51. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark) to President Reagan1


  • Decisions Needed Concerning the START Basic Elements Paper


What specific decisions should you make on the issues raised at the January 25 NSC meeting.


The U.S. START Delegation is scheduled to resume negotiations on February 2. They require specific instructions on how to conduct Round III.

The finalization of instructions now awaits your decisions on the issues listed in the paper at Tab I.

The issues involved were discussed both in papers drafted for your use by the START IG (Tabs A and B), and the major issues were discussed in detail during the NSC meeting on January 25.


The paper at Tab I is an internal NSC Staff paper which recommends to you specific decisions for your approval.

Using the paper, if you will indicate those recommendations with which you agree and those with which you do not, we will incorporate your decisions into an appropriate NSDD for your final approval and signature.


That you use the paper at Tab I to record your decisions on specific issues.2
[Page 176]

Tab A

Paper Prepared in the National Security Council3




The paper provided by the START IG (Tab A) adequately frames most of the issues for decision. Between the paper and the NSC discussion of these issues, all the salient arguments have been made. The purpose of this short paper is to present NSC Staff recommendations (and the rationale for those recommendations) to support the President in his decisions.


The purpose of tabling a Basic Elements paper during this Round would be to undercut Soviet criticism that the U.S. position is not comprehensive. There is no objection by any agency to taking this action at this time to achieve the purpose stated. The JCS initially had some reluctance to table such a document based on the fact that we still have more work to do before we can finalize the U.S. position on cruise missiles (specifically on SLCM), but we have means available to protect their interests on this subject.


________ ________ That we authorize the START Delegation to table a Basic Elements paper.4

U.S. PHASED APPROACH TO NEGOTIATIONS: OSD (and others) argue that if we are to table a Basic Elements paper, then all items contained in both phases will be squarely on the table for discussion. They argue that the distinction between discussion and negotiations will be impossible to enforce. Therefore, they continue, we should recognize that the likely effect of tabling the Basic Elements paper will be to collapse our phased approach. They conclude that we should therefore discard the arbitrary distinction of phases now, before the [Page 177] Soviets use it to cause us to discuss (and ultimately negotiate) limits on cruise missiles while using references to later phases to relegate discussion/negotiation of direct limits on throw-weight to some distant and uncertain future.

State argues that our purpose in tabling the Basic Elements paper is as stated above, i.e., simply to undercut Soviet criticism. State argues that it is premature for us to negotiate about our strong suit, i.e., cruise missiles. State also argues that it would be counter-productive to place direct throw-weight limits (with a U.S. goal of ceilings below existing U.S. levels) on the table for negotiation at this time. Therefore, State concludes, we should not alter our phased approach now since it protects us from being dragged into specific negotiations of either cruise missile or direct limits on throw-weight at this time. State feels nothing has changed sufficiently to cause us to move away from our phased approach.


[Page 178]
________ ________ That we not change our phased approach at this time (noting that we may need to change at some future time).5
________ ________ Given our purpose in tabling the Basic Elements paper, the text of the Basic Elements paper tabled should reflect the U.S. framework for both phases and general approach to specific items to be limited, but should not provide additional specific numerical limits (i.e., “fill in the blanks”) beyond what we have already provided at this time.6
________ ________ Additionally, the instructions to the U.S. Delegation should provide the following guidance:
________ ________ (1) The Delegation is authorized to discuss but not negotiate on Phase II items.7
________ ________ (2) Such discussions should not be permitted to divert desired emphasis on Phase I items and on our focus on the most destabilizing systems first.8
________ ________ (3) That U.S. readiness to engage in further discussion of Phase II limits on cruise missiles (consistent with item 2) is contingent upon Soviet readiness to equal and reciprocal discussion of direct limits on ballistic missile throw-weight. The Soviets should not be permitted to isolate the discussion on only one Phase II item and break the linkage we envision between them.9
________ ________ (4) The Delegation will attempt to keep the discussion of limits on Phase II items as general as possible so as to protect U.S. options while achieving our stated purpose in tabling the Basic Elements paper.10
________ ________ (5) The level of specificity in the discussion of limits in one Phase II item (i.e., direct throw-weight or cruise missiles) will not exceed that used in discussing the other Phase II item.11
________ ________ The START IG should be directed to provide a paper addressing the issues of if, when, and how the U.S. should move away from its current phased approach. This paper should be completed by March 1.12


The IG issue paper (Tab A), which was discussed during the January 25th NSC meeting, did note that all agree we cannot accept a numerical bomber limit below 350 at this time. Three alternatives were offered:

(1) Shift the current Phase II U.S. goal for a bomber limit from 250 to 350;

(2) Shift our basic approach to a missile/bomber aggregate (a change in the basic U.S. approach to negotiations; or

(3) Abandon the current goal of 250 for Phase II but set no alternative level.

