59. United States Note1

The US is prepared to consider an extension of the Interim Agreement limiting strategic offensive weapons for 2–3 years past its expiration date of October 1977. In this connection some modifications in the agreement might be needed, but the essence of the agreement could be continued.

In this case, we suggest that limitations on ICBM/MIRV missiles be established, for the same period, using the US deployment of Minuteman III ICBMs as the baseline. Thus, the US would be prepared to freeze its ICBM/MIRV deployment to 550 silos, and, on this basis, to establish a ratio between the US deployment and the Soviet deployment. For example, a ratio of 2 to 1 would permit about 270 Soviet ICBMs with MIRV. Under this approach, however, it would be necessary to establish a ceiling on the number of launchers for new Soviet heavy ICBMs (which we designate the SS–18) that could be equipped with MIRVs. This subceiling, in our view, could be expressed as a percentage of the number of heavy ICBM silos that the USSR has currently deployed or under construction. An appropriate percentage might be about 15 percent of the total of Soviet heavy ICBMs.

Other numerical combinations would be possible but only in so far as no significant disparity were created in the total numbers of ICBM multiple re-entry vehicles deployed on each side.

This type of agreement would be verified by national technical means, but certain constraints would be desirable to ensure adequate verification. For example:

—As in the ABM treaty, we should consider geographical limitations on ICBM/MIRV deployment.

—We would want to establish that once any ICBM was fully flight-tested as a MIRV, that missile would then be considered limited under the MIRV agreement, even if its deployment mode was with a single warhead.

—Measures should be agreed to assure that modifications to ICBM launchers and changes in operating procedures will be appropriately constrained at all ICBM complexes, so as to increase confidence that MIRV missile limitations are being observed.

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The foregoing is based on our assumption that negotiations will continue for a comprehensive agreement that would establish essential equivalence between the sides and include a program of phased reductions. An appropriate agreement to this effect would accompany the agreement on MIRV limitations and the extension of the Interim Agreement.

  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 message on the note reads, “Handed to A [Dobrynin] by HAK 7:00 pm 3/21/74.”