36. National Security Decision Directive 531


This Decision Directive supplements NSDD–33,2 NSDD–363 and NSDD–44.4 It provides additional guidance on the U.S. approach to START. (S)

The existence of non-deployed Soviet ICBMs poses a potential threat to the United States since, under certain conditions, those spare missiles could be used to augment the strategic capability provided by deployed Soviet forces. The principal threats posed by non-deployed missiles are as reserve forces for use in a protracted nuclear war or for large-scale breakout through new deployments should a treaty expire, [Page 112] or be violated or abrogated. The following additional constraints are designed to minimize the threats posed by non-deployed ballistic missiles and should be added as elements of the U.S. START position. (C)

Limits Applied at ICBM Complexes (U)

The following constraints, to be applied at ICBM complexes, are intended to ensure that refire missiles are not readily available near launchers and that a rapid refire capability from fixed launchers cannot be developed or tested. (U)

—Ban the development, testing or deployment of rapid reload capability for fixed launchers. (S)

—Ban the storage of ICBMs or hardened missile storage facilities for ICBMs at ICBM complexes in excess of the number required for normal deployment plus a small additional allowance of one or two spare missiles per ICBM complex for maintenance and training. (S)

—Limit the ground support equipment on ICBM complexes to the quantity and type required to support normal deployment and maintenance. (S)

—Establish in the treaty the principle that activities aimed at providing for the reconstitution of expended ICBM launchers with refire missiles are not acceptable. (S)

Non-Quantitative Constraints on Non-deployed Ballistic Missiles (U)

The following constraints are intended to apply non-quantitative limits on the “non-deployed” ballistic missiles possessed by both sides. (U)

—Require that all deployed missiles retired to achieve the limit of 850 deployed missiles must either be directly accounted for and limited by constraints on the total inventory of non-deployed missiles, or be dismantled and destroyed under agreed procedures. (S)

—Require that non-deployed missiles of types that are no longer deployed must be dismantled and destroyed under agreed procedures. (S)

The intent of the above constraints is to assure that only non-deployed missiles for which there exists a legitimate training, testing or maintenance requirement are allowed. Special provisions may need to be negotiated for space launch boosters using retired missile types or booster components from retired types, and for new types of missiles requiring development testing. Special provisions may also need to be negotiated so as not to restrict the limited possession of new types of missiles produced pending the availability of a launcher permitting their deployment. (S)

—Require that all empty launchers associated with missiles retired to meet the limit of 850 deployed missiles, be dismantled and destroyed under agreed procedures. (S)

—Require that, with the exception of the one or two non-deployed missiles permitted per launch complex to support training and maintenance, all non-deployed missiles be stored at a limited number of designated facilities located at a specific distance from operational missile complexes. (S)

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Quantitative Constraints on Non-deployed Ballistic Missiles (U)

The following constraint is intended to place a direct limit on the quantity of non-deployed ballistic missiles (both ICBMs and SLBMs) possessed by both sides. (S)

—Require a numerical limit be applied to the total number of non-deployed ballistic missiles possessed in the inventories of both sides. Non-deployed missiles above the allowed limit would have to be dismantled and destroyed under agreed procedures. (S)

Data Exchange (U)

The U.S. should require the exchange of data, to include periodic updates as needed, to support the proposed constraints on non-deployed missiles. (S)

Verification and Monitoring (U)

In proposing the above constraints on non-deployed missiles, it is recognized that, with respect to certain of the constraints, effective verification will require that we go beyond National Technical Means alone, by incorporating means including active cooperative measures to monitor compliance. (S)

With respect to the constraints proposed at ICBM complexes, the United States should seek access to ICBM complexes to ensure compliance, especially with the limits placed on the number of non-deployed missiles permitted at such facilities. This should be undertaken to the extent that reciprocal access to U.S. ICBM complexes is consistent with U.S. legal and security requirements. (S)

With respect to the non-quantitative constraints proposed, the following guidance applies: (U)

—The U.S. should seek both active and passive measures including on-site presence as a means of obtaining high confidence in our ability to monitor the destruction of missiles and launchers as required by the constraints. (S)

—The U.S. should also seek access to the areas surrounding ICBM complexes to determine that there are no non-deployed ICBMs in the immediate vicinity of these facilities. This should be undertaken to the extent that reciprocal access is consistent with U.S. legal and security requirements. (S)

—The U.S. should consider the possibility of the right to a limited number of inspections in other areas if such an option shows promise of increasing our overall monitoring confidence or decreasing the Soviets’ confidence in successfully avoiding detection over time, should they choose to store covertly additional or banned missiles at other than designated storage sites. (S)

With respect to monitoring the quantitative limit set on the number of non-deployed missiles permitted to either side, the U.S. should seek [Page 114] active and passive measures to include access to count the number of missiles actually stored at designated storage locations. We should also consider applying these measures to production facilities and consider the possibility of a right to a limited number of inspections outside of designated areas, consistent with U.S. legal and security requirements associated with reciprocal access. (S)

Even with highly intrusive verification to include on-site inspection, the monitoring confidence of some of the individual elements of this total package of constraints will be low. However, the network of constraints developed by the entire package of proposed measures provides us greater confidence in both our ability to limit the threat posed by non-deployed missiles and to monitor overall compliance, than if the individual elements of the package were applied separately. (S)

Limits on Soft Launch Capability (U)

Limits on testing of ICBMs from fixed, surface sites in order to constrain the development of a combat soft launch capability were considered but rejected. (C)

The Intelligence Community should closely monitor Soviet programs for evidence of the development of a combat soft launch capability. If such evidence is detected, U.S. options in this area will be reassessed. (C)

Additional Work(U)

The refinement of the U.S. negotiating position should continue as planned by the START Interdepartmental Group. In addition, the following guidance is provided: (U)

—The START Interdepartmental Group shall conduct a detailed review of both the Soviet negotiating position and the Soviet criticism of the U.S. negotiating position as presented by the Soviet delegation during the first round of negotiations. The results of this review should be provided to the NSC by September 17, 1982. (C)

—The START Interdepartmental Group shall develop recommendations concerning the details of specific verification measures that the U.S. should propose to monitor compliance with the constraints on non-deployed missiles. The recommendations should be based upon the guidance with respect to verification measures contained in this directive. This product should be provided to the NSC by December 1, 1982. (C)

Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: National Security Council, National Security Council Institutional Files, Box SR 079, NSDD 053 [START IV]. Secret. Clark distributed the decision directive to Bush, Haig, Weinberger, Stockman, Casey, Jones, Rostow, and Rowny, copying Armstrong, under cover of a September 3 memorandum (which McFarlane signed on Clark’s behalf): “The President has decided upon additional guidance on the U.S. approach to the START negotiations as incorporated in the attached National Security Decision Directive (NSDD–53). In view of the special sensitivity of the details of the negotiating approach, it is directed that the NSDD–53 document be held by addressees. It is further directed that no copies are to be made, and that a record of authorized personnel who are provided access to the document be maintained by the office of each addressee.” (Ibid.)
  2. See Document 19.
  3. See Document 24.
  4. See Document 29.