m not sure I understand where we are. Whether or not SLBMs are included, do we agree on a sub-ceiling for ICBM throw-weight?

Mr. Johnson: In any event, we will probably end with the Soviets having higher land-based ICBM throw-weight which we will balance with higher SLBM throw-weight. If we have an ICBM sub-limit, would that show as inequality in our ICBM throw-weight and Soviet ICBM throw-weight? It could be expressed in terms of an overall ceiling.

Dr. Ikle: As an outcome, we want limitations on Soviet SLBM MIRVing. As a tactical question, we may not want to mention it.

Secretary Kissinger: We have two problems: 1) whether or not to include SLBMs at the outset; and 2) if we agree on a sub-ceiling on ICBMs, whether the ICBM sub-ceiling should be our total proposal or a sub-ceiling of a proposal which includes SLBMs. I’m looking for an isolatable problem.

[Page 179]

Mr. Johnson: I would agree with an ICBM sub-limitation.

Mr. Nitze: There are two ways to go about it: 1) an aggregate of ICBM MIRV throw-weight; or 2) ICBMs no greater than a certain throw-weight could be MIRVed. I would prefer to go in with the second version.

Secretary Kissinger: My ambition is extremely modest. If we accept Paul’s (Nitze) second proposition, a sub-ceiling on ICBM MIRVs could be explained as total MIRV throw-weight of which no greater than X amount of ICBM throw-weight could be MIRVed. Could this group discuss a figure?

Gen. Rowny: If the total is low enough, we don’t need a sub-limit. We would be better not to have one.

Secretary Kissinger: I have seen no figure low enough to make this irrelevant.

Dr. Ikle: It doesn’t make a decisive difference if all their throw-weight up to 4.8 million pounds is in ICBMs. There would be some advantage to us, but not much. They have higher accuracy with ICBM MIRVs than with SLBMs.

Secretary Kissinger: It’s harder to launch a counter-force attack from submarines than with an ICBM. We’d be better off to reduce ICBM MIRV throw-weight to the lowest possible level. But an upper limit on ICBMs would be desirable.

Adm. Moorer: The higher accuracy of the land-based missile over the sea-based missile won’t prevail indefinitely. There’s no point in paying something for it.

Secretary Kissinger: No one is being asked to pay anything for it. The Soviet ICBM warhead is larger than ours. We think it can be made more accurate. We haven’t seen a MIRV on a SLBM, but we are reasonably confident that they will be smaller and less accurate. We have no program for additional missiles or for additional MIRVs on land-based missiles. What are we paying? If we constrain them to our ceiling on land-based programs, what are we giving up?

Dr. Ikle: It’s a question of how much we insist.

Secretary Kissinger: Once we have a position, we can make up a fall-back. But if you are more at ease with discussing the fall-back, I’m willing to do anything in order to discuss numbers. Let’s first address the question of what our proposal should be, then what we would give up.

Dr. Brown: I’m not one of those people who equate the survivability of Minuteman with the survivability of the United States, but the more we can limit the Soviet ability to knock out Minuteman, the better we are.

[Page 180]

Secretary Kissinger: We have two options on MIRV throw-weight. [2 lines not declassified]

Gen. Rowny: That costs nothing and gains us something.

Secretary Kissinger: We can’t prove it would cost us nothing. But it might be desirable to set the limit [less than 1 line not declassified]

Adm. Moorer: [2 lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: If we do it by blocks, we don’t need MIRV throw-weight limits.

Mr. Nitze: We would have to limit the size of the missiles in the blocks.

Secretary Kissinger: We’re reserving MFN to give them in exchange for a change in the Soviet system! We can’t use it for this, too. What would we give up for changing missiles in blocks? I can construct a package so it would look good to Senator Jackson, but how would we get it?

Mr. Nitze: Is it in our interest to have them MIRV nothing but the SS–X–16s?

Secretary Kissinger: In existing holes?

Mr. Nitze: Yes. The –16 is as big as Minuteman III. It is in our interest that they MIRV the –16 rather than the –19. But the question of negotiability is another issue.

Secretary Kissinger: Does anyone really believe they will scrap the –17, –18 and –19? For what?

Mr. Nitze: I agree there is a negotiability problem.

