135. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance to the Department of State1

Secto 8033. Subject: Gromyko-Vance Talks: SALT. For Acting Secretary—Please pass to Secretary Brown. Bonn for Dr. Brzezinski.

1. In SALT portion of meeting, Gromyko provided the following clarification of their proposal of yesterday.2

A. The Soviet proposal related only to its actual words, i.e., that each side could have one new ICBM type, MIRVed or not.

B. The proposal did not exclude or include fractionation or definition issues. Definition, which he described as when modernization makes an existing type a new missile, should be handled by delega[[Page 432]tions. He said they agree that a fractionation limit was a sound principle and should be included, but was linked to a solution of the major issues, i.e., their acceptance of our position on freedom to choose a MIRVed or single RV ICBM in return for our acceptance of their position on cruise missile fractionation, timeline of reductions and Backfire. Limits on numbers of SLBM RVs was similarly a side question that could be discussed by delegations.

C. The Soviet proposal for handling exceptions (one ICBM, no limit on SLBMs) was linked only to U.S. acceptance of Soviet positions on the three items specifically identified—Backfire, ALCM limits per aircraft, and timing of reductions. There is, as he put it, “no etcetera.” He said the Soviets could not retreat on Backfire—ALCM numbers, but sounded a little more flexible on timing of reductions. On Backfire, however, he repeated that while they “could not add one comma, they could make it more compact” eliminating some matters, if that was what we wanted.

D. The aggregates referred to are the 2400, 2250, 1320, 1200, 820. On what he called the “secondary issues” i.e., those not listed, he seemed to want to suggest that the Soviets could be flexible, saying that the other matters were open for discussion by the delegations and all they had said was that they should be settled “on the basis” of their proposals.

2. In side conversation, Dobrynin said that “because of China” there could never be limits on air defenses, and suggested Soviets had come to Geneva with their proposal and had not considered our new proposal in great detail.

3. On CTB, the discussion was general. Gromyko said the Agreement should be “comprehensive,” without going into details. On duration, he suggested that there might be arguments for a five-year duration, to which Warnke countered that he was beginning to find the arguments for three years more convincing. Gromyko seemed to retreat from the Soviet acceptance of the concept of National Seismic Stations, saying that national technical means should suffice. His remarks were, however, somewhat inconsistent with the comments of Petrosyants, chairman of the Soviet CTB delegation. Petrosyants, said that verification could be “divided”, with initial reliance on NTM and then phasing in of National Seismic Stations. Warnke will clarify this issue with Petrosyants, stressing that we will discuss the number, location and timing but will insist on the principle of NSS.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840153–1668. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent Immediate to Bonn. The full memorandum of conversation is in the Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Special Adviser to the Secretary (S/MS) on Soviet Affairs Marshall Shulman—Jan 21, 77–Jan 19, 81, Lot 81D109, Box 8, Vance/Gromyko: Geneva, 7/12–13, 1978.
  2. See Document 134.