76. Minutes of a Meeting of the National Security Council1


  • SALT


  • The President
  • Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger
  • Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger
  • Director of Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Fred Ikle
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General George S. Brown
  • Deputy Director of Central Intelligence General Vernon A. Walters


  • State
  • Deputy Secretary Robert Ingersoll
  • Defense
  • Deputy Secretary William Clements
  • CIA
  • Carl Duckett
  • White House
  • Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, Assistant to the President
  • Lt Gen Brent Scowcroft
  • NSC
  • Jan M. Lodal

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT II.]

[President Ford:] We have some important decisions which have to be reached. We have to give guidance to Henry and our negotiators for use in their contacts with the Soviet Union leading up to a SALT agreement, if one is achievable. I understand that you have had some previous meetings in which you went over various options. Henry, would you like to proceed and explain the options to us?

Secretary Kissinger: Mr. President, rather than give you the packages we have studied, I will give you the major issues involved. After we have had some discussion here and received some guidance, we can take the packages and put them into options which can be considered at another NSC meeting that could take place in about two weeks.

In considering the major issues, we have to keep in mind three aspects:

—The projected programs of each side, as far as we can foresee them now,

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—The internal design of the forces on each side,

—The negotiating history of SALT thus far.

The negotiating history affects our choice, since making a dramatic change from our past positions would have foreign policy implications even apart from the substance of the change itself.

We have no formal program for the 1980s—our present projections stop at about 1980. Thus, we have great flexibility in composing our program for the 1980s. This is one of the bargaining chips we have—Soviet fear that we might go into a full-scale race.

At present, we have 1000 Minuteman ICBMs, 496 MIRVed Poseidon SLBMs, 160 Polaris, and 250 B–52 bombers. We are also holding some 50 older ICBMs and 200 older B–52 bombers in the force structure until we have a SALT agreement, even though we would prefer to phase out these older systems even now for budgetary reasons.

Once we have deployed our new Trident system, which will have about 240 missiles, and our B–1, of which there will be 240, we could envisage a force structure containing about 2,000 missiles and bombers in the 1980s—1,000 Minuteman ICBMs, 740 SLBMs, including 240 Trident, and 240 bombers. In addition, we could keep older B–52s, and increase the number of Tridents and B–1s. But these 2,000 are the planned forces. Thus, if we accepted a number like 2,000, we would have to cut nothing planned out of our forces.

President Ford: The 2,000 number assumes all launch vehicles we now have planned?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, except that we would phase out the older Polaris and B–52s.

Secretary Schlesinger: We could easily keep 250 B–52s into the 1990s, giving us a level of about 2250.

Secretary Kissinger: We have considerable flexibility. We could stop at 2,000, or go to 2250, without excessive restraint on our programs.

In contrast, the Soviets probably plan to keep a force of about 2500 missiles and bombers—1400 ICBMs, 950 SLBMs, and 150 bombers. This is their projected level under the current agreement. They also have some flexibility—when the Interim Agreement expires in 1977, they could dig new holes, keeping their older SS–11s. My impression is that it would be cheaper for them to dig these new holes than to modify the old ones. Nonetheless, 2500 seems to be a good working number for the Soviet program.

The design of the forces on both sides is further affected by the fact that the two sides have taken different routes. First, we have our heavy bombers, but the Soviets’ are obsolete. They have not built a new one since the late 1950s. Second, we have smaller missiles with less throw [Page 323] weight, but with better accuracy. They have larger missiles, so far of lesser quality than the US missiles, but with higher throw weight which could eventually be convertible into better accuracy, more warheads, and increased yields. In SLBMs, our systems are far superior. The portion of throw weight in SLBMs versus land-based missiles is reversed for the two sides; the US has chosen about 2 to 1 in favor of SLBMs, while the Soviets have chosen 6 or 7 to 1 in favor of the land-based missiles.

President Ford: This difference is in throw weight?

Secretary Kissinger: In throw weight, but also in qualitative and other factors, the US has emphasized SLBMs and the Soviets ICBMs. The Soviets have not yet tested an SLBM MIRV. During my March trip, Brezhnev said they would not do so until the late 1970s and indicated that they were considerably behind in this technology.