Mr. Rush: But there are degrees of negotiability.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. But it has to be in a framework that makes sense to us and has a chance of being negotiated.

Let’s talk about block limitations. If we do it by blocks, we don’t need throw-weight limitations. If we put the limit at 2.4 million and they deploy their –16s, they can MIRV all their holes. The utility of throw-weight limits is that it leaves the composition of their forces up to each side. The treaty could be written to allow for MIRVing of “light” or “medium” missiles. If we use throw-weight limits, it permits each side to compose its forces by its own criteria. [2 lines not declassified] And the limitations would have to say no missile tested in a MIRV mode beyond the limits set by the throw-weight limitations. [less than 1 line not declassified] Otherwise, we couldn’t have throw weight limits. [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: Right.

Secretary Kissinger: We would have to weigh the risk of cheating [less than 1 line not declassified] as opposed to MIRVing 1100 holes with –17s and –19s. Under the block approach we would weigh the number [Page 181] of warheads and the throw-weight of all Minutemen and all 1100 –17s and –19s. That would mean a substantial disparity in both deliverable warheads and throw-weight.

Mr. Nitze: We could have the block approach at lower levels and phase out some Minutemen and ICBMs.

Secretary Kissinger: Not in the first phase.

Mr. Johnson: The two things are not mutually exclusive. We could set throw-weight limits. Then by working through the verification problem we might come out with the block approach.

Dr. Ikle: The block approach means no MIRV limitations on the –19s.

Secretary Kissinger: No MIRVs on MLBMs.

Dr. Ikle: And possible limits on SLBMs later.

Secretary Kissinger: The operational significance is that they will put –18s in the holes. We would be proposing a unilateral ban on MLBM MIRVing.

Dr. Ikle: It might be premature to go for blocks before we have tried for some collateral constraints.

Secretary Kissinger: It’s not inconsistent to have throw-weight limitations coupled with reductions. That’s not inconceivable. We cannot ask the Soviets to tear down all their MIRVed missiles, but we can relate reductions to throw-weight limits. If there are an equal number of MIRVed missiles, we can probably say that the non-MIRVed missiles would be the first candidates for reduction. If they opt for the –19s, we can’t get all the non-MIRVed missiles eliminated. We would wind up with unequal numbers in our favor. Having the first candidate the un-MIRVed missiles would be compatible with the throw-weight approach but not the block approach. It’s not compatible if we want the MLBMs torn down. We all want them torn down, but no one has told us how to do it.

Could we discuss, without prejudice, the various arguments for the 2.4 million pound limitation as opposed to the 1.3 million pound.

Mr. Nitze: 1.3 is better for us, [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Nitze: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: 2.4 enables them to MIRV 440 –19s. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Mr. Nitze: But they could put –16s in unMIRVed holes.

Adm. Moorer: [less than 1 line not declassified] All they have to do is read our budget.

Secretary Kissinger: [2 lines not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [2 lines not declassified]

[Page 182]

Mr. Clements: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Duckett: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Dr. Brown: One advantage of the 1.3 figure is that we have it and we don’t have 2.4.

Gen. Rowny: Neither do they.

Secretary Kissinger: The 2.4 figure means that under a SALT agreement we would be building more than we would have if there had been no agreement.

Mr. Weiss: But we wouldn’t have to.

Secretary Kissinger: The worst possible thing would be to agree to limitations to which they would almost certainly build up and we would not.

Dr. Wikner: We might put them to sea.

Adm. Moorer: That argument that we won’t do something so we might as well forget it—you can’t explain that to the public or the Congress. They won’t accept an agreement that permits them to do something that we can’t do.

Secretary Kissinger: There has been too much demagoguery on SALT I. In the five years we have been talking about this, I have never heard of any new U.S. MLBM or SLBM program. They were permitted to keep something they already had. They were not permitted to do something they had not done. And what did they get? What did we give up? If anyone was stopped somewhere, it was they, not we.

Adm. Moorer: I’m not talking about SALT I.

Secretary Kissinger: What if there had been no SALT I? They would have gone on digging holes. And they would have had 82 submarines at the rate of 9 a year. And we would have had nothing on our side.

Adm. Moorer: I have made this argument again and again before Congress. But they zero in on the idea that they were permitted something we can’t have.

