8. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • SALT Guidance

While you are in Paris we anticipate some tactical issues in SALT on which we need your guidance. Thus far, we have spelled out the concept of equal aggregates to be reached through reductions, equal ICBMs, and throw weight limitations. On FBS we have simply said that the Soviets are aware of our previous position.

The Soviets have spelled out a maximum position: confirming provisions of the Interim Agreement as already agreed, withdrawal of missiles and aircraft from third countries if they are “strategic” by the Soviet definition, and withdrawal of submarines and aircraft carriers beyond reach of Soviet territory; liquidation of bases, etc. In addition, the Soviets have put forward an almost ludicrous series of limitations on strategic bombers; agreed numerical limits, ban on the use of bombers as carriers of nuclear weapons (sic); ban on development and testing of long-range air-to-surface missiles, ban on development, testing and production of new strategic bombers.

In light of the Soviet emphasis on FBS, and their apparent tactic of presenting far-reaching limits on the US, the delegation wants to make a hard hitting rebuttal on FBS.

—The NSDM,2 if taken at face value, only permits them to accept the FBS issue for the work program. The idea of a new round of polemics is not envisaged.

—Focusing on the Soviet order of issues, rather than presenting our views, is playing their game; a detailed discussion of FBS, even for rebuttal tends to legitimatize the priority of the issues; arguments that they are not “strategic” may backfire if we want to limit the new Soviet medium bomber; sub bases are also potential bargaining chip; rather than arguing FBS which the Soviets will insist be resolved, we should continue to emphasize our own concerns.

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—On the other hand, silence could be interpreted as acquiescence; turning down a delegation recommendation might be read as reflecting some nefarious Washington (White House) scheme. Rejecting the Soviet position has some residual value when debriefing the Allies.

On balance, I recommend that we make only brief intervention to underscore that we do not agree with Soviet views and only agree to consider FBS on the work program, as instructed in the NSDM.

The second tactical issue is whether to prod the delegation to raise air defense. The sweeping Soviet proposal to virtually do away with strategic bombers is probably tactical posturing and not very serious. At the same time, the Soviets will try to limit bomber armaments which is in their interest, and to attack plans for the B–1. Air defense, which has its own merits, is an ideal counter at this stage of SALT. The Soviets ought to be put on notice that we have maximal positions.


1. That the delegation be instructed not to make a detailed FBS rebuttal, but limit their remarks to a statement of disagreement, and concentrate on developing the priority for central systems.

2. That the delegation be instructed to raise air defense now as an item for the work program.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 888, SALT, SALT TWO–I–(Geneva), November 21, 1972–March 1973. Secret. Sent for urgent action. Kissinger initialed the memorandum. On the last page, an unknown hand wrote, “RTK informed 0045 hrs 5 Dec.”
  2. Document 7.
  3. Kissinger approved both recommendations.