Secretary Schlesinger: Given the backward state of Soviet computer technology, all the throw weight of their SLBMs might be devoted to computers alone once they start to MIRV them.

Secretary Kissinger: These differences between the two sides have been reflected in the negotiating history. In particular, whenever we have sought equal aggregates, we have been confronted with the Soviet argument that our FBS have to be taken into account. We have also sought limitations on throw weight, but in all cases, these limits would have forced the Soviets either to redesign their systems or accept a larger disparity in numbers.

For example, in Moscow last March, I proposed equal throw weight on ICBMs equipped with MIRVs, but no restraints on SLBM MIRVs.2 Brezhnev wouldn’t listen to this because of the US advantage in SLBMs. He said we wanted no restraint on technology in which we were good, while we were trying to constrain the technology in which they were good.

In both March and June, we attempted to deal with MIRV limitations.3 We proposed to the Soviets that we would accept the Interim Agreement figures through 1979 if they would accept a disparity in MIRV launchers of 1,100 for the US versus 700 for the Soviets in that period. They rejected this, even though we gave them unequal aggregates in the total. Thus, they must plan more than 700 MIRVs by 1974 or they wouldn’t have rejected it.

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The Soviets also rejected sublimits on ICBMs, although I think there may be a loophole here concerning the larger missile. They might agree not to MIRV their heavy ICBM.

This is a crude summary of the issues as they have emerged in the negotiations and as they affect our assessment of what proposals they might find acceptable.

I would now like to go through the major issues. First, the question of limits on aggregate numbers. The simplest proposal would be to limit both sides to an equal number of missiles and bombers, say 2,000.

President Ford: Two thousand each?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, leaving the composition of the forces to each side. We would reach 2,000 by giving up our older B–52s and Polaris to get where we plan to be at by 1980—ten Trident submarines, 240 B–1 bombers, and 1,000 Minuteman.

Secretary Schlesinger: It would be 1985 before we had the Trident and B–1.

Secretary Kissinger: We would be at the composition I described by ’85, by having to phase out only our older B–52s and Polaris.

I am not bothering you now with exactly how we would get there, but there are questions such as whether we would permit a bulge in the numbers or not. To be negotiable, we would probably have to permit 2400 in ’75 and then go down. But this is true about any proposal for the total aggregate; we would have to permit some kind of a bulge before we go down.

Deputy Secretary Clements: We would want some kind of numerical limit on the size of the bulge.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. We would have to have a ceiling, and a floor which would be reached before the agreement expires. Otherwise, the Soviets could run up against the deadline before taking their reductions. My guess is that by 1983 we would want to be at the final level.

In terms of planned programs, the Soviet reductions would be more severe than ours. Furthermore, we would face arguments about FBS, our Allies, etc. We would also face internal arguments here.

The equal aggregates approach would also mean our giving up on proposals we had made for the last one and a half years on MIRV limits. This would require a thorough analysis on the Soviet side of why we had given up on MIRV limits. It is my guess that they would presume we were up to something—probably that we planned an all-MIRVed force. Finally, under the equal aggregates approach, there would be a domestic debate on what we had achieved. The agreement would cap off the numerical levels, but leave qualitative issues open.

President Ford: There would be no MIRV limits on either us or them?

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Secretary Kissinger: Under this model, no. This approach would let each side design its own forces. If we wanted more throw weight, we could increase it; if we were worried about the number of MIRVs, we could increase that, also. The agreement would set a basic cap—there could be no unlimited quantitative arms race. But we would be giving up on qualitative restraints. The Soviets would presume we intended to MIRV all our missiles. Undoubtedly, they would do the same.

Another alternative is that equal aggregates could be combined with qualitative limits. Equal aggregates could stand alone, or it could be combined with measures such as equality of throw weight, either total missiles, or land-based missiles, or MIRV throw weight. One option we have considered is equal aggregates plus limits on missile throw weight to 6 million pounds.

President Ford: On the total throw weight?

Secretary Kissinger: On the total missile throw weight; there would be no bombers included in the calculation. This approach would present a negotiating problem, since the Soviets want bombers included. They want to have a ceiling on the throw weight of bombers.