Secretary Kissinger: It would be easier to negotiate the block approach. But our conclusion had been that equal numbers of MIRVed vehicles would give the Soviets more RVs and more throw-weight. That’s the reason we went to throw-weight limitations. We would give them a smaller number of MIRVed vehicles and a slightly larger number of RVs for equal throw-weight.

Dr. Ikle: 1600 for us and 2600 for them.

Secretary Kissinger: That depends on how they MIRVed. At 1.3 it would be 1440 vs. 1650 MIRVed ICBM RVs. At 2.4 the MIRVed vehicles would be slightly larger.

[Page 183]

Mr. Johnson: A sub-limit on ICBMs is desirable and the lower the better.

Secretary Kissinger: Are throw-weight limitations on MIRVs the best way to approach it? If we have equal numbers, unless we force them to the –16s, this would be a disadvantage to us. If we have an ICBM sub-limit, do we agree the lower the better? Should it be at 1.3, the present program?

Dr. Brown: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: There are two points. First, they could not deploy the –19, –18 or –17 except by having it counted toward the MIRV limitation. Under the throw-weight limitations, theoretically we don’t care. The more 18s they have, the fewer missiles they would have. [3 lines not declassified]

Mr. Nitze: We could handle this by a MIRV testing ban on the –16. But if we plan to maintain our [number not declassified] Minuteman holes, Shchukin will say, as he has said before, that our MIRV proposal isn’t verifiable. Since he claims they couldn’t verify our compliance, we could forget about verification of the Soviet side. We have argued that they can read our Congressional Record and other public documents and find out anything they want to know, but they would say they couldn’t tell whether we were putting Minuteman III in the additional holes. That’s technically correct, and we would have a hard time getting any correlation.

Secretary Kissinger: We probably ought to start with 1.3 although we may have to go to 2.4.

Mr. Nitze: Or offer to dismantle additional Minuteman holes.

Secretary Kissinger: What would we ask them to dismantle? At 1.3 they have 240 SS–19 holes. Would you dismantle an equal number of holes?

Mr. Nitze: The logic of the position is better even if they don’t accept it.

Secretary Kissinger: We would dismantle [number not declassified] missiles and they would dismantle 850. That would mean numerical inequality and inequality of RVs at 1.3. That’s just not do-able. I buy the proposition that we should offer reductions of non-MIRVed Minuteman. What would we propose they reduce? We could do it in terms of equal throw-weight. If the throw-weight equals [number not declassified] Minutemen.

Mr. Nitze: I would have no embarrassment in offering to reduce Minuteman to [number not declassified] to make it verifiable, then say “you do the same.” They will say they can’t because they would end with unequal numbers. We could then say “not if you MIRV the smaller missile.”

[Page 184]

Secretary Kissinger: If we want a sensible agreement, we have to consider what the Soviet Government can reasonably be asked to do. They can’t go from 1100 to 240 holes. They can be asked to go to equal aggregates or go to equal throw-weight.

Mr. Johnson: Do we assume they will MIRV all their SLBMs?

Mr. Nitze: When you look at the end point, we can’t stick on the 1.3 level for them.

Secretary Kissinger: My experience in negotiating with the Soviets is that if you give them a basic concept you have a chance of getting a negotiation. If you play around with numbers and take a tough position, they will do the same. That’s the reason I’m relaxed about throw-weight. We have a concept. But I don’t know the concept of reductions so I’m less relaxed with that. In the face of what’s happening to them here—MFN, Solzhenitsyn, etc.—if they are confronted with proposals which they believe are completely cynical they may say “the hell with it.”

Mr. Duckett: A rough calculation, if they used all the new holes and didn’t convert any more, they would arrive at around the 1.3 figure.

Secretary Kissinger: I like Paul’s (Nitze) idea of reductions. Let’s see if the Working Group can quickly come up with a conceptual approach to reductions. That wouldn’t be a bad position to have, but we shouldn’t debate it without having the analysis.

(Gen. Scowcroft was called from the meeting)

Dr. Wikner: We have the variation of Option B which has been discussed in the Working Group. That is 4.8 million pounds of MIRVed throw-weight with proposed reductions of unMIRVed land-based ICBMs. Each side would have 550 MIRVed missiles, and the U.S. would have more at sea. There would be no sub-limits. This would be less divisive but would have the same numbers.

