65. Note From the United States to the Soviet Union1

The US has carefully considered the ideas for MIRV limitations set forth by General Secretary Brezhnev in his discussions with Secretary Kissinger.2 As we understand it there are three integral elements: an agreement to limit the number of ICBMs and SLBMs equipped with MIRVs; an agreement to extend the duration of the Interim Agreement; and an agreement to continue the negotiations for a permanent agreement limiting as well as reducing offensive strategic weapons.

The Soviet side indicated that the Interim Agreement could be extended for three years, terminating in October 1980, and in this connection there would be agreed limits on the number of ICBMs and SLBMs equipped with MIRVs: no more than 1,000 for the USSR and no more than 1100 for the US. In addition, it was indicated in Moscow that it would be possible to develop an agreement on the exchange of information to facilitate verification of the agreement on MIRV limitations by national technical means.

The US wishes to present some general considerations concerning this general approach:

1. In light of the differential in the numerical limits in the current Interim Agreement, in the level of ICBMs and SLBMs on each side, the US suggests that a MIRV limitation should be set at about 850 for the USSR and 1100 for the US, if such agreement is to accompany an extension of the Interim Agreement through 1980.

2. If, however, the USSR was prepared to consider an extension of the Interim Agreement, through say 1983, the limits on MIRV missiles, ICBMs and SLBMs, could be adjusted: for the US about 1200 and for the USSR about 1000.

3. Should the Interim Agreement be extended beyond its current expiration date of October 1977, the US would wish to modify the terms of the protocol to the Interim Agreement, which sets a ceiling on the number of modern nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines and on the number of submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The limitations on the US side would be raised by 30 SLBMs, so that the maximum number of SLBMs permitted to the US would be 740 rather than 710 in the current agreement; the number of submarines permitted [Page 257] the US would remain at 44. Except for the net increase in the US level of 30 SLBMs, the US, as stipulated in the current Interim Agreement, would reach the 740 level by dismantling older land based ICBMs and older models of ballistic missile submarines.

4. In addition, there should be a discussion of the timing and manner of commissioning for sea trials of new models of ballistic missile submarines, known in the US as the Trident system. This system would be limited by the provisions of the revised Interim Agreement (i.e., no more than 44 submarines and 740 SLBMs) and would be subject to the ceiling agreed upon for ICBM and SLBM MIRVs. The US would be willing to discuss in this context a schedule of deployments (for sea trials) of these new models, and discuss a similar scheduling for the commissioning for sea trials of comparable Soviet models. The number of new model Tridents would vary, of course, depending on whether the agreement was extended to 1980 or 1983.

5. Finally, some further discussion will be necessary in Geneva or in this channel concerning the verification provisions of a MIRV agreement, particularly the provision for verifying the number of submarines equipped with MIRVs.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1028, Memcons–HAK & Presidential, March 1–May 8, 1974. The note was Tab A to Document 66. A note on the first page indicates the note was sent to Dobrynin by messenger on April 23.
  2. See Documents 60 and 61.
  3. On April 24, Lodal sent Scowcroft a memorandum in which he informed him of “several blunders in the note passed to Dobrynin.” Lodal described four of them: “1) no mention of limits on MLBM MIRVs (SS–18s); 2) numbers for 1980 internally inconsistent; 3) U.S. number for 1983 (1200) somewhat low; 4) Soviet numbers (850 for 1980 and 1000 for 1983) too high.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 891, SALT, SALT TWO–I–Geneva, January 1974)