Under a 6 million-pound limit, it would be difficult for the Soviet Union, with the missiles they have, to reach substantial numbers. If they wanted large numbers, they would have to go to more submarine MIRV missiles. They would have to dismantle all their heavy missiles, and could deploy only about 400 SS–17s and 19s out of a potential 1030. And they would have to reduce their SLBM single RV force by about 200.

Under this throw weight limit, it is hard to say exactly how they would compose such a force, but if they wanted to take their throw weight all in SS–17s and 19s, they could have no more than 900 missiles, and they would have to give up all those submarines and other ICBMs.

President Ford: How do we know they have limited themselves to 6 million pounds?

Secretary Kissinger: We know which missiles they have deployed. We know that the 17 and 19 have about 7,000 pounds throw weight, and the 18 has about 14,000 pounds.

President Ford: So we just add them up.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, and we know when they have deployed one of their new missiles, because they have redesigned their silos for the new missiles. When we see a redesigned silo, we have to assume it has a new missile in it.

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Mr. Duckett: We now have some encouraging information in that we have seen a new version of their SS–11 missile undergoing deployment in 420 of their silos. This leaves only 610 candidates for deployment of the SS–17 and 19.

President Ford: That is a large throw weight missile?

Mr. Duckett: No, it is relatively small—about the size of our Minuteman.

Secretary Kissinger: In those 420 silos, they will be putting a missile much like our Polaris A–3—an unMIRVed multiple warhead missile. That would leave them 610 candidates for MIRVing, plus most of their 300-missile S–9 force.

The point is that with a 6 million pound throw weight limit, they could have only about 850 SS–17s and 19s, and to get to that level, they would have to give up all their heavy SS–18s and their submarine missiles. An optimum combination for them would probably be about 400 SS–17s and 19s, keeping SS–11 for the rest of their ICBMs, and reducing their submarines by about 170. Thus, the major point is that a throw weight restriction represents not just a numbers problem. It would force the Soviets to a major redesign of their force or to smaller missiles.

One of the arguments used in favor of this approach is that it would increase strategic stability. But it would require a major Soviet decision.

President Ford: What would these limits do to us?

Secretary Kissinger: We are at about 4.5 million pounds, so it would have essentially no effect on us.

Secretary Schlesinger: RV limits would affect us, but not throw weight limits.

Secretary Kissinger: Another proposal has been a limit of 4 million pounds on MIRV throw weight—the SS–17, 19, and 18. There are similar arguments concerning this approach. This limit gets permitted missiles down even further, unless they choose to go to sea with their MIRVs.

Secretary Schlesinger: The argument on 4 million pounds MIRV throw weight is less strong than that on the overall throw weight. On the over-all throw weight, we could go up to 7 or 8 million pounds. That would not require major Soviet reductions.

Secretary Kissinger: Four million pounds would permit them only about 380 MIRV missiles if all were taken in SS–17s and 19s.

Secretary Schlesinger: But we would suppose they would put in more of their lighter unMIRVed missiles. The rest could be accommodated within the 4 million pound limit. The point is that limiting MIRV throw weight is the most important. It is this throw weight that they can exploit to obtain an advantage.

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Secretary Kissinger: It depends on whether the 4 million pounds of throw weight is on top of an overall limit, or whether there is no limit on the total.

Secretary Schlesinger: But a 6 million pound total limit drives them toward the same number.

Secretary Kissinger: With 4 million pounds MIRV throw weight permitted, they could get only up to the figure they rejected in June. They could get only 600 land-based missiles, or 400 land-based and 400 sea-based missiles.

In either case, this would be well below the 1,000 missiles they seem to have in their program, and it would be on a 10-year basis rather than the shorter basis we were discussing. The maximum land-based MIRVs they could have would be 600. They could have a lot of single warhead missiles if there were no further limit on total throw weight. I mention this not to criticize the proposal, but to point out that if we make a 4 million pound MIRV throw weight proposal, we will be asking them to accept for a 10-year period what they rejected for a five-year period.

Deputy Secretary Clements: I don’t think it is realistic.

Secretary Kissinger: I do not believe they will accept substantially unequal numbers of MIRV missiles overall. When we were at the Crimea, their generals were there, George, yelling about essential equivalence (laughter).