Alternative 2 would involve a substantial change in the basic U.S. position (moving us away from distinctions between fast and slow [Page 179] flying systems and close to SALT-type aggregates). Alternative 3 would leave us with an unnecessarily vague internal position.


________ ________ That we approve option 1, raising the internal U.S. Phase II goal from 250 to no less than 350 heavy bombers.13
________ ________ That we direct the START IG to provide an analysis of the potential benefits shifting to missile/bomber aggregate limits in the future (and especially should we at a later time decide to abandon the current U.S. position on the phasing issue.)14


All agencies except OSD are prepared to accept an approach to limits on ALCMs which involves average loading limits and a maximum loading limit of 20 ALCM per existing types of bombers. OSD argues that we should propose no limits on ALCMs at all at this time (other than the indirect constraints provided by bomber limits.)


________ ________ That you approve option 2, establishing the U.S. position on limiting ALCM by loading limits associated with heavy bombers and establishing specific numerical limits as internal U.S. goals.15
________ ________ That you direct the START IG to determine how best to present this decision in the context of the Basic Elements paper consistent with other decisions reached on the tabling of that paper.16


The START IG paper (Tab A) provided a number of options for limits on SLCM. Based upon the discussion of this issue at the NSC meeting on January 25, it appears that there is general consensus that we need to study this issue further before proposing any limits.

[Page 180]


________ ________ That you approve option 5, which would direct the JCS to take the lead in a more detailed study of the military and verification problems associated with SLCM limits. This study, vetted through the START IG, should be provided by March 15.17
________ ________ That until this study is complete, the U.S. Delegation should not raise the issue of limits on SLCM. If raised by the Soviets, the Delegation should confine the discussion to the problems associated with verification of SLCM and not imply any commitment to limit SLCM and not imply any commitment to limit SLCMs in START at this time.18


The START IG has reached a consensus recommendation that we neither propose to ban nor to permit mobile ICBMs at this time but continue our current position that mobile ICBMs, if allowed in START, must be accompanied by measures to ensure effective verification.


________ ________ That you approve the IG recommendation on this issue.19


The START IG has reached a consensus recommendation that we adopt a Phase II objective of an equal throw-weight ceiling on deployed ballistic missiles below 1.9 million KG, consistent with the throw-weight definition and counting rules selected. The START IG has also reached a consensus recommendation concerning how to define throw-weight and concerning what counting rules will be necessary to measure it.

[Page 181]


________ ________ That you approve the IG recommendations in this area.20


The paper at Tab B was developed by the START IG and submitted for decision in December, 1982. It was decided at that time to include the issue as a part of this decision package. At issue is whether to propose specific performance criteria as a part of the U.S. definition of a heavy bomber for START purposes. This issue was not discussed at the NSC meeting on January 25.

All agree that at a minimum we should define heavy bombers in START using a system-specific approach for existing aircraft, as in SALT II, adding the BACKFIRE and BLACKJACK-A to the list of heavy bombers. Future bombers for both sides would be added to the list if they were capable of performing the mission of a heavy bomber in a manner comparable to those included on the original list. Either side would be free to identify future bombers that would be the subject of discussion about whether they should be included.

The remaining issue for decision is whether, in addition to the general criterion of performing the mission of a heavy bomber, the agreement should also specify criteria that would be used in making determinations regarding future bombers. A future bomber meeting any of those specific criteria would qualify as a heavy bomber, but bombers not meeting any of them could still be so classified if they met the general criterion mentioned above. The following specific criteria are appropriate such that any future bomber meeting at least one of the criteria would be identified as a “heavy bomber” in START:

—Maximum gross takeoff weight greater than 100,000kg;

—Maximum unrefueled range of at least 8000km, carrying a payload of 6000kg, using a full fuel load and a flight profile designed to provide maximum range; or

—Empty weight greater than 45,000kg.

