36. Minutes of National Security Council Meeting1

RN: Let’s see if we have agreement on our four criteria.2 They are essential to our arms control discussions.

HAK: Note: Allies, general purpose forces.

Criteria for sufficiency: lists the four criteria, goes over missions on p. 5:3 A.D., stability, less than all-out attacks.
Impact of arms control option on other aspects of capability: target coverage, threat to Europe.

Lists topics for additional study: all four named.

RN: Four criteria add up to massive retaliation; don’t they? 70 million or nothing. This isn’t adequate. Further study of further options in terms of our diplomacy, other areas you haven’t covered: tac nucs, conventional others. We may miss the boat on what may really happen. Kind of confrontations we’re likely to have, not unlikely to have. How do I react to lesser threats?

Looking at fourth criteria may be most important thing on chart. Gives us a viable foreign policy, for example in the Pacific.

RN: Today, we couldn’t confront Soviet Union with first strike capability. 1962 edge is all gone, we can’t help that. Paper is deficient in that it doesn’t come up against other than massive retaliation. Report in 2 months.

[Page 139]

Smith Briefing

RN: Are their subs under construction as good as ours?

Laird: They are Polaris type. They could be developing quieter subs.

RN: Civil defense should be included in the evaluations of capability. This is related to political warning. Not decisive, but should be there.

Major new factor is our verification capability.

Lincoln: Could capability be neutralized?

Helms: Sure, very easily.

RN: On-site inspection should be raised, and if you give it away get something for it.

Rogers: We would want to avoid making this a major issue. They would question our good faith. (Laird disagrees: don’t bring it up later on.) Smith: Depends on what our proposal is.

RN: You must assume they will cheat.

Doubts “good faith” assertion, but discuss it later.

Smith: We should try for “old-fashioned” on-site inspection. But also seek supplemental measures. But some agreements would require neither.

RN: SWWA 4 is propaganda point, a gimmick. Neither side will negotiate on that basis. But it could be used as propaganda. Reserve it for later consideration. It’s like a cease-fire in VN. Not serious.

RN: What will they ask for?

They will ask for flight test limits, because they have done so much of it to us.

What’s purpose of Soviet MRV? (to Helms) Is it first-strike weapon or not? (Helms: oh, yes sir, it is.)

With cities, they don’t need it. They aren’t stupid.

Laird, Packard: Poseidon really isn’t a hard target weapon. Subs can’t navigate that well; we can’t achieve the necessary accuracies.

RN: On Intelligence reports:

Strict separation between fact, opinion.
Intelligence information has been used to prove conclusions, rather than draw conclusions. Around this table, I don’t want that kind of talk. We’re here to learn the facts. In 1965–1968, Intelligence Community was 50% too low. We must be hard-headed in looking at the facts. (He laid line down hard to Helms.)

[Page 140]

Helms: More than half our search areas are continuously covered by clouds.

Maintaining arms control agreement would not be easy. We can probably give timely warning of cheating on a scale that would alter the strategic balance.

[less than 1 line not declassified]

Packard Briefing

Get Wheeler’s talking points on targeting considerations.

Today, our capability gives you limited capability in other than A.D. situations.
Option IV5MIRV ban—would not be in our best interests, because of targeting limitations.
Desirability of having an ABM of undetermined size.
2–1 advantage in Soviet throw weight.

RN: Who would benefit from MIRV moratorium?

Wheeler: I don’t think we would. Soviets might like to stop both our MIRVs and ABMs.

RN: Why not stop testing for a year? Would it bother you? Wheeler: Yes sir, it would. We can’t be satisfied with ours. They might be OK. We would be constrained to stay with single RVs.

RN: Why is MIRV important? Forget payload; enough is enough. Is it because we can hit the additional targets? Is that what it comes down to?

Wheeler: Targets. We can get good accuracies on MM III.

RN: Do we tie MIRVs & ABMs together because of defending hard sites? Is ABM help against their MRV?

Wheeler: Spartan (4 MT) will kill all 3 RVs.

Our MIRVs clusters can’t be killed with one warhead.

Laird: They can’t read our program as having hard target capability.

Rogers: WRT payload, doesn’t freezing numbers put us at a disadvantage?

Laird: Throw weight will make big difference in long run. We have to consider this point.

Smith: In 10 years, will we both be better off with MIRVs? With payload problem, we will both be worse off.

[Page 141]

Laird: We only have 40 Titans with hard target capability.

RN: If we can maintain 30% a.d. how can we talk of Soviet first strike?

Laird: We would have to remain reliant on bombers.

Rogers: Who would benefit from MIRV ban?

Laird: Could make a case it would be about even. They believe all tests have been successful. If so, they have moved ahead of us. They’ve had “confidence firings.”

RN: Charts show that MIRV ban is our worst option. Is that right? What are charts up there for? (Maybe for fun.) Is option III worse or not?

Packard: Depends on whether we limit ICBMs. Gives us extra targeting capability. Should couple MIRV ban with ICBM limits. Must work out numbers problem.

Rogers: Point is that Soviets can target our missiles.

Packard: We couldn’t deploy and have it unknown. They can.

Smith: Wouldn’t we see their confidence firings?

Wheeler: Test it in an IR/MRBM.

Smith: Upgrade our detection capabilities.

Wheeler: It will increase the force we can apply against them.

RN: It all comes down to diplomacy as we all know. First strike, counterforce can be an asset.

Shouldn’t tell the whole truth. Could talk about MRVs, however.

Rogers: Get something re approach. They’re testing, we’re testing.

HAK: Develop a single answer and clear it. (Party line.)

Who gains from deployment ban?
Who gains from testing ban?
Can you be sure? What about clandestine testing?

SALT Options Paper.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–109, NSC Meeting Minutes, Originals, 1969. No classification marking. No drafting information is included. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting, during which participants considered SALT and continued their discussion of the U.S. strategic posture begun during the previous NSC meeting (see Document 35), was held in the Cabinet Room of the White House from 10:14 a.m. to 12:48 p.m. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. Among the briefing materials he sent to Nixon on June 17, Kissinger included a summary of Presidential decisions that he recommended should result from the meeting. These included obtaining NSC endorsement of the four criteria of strategic sufficiency, indicating that the President desired no changes in U.S. strategic programs pending further analysis, and making clear Nixon’s desire to continue to plan U.S. forces against high intelligence projections of the Soviet threat while also maintaining options to deploy new systems against unexpected developments. Kissinger also advised Nixon to initiate post-NSSM 3 studies on the relationship among U.S. strategic nuclear, tactical nuclear, and conventional postures; the implications of disarming attacks for force design and command and control systems; and additional evaluations of war fighting and various strategic force designs. (Ibid., NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–22, NSC Meeting, June 18, 1969)
  3. See Document 34. Kissinger is referring to Section II B of the paper.
  4. A reference to Stop-Where-We-Are, an arms control proposal put forth by ACDA. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, SALT I, 1969–1972, Document 16.
  5. The response to NSSM 28, initiated on March 6 and completed by June, outlined four packages for SALT negotiations, which began in November. The fourth package prohibited MIRVs; the third froze the deployment and modernization of offensive weapons. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, SALT I, 1969–1972, Documents 12, 14, 15, and 20.
  6. Reference is to the summary of the response to NSSM 28. See ibid., Document 14.