General Brown: It’s nice to know that we agree with them on something

President Ford: You should have told them you had heard their arguments before

Secretary Kissinger: Under the two preceding options of equal numbers and equal missile throw weight, MIRVs would be left unchecked, or we could have other limits on MIRVs, such as one based on the throw weight of MIRV missiles. A variant of the second option would be to limit the throw weight of missiles that have MIRVs to 4 million pounds to each side. For the Soviets, they could then not have MIRVs on more than about 40 of their heavy SS–18 missiles, or more than 380 of their new SS–19s, plus no more than 240 SLBM MIRVs, for a total of about 700, plus or minus 50. In this connection, the Soviets rejected a sublimit of 380 on their ICBM MIRVs, and an overall limit of 700. They offered a proposal of 1000 MIRVed missiles for themselves and 1100 for us over a five-year period. There was unanimity that we should reject that proposal; it would have required us to stop our program immediately while they were given time to catch up.

A third option would be to abandon the equal aggregates approach in favor of one you might call balanced advantages or equal [Page 328] asymmetries or something like that. Fred has a somewhat complex approach with these ideas in it, one which I’m not sure we have enough time left this afternoon to pursue (laughter), one he refers to as “equal rights unequally exercised”. But the basic theory is the same in these approaches. The Soviets would be permitted an advantage in overall numbers, say 2000 versus 2200, while we would be permitted an advantage in MIRV missiles such as 1350 to 1050. There might also be a ban on MIRVs on heavy missiles and a limit on the total number of heavy systems to 250—including both large missiles and heavy bombers.

The Soviets would probably want to balance no MIRVs on their SS–18 with no long range missiles on our B–1.

President Ford: In other words, under this proposal, there would be limits on both numbers of MIRVs and total numbers of missiles, but if we wanted more MIRVs, we would have to have less total missiles.

Secretary Kissinger: That would be a variant of Fred’s approach where each side could choose either to have more missiles and less MIRVs or vice versa, but not both. From what I have seen about Soviet decision making, I suspect we would have to present to them what we want—namely, more missiles for them and more MIRVs for us, but we could take that approach.

President Ford: But you couldn’t have both more MIRVs and more missiles.

Secretary Kissinger: Right. It is not exactly the same argument Fred has discussed, but it is the same concept.

You have heard the arguments versus the interim agreement because it has unequal numbers—that if the agreement were to break down, the Soviets would have a numerical advantage which they could exploit. The throw weight would not be specifically limited and the Soviets could concentrate their MIRVs in heavy missiles and a few light ones, giving them a breakout potential later in the 1980s. But the problem we face is that we are not planning a total force as high as they are in the first place.

There are an almost infinite variety of other approaches, some of which we discussed in the Verification Panel. For example, we have talked about limits on numbers of warheads. Through 1985, we are likely to remain somewhat ahead in warheads, so there may be some negotiating room here, but we have not developed specific options.

But in summary, there are two basic approaches. First, we could emphasize equal numbers and equal missile throw weight and maybe reentry vehicles. The second approach would be to accept some inequality if we can get an advantage in another area.

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We have put these approaches into seven different options, but we all agreed at the Verification Panel that it would be too much of a burden if we ask you to choose among the options now. Thus, we wanted to give you the basic issues, as they are affected by the negotiating history, since any radical change would present a cause for a long examination in the Soviet Union of your motives.

President Ford: George, if we had balanced advantages, and you had to choose between MIRVs and missiles or missiles and bombers, what would you choose?

General Brown: On the bombers, we would want to maintain a reasonable bomber force, perhaps four to five hundred, or perhaps the last number we talked about of 240. But the basic thing we are after is equal aggregates and a downward trend in the total numbers.

President Ford: Do you have any comments, Jim?

Secretary Schlesinger: There are a number of general issues and a number of specific issues. The general issue is how SALT fits into the timing of your détente policy. SALT is an important component of your overall policy, so the timing is a subject you want to consider. If you want a fairly quick treaty, you cannot wait for the long educational process that it would take to bring the Soviets to understand some of our concerns about stability. If you want a simple agreement, you can set the numbers on each side. If we want to foster stability, we will have to do so with limits on MIRVs and throw weight and this will take more time for an educational process. You would not be able to consummate a treaty until later.