Mr. Aaron: They would tear down twice as many launchers.

Dr. Wikner: They would have larger reductions in ICBMs.

Mr. Weiss: The numbers would be the same as Option B for us. Why is there different throw-weight?

Secretary Kissinger: You don’t have sub-limits for ICBMs or SLBMs.

Mr. Johnson: Each side chooses what it wants.

Mr. Aaron: They could MIRV all their –18s.

Secretary Kissinger: What if they put their 4.8 million pounds into ICBMs?

Dr. Wikner: They would have no SLBMs.

Mr. Nitze: They would have 881 if they kept all their –19s.

[Page 185]

Adm. Moorer: And 300 if they kept their big missiles.

Mr. Johnson: It would be easier not to have sub-limits if that is bearable. In the overall aggregate, each side is free to do what it chooses.

Secretary Kissinger: The 4.8 figure is exactly our program. We’d be asking them to stop at our level.

Dr. Wikner: They have four ICBMs under test.

Mr. Johnson: We could phase out [number not declassified] Minutemen and 300 bombers, perhaps.

Dr. Wikner: Or we could phase down to 450 B–52s. We don’t have to build the B–1.

Gen. Rowny: If we have the 4.8 figure, equal throw-weight of MIRVed missiles is sensible and defensible. If we go to a higher number, we should look at sub-limits on ICBMs. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: [1 line not declassified] If there is no sub-limit, they have to tell us how they plan to compose their force. [1 line not declassified]

Dr. Wikner: We would speak of the number of land-based MIRVed missiles.

Dr. Ikle: Let the sides choose and declare what sub-limits they have chosen.

Mr. Clements: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: That is the vaguest of all possibilities. They could have 800-plus –17s or –19s. It would take them 5–8 years to reach that level. Until the end of the third or fourth year we wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. Then they could begin thinking of SLBM MIRVs. [1 line not declassified]

Dr. Ikle: We would need some sort of declaration.

Secretary Kissinger: If we need a declaration, we would have sub-limits. We would either make the statement in the agreement or sign the agreement then notify the other side. It would still be a free choice. The high limit, without sub-ceilings offers the greatest possibility of cheating. They probably wouldn’t deploy more than 80 missiles in a year. Have they ever deployed more?

Mr. Nitze: Yes, 200 once.

(General Scowcroft returned)

Mr. Duckett: [1½ lines not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: If the sub-limits are “no greater than,” they would not be symmetrical. They can’t dig holes on land while they are bringing their SLBMs along. Throw-weight limits without a ceiling at the high level are practically no agreement at all.

[Page 186]

Mr. Nitze: Unless you have radical reductions.

Dr. Brown: The lower the MIRV sub-limits, the slower Minuteman becomes vulnerable.

Dr. Wikner: Single RVs are as useful for attacking silos as MIRVs. [less than 1 line not declassified]

Gen. Rowny: Without reductions, it’s not a viable program.

Secretary Kissinger: How about a continued arms program—is that a viable program? If we have a prohibition against putting new missiles into holes capable of handling MIRVed missiles, they wouldn’t have a first strike capability unless they got greatly improved accuracy. If you count any missile put into an existing hole as MIRVed, we would have a restraint for the considerable future. I like the reduction option if we can come up with a concept. The Working Group will spend a day or two quickly on this option. But if they have substantial MIRV forces plus an accurate single RV, that would be tough.

Dr. Wikner: (to Mr. Duckett) Can the Soviets improve the SS–11 with the existing guidance system?

Mr. Duckett: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Dr. Ikle: There is the question of restrictions on single RVs and on testing.

Secretary Kissinger: We would need a test ban on the –16.

Dr. Ikle: And on future missiles with a single RV of higher yield and greater accuracy.

Secretary Kissinger: If they’re willing to give up anything it will probably be the –16.

Mr. Johnson: That could be deployed as a mobile. If they tested it with MIRV then went mobile, [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: All of this will have to go to an NSC meeting. The President can’t decide this on the basis of a piece of paper. I would hope to get an NSC by the end of next week. Whatever ICBM limits we have we would have to include mobiles.

Mr. Duckett: [4 lines not declassified]

Mr. Clements: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: What is your thinking on an SLBM ceiling?

