269. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Shultz’s Delegation1

46736 ToSec 030035. Subject: START.

1. Secret—entire text.

2. The Arms Control Support Group has over the last three weeks produced a little paper on START which is designed to serve as a basis for decisions on our START position for your meeting in Moscow. A copy2 will be waiting for you on your return. In the meantime, this note describes the overall plan and the key issues for decision. These START issues could well be discussed at your morning meetings with Colin and Frank, and a family lunch with Colin, Frank, and Bill Crowe is being set up for Wednesday.3

3. There is general agreement that at the February 21–23 meeting we should discuss and hopefully resolve the ALCM counting rule, mobile ICBMs, sublimits, and a few lesser issues. As outlined below, there are a number of differences within the U.S. government that will need to be resolved with Colin and Frank. You will note that the OSD representatives have been taking unhelpful positions. We don’t know [Page 1197] whether Frank or Ron Lehman (who has been in Europe) share these views.

4. Sublimits

—Our idea here is to try to build on Akhromeyev’s statement that under START they would not have more than 3300 ICBM warheads, and try to record this somehow.

—If that does not work, we should be prepared to drop it in the context of a package in which we get a good ALCM counting rule and the Soviets drop their 1100 ALCM sublimit.

—In the past the Soviets have linked a 3300 ICBM warhead sublimit to a 3300 SLBM sublimit, and now they have introduced an 1100 ALCM sublimit, so getting Soviet agreement here is still a long shot.

ACDA supports our approach; JCS considers the 3300 low priority and say we shouldn’t pay anything for it. OSD, however, is dug in on a 3000 sublimit.

5. Mobile ICBMs

—Except for OSD (and Rowny), everyone believes that if we are to get anything for our mobile ICBM card we had better play it now. OSD would hold to a ban on mobile ICBMs until a verification package is agreed.

—Our idea is to be prepared to permit mobile ICBMs (again in the context of a good ALCM counting rule), give the Soviets our list of verification measures for mobile ICBMs, and work out a limit on the number of mobile ICBM warheads. ACDA and (I believe) JCS agree.

—[less than 4 lines not declassified] We have opposed this constraint to avoid killing either the Rail MX (the Air Force preference) or the Midgetman (with a lot of Congressional support). The practical effect would be to discourage small, mobile, single-RV ICBMs which are widely viewed as good for stability, and START shouldn’t discourage them.

—On the number, with Carlucci on record favoring 100 Rail MX we assume 1000 mobile warheads is a good number for the U.S. on the assumption the Soviets will want more than 1000, we would propose initially a lower number (700), and negotiate upward. The initial number needs to be a defensible position, and acceptable if our assumption is wrong and the Soviets agree to it. 700 would allow 500 Rail MX warheads and 200 Midgetman (or MM–III) warheads. ACDA and Read agree with this approach.

OSD would include mobile ICBM warheads in the 1540 heavy ICBM warhead sublimit. This would force a hard choice on the Soviets, and would be very hard to get since we propose no comparable hard choices for ourselves.

[Page 1198]

6. Modernization of Heavy ICBMs

—We were prepared at the Washington summit to permit modernization and testing of heavy ICBMs in the context of agreement on counting rules and other issues, and we should be in the same position in Moscow.

7. ALCM Counting Rule

—This is important to the U.S.; our draft talking points lead with this issue.

—At the Washington summit we proposed to attribute 6 ALCMs to each ALCM bomber, and had authority to go to 8. The Soviets propose the maximum number a bomber is equipped to carry. (For B–52’s this could be 20.)

OSD would stay at 6.

—We, ACDA, and Read all favor trying 8.

—In order to solve this problem if 8 doesn’t work, and it probably won’t, we propose authority to offer to attribute to an aircraft either the number of external stations for ALCMs or 6, whichever is larger. For aircraft which carry ALCMs externally, the number of ALCM stations is monitorable and that number would be attributed to each aircraft (e.g., 12 for B–52’s). For aircraft which carry ALCMs internally, the number cannot be readily monitored so an arbitrary number like 6 (or 8) would be attributed.

—This approach would accurately count ALCMs on B–52’s and give us considerable flexibility in the future to deploy ALCMs internally on the B–L.

JCS, for reasons I do not fathom, supports the Soviet position—the number of ALCMs for which an aircraft is equipped.

8. ALCM Range and Armament

—The U.S. position would subject to START constraints nuclear-armed ALCMs with a range over 1500 km. The Soviet range is 600 km. They agreed to “nuclear-armed” in Washington, but in Geneva they say all ALCMs over 600 km must be considered nuclear-armed because there is no way to distinguish nuclear from conventional.

OSD and JCS want to hold to our current position.

—The U.S. objective is to preserve an option for conventional ALCMs. The JCS apparently want to preserve the option for conventional ALCMs of all ranges outside START, although we have no program beyond 1000 km. We, ACDA, and Read all believe that a range of 1500 km. would give adequate flexibility for future conventional ALCMs outside START. Since there is no reliable way to verify the distinction between nuclear and conventional ALCMs, we suggest proposing to the Soviets that the U.S. is prepared to agree to consider all [Page 1199] ALCMs over 1500 km to be nuclear-armed if they can agree that only ALCMs with a range over 1500 km are subject to START. (ACDA and Read agree with this approach, and propose 1000 km as the threshhold.)

—This position has the following advantages:

—Avoids having to verify the distinction between nuclear and conventional ALCMs. The DCI strongly support us on this point;

—Allows conventional ALCMs on any aircraft up to 1500 km; and,

—Allows conventional ALCMs over 1500 km on ALCM bombers (e.g., B–52’s).

—We have not, however, persuaded JCS.

9. Final Points

—As you see, the OSD staffers are proposing that we not change our positions on anything. Whether Ron Lehman (who has been out of the country) or Frank Carlucci feel this way is not known.

JCS have been quiet except on the ALCM issues.

—The NSC staff, ACDA, and Read generally support the approach we advocate.

—The support group paper tends to combine these issues into a package. This is to some extent necessary, since we want a balanced outcome to the meeting, and U.S. moves on mobile ICBMs and heavy ICBM modernization make more sense in the context of getting what we want on ALCMs. However, we should have enough flexibility to allow resolution of some of the issues even if the package is not exactly the one anticipated in Washington.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, N880001-0529. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Timbie; cleared in S-S/O; approved by Timbie. Shultz was on vacation in Florida.
  2. Not found.
  3. February 17.