The chief issue you face is whether or not to go for equal aggregates. If I could show you one chart (shows chart on “Non-central Systems”).4 The chief argument the Soviets have used about unequal aggregates is the need for compensation for our FBS. However, if we look at our non-central systems, it is not clear we have any advantage. They have 600 medium range and intermediate range missiles and 400 cruise missiles and many medium bombers. The French have a much smaller number of intermediate range missiles, although the Soviets have argued about our Allied forces. If you look at the FBS as Alliance-related forces, it is not clear that the US and its Allies have any advantage on balance.

We could agree to count our non-central systems, and an agreement could operate in such a way as to have an overall balance and at the same time maintain equality in central systems.

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Inherently, this kind of decision is simple to make. The question is whether militarily, diplomatically, and politically, you want to move rapidly toward the Soviet proposal of giving the U.S. inferiority in numbers. This would be very difficult to justify. Unequal numbers would not have much Congressional support, and would violate the Jackson Amendment which requires equal numbers. It would be difficult to persuade the American public that any position other than equal aggregates, especially as our going-in position, is the correct one.

In 1972, we accepted unequal aggregates. As Henry has pointed out, in 1972 we had no systems we were ready to deploy in the near future and we had a U.S. technological advantage. But these reasons are weakened as time passes. We will not have the technological advantage forever. And we now have programs in place with which we can achieve equal aggregates. The focal point for equality is equal aggregates. I hope this is where we can come out, but it is certainly where we should go in.

President Ford: If we talk about equal aggregates, we are effectively talking about our program, and the question is what do they intend to have.

Secretary Schlesinger: They would have their program as adjusted by the agreement, and we would have ours as adjusted by the agreement. We could move to 2,000 by 1980; to go beyond that, it would cost more than we now anticipate. Maybe Congress won’t fund the extra numbers, but we should have rights to them.

President Ford: What point is there in having rights if our program is not in place to exercise them or if Congress will not fund them?

Secretary Schlesinger: We are talking about 11 years out—there will be a different administration and a different political situation. The question is whether some future government should be constrained by a treaty requiring unequal numbers.

Deputy Secretary Clements: I agree. As we phase in our new Trident and B–1 systems, we can retain our older systems. We have flexibility in increasing the numbers.

President Ford: You are as familiar as I am with the fact that we lost $4.7 billion in new obligational authority in this year’s Defense budget, and we had to work like the devil even then. I noticed just recently that the Gallup and the Roper polls said that 54 percent of the American people wanted to decrease defense spending, and only 36 percent wanted to increase it. I am opposed to that view, but the American people, perhaps mistakenly, aren’t going to give us a blank check.

Secretary Schlesinger: We have never been cut back in our strategic programs. That Gallup poll showed 44 percent thought we were spending too much, 12 percent thought we were spending too little, [Page 331] and 32 percent thought it was about right, making the same 44 percent who thought we were spending too little or about the right amount as the percentage who thought we were too high. With the vicissitudes of public opinion over an 11 year period, I would recommend strongly against a treaty where it could be criticized by both the left and the right because of the inequality. If you go that way, I think it would be easier to sell after the ’76 election. Otherwise, you would get criticized not only from the right but the left.

Deputy Secretary Clements: Our negotiating position would be weakened if we think we can’t do more because of lack of domestic support.

President Ford: I don’t share, Jim, your optimism with respect to the Congress. I remember the ABM fight where they beat us. And the recent five percent cuts across the board. And I am talking about our present Congress, and we will probably get a more unsupportive Congress in the next election. I am not optimistic that you can assume there will be increases in defense budgets, unless there is a crisis.

Secretary Schlesinger: I agree that with an atmosphere of the current sort we see, to get support for an arms competition we are in poor shape. But we can go to 2,600 if we keep B–52’s and Polaris plus our Tridents and B–1s. So the cost to get up to 2,600 is not too great.

President Ford: What would it cost?

Secretary Schlesinger: About a billion dollars per year.

Secretary Kissinger: Including personnel?

Secretary Schlesinger: I can give you precise costs at a later time. But if one can start the negotiations with equal numbers, I can assure you that they can be achieved.

President Ford: What numbers should the Soviets have?

Mr. Duckett: About 2,250—we can assume we are talking about something between 2,000 and 2,500.