The OSD and Ambassador Rowny favor the inclusion of specific criteria. As stated in the paper, they feel this would facilitate future U.S. bomber program planning, provide for specific compliance criteria for both sides, and avoid debate over whether new aircraft are heavy bombers. The specific criteria would be those listed in the IG paper at Tab B.

[Page 182]

State, JCS, and ACDA argue against inclusion of criteria. They argue the criteria will permit the Soviets to deploy systems designed to be just below the specified levels, that monitoring of aircrafts performance against the criteria will be difficult, improvements in technology may make the criteria invalid over time, and may slow the negotiating process or lead to negotiated criteria not in the U.S. interest.


________ ________ That you permit the U.S. Chief Negotiator to propose the criteria and that we review the U.S. position after we have a clear picture of the Soviet reaction to the criteria proposed.21

Tab B

Paper Prepared in the National Security Council22


This paper summarizes key points regarding issues for the next round of START negotiations. Where options refer to limitations under consideration, the proposed alternatives should be considered as internal guidance and not necessarily as recommendations for proposals to be tabled in the third round. For the implementation of these options, this paper should be considered in the context of the draft Basic Elements paper and third-round instructions.

I. Phasing

All agencies agree that, as recommended by the US START delegation, we should move away from our current approach of negotiating Phase I issues before Phase II issues and that we should be willing to discuss all issues comprehensively, but only on the condition that the Soviets are willing to be equally comprehensive by addressing seriously all of what are now described as Phase II issues (e.g., direct limits on throw-weight) and not merely the issues of greatest interest to the Soviets (e.g, cruise missile limits).

[Page 183]

There is disagreement over whether the US should propose to implement START reductions in two discrete phases, or whether there should be a single phase of reductions. Whether to retain our ultimate goal of equal levels of throw-weight at below the current US level is not at issue.

Option 1: Single Framework for Discussion of All Issues

We should give up the notion of phases, whether in the sense of negotiations or reductions, and prepare a comprehensive, integral position for the third round. This option could be implemented by tabling a Basic Elements document. Such a procedure would have a number of advantages.

First and foremost, it maximizes the leverage which we possess by virtue of the Soviets’ interest in limiting cruise missiles. If we were to propose constraints for cruise missiles, even without indicating any numbers, without linking them directly to our second phase goals, we must expect the Soviets to “pocket” our willingness to discuss cruise missiles and to import the proposed constraints into the first phase. Indeed, it would hardly be credible to maintain that the US be allowed to build now a cruise missile force that would exceed the ceiling we would be willing to accept eight or ten years hence. The Soviets would attempt to move our proposed cruise missile constraints into the first phase, thus depriving us of the necessary leverage for achieving our second phase goals. Were this to happen, we would duplicate the mistake we made in allowing the ABM restraints of SALT I to take precedence over the restraints on strategic offensive arms, a procedure which virtually guaranteed that we would not achieve the goal of limiting the Soviet strategic offensive build-up to non-threatening levels.

By proposing a single set of restraints, we would obviate the need to address the question of whether we can, consistent with military requirements, propose ballistic missile and ballistic missile warhead limits below the 850 and 5000 level. The possibility of proposing further reductions in these categories now appears remote. In any case, it would hardly seem a realistic use of our time and energy to concern ourselves with the preparation of such a proposal.

This procedure also serves our political interests in that it permits us to come forward with a new position that is conducive to progress in the negotiations while retaining maximum negotiating leverage. It rebuts Soviet criticism of the US proposal as a non-comprehensive, non-serious proposal, which concentrates on US concerns while relegating Soviet concerns to a meaningless second phase. By explicitly addressing ballistic missile throw-weight, an area of Soviet advantage, we help explain the priority the US has placed on ballistic missiles in general, [Page 184] and on heavy ICBMs in particular. Otherwise, concentration on such demands as preferential constraints on heavy ballistic missiles risk appearing as an arbitrary attack on the way in which the Soviets have happened to structure their forces. The required Soviet reduction in throw-weight (65%) is comparable to the reductions the Soviets would have to make in ICBM warheads (58%), ballistic missiles (64%) and heavy ICBMs (65%), under our current Phase I proposal.

