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

Secto 15005. Department pass SecDef for Secretary Brown. Department for Christopher. Subject: Meetings With Gromyko Dec. 21.2

1. At morning plenary session I briefly reviewed major outstanding issues and Gromyko made similar statement in which he inter alia:

(A) proposed cruise missile definition should apply not only to nuclear and conventionally armed cruise missiles, but also to unarmed cruise missiles;

(B) suggested ban on cruise missiles with multiple warheads could be treaty article or agreed statement;

(C) confirmed Soviet willingness to accept U.S. ICBM fractionation proposals conditional on cruise missile resolution;

(D) indicated willingness to amend Soviet telemetry proposal to provide that encryption permissible provided repeat provided it does not deliberately hinder or impede verification of compliance with provisions of agreement;

(E) renewed issue of Minuteman II/III (including shelters).

2. At three hour afternoon restricted meeting we discussed telemetry, Minuteman II/III and shelters, cruise missile definition (including unarmed cruise missiles) and multiple warhead cruise missiles.

(A) In course of lengthy discussion Gromyko made concrete proposal “whereby sides would agree on principle” as described this [Page 497] morning and have thorough consultation between delegation experts on examples of telemetry encryption, which would constitute deliberate concealment measures. I rejected proposal for discussion of examples, and Gromyko accepted my rejection. He asked if we could not agree on the principle. I told him I would defer answer until tomorrow.

(B) On Minuteman distinguishability and shelters, Gromyko said he would put issue aside if we were to remove shelters. However, for the record, he reserved right to return to issue if problem of distinguishability still existed after shelter removal and described his earlier position as a “warning.” He made clear that Soviets could not distinguish between Minuteman II/III while shelters are in place. I reaffirmed that we are prepared to remove shelters.

(C) I told Gromyko that we would be willing to accept Soviet definition of cruise missiles provided that it was clear that it related only to long-range ALCMs in treaty after expiration of protocol. I spelled out in detail difference between ALCMs on the one hand and SLCMs and GLCMs on the other and emphasized that SLCM and GLCM limitations would expire with the protocol unless otherwise agreed. Gromyko said he would reflect on issue and return to it tomorrow.

(D) On unarmed cruise missiles Gromyko argued that armed/unarmed distinction was no more verifiable than conventional/nuclear distinction, and I made clear that we differed on this issue.

(E) He confirmed that the Soviet proposal to ban cruise missiles with multiple warheads for treaty applied only to those that are independently targetable.

(F) We discussed numbers of long-range ALCMs on heavy bombers and narrowed figure to between 25 and 30. We will return to this tomorrow.

3. Next meeting in restricted session at 10:00 am December 22.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 38, SALT—(11/78–4/79). Secret; Cherokee; Flash; Nodis. Sent flash to the White House. Vance was in Geneva, December 21–23, to meet with Gromyko regarding SALT negotiations. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room.
  2. The full memorandum of Vance and Gromyko’s December 21 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, Gromyko/Vance Meeting, December, 1978.