President Ford: So they would have to cut back.

Mr. Duckett: For what Jim is talking about, they would not have to make any reductions, but they would not be able to deploy any new systems.

Secretary Schlesinger: At 2,500, there would be no cutbacks. But if we accept the principle of inequality, militarily and diplomatically, we would face a severe penalty.

President Ford: Could we just take their 2,500 and assume we would have our 2,500?

Secretary Schlesinger: No, they argue against equal aggregates in principle. They say we have an FBS advantage. But we could negotiate an overall equality, including non-central systems. NATO and the [Page 332] Warsaw Pact are about equal in other systems, so we could have overall equality, with a sub-limit of equality on central systems. After we put forward this principle, it is a secondary issue of the level—2,500 or 2,000. We prefer 2,000 or 2,200.

President Ford: Do you think the Soviets would be willing to cut back?

Secretary Schlesinger: Probably not to 2,000, but maybe to 2,300 or 2,400.

Secretary Kissinger: None of the options we are considering recommend simple unequal aggregates not offset by some other advantage. The unequal aggregate option we have considered includes unequal aggregates in numbers of MIRV missiles. We would have a 300 missile advantage in the number of MIRVs, versus a 200 advantage in total numbers for the Soviets.

Secretary Schlesinger: Once you are over about 600 to 700 MIRVed missiles, the additional 300 have considerably less value. I would be less inclined to trade off the visually very important equality in aggregates to get 300 less MIRVed missiles.

President Ford: You say you want unequal aggregates and are less concerned with having the 300 MIRVed missiles?

Secretary Schlesinger: They are not that strategically important.

President Ford: I thought what you said was that the MIRVs were important.

Secretary Schlesinger: If the U.S. is perceived as being unequal in numbers, it would be very harmful. But the political perceptions are not so strong on numbers of MIRV missiles.

President Ford: George, do you agree with that?

General Brown: Once you get more than about 600 heavy missiles, you have so much overkill that the extra 300 wouldn’t make much difference.

President Ford: Why are we MIRVing so many then?

General Brown: We have a different concept. We had large numbers of much smaller missiles. Each of our Poseidon warheads is quite small. We are not even loading the missiles to their maximum number now because we have no need for them.

President Ford: It sounds like we are doing the wrong thing.

General Brown: Someone did the wrong thing many years ago.

President Ford: Jim says that the overall perceptions are more important than 300 MIRV missiles. You say you are concerned about an increase of 300 in the bigger Soviet missiles?

General Brown: With 600 MIRV missiles, each with a more significant throw weight and each with a bigger yield than we have, this will be a very effective Soviet force. Above 600, the benefits get academic.

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Secretary Schlesinger: They’ll have some 4,000 one-megaton reentry vehicles, to which you can add 2,000 RVs on single warhead missiles. Stopping an extra 300 MIRVed missiles at this point is not worth not only the problems in perceptions, but the numbers difference with 200 fewer or 300 fewer is not worth it. The average fellow on the Hill will say the U.S. accepted an unequal treaty.

President Ford: I would like to debate you on the floor of the Congress on that point. If I could say that with our launching systems, we had all we need, but we had a 300 MIRV missile advantage, I could make a good argument.

Secretary Schlesinger: Not if you go into the details. With the throw weight they have, they could have 15,000 warheads. If the Soviets go that way, to attain equality, we would have to increase our throw weight.

President Ford: I don’t think you can win your argument.

General Brown: You remember from your trip to SAC, that after you put two or three weapons on a target, more don’t help very much.

Secretary Kissinger: It works both ways—if 300 MIRVed missiles are not much help, then 200 extra launchers would not be much harm.

Secretary Schlesinger: No, because that affects both the number of aim points and perceptions.

General Brown: We have a large number of very small weapons, many per aim point. Our predecessors made this judgment. We are putting weapons on target in numbers that, if we didn’t have them, wouldn’t matter. We are using three or four when two would be acceptable. We are not loading Poseidon all the way up, because we prefer to have the extra range. We have a lot of flexibility in our force, bought and paid for years ago, but frankly, we have more MIRV capacity than we need.

President Ford: I would like to take this on in a debate. You take 2,000 launchers and I’ll take more MIRVs. It is more important that we wind up with weapons on targets than with numbers. I think the American people can understand that better than they can a lot of talk about holes and numbers of bombers.