In the context of a single proposal, we should table both our proposed framework for constraints on ALCMs and our second phase goal of a direct throw-weight limit of approximately 1.8 million kg in order to make explicit our right to a ballistic missile force equal to that of the Soviet Union in destructive capacity. Our emphasis on throw-weight at this point will facilitate the negotiation of an agreement which accommodates our requirements in the bomber/cruise missile area. The importance of throw-weight as a measure of the destructive capability of a ballistic missile has been emphasized by the recent debate concerning the survivability of CSB. The sole unit of account which captures the ability of the Soviets to adapt their ballistic missile force to the task of threatening CSB is throw-weight. A direct limit on throw-weight would considerably simplify our current approach by allowing us the option of eliminating current indirect constraints on throw-weight (i.e., 210 heavy and medium ICBMs, with a sub-limit of 110 medium ICBMs).

While we would propose a unified set of constraints on strategic forces, we could, of course, take into account the practical problems of effecuating large reductions in forces by providing for gradual reductions in all units of account, in accordance with a schedule of agreed, equal intermediate ceilings.

Option 2: Separate Phases

Combining Phases I and II would establish a direct limitation on throw-weight (specifically the 1.8 million kg ceiling) as a US objective with the same weight and visibility as our other goals of equal ceilings on deployed ballistic missiles and warheads. To propose that the Soviets reduce their current throw-weight level by 65%, while the US reduces little or not at all, would be construed by the Administration’s critics, both here and in Europe, as a new and non-negotiable demand. These critics would invoke the throw-weight limit as evidence of a lack of seriousness and responsibility in the President’s arms control policies. Thus, collapsing the phases would undermine US credibility at the very moment when our objective should be to sustain the support of the US public and our Allies. Any decrease in political support for the Administration’s arms control policies would undercut our position and leverage at the START negotiations.

[Page 185]

The first phase of the US START proposal focuses on destabilizing systems by seeking equal ceilings in the most easily understood indicators of strategic power: ballistic missiles (particularly ICBMs) and their warheads. Through specific limitations on heavy and medium ICBMs, the Phase I proposal is intended to reduce Soviet throw-weight to no more than 2.5 million kg (one-half the current Soviet level). Therefore, the ceilings in Phase I would provide a dramatic reduction in Soviet throw-weight as well as missiles and warheads. Moreover, because we are seeking in Phase I direct limits on the most destabilizing systems themselves, this approach is easier to explain and defend than direct limits on throw-weight, which is not a clearly understood concept outside the strategic community.

Furthermore, it is questionable whether direct throw-weight limits deserve the same prominence in our START proposal as the other limitations which we seek. Because of improvements in accuracy and yield-to-weight ratios, throw-weight is a factor of declining importance as a measure of strategic power. Despite their 250% advantage in throw-weight, no one claims that the Soviets are two-and-a-half times stronger than the US. In addition, throw-weight is more difficult to verify than limits on deployed missiles and warheads and is even difficult to define and to count.

As a Phase II objective, an equal throw-weight ceiling of 1.8 million kg is easier to understand and to defend. Achieving our Phase I objectives would result in a major reduction in Soviet throw-weight and would make such a ceiling a more realistic goal for future reductions. Seeking a direct throw-weight limit at the same time as our other Phase I objectives, however, would make it more difficult to achieve our more immediate and important goals of limitations on deployed missiles and warheads.

For these reasons, the President decided last year against including a direct throw-weight limit in the first phase of START. The result was a START proposal which, because of its fairness, ambitious objectives, clarity and coherence, has won the support of Allied governments and most of the US public. The phased framework of our proposal was an important element in gaining that support. Moreover, phasing is a source of negotiating leverage which we hope to utilize—through the Basic Elements approach—to draw the Soviets out on such as ballistic missile warhead limits. Combining the phases would be a major departure from our present framework which is not warranted by any developments in the negotiations; it should not be undertaken without careful consideration of our overall position in the START talks.

[Page 186]
IG Participants
Options ACDA JCS OSD State Amb Rowny
1. Combine the phases X X X
2. Separate phases X X

II. Limits on Heavy Bombers and Air-Launched Cruise Missiles

A. Bomber Limits

Current guidance sets a goal of a ceiling of 250 heavy bombers in Phase II. This ceiling, however, would limit US flexibility in responding to unconstrained Soviet air defenses, possible modifications in US ballistic missile programs and the outcome of negotiations on ballistic missile limits. All agencies, therefore, agree that we cannot now propose a heavy bomber limit below 350, either under a single-phase approach or in the second phase of the alternative approach.

