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


  • Your Next Meeting with Dobrynin2


The talks are to recess next week. There is an ad referendum agreement to resume February 27 but this awaits your approval.

The only concrete result will be a memorandum on the Standing Consultative Committee (SCC). This also awaits your approval. (Smith has wired you separately on it.)3 Guidelines for regulations governing the operations of the SCC are hung up with the agencies here but we hope to get this straightened out before the recess. If not, the memorandum alone could be signed. There also will be a broadly-phrased work program.

Substantively, the talks are really deadlocked over our insistence that we concentrate on equal aggregates in central systems (including throw weight) and Soviet insistence that we in effect not tamper with the interim agreement but add on to it a series of measures affecting FBS, submarine operations and aircraft armaments.

The Soviets have talked to Smith about the possibility of some additional interim agreement(s) for the next summit but it is not clear what measures they have in mind other than those with clearly detrimental effects for us.

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The Soviets, I believe, owe you a reaction to your written response4 to the paper Dobrynin gave you some weeks ago,5 and the contents of which they have since put on the table in Geneva.

There has been some probing by Soviet delegates on qualitative restraints (MIRVs) but no initiative—indeed, the inference has been left that we should make the proposals.

It seems to me that since you have already left the message that there may be some bargaining room on matters of Soviet concern if they show flexibility on what bothers us, you should stand pat for now. I would judge that the Soviets feel some pressure to come up with potential deals for the Brezhnev visit (whenever that may in fact occur) and that we should be relaxed in this regard for now. Our message on central systems should stand undiluted as the Soviet leaders gather for their anniversary celebration.

[Omitted here is discussion of topics other than SALT.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 67, Country Files–Europe–USSR, Map Room, [Aug. 1972–May 31 1973, 1 of 3]. Confidential; Sensitive; Eyes Only. This memorandum is printed in full as Document 70 in Foreign Relations 1969–1976, Vol. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974.
  2. According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, he met with Dobrynin on December 16 from 8:42 to 9:50 a.m. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, Aug. 1970–Aug. 1973) No other record of Kissinger’s conversation with Dobrynin has been found.
  3. In backchannel message 56 to Kissinger, December 13, Smith reported that Semenov had authority to sign a memorandum of understanding on the SCC, and asked that he be given the same authority as Semenov. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages–1972–SALT) The draft memorandum of understanding was transmitted in telegram 65 from USDEL SALT II Geneva. (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 888, SALT, SALT TWO–I–(Geneva), November 21, 1972–March 1973)
  4. Document 5.
  5. Document 1.