Secretary Schlesinger: Not with a disadvantage in both areas.

President Ford: If we want equality in both, we would have to spend more money.

Dr. Ikle: Unless we could go to lower levels through reductions.

President Ford: Sure, if we could get them to agree.

Secretary Kissinger: The only way we can get the Soviets to reduce significantly would be to stonewall the negotiations and kick off a big U.S. program. They have to see we will go up and not just hear us say it. 2,200 to 2,300 may be achievable, but much lower cuts into their pro [Page 334] gram could be achieved only with the threat of a massive U.S. build-up. Also, I want to say again that if we give up totally our MIRV limits, the Soviet leadership must conclude that we are on to something, probably a big MIRV buildup.

Secretary Schlesinger: I would be perfectly happy to go ahead with MIRV limits. With our present force structure, we plan to be about two-thirds MIRVed anyway, and more wouldn’t matter.

President Ford: By when?

Secretary Schlesinger: By the early 1980s.

Secretary Kissinger: If we abandon MIRV limits, the Soviets will wonder what’s happening here.

Secretary Schlesinger: I am not suggesting we abandon them—I’m happy to have MIRV limits or throw weight limits. But the central feature is equal aggregates.

President Ford: So you defend equal aggregates?

Secretary Schlesinger: If we could get them started at 2,500 vehicles with intercontinental capability, and the U.S. at the same number.

President Ford: Total missiles and bombers?

Secretary Schlesinger: Yes, throwing in our bombers.

President Ford: Total missiles, bombers, and SLBMs?

Secretary Schlesinger: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: The Soviets will argue the China threat and FBS. There is one difference between our FBS and their non-central systems—our FBS can reach them, but theirs cannot reach us. In a first strike, we have the capability of using ours against them.

With respect to what we could achieve, I think that, with difficulty, equal aggregates of 2,500, we might get in a year. Lower levels would be harder. Then we would have the problem of defending an agreement which required us to increase our numbers. As we get close to 2,000, we will have to have a sustained growth in our forces to convince them. Between 2,250 and 2,500, perhaps if we give up [less than 1 line not declassified] Holy Loch which we don’t need anyway, so that we make gestures on FBS, it is conceivable that they might agree. But as we go toward 2,000, we would need a confrontation.

President Ford: Jim, on equal aggregates, you would want MIRV limits also?

Secretary Schlesinger: I would prefer them, if they were equitable.

President Ford: Equal numbers of MIRVs?

Secretary Schlesinger: My concern is the throw weight and, in particular, the MIRVed throw weight. A Poseidon RV [less than 1 line not declassified] versus one of the warheads on the SS–18, is no match. Our [less than 1 line not declassified] warhead is not comparable.

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There are two arguments the Soviets make against equality. First, they argue that we have more warheads. But we can reduce these. Second, they argue FBS. Henry mentioned that our missiles can strike them, but their submarine-launched cruise missiles, of which they have 400, can hit us. That is almost as many as the total number of aircraft we have deployed forward. Our Pershings can hit Eastern Europe, but not the Soviet Union, and they have all their IRBMs.

President Ford: Is there any disagreement about this assessment?

Mr. Duckett: The general consensus is that they do not have the guidance systems on their submarine cruise missiles for an offensive attack.

Secretary Schlesinger: They can certainly hit the coastal cities. Furthermore, when you look at our F–4s, our capability is also only conceptual. They don’t have the range to hit Soviet cities. We should have the same conceptual constraints when we look at the equality of non-central systems on both sides.

Deputy Secretary Clements: I think 2,500 might be feasible. Is that what you had in mind, Henry?

Secretary Kissinger: A proposal of simple equal aggregates would lead to a several-month hiatus while they tried to figure out what we were up to. Putting a cap on our forces is OK, but at 2,500, with no limits on MIRVs, I would have a hard time defending it intellectually, to myself.

Secretary Schlesinger: Any MIRV or throw weight limits you can add on would be OK.

Secretary Kissinger: You will ask for unequal MIRVs with unequal aggregates.