Option 1: Limit of 350 Bombers

This limit would provide the US and the USSR additional flexibility to meet bomber requirements. It would preclude any proposal to reduce below 350 heavy bombers in Phase II at this time. Because of the relationship between heavy bomber requirements and the permitted level of ballistic missile systems, this limit may be reassessed on the basis of the ballistic missile warhead ceiling. The bomber limit, however, would still be affected by the need to take into account unconstrained Soviet air defenses and the proposed limitations on ALCMs.

Option 2: Missile/Bomber Aggregate

This would set a combined limit on the heavy bombers and deployed missiles (1200) and a sub-limit on deployed missiles (850). Both sides would be allowed to trade ballistic missiles for bombers, but not vice versa. This approach could be adopted for either a single-phase approach or for both phases of a two-phase approach. It could also accommodate a higher Phase II bomber ceiling as in Option 1.

Option 2 would provide additional flexibility to expand the US bomber force in response to future challenges (at the expense of ballistic missiles), without necessarily increasing the proposed bomber ceiling. However, the adoption of a combined bomber/missile aggregate would involve a significant change in the framework of our position and would be viewed by some as movement toward the Soviet proposal and SALT II. The Soviets may use this step to support their proposals for total freedom to mix (i.e., to trade bombers for missiles as well) and a single warhead aggregate (including bomber weapons).

Option 3: Phase II Goal of Further Reductions

Conditional upon the decision regarding phasing, the US would, under this approach, abandon the internal objective of 250 heavy bomb [Page 187] ers but would not set an alternative level. As indicated under Option 1, our Phase II bomber requirements would depend upon several factors which cannot be predicted at this time, such as the permitted level of ballistic missile systems and improvements in Soviet air defenses. Rather than specify a Phase II limit of 350 bombers at this time (which would preclude Phase II reductions), Option 3 would treat heavy bombers (internally and with the Soviets) in the same way as Phase II limits on ballistic missiles and warheads, i.e., we would be willing to discuss further limits and reductions in Phase II if national security requirements permit.

B. Limit on ALCM Loadings

Current guidance is that the US should not seek special limits on ALCMs themselves, that ALCM carriers should not be subject to limits beyond those applicable to other heavy bombers, and that we should not propose limits on the maxi-bombers, and that we should not propose limits on the maximum number of ALCMs which could be carried on a heavy bomber. In the START negotiations, the USSR has pressed for limits on cruise missiles. Moreover, the Soviets and our other critics have charged that, without limits on cruise missiles, the US START proposal is not “comprehensive.” The issue, therefore, is whether to maintain current guidance or to set a limit on ALCM loadings. These limits would apply in the second phase of a two-phase agreement, if we should adopt the approach involving two phases of reductions.

Option 1: No Specific Limits at This Time

This option would limit ALCMs in the same way that we propose to limit other bomber weapons, i.e., by limiting the number of heavy bombers. This would provide more flexibility to adjust ALCM deployments to respond to improvements in unconstrained Soviet air defenses and reinforce our negotiating emphasis on more destabilizing ballistic missiles. Proposing an ALCM limit at this time could move the US closer to including bomber weapons in an overall nuclear weapon ceiling. In addition, the Soviets would probably attempt to bargain downwards any US-proposed limit on ALCMs.

This option would not, however, provide additional US leverage in the negotiations and would make achievement of a START agreement much more difficult. It would also leave our proposal open to criticism for a lack of “comprehensiveness.” In addition, Soviet ALCM deployments would be similarly unconstrained.

Option 2: Average Loading of 28 ALCMs per Heavy Bomber, Maximum of 20 ALCMs on Existing Bomber Types

This option is consistent with currently planned US ALCM deployments. The Soviets have already accepted this loading limit once on [Page 188] ALCM-carrying heavy bombers (in SALT II), so this option would be less likely to be the subject of serious public criticism than some alternative options. It would, however, draw the US into negotiations on one type of bomber weapon, which the Soviets would seek to expand to limit all bomber weapons.

