57. Note From the United States to the Soviet Union1

For the past several weeks the U.S. and Soviet Delegations in Geneva have been presenting some general considerations on a SALT agreement arising out of the review that both sides have undertaken. In particular, the U.S. Delegation has set forth a number of concepts which could form the basis for a comprehensive agreement on strategic offensive arms. In this confidential channel, the U.S. side believes it would be worthwhile to concentrate on the most urgent of these concepts; namely, controls on qualitative changes which threaten to upset the strategic balance. In anticipation of Secretary Kissinger’s impending visit, the U.S. side wishes to set forth its views on a most significant as [Page 211] pect of qualitative change, with the aim of reaching agreement or narrowing our differences to the point that a common framework for a SALT agreement will be ready for consideration at the highest political levels.

The U.S. side has already discussed in a preliminary manner a new concept for limiting MIRVs. In our view, an appropriate means to achieve such equality is to limit the aggregate throw weight of the MIRVed missiles of each side to an agreed equal level.

It would be necessary to agree to procedures which would ensure that the elements of any agreement are adequately verifiable. This is particularly difficult in the case of verifying the deployment levels of MIRV missiles. Both sides will need to examine mutual measures to assure that the following basic principles are met:

—Once a missile has been fully flight tested with MIRVs, all launchers in which that missile is deployed shall be counted as containing MIRVs.

—The deployment of ICBMs with MIRVs shall be limited to specific fields (complexes). Furthermore, all launchers at MIRV fields shall be counted as containing MIRV missiles.

—Modification to launchers and changes in operating procedures which would permit the deployment of missiles with MIRVs shall be prohibited except at ICBM fields designated as MIRV fields.

The U.S. side understands, of course, that other solutions to the general problem of achieving equal limitations on MIRV deployments are possible. It would greatly facilitate progress if the Soviet side could now indicate whether it would be willing to accept the principle of equal limitations on the deployment of MIRVed missiles and would present its position.

The U.S. side will give serious and immediate consideration to any views the Soviet side is prepared to express on the various aspects of qualitative restrictions on strategic arms.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Geopolitical File, 1964–1978, Box CL 232, Soviet Union, Chronological File, March–April 1974. No classification marking. A handwritten note reads: “Handed to Dobrynin by Secretary 1:00 p.m. March 20 1974.” According to February 22 memorandum from Lodal, Hyland, and Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, they prepared a draft of this note for use by the Secretary in his confidential channel with Dobrynin. The initial draft contained “some more detail: i.e., a suggestion that 2350 be the starting point for numerical limits, a suggestion that the ICBM MIRV throw weight level should be the current planned US level (about 500) and some indication of the verification problems including stopping testing and restricting silo modifications.” (Ibid., Soviet Union, Chronological File, September 1973–February 1974)