Mr. Clements: We passed around a paper on Option B and a variant, B–2. Either would accomplish what we want. We’d be better off with the whole freedom to mix situation as opposed to sub-limits.

Adm. Moorer: I agree.

Secretary Kissinger: Why is it in our interest, since we retain freedom to mix in our submarine force, to give them the option to develop the largest number of ICBMs—the thing they do best? It is to our [Page 187] advantage to limit their ICBM MIRVing. What do we gain by giving them the maximum number of ICBMs?

Mr. Nitze: It’s negotiable. We need 3.5 million pounds of throw-weight for our SLBM program. We want 1.3 million for ICBMs. That’s an aggregate of 4.8.

Secretary Kissinger: We can’t sell 1.3 land-based and 3.5 SLBMs.

Mr. Nitze: We have confidence in the survivability of our SLBMs. Unless they phase out the SS–9s, they have a potential missile throw-weight of 12–15 million pounds. We can’t meet that because Congress won’t permit us to build a single RV missile. Strategically, we can meet it by having a lot of survivors at sea.

Secretary Kissinger: If there is no agreement, that is guaranteed to happen. In the absence of an agreement this is a certainty.

Mr. Nitze: With an agreement, it is a certainty.

Mr. Clements: We made that choice years ago to go to SLBMs rather than ICBMs.

Dr. Ikle: Depending on the reductions, we might accept a lower number of SLBMs.

Mr. Nitze: If we can get reductions. That’s not certain. In the absence of reductions, with MIRVed throw-weight limits we are faced with a big differential.

Mr. Clements: And we won’t start digging any new silos for ICBMs.

Mr. Nitze: Limited to single RVs.

Dr. Brown: We also have our bomber force.

Mr. Nitze: It is hard to justify a difference in missile throw-weight by bombers.

Mr. Weiss: Why not, if in theory we have the capability to go from bombers to SLBMs.

Mr. Nitze: Congress won’t let us build SLBMs with single RVs.

Secretary Kissinger: I get tough letters after every one of these meetings from Congressmen saying they have never refused to do the right thing and we should not sell out the country by dropping Trident on the ground that Congress won’t fund it. Why couldn’t we get single RVs?

Mr. Clements: We don’t want them.

Secretary Kissinger: Exactly

Dr. Brown: A large discrepancy in single RV throw-weight is not that important.

Secretary Kissinger: If we need single RV equivalence, we should go to the Congress and try to get it.

[Page 188]

Mr. Clements: Alex (Johnson) should encourage the Soviets to dig more holes and put bigger missiles in them. The bigger the holes, and the missiles and the bigger the single RVs, the better.

Secretary Kissinger: Bill, with that remark you have outstripped the intellectual capacity of this group. At 4.8, one of two things is true: either single RVs don’t make a difference or they do. The easy way to deal with it is through reductions.

Mr. Nitze: They do make a difference but not as much.

Dr. Brown: Not enough for us to want to match them.

Secretary Kissinger: We can’t attack an agreement on the ground that we won’t do the things necessary to maintain it that are permitted us. Throw-weight limits on MIRVs won’t limit single RV deployment in the absence of an agreement. It is in our advantage to match the Soviet single RVs if we want to. I have ten votes from Congressmen who say they will vote anything the Administration asks.

Dr. Ikle: The option is freedom to mix.

Secretary Kissinger: We’re agreed on freedom to mix. Let’s go over again what is in the 3.5 figure. I’m just trying to understand it.

Mr. Nitze: That is our program. It’s reasonable. It gives us a large number of missiles at sea, about half of which are alert and survivable.

Secretary Kissinger: This gives us 10 Trident boats instead of Polaris.

Adm. Moorer: Polaris is unMIRVed.

Dr. Brown: If we pick the smaller number, there is no room for MIRVed Trident except as replacements for Poseidon.

Secretary Kissinger: Once tested as a MIRV, Trident must be counted as MIRVed. It would be the same as the –18. Suppose Trident were a replacement for some Poseidons.

Dr. Wikner: You would have a smaller number of missiles, larger throw-weight and longer range.

Adm. Moorer: Ultimately we will do it.

Mr. Clements: In twenty years.

Adm. Moorer: Any agreement will be built up by each side in terms of their current programs. It won’t be a mirror image.

