93. National Security Decision Memorandum 2851


  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Deputy Secretary of State
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Chairman, U.S. SALT Delegation


  • Instructions for the SALT Talks in Geneva, January 31, 1975

The President has approved the following instructions for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks beginning on January 31, 1975, in Geneva:

1. The Delegation should state that, in the U.S. view, the basis for the new agreement on the limitation of strategic offensive arms is contained in the provisions of the Aide-Mémoire initialed by the two sides on December 10, 1974.2

2. The Delegation should call attention to the Aide-Mémoire provision which states that the Agreed Interpretation and Common Understanding dated May 26, 1972, relating to limitations on increases in the dimensions of land-based ICBM launchers3 will also be incorporated into the new agreement. The Delegation should indicate the need for additional agreements including inter alia:

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—Appropriate definitions such as those for ICBMs, SLBMs, heavy ICBMs, and ballistic missiles equipped with MIRVs.

—An agreement on ICBM and SLBM test and training launchers similar to the Agreed Interpretation signed on May 26, 1972.

3. On the issue of defining a heavy ICBM, the U.S. Delegation should state that a heavy ICBM should be defined as an ICBM of volume or throw weight greater than the largest non-heavy ICBM deployed on either side on the date of signature of the agreement.

4. Concerning the limitations in the Aide-Mémoire on air-to-surface missiles (ASMs), the Delegation should state that it is the U.S. understanding that the 600 km limitation on ASMs applies only to ballistic ASMs carried on bombers.

The President has also decided in principle that the U.S. could agree to further limitations on cruise missiles and ballistic ASMs. As a minimum the U.S. could agree to:

—Count all cruise missiles of range greater than 3000 km in the aggregate.

—Extend the ASM provisions of the agreement to cover ASMs launched from all aircraft, not just those launched from bombers.

However, the Delegation should not put forth this position until authorized by Washington.

5. The Delegation should emphasize that the parties must undertake not to interfere with or impede national technical means including means for verifying the limitations of the MIRV provisions of the agreement.

6. Concerning the limitation on the permitted number of MIRVed ICBMs and SLBMs, the Delegation should emphasize the need for a frank mutual exchange on the problems which could arise in verifying such a limitation. In particular, the Delegation should describe and obtain Soviet views on the following problems:

—Whether it is possible to verify which version of a particular missile is deployed when the missile has been tested with both single RV and MIRVed payloads. It is the U.S. view that any missile of a type tested with MIRVs should be counted as MIRVed when deployed.

—Verifying which SLBM launchers in a particular SSBN class contain MIRVed missiles when there exist both MIRVed and unMIRVed missiles compatible with these launchers. It is the U.S. view that all SLBM launchers on a submarine should be counted as MIRVed if any SLBM launchers on submarines of the same class are MIRVed.

—Verifying whether a particular ICBM or SLBM launcher contains a MIRVed missile if it has been modified, for example, through changes to length or diameter. It is the U.S. view that all ICBM and SLBM launchers of types modified for the purpose of permitting the deploy [Page 408] ment of MIRVed missiles should be counted under the MIRV limit. To illustrate this point the Delegation may cite for example that any SS–17, SS–18, or SS–19 type silos must be counted as containing MIRVed missiles.

—Determining whether a launcher which once contained a MIRVed missile and has been converted to an unMIRVed launcher can be verified as no longer containing MIRVs. It is the U.S. view that the conversion of launchers which contain MIRVed missiles to unMIRVed launchers should be permitted only under procedures agreed in the SCC.

In making the above points and explaining each verification problem, the Delegation should emphasize that the U.S. welcomes Soviet proposals concerning how to solve these problems and that all such proposals will receive careful U.S. consideration.

7. The U.S. Delegation should not raise the issue of limitations on land-mobile and air-mobile ICBM systems. If the Soviets repeat their proposal to ban air-mobile ICBMs, the U.S. Delegation should state that the issue of banning air-launched ballistic missiles of ICBM range is complex and related not only to the broader issue of strategic aircraft and their armaments, but also to other types of mobile ICBMs. In this context, the U.S. would be willing to consider how provisions which include air-mobile ICBMs might be included in the final agreement and will study carefully any Soviet proposals in this regard.

8. On the issue of defining a heavy bomber, the U.S. Delegation should state that current heavy bombers include the B–52 and B–1 on the U.S. side, and the Bear, Bison, and Backfire on the Soviet side. If the Soviets claim that Backfire is not a heavy bomber, the U.S. Delegation should challenge this contention in the light of the technical capabilities and characteristics of the Backfire and methods of improvement in Backfire capability.

9. With respect to Paragraph 6 of the Aide-Mémoire, the Delegation should state that negotiations on further limitation and reduction of strategic arms should start as soon as possible after the new agreement is concluded, and that a provision to this effect should be included in the new agreement.

10. If the Soviets make proposals in areas other than those covered above, e.g., non-transfer, ballistic missile launchers on sea beds, ballistic missile ships or maneuvering reentry vehicles, the Delegation should not comment on these proposals and should seek guidance from Washington.

11. If the Soviets table a draft treaty early in the session, the Delegation should indicate that consideration of a draft treaty would be premature until the issues have been adequately discussed. After adequate discussion of U.S. and Soviet views, the Delegation should submit for [Page 409] Washington approval draft treaty provisions which could be proposed to the Soviets.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files, Box 57, NSDM 285, Instructions for the SALT Talks in Geneva, 1/31/75. Top Secret; Sensitive. Copies were sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of Central Intelligence. Sonnenfeldt and Lodal drafted the NSDM, which they sent under a covering memorandum to Kissinger, January 29. (Ibid.) On February 5, Kissinger sent the NSDM to Ford, who initialed his approval. The instructions were sent to the delegation in telegram 27482 to USDEL SALT TWO Geneva, February 6. (Ibid., National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject File, Box 22, SALT, State Department Telegrams, NODIS from SecState)
  2. Document 91.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 91.