94. Minutes of a Meeting of the National Security Council1


  • SALT Compliance


  • The President
  • The Vice President
  • Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger
  • Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen George S. Brown
  • Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Dr. Fred Ikle
  • Director of Central Intelligence William Colby


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

President Ford: Good Morning. There are four or five issues on compliance with the SALT I Agreements, questions we have raised with the Soviets—Henry, do you want to sum up where the problem is—maybe Carl and Bill could add to it also—

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, Mr. President—I would like to begin by bringing you up-to-date on the status of the Geneva Talks, and then we can turn to compliance. The Soviets tabled a draft treaty at the first [Page 410] SALT meeting in Geneva.2 On a number of issues, they differed with our views.

On MIRV Verification, they have said that our existing national technical means of verification are adequate. We have put forth several counting rules for distinguishing MIRV launchers—the ones we went through at the last NSC meeting.3 We have now put these in a protocol to our own draft treaty, but we have left it open for them to tell us what characteristics of their systems our national technical means can use to distinguish MIRVs. If they can tell us, we will bring the proposal here to you.

There is the expected disagreement over cruise versus ballistic missiles. We have not yet had an opportunity to explore our compromise of banning cruise missiles on everything except bombers.

The Soviets’ draft also contained two provisions that went beyond the Vladivostok Agreement. One of these is a limit of 240 on new types of SLBMs, including our Trident. At your instruction, I pointed out to Gromyko that we would not negotiate on items inconsistent with Vladivostok.4 They have not yet dropped it, but he said they would consider this point carefully.

We will table a draft treaty very shortly, if we have not already done so.

Mr. Graybeal: We plan to table it today.5

Secretary Kissinger: Well, we will table a draft treaty today. In summary, the differences that exist are manageable if the Soviets really want an agreement, or they can be used to stall if they don’t want an agreement. Unless they can satisfy us that our national technical means can distinguish their MIRVs, we will not accept their approach. Of course, their position has one advantage, in that it indicates they will not press us on the distinctions between Minuteman II and Minuteman III.

In short, it is too early to tell how it will come out.

[Page 411]

On compliance, Senator Jackson has been holding hearings on the issues of compliance. Bill testified last week, and I think Jim is scheduled sometime this week.

Secretary Schlesinger: George and I plan to go up sometime tomorrow.

Secretary Kissinger: At least if Jackson pulls out JCS documents, George will know what he is talking about! (Laughter)

Secretary Schlesinger: That is not certain

Secretary Kissinger: The last time I went up there, Jackson pulled out some JCS documents which I had never seen, and wouldn’t show them to me, but he wanted me to confirm them. (Laughter)

Jackson is clearly trying to build a case against the Vladivostok Agreement by pointing to loopholes and ambiguities in the first agreement, so these can be used as an issue on Vladivostok.

There are four issues which we should discuss—

—[less than 1 line not declassified]

—[less than 1 line not declassified]

—[less than 1 line not declassified]

—[less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Schlesinger: Isn’t this a political loser for Jackson? Isn’t he just losing ground by attacking Vladivostok?

President Ford: I think he is.

Secretary Kissinger: I would have thought so.

President Ford: He has quieted down some from his first blast, but with these hearings, perhaps he is trying to build a new case so that he can be ready when the agreement is finished.

Secretary Schlesinger: He has been very inconsistent. He is trying to run with both the hounds and the hares.

President Ford: Other politicians have tried that also—ask Rumsfeld about it—he is a master! (Laughter)

Secretary Kissinger: On the substance, I agree with Jim—he is inconsistent. He said the SALT I numbers were too low, and the SALT II numbers too high. Perhaps that’s why he is now focusing on verification problems, so he can call the whole thing no good.

Secretary Schlesinger: Our position has to be clear on this—there are verification problems, but we can handle them. We are not in some Utopia—

Secretary Kissinger: Our ultimate position should be consistent with the position you outlined.

[Omitted here is discussion of SALT I and the Soviet Union’s compliance with it.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Meetings File, Box 1. Top Secret; Codeword. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room.
  2. The text of the Soviet draft was transmitted in telegram 10 from USDEL SALT TWO Geneva, February 1. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])
  3. See Document 92.
  4. Kissinger and Gromyko met in Geneva February 16–17. They briefly discussed SALT at their first meeting on February 16; see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XVI, Soviet Union, August 1974–December 1976, Document 128.
  5. On March 5, Johnson tabled a draft agreement based on a modified version of the instructions in NSDM 285 (Document 93). The text of the draft is in telegram 67 from USDEL SALT TWO Geneva. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])Discussions between the two delegations on the draft are in subsequent telegrams from the delegation, all of which are in Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject File, Box 22, SALT, State Department Telegrams, EXDIS to SecState.