4. Notes of Review Group Meeting1

Kissinger: Strategic forces first. Talking points.2 Is list of objectives reasonable for NSC and is paper3 appropriate to objectives?

Rosson: Yes.

Pedersen: Difficulty understanding exactly what the options meant.

Kissinger: Agree. Can’t assume principals know what DL [damage limitation?] means.

Smith: Hard to relate options to issues for decisions.

Kissinger: Agree. Figures are illustrative. Promised JCS would not have field marshal in WH [White House]. Give options a label. Avoid [illegible]—can’t find five adjectives for sufficiency.

Schlesinger: Are they options or possible objectives. U.S. may not be far along the line to accurate MIRVs. Maybe four or five years before we have accurate MIRVs.

Kissinger: Is justification for MIRVs only attack hard targets?

Schlesinger: No, also penetration.

Lynn: Mean some options may not be open.

Schlesinger: Yes.

Kissinger: DL may also relate to active defense.

Lynn: Question is—if this is technologically feasible should we do it?

Kissinger: Add glossary. Any choice really depends on series of assumptions about technological and political development[s]. State [Page 5]what theory of AC [arms control] operating on—e.g., restraint leads to agreement, threaten or start a race. Should we attach list of uncertainties that each involves?

Rosson: Paper already involved but like idea of listing assumptions.

Kissinger: What can senior men do: list of questions for strategic review, general guidelines, or at least what questions they have to answer in their own mind[s]. In ME [Middle East] discussion President reacts best to pros and cons in outline form.

Rosson: Take option 1. What would be an assumption?

Lynn: Once settled—Soviets could or would not react.

Kissinger: Major uncertainties.

Lynn: Distinguish preparing climate for talks and kind of agreement you accept.

Kissinger: Senior people unlikely to decide now. Depends on Soviet WP [war plan?] also on role in Type II Det. [deterrence?].

Pedersen: Difference between deciding to do something to get an agreement or to do [something?] even in the presence of an agreement.

Fisher: Agree.

Pedersen: Add two options: (1) improved defenses: small ABM, no MIRV (2) Sentinel4 and no MIRV.

Farley: More relevant to Packard committee paper. Or relate to observations about ABM level.

Kissinger: Changed orientation of ABM.

Pedersen: Detailed comments.

Lindjord: Should civil defense be added?

Kissinger: Yes. Begin in JCS briefing on strategic balance. Talk to General Wheeler about it. Get everyone agreed on factual situation. How can discussion of arms talks be handled? Call to the attention of principals that options have implications for arms talks.

Rosson: Key issue is whether to press forward now for talks or wait until strategic posture is well along. Also intermediate alternative.

Pedersen: Yes. Could do quicker strategic study. In meantime make arrangements for talks.

[Page 6]

Fisher: Option of discussing only principles not a real option. These can be done in diplomatic exchanges.

Kissinger: Two problems: (1) account for strategic review?

Lynn: Paper raises just these questions.

Earle: Add [at?] beginning of talks could aid study—could get an indication of where Soviets are going.

Kissinger: (2) question to linking to political. President’s view is that political improvement might lead to talks or at least put in harmony. See some improvement before agree to talks. Thus necessary to keep open option that talks will not take place. This issue should be discussed in NSC. Problem of how to establish linkage. How much progress?

Lynn: Interaction between kind of issues brought up pol[itically] and kind of agreement.

Kissinger: President believes agreement in either category must benefit both sides. Not a question of trade-offs. Moving on political agreements in AC could make AC more likely.

Fisher: State both sides of coin.

Pedersen: Policy choice.

Fisher: Argument that now is the time on strategic talks, which may not be here two–three years from now.

Kissinger: Rewrite pp. 16–185 in view of considerations that should go into talks.

Pedersen: Three choices: (1) go ahead now; (2) wait for Packard; (3) split out strategic review and do in six weeks. Could go ahead with arranging talks.

Earle: Repeats opening talks could aid strategic study.

Kissinger: p. 26a. President not overwhelmed by argument that things should go forward because they were previously approved. And blackmail argument rather [than?] trying to go forward together.

Fisher: Delayed strategic program does not deal with MIRVs.

Pedersen: Vorontsov6 very concerned with MIRVs. Agreement should include.

Fisher: Sentinel does not deal with how to deal with Congressional posture on relationship between Sentinel and talks.

[Page 7]

Kissinger: Need theory on talks and theory of impact of unilateral decisions on talks, then what does it say about MIRV and Sentinel.

Rosson: OK, but in discussion of delay of MIRVs make clear impact on strategic posture.

Smith: MIRVs not given sufficient prominence.

Sonnenfeldt: Are we talking about delay or cancellation since agreement does not include it?

Fisher: Delay to hold open option to ban MIRVs.

Kissinger: On Sentinel—pressure of events may force a decision before end of review. P. 27 is premature.7

Lynn: Existence of proposal is an important fact.

Kissinger: President is aware of it. Could list it. In New York, President told Chiefs were on board and may not be later. Said they are not a sovereign government.

Pedersen: Must decide whether you wait for review. Then how to go forward.

Kissinger: (1) linkage; (2) strategic review; (3) even if establish linkage can you have preliminary talks while political talks go forward? Could we get estimate of time hurdles we are passing? What would happen if we waited six months? Could we add political and military assessment of what happens if we wait?

Schlesinger: Are two-tier talks envisioned; experts then political?

Fisher: Previously, ambassadorial talks at one level.

Kissinger: Defer tabling a proposal option. Re. five-[year] budget review options: Do we have enough for NSC to give guidance to DOD?

Rosson: Yes.

Kissinger: More detail on Sentinel.

Schlesinger: What advantage if AC negotiations may provide you with an opportunity not to do what cannot be done, e.g. MIRVs which he thinks work but do not.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, SRG Meetings Minutes, Originals, 1969. No classification marking. The original is a transcription of handwritten notes in an unknown hand, the only record of the meeting found. The notes do not indicate when the meeting began, but give an ending time of 4:20 p.m. The following attended: Henry A. Kissinger, James Schlesinger, Philip J. Farley, Counselor of the Department of State Richard F. Pedersen, Deputy Director of ACDA Adrian S. Fisher, R. Jack Smith representing the Central Intelligence Agency, Director of USIA Frank Shakespeare, Haakon Lindjord of OEP, Lieutenant General William B. Rosson of the Joint Staff, JCS, Defense Adviser to the U.S. Mission to NATO Ralph Earle II, and Alexander M. Haig, Laurence E. Lynn, Spurgeon Keeny, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, and Morton Halperin of the NSC Staff.
  2. Kissinger’s talking points are ibid., Box H–34, Review Group Meeting, February 6, 1969.
  3. All such references are to “Strategic Policy Issues,” an undated paper prepared by the NSC Staff. On February 1, Kissinger sent the paper to Review Group members for their consideration prior to the meeting. (Ibid.) The NSC considered a revision of the paper at its February 14 meeting. A summary of that paper is printed as Document 6.
  4. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announced in an address given to United Press International Editors and Publishers in San Francisco on September 18, 1967, that President Lyndon B. Johnson had decided to deploy Sentinel, an ABM system designed to provide area defense against a relatively small nuclear attack by China and an accidental, irrational, or unsophisticated attack by the USSR. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume X, National Security Policy, Document 192.
  5. These pages of “Strategic Policy Issues” deal with SALT.
  6. Yuli M. Vorontsov, Minister Counselor of the Soviet Embassy.
  7. Page 27 of the paper lists the arguments for and against tabling an arms control proposal or only discussing principles and objectives.