77. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Kissinger: On SALT, if you proposed offsetting asymmetries, you would be in a bad position. Yesterday,2 you were told: (1) We’ll be in a better situation after 1976; (2) with time you could educate the public about strategic stability; and (3) your options are a quick fix now or a careful deal later. It is absurd to say that anything above 700 MIRV is useless but the difference between 2,000 and 2,200 is decisive.

When you say one megaton is more useful than 40 kilotons, it’s true but that depends for what?

The arguments were shoddy, but they have put you in a box. You will be accused of moving under pressure at my advice, misusing the NSC system, and that you could have had a better deal by waiting six months. I think we should stick with equal aggregates at 2,200 with a 60 percent MIRV limitation. I don’t know what the Soviets will think.

President: At 2,200, won’t we be accused of no arms control at all?

Kissinger: Yes. But the USSR would have to cut back. If all restraints were off, the Soviet Union could build new holes and go up in their totals very rapidly.

President: I was mad. They were totally inflexible.

Kissinger: The real problem is they have a united bureaucratic front.

This proposal would at best not be an insult. It would have to emerge out of Vladivostok, not before. You would have to ram it down DOD’s throat. If they wanted more throw weight, they could come in with a program. The arguments were fraudulent. (Poseidon at 5 MIRV). If the Soviets don’t accept this, we could fall back to balanced asymmetries.

President: I don’t like it but go ahead. Give me a comparative chart of this versus balanced asymmetries.

[Page 339]

I thought Jim was inflexible, Clements was better and Brown was embarrassed.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT II.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, 1973–1977, Box 6. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.
  2. A reference to the October 7 NSC meeting; see Document 76.