Secretary Schlesinger: We are prepared to reduce our number of RVs, if it is associated with constraints on the offensive capability of Soviet forces. They could have 12½ million pounds of throw weight versus our 2 million pounds. If I could show you the second chart (shows chart with drawdown curves), this shows the effect of both sides MIRVing with that amount of throw weight. When you get to 7 or 8 million pounds, versus 3 or 4 million pounds, you have a high confidence capability versus U.S. ICBMs plus all other urban targets. Fred would prefer 2 million pounds for stability, but 4 or 5 million pounds is far better than 8 or 10 million pounds.

Mr. Duckett: Our current data is that we are firm that they will MIRV 610 missiles. We see them putting a single warhead SS–11 Mod 3s in the other 420 launch silos. On the SS–18, it might also be a single warhead missile. Thus, 610 MIRVs are all we know for sure that they want.

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Secretary Kissinger: At the summit, we were willing to give them unequal aggregates—an extension of the Interim Agreement—if they were willing to confine their program to 700 MIRVs. They rejected that, so they must plan for more than 700 MIRVs, or they would have been crazy to turn it down.

Secretary Schlesinger: They may have been crazy.

Dr. Ikle: It is important that any agreement not just ratify the programs on the two sides. If the agreement doesn’t change the programs, it will just be rewarding the Soviet military. Therefore, we want to bring the programs down to give a message to the Soviet military.

Mr. Duckett: Our point about 610 was not to argue that they won’t have more, but to say that there is optimism as long as we have no firm evidence of more.

Secretary Schlesinger: Maybe they wouldn’t accept 700 because they were concerned about perceptual inequalities, as we are; that may have been the driving constraint. If so, we were willing to pay a penalty in numbers of RVs.

President Ford: At 2,500, our throw weight would be 2.5 million pounds and the Soviets would have 10 million pounds?

Secretary Schlesinger: We would have 2.5 million pounds in ICBMs, and 3 million pounds in SLBMs.

President Ford: And the Soviets 10 million pounds?

Secretary Schlesinger: Depending upon whether you count bombers or missiles only.

President Ford: In all delivery systems.

Secretary Schlesinger: Then they would have 17 million pounds.

President Ford: Where did I hear 10 million pounds?

Secretary Schlesinger: They could add 200 large new bombers.

President Ford: Is there any evidence that they are doing that?

Secretary Schlesinger: There is the Backfire.

President Ford: Have you included Backfires in your numbers?

Secretary Schlesinger: I have included about 150 Backfires.

Secretary Kissinger: The Backfire is more comparable to the FB–111 than to the B–1.

Secretary Schlesinger: It is larger than the F–111.

President Ford: Well, whatever it is—17 million pounds or 10 million pounds—you recommend that we accept equality in reentry vehicles.

Secretary Schlesinger: No, if we go for equal RVs, they should accept a limit on MIRV throw weight.

President Ford: I wrote down equal RVs when you said it before.

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Secretary Schlesinger: It is the problem of the weight of the RVs, or more precisely, the weight of the RVs on MIRV missiles.

President Ford: Maybe I am oversimplifying, but what you want is equal delivery systems and I thought you said equal RVs. But you are starting with the assumption of 10 million pounds of throw weight versus 17 million pounds.

Secretary Kissinger: I think that Jim is saying he would accept equal RVs if they would accept equal throw weight.

Secretary Schlesinger: We are willing to pay the price in numbers of RVs, if they are willing to accept limits on throw weight.

Secretary Kissinger: They wouldn’t know that we had reduced our RVs.

Secretary Schlesinger: We would let them conduct an inspection. I doubt that they would be willing to make the same offer.

President Ford: Well, I think we will have to have another meeting on this. I will think all this over, but I am of the opinion that Congress is not in any mood to increase the defense budget. We should keep that in mind for whatever impact it has on the decision we make. The worst position we could be in is with no agreement and no increased spending for defense.

Secretary Schlesinger: In order to maintain equality we can do cheap things. But to have the U.S. go in with an initial position that the U.S. is willing to accept an unequal treaty, would be hard to explain.

President Ford: I would like to take you on in that debate if I had 300 more MIRV missiles.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Meetings, Box 1, NSC Meeting, October 7, 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 60.
  3. For the discussions at the June Moscow summit, see Documents 7072.
  4. Not found attached.