120. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1

    • NSC Meeting on Safeguard

The purpose of the NSC meeting on Friday2 is to consider the Defense Department’s proposals for the ABM program in FY 71.

[Page 418]

Proposal for Conduct of Meeting

So that the meeting will serve to expose the issues which affect your decision, and to give everyone the feeling that he has had ample opportunity to make his views known to you, I recommend that it be conducted as follows:

  • —Call on me to outline the background of the program, state the alternatives open to us, and review the principal issues;
  • —Ask the Defense spokesman to state the DOD position;
  • —Invite discussion, being particularly sure that Gerard Smith, who feels he has been inadequately involved in the review of the program, has a chance to express his views;
  • —Conclude the meeting by saying that you will make your decision shortly and that once it is made, you are determined that the Government, in presenting and explaining it to the public and to Congress, must adhere to the single, agreed rationale which will be developed by the special groups set up for that purpose.

Your talking points3 proceed in this way.

Also included is an issues paper,4 setting forth the background on the issue, the alternatives, and suggesting the arguments likely to be raised at the meeting.

[Omitted here is a list of the contents of Nixon’s preparatory materials for the meeting.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–26, NSC Meeting, January 23, 1970. Top Secret; Nodis.
  2. January 23.
  3. Nixon’s talking points were prepared by the NSC Staff; see Document 121.
  4. The 18-page Issues Paper, prepared by the NSC Staff, informed Nixon of his Safeguard options: continue Phase I with only R&D for additional Minuteman defense, build additional sites designed primarily for Minuteman defense, pursue either a thick or thin area defense, or construct additional sites toward a full Phase II system of 12 sites capable of area, Minuteman, and NCA defense. The Pentagon favored the latter option, according to the paper. The paper indicated, however, that scientists had raised technical questions about Safeguard’s ability to defend the land-based deterrent and that Gerard Smith, among others, believed that pursuing Phase II would torpedo SALT. The paper concluded, however, that Phase II would give the United States a bargaining chip during SALT and serve as a hedge in case talks failed. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–26, NSC Meeting, January 23, 1970) See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, Document 50.