IG Participants
Options ACDA JCS OSD State Amb Rowny
Phase II Bomber Ceiling
1. 350 Bombers X X X
2. Missile/Bomber Aggregate X
3. Goal of Phase II Reductions X X
ALCM Loadings
1. No Limits X
2. Avg. Loading of 28, Max of 20 on Existing Types X X X X

III. Limits on Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles (SLCMs)

[Less than 3 lines not declassified]. The USSR has deployed [less than 1 line not declassified] SLCMs, most of which are under 600 km range and can carry either nuclear or conventional payloads. In addition, the Soviets are developing a long-range SLCM (with a range above 2500 km) for land attack.

Current US guidance is to defer discussion of constraints on “slow-flying systems” other than heavy bombers (i.e., possibly including SLCMs) until Phase II. In the START negotiations, the USSR has proposed a ban on the deployment of cruise missiles (including SLCMs) over 600 km range, which all agencies agree is unacceptable to the US. The issue, therefore, is whether to propose a Phase II limit on SLCMs which is more acceptable to the US.

Option 1: No Limits

This approach would permit the US unlimited flexibility to deploy SLCMs. The primarily tactical roles of US SLCM platforms would prevent our nuclear SLCMs from being committed to the SIOP (although they could perform a strategic reserve role), so it may not be appropriate to limit them in START. Moreover, this approach recognizes the significant monitoring and verification problems associated with the other options. The alternative approaches, therefore, could have the effect of constraining the US while the USSR may be able to evade the limitation.

[Page 189]

On the other hand, a refusal to discuss SLCM limits would give the Soviets a propaganda opportunity to attack the US position for leaving a “loophole” which would allow a major increase in strategic capability. Also, the Soviets could exploit the lack of SLCM limits to deploy a large number of long-range nuclear SLCMs for land attack. If the US were to argue that SLCMs should not be limited because of their tactical (as opposed to strategic) role, this would undermine our position that weapons should be subject to limitation on the basis of their capabilities, and not their missions.

Option 2: Ban All Nuclear SLCMs

This option would exempt from limitation the large majority of US SLCMs (which will not be nuclear-armed) and would ban the Soviet nuclear SLCM threat to the US and to surface ships. This option would require the Soviets to dismantle some portion of their SLCM force. (We do not know how many Soviet SLCMs are nuclear-armed.) This option is the most consistent with our INF position and would be the most politically appealing to domestic and international critics of US arms control policy.

[1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]

Option 3: Numerical Limit on All SLCM Platforms

This option would establish a relatively verifiable indirect limitation on SLCM deployments by setting a ceiling on SLCM platforms. Presuming that all submarines would have to be counted as SLCM platforms (for verification reasons), this option would also indirectly constrain the Soviet submarine fleet. Those surface ships with a SLCM capability (as determined by NTM) would also be counted. As the Soviets would have a greater number of SLCM platforms than the US, this option would allow the US considerable flexibility to expand deployments of nuclear and conventional SLCMs.

However, as a simple platform limit would contain no limit on SLCMs themselves, this approach would appear to be a purely cosmetic limitation. Moreover, a permissive limit (e.g., 300 or more vessels) would lead critics of US arms control policy to add the high number of permitted SLCM platforms to our proposed ceilings on bombers and deployed missiles in order to undercut our public focus on significant reductions. Also, because of the asymmetry in platform numbers, a platform limit would be difficult to negotiate.

Option 4: Limit Nuclear-Armed SLCMs to Equal Levels on the Basis of Average Loading per Platform

The number of platforms and the average loading limit could be set to accommodate planned US SLCM deployments. There are major [Page 190] uncertainties in our estimates of the number of Soviet nuclear SLCMs. However, to the extent that the Soviets comply with such a limit, this option would capture a large number of existing Soviet SLCMs and would presumably constrain the future Soviet threat to the US.

This option would be the most difficult to verify, as it would combine requirements to monitor SLCM payload (nuclear/conventional) and average loading per platform. Moreover, because maximum potential SLCM loadings would be significantly greater than the average loading limit, the Soviets would have a large breakout potential. (However, if the agreed loading limit is consistent with US deployment plans, the net national security impact would probably not be less favorable to the US than the absence of SLCM limits.)

Option 5: Seek More Meaningful and Effective Limit

As indicated above, there are significant military, political and verification problems with the various SLCM limitations under consideration. On the other hand, a refusal to limit SLCMs would undercut the seriousness of the US START proposal and would leave the Soviets with a major capability to circumvent an agreement.

Under this approach, the JCS would take the lead on a study of the military and verification problems associated with SLCM limits, with a view to proposing more meaningful and effective SLCM limits to the NSC by the middle of the third round. If this option is approved, we would need to decide how to treat the issue of SLCM limits until the NSC decides on an approach. There are two major alternatives:

a) The US would express (publicly and to the Soviets) a willingness to accept SLCM limits but would defer a specific proposal.

b) The US would not express a willingness to accept SLCM limits until the difficult problems associated with this issue are resolved. If the Soviets raise the SLCM issue in the third round, the US delegation would confine its discussion to verification issues, without committing the US to limit SLCMs in START.

IG Participants
Options ACDA JCS OSD State Amb Rowny
1. No limits
2. Ban all nuclear SLCMs
3. Limit all SLCM platforms
4. Limit nuclear SLCMs on basis of avg. loading per platform
5. Seek different approach
[Page 191]

IV. Limits on Mobile ICBMs

The Soviets have implied in the negotiations that they intend to deploy mobile ICBMs. At least one of their ICBMs in development would be suitable for mobile deployment. Soviet development of mobiles could have a positive impact on crisis stability (by reducing Soviet ICBM vulnerability) and could reduce the Soviet throw-weight potential. Counting Soviet mobile ICBM launchers, however, is much more difficult than for fixed launchers, and Soviet deployment of mobiles would greatly complicate US targeting requirements.

The IG recommends that we neither propose to ban nor to permit mobile ICBMs at this time but continue our current position that mobile ICBMs, if allowed in START, must be accompanied by measures to ensure effective verification. We are developing a comprehensive verification package to enhance our ability to monitor Soviet mobile deployments, and this verification package should be an intrinsic part of our position. Furthermore, the US delegation would use Soviet interest in mobiles as leverage to achieve our other negotiating objectives.

V. Phase II Throw-Weight Ceiling

The US proposal for Phase II limits includes direct limits and reductions to equal levels of ballistic missile throw-weight below current US levels. The current US throw-weight level is approximately 1.9 million kg.

The IG recommends that we adopt a Phase II objective of an equal throw-weight ceiling on deployed ballistic missiles of just below 1.9 million kg, consistent with the throw-weight definition and counting rule described below. This level is consistent with projected US force structures under START.

VI. Throw-Weight Counting Rule

The IG recommends that, for existing types of ballistic missiles, throw-weight should be determined on the basis of the maximum throw-weight demonstrated in any flight test. There is concern, however, that in the future the Soviets may attempt to circumvent direct limits on throw-weight by testing their missiles with less throw-weight than they are capable of carrying.

The IG therefore recommends that, for new types of ballistic missiles, the maximum demonstrated throw-weight should be compared to potential throw-weight for a reference range, and that the larger of the two values should be assigned to the particular missile. This approach would be accompanied by collateral constraints which would result in less than 10% uncertainty in monitoring Soviet ballistic missile throw-weight.

(S) All agree that at a minimum we should define heavy bombers in START using a system-specific approach for existing aircraft, as in [Page 192] SALT II, adding the BACKFIRE and BLACKJACK-A to the list of heavy bombers. Future bombers for both sides would be added to the list if they were capable of performing the mission of a heavy bomber in a manner comparable to those included on the original list. Either side would be free to identify future bombers that would be the subject of discussion about whether they should be included.

(S) Issue for Decision. The remaining issue for decision is whether, in addition to the general criterion of performing the mission of a heavy bomber, the agreement should also specify criteria that would be used in making determinations regarding future bombers. A future bomber meeting any of those specific criteria would qualify as a heavy bomber, but bombers not meeting any of them could still be so classified if they met the general criterion mentioned above. The following specific criteria are appropriate such that any future bomber meeting at least one of the criteria would be identified as a “heavy bomber” in START:

—Maximum gross takeoff weight greater than 100000kg;

—Maximum unrefueled range of at least 8000km, carrying a payload of 6000kg, using a full fuel load and a flight profile designed to provide maximum range; or

—Empty weight greater than 45000kg.

(S) A comparison of these criteria with characteristics of relevant, existing US and Soviet bombers is given on the attached table. The criteria are such that, according to current intelligence estimates, the Soviet Backfire bomber would be identified as a heavy bomber, while the US FB-111 would not.

PROS for the addition of specific criteria

—The US would have specific criteria that would facilitate future bomber program planning.

—The US and the Soviet Union would be obliged to comply with the same criteria; in contrast, for cases where obligations are vaguely worded (as in certain limitations in the ABM Treaty), the US imposes objective criteria on itself, but is unwilling or unable to enforce the same standard on the Soviets.

—This approach would avoid future debate of the type that occurred regarding the Soviet Backfire bomber; as a consequence, this approach would include a follow-on Backfire as a heavy bomber.

—Establishment of specific “precise” criteria will present the United States with a “two-edged” sword concerning heavy bombers. The United States will not produce aircraft designed to avoid classification as a heavy bomber while preserving heavy bomber capabilities. We cannot be sure that the Soviets will have the same goal. Planned Soviet improvements (such as upgraded production engines, external weapons pods and covert aerial refueling capability) could give an [Page 193] aircraft previously determined to be a medium bomber “heavy” bomber capabilities. The specific criteria will not be conclusive in determining whether an aircraft, designed in this manner, with characteristics below the criteria, is a heavy bomber. The specific criteria will, however, provide the Soviets with the ability to claim that without regard to the treaty, the United States desires to include this medium bomber in the heavy bomber totals, attempting to undercut Soviet force structure. Attempting to “stretch” the area below the criteria to capture all bombers that might become heavy bombers merely diminishes the value of the criteria and, except for aircraft clearly covered or not covered by the criteria, makes the classification subjective. Furthermore, improvements in technology may eventually make any criteria invalid.

—[1 paragragh (21 lines) not declassified]

—The establishment of specific criteria could slow the negotiation process, and may well actually weaken the definition of a heavy bomber, depending on where the final criteria fall after the give and take of negotiations. We may well end up with criteria which limit US bomber programs, and allow the Soviets latitude in cheating.

—Use of specific criteria doesn’t really give our designers assurance, because they could design to the criteria but have the resulting bomber identified as a heavy bomber because it conformed to the general criterion.

Agency Positions

(S) OSD and the Chairman of the START Delegation favor including the specific criteria in the definition of a heavy bomber in START. State, JCS and ACDA do not favor including the specific criteria. CIA has taken no position regarding the issue of specific criteria in a heavy bomber definition.

[Page 194]

Tab C

Paper Prepared in the National Security Council23

Comparison of Bomber Criteria and Specific Characteristics for Certain Aircraft

Maximum Weight (kg) Empty Weight (kg) Unrefueled Range (km) Payload of 6,000kg
Proposed Threshold 100,000 45,000 8,000
[4 lines not declassified]
ATB 115,000 Not Avail. Not Avail.
FB–111 52,000 22,000 4,100
Bear 166,000 70,200 (C Mod) 16,300
Bison B/C 181,000 71,700 11,000
Blackjack 241,000 92,000 14,800
Backfire 136,000 54,200 10,700
Badger 79,000 (C&G Mod) 38,700 (G Mod) 3,940
Blinder A/B 92,000 43,200 4,630 (B Mod)
A–6E24 27,400 11,600 4,400
A–10A25 21,500 9,200 1,000
F–1826 20,000 7,500 3,700

(Soviet data estimated)

(US data rounded off)

  1. Source: National Security Council, National Security Council Institutional Files, Box SR–081, NSDD 0078, US Approach to START V. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Prepared by Linhard and Kraemer.
  2. Reagan initialed his approval.
  3. Top Secret; Sensitive.
  4. Reagan initialed his approval.
  5. Reagan initialed his approval.
  6. Reagan initialed his approval.
  7. Reagan initialed his approval.
  8. Reagan initialed his approval.
  9. Reagan initialed his approval.
  10. Reagan initialed his approval.
  11. Reagan initialed his approval.
  12. Reagan initialed his approval.
  13. Reagan initialed his approval.
  14. Reagan initialed his approval.
  15. Reagan initialed his approval.
  16. Reagan initialed his approval.
  17. Reagan initialed his approval.
  18. Reagan initialed his approval.
  19. Reagan initialed his approval.
  20. Reagan initialed his approval.
  21. Reagan initialed his approval.
  22. Secret; Sensitive.
  23. Secret; Noforn.
  24. Data on these aircraft are shown for comparison only. [Footnote is in the original.]
  25. Data on these aircraft are shown for comparison only. [Footnote is in the original.]
  26. Data on these aircraft are shown for comparison only. [Footnote is in the original.]