95. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) and Jan Lodal of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Jackson Proposal on SALT

Senator Jackson has delivered a floor speech (text at Tab A)2 in which he proposes that in a codicil to the SALT II agreement each side designate 700 “older” strategic systems which would remain “unmodernized” over the period of the agreement. Jackson states that these 700 systems would then become the most likely candidates for reductions which might be negotiated in a follow-on SALT agreement. He alleges that potential savings from such a move could amount to $70 billion.

Jackson’s calculation assumes that the average procurement and 10 year O&M cost of a modernized bomber or missile is $100 million. Although this may be true for the B–1 bomber, the 10 year system cost of a new silo based-ICBM would be about $10 million. Even a new mobile ICBM would cost less than $20–30 million. Each new Trident SLBM will have a ten-year cost of about $80 million including the submarine cost. In any event, we have no plans to modernize our 700 oldest systems. Thus, there would be no savings whatsoever when compared to our present program.

Jackson states that he will introduce an amendment or resolution calling upon the Administration to put this proposal to the Soviets and to report back on the results of its efforts to gain Soviet acceptance of it.

Elsewhere in the speech, Jackson describes the 2400 and 1320 agreed levels as “astonishingly high.” He implies that these levels might end up as a strategic systems floor rather than a ceiling. He also criticizes the Soviet throw weight advantage allowed by Vladivostok.

As is usual with Jackson’s proposals, there are many ambiguities concerning the specific provisions. Nevertheless, with a reasonable interpretation, his proposal has essentially no effect on the programs of the two sides. The US has 700 systems it plans to keep until 1985 but [Page 413] does not plan to modernize, and the Soviets probably have the same. Of course, both sides could modernize these systems—the point is that they are not likely to do so with or without Jackson’s provisions in an agreement. The following table shows the older systems not likely to be modernized by 1985 for the two sides.

US Soviet
Minuteman II 450 Bears 105
Poseidon C–3 160 Y Class SS–N–6 200
B–52—Active 250 SS–11 Mod 3 400
B–52—Mothballed 170
Total 1030 Total 705

Of course, these numbers are somewhat speculative. Nevertheless, they illustrate the main point—there is a reasonable chance that neither side would modernize its 700 oldest systems by 1985 in any event.

In summary, Jackson’s proposal, while superficially appealing, would have only a limited effect on the programs of the two sides. This is not to say that such an agreement would be harmful—it would certainly be in our interest if the Soviets would agree. But it is one sided, not very significant, and undoubtedly not acceptable to the Soviets.

How to Proceed

There are three separate issues concerning what to do next:

—What the State Department press spokesmen and/or the White House should say if questioned about Jackson’s speech.

—What you might wish to say on background about his proposal.

—How to respond to a Jackson initiative to amend the Kennedy/Mathias/Mondale resolution.3

We believe the Administration should quickly and firmly indicate that any attempt to add an amendment such as Jackson is proposing to the Kennedy/Mathias/Mondale resolution would be counterproductive. We believe the Congress must be told in no uncertain terms that this is another example of Jackson’s tendency to go too far, that the present negotiations to complete the Vladivostok Agreement are difficult enough as they are.

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Concerning your background statements, we suggest you make some of the points outlined in the above memorandum.

As to short-term reaction which White House and State Department press spokesmen might give, we suggest a response along the lines of the following:

Q: What is the Department’s reaction to the Jackson proposal to designate 700 older strategic systems which will not be modernized during the life of a SALT II agreement?

A: The Department always considers seriously proposals made by Members of Congress. Senator Jackson’s proposal will be given serious consideration.

Concerning the on-going negotiations in Geneva on implementing the Vladivostok Agreement, the Administration has made clear its firm belief that we must successfully complete the negotiations before going on to further measures.

We consider the Kennedy/Mathias/Mondale Resolution a helpful contribution, and we have already made it clear that we look forward to commencement of follow-on negotiations aimed at reductions in the level of strategic systems as soon as possible following conclusion of a SALT II agreement based upon Vladivostok. But an insistence on legislative proposals which go beyond Vladivostok will be counterproductive to this effort.


a. That you approve the above comment by the State spokesman.4

b. That you approve instructing White House and State Department congressional liaison officers to oppose Jackson’s change to the Kennedy/Mathias/Mondale resolution.5

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject File, Box 19, SALT (10)–(21). Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten note from Sonnenfeldt at the top of the page reads: “The Secretary should see before press briefings, Thursday, 3/27.” Another handwritten note in an unknown hand reads: “Gen[eral] S[cowcroft] discussed w/ Lodal by phone a.m., 3/31.”
  2. Tab A, a press release from Jackson’s office containing his remarks on the Senate Floor, March 26, is attached but not printed.
  3. On December 12, 1974, Senators Edward Kennedy (D–Massachusetts), Charles Mathias (R–Maryland) and Walter Mondale (D–Minnesota) introduced a resolution expressing broad support for a SALT II agreement as negotiated at the Vladivostok Summit but calling on President Ford to negotiate even lower ceilings for Soviet and U.S. force levels before submitting a treaty to the Senate for approval.
  4. Kissinger initialed his approval of this recommendation.
  5. Kissinger did not indicate his approval or disapproval of this recommendation.