Secretary Kissinger: I agree. One advantage of the MIRV throw-weight concept is that each side composes its forces with its existing weapons. There are no numbers games with weapons of different character. At anything less than 3.5, we would trade Trident for Poseidon, but it would not be on a one-for-one submarine basis.

Mr. Weiss: We could trade Minuteman III.

Secretary Kissinger: We couldn’t trade one Trident for one Poseidon missile.

[Page 189]

Mr. Zimmerman: Trident I is less than Poseidon. Trident II could have more throw-weight at shorter range.

Secretary Kissinger: What is the advantage of the Trident I missile?

Mr. Lodal: Longer range and less vulnerability.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s not affected by throw-weight.

Mr. Lodal: That’s right.

Secretary Kissinger: We can’t put the Trident II missile in the Poseidon boat. The II missile needs the new submarine. For each Trident II missile, we would retire how many Poseidons?

Mr. Lodal: Not quite 1½.

Secretary Kissinger: For two Trident boats, we would retire three Poseidons.

Mr. Zimmerman: The Trident II is not designed yet. We can have more throw-weight at shorter range.

Secretary Kissinger: The Soviets would count Trident II at maximum throw-weight. If we have throw-weight limits of less than 3.5, we would be trading Poseidon for Trident. We don’t have to settle this now. If we had sub-limits it would keep us free to go to 3.5 in SLBMs. Now I see how you got to 4.8. You’d be telling the Soviets to put most of their MIRV throw-weight in programs that are not yet designed. If you have a sub-limit on land-based MIRVs of 1.3, with 3.5 in SLBMs you have given them an insulting proposal. You would be telling them they would have to put most of their MIRVed throw-weight in a missile no one has even seen. And that is likely to be less good than their land-based missiles. That makes no sense for them.

Adm. Moorer: Don’t forget they had a 4200 mile missile six years before we did.

Secretary Kissinger: I’m in favor of ICBM sub-limits. But at these limits I don’t think they will take it.

Mr. Johnson: The first telegram I send after I make that proposal would be to say that the Soviets had replied that they could give such a proposal no serious consideration without knowing our proposal on bombers and bomber armament.

Secretary Kissinger: That would be included in the total aggregate.

Mr. Clements: Yes, that’s not MIRVed throw-weight.

Secretary Kissinger: Do they assert we would put MIRVs on bombers?

Mr. Johnson: They say long-range missiles on bombers are the same as MIRVs.

Secretary Kissinger: Why?

Adm. Moorer: You can have four bombs in the bomb-bay that go four different places.

Mr. Weiss: They will raise the throw-weight issue on bombers.

[Page 190]

Secretary Kissinger: They won’t raise the bomber issue under MIRV throw-weight limits, but they will in total throw-weight limits. They may raise the question of bomber armament. I assume we’re not putting MIRVs on bombers.

Mr. Clements: That’s semantics.

Mr. Johnson: Our previous position was that we would not put air-to-surface missiles on bombers over a 3000-kilometer range. Their position was not to exceed 600 kilometers.

Secretary Kissinger: MIRV or aggregate?

Mr. Johnson: Aggregate.

Secretary Kissinger: I think bomber armament will come up. They will want assurances there are no MIRVs on bombers.

Adm. Moorer: We already have them. [1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: My judgment is that they are likely to raise the armament issue on the bombers.

Mr. Weiss: In reply we can raise the question of their substantial air defense as we have in the past.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s have the Working Group work out the reductions concept and look at the bomber issue. They should also look at a new generation of missiles and a test-ban on the –16s. We’ll have another Verification Panel meeting on Tuesday of next week.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–108, Verification Panel Minutes, Originals, 3–15–72 to 6–4–74 [4 of 5]. Top Secret; Nodis; Codeword. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. The next Verification Panel meeting was on February 15. See Document 54.
  3. The next NSC meeting was not until March 21. See Document 58.
  4. According to Kissinger’s telephone transcripts from January 23 to 29, the Secretary spoke with Senator Scott on January 23, 3:46 p.m.; Senator Fulbright on January 23, 4:25 p.m.; Senator Stennis on January 28, 2:45 p.m.; and Senator Mansfield on January 29, 4:09 p.m. He discussed SALT only with Fulbright. (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations)