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So, as I say, I will try to explain my thinking.
: It is no secret, and you didn't conceal it, that the missiles installed on your submarines have 12 warheads.
Brezhnev: Okay, let it be ten. History will prove who is right. Whether it is ten or twelve, you are equally aware we have not done this.
Kissinger: Done what?
Brezhnev: That is another question. But in terms of MIRVs, you have an advantage of over 2,000. Let's place our cards on the table.
Kissinger: In the number of warheads. I don't have the exact figure, but we certainly have an advantage.
Brezhnev: Certainly a big one.
Brezhnev: You also know how long it takes and what effort it is to develop and deploy MIRVs on submarine-launched missiles. You say we have an advantage in land-based missiles. But let us recall one fact of no small importance—that we have to destroy 100 rockets to fit out the 62 submarines we are entitled to under the agreement. So even if we proceed from the assumption we will have five MIRVs on each missile—and I doubt that-it means we lose about 500 warheads. Otherwise we are not entitled to build the 62 submarines under the agreement. Because we gained that right to build submarines only if we tear down that number of missiles. So even if we proceed from your calculation of number of warheads, we stand to lose 500.
Kissinger: Yes, Mr. General Secretary, but the missiles you have to destroy are a type on which you cannot put multiple warheads.
Gromyko: But we would be entitled to replace them with a more modern type.
As I said yesterday, your military may have their doctrine and ours have their own. But neither has anything to do with political negotiations.
Kissinger: The problem, Mr. General Secretary, is that even the missiles you are permitted are about 1,400, or maybe a little more. Of the characteristics most suitable for MIRVs, on those you can put either five or six warheads now and God knows how many later.
Brezhnev: The same God doesn't know how many you can install. You have missiles carrying ten already. We don't have any yet. So even today, each one of yours equals two of ours. That is the honest method of approaching this.
Kissinger: First, unless we are only making debating points, the missiles that are comparable are the land-based. You can install warheads on more of yours and each of your warheads is more powerful than ours.
Brezhnev: But Dr. Kissinger, I can equally say your scientists are capable of installing bigger warheads.
Kissinger: Only if we build bigger missiles, which, if the agreement lapses, we will certainly do.
Brezhnev: You think it is so easy [for us] to close the gap? It will be years before it evens up. The gap today is that wide. (He gestures.] It will be wider. It is like comparing the salary you get or the salary I get with the salary of a docker. We will be able to pay the docker such a salary when in America a docker's pay rises to yours. Maybe after five more Brezhnevs. So let us proceed from the factual state of affairs.
Kissinger: The factual state of affairs is ...
Brezhnev: Then you recall I suggested we both withdraw nuclear-carrying vessels from the Mediterranean. You said it was not appropriate. But you remember I showed you a map which showed you the facts. You didn't want to take that into account.
When you and we were signing the original agreement, we didn't take into account all your bases and weapons in the Mediterranean. But the weapons are yours and they are there. So from a legal and military point of view, we are certainly entitled to say that is also a fact to be taken into account. But I am not raising that now.
On the Mediterranean you say it is very difficult to do, and you make reference to allies, and so on.
So even if we prolong the provisional agreement by 1980, we will even by then have fewer MIRVs than you do, and you know that very well.
From a realistic point of view now—I can give you my last word on this—we agree to prolong the agreement to 1980 and you are allowed to have 1,100 and we are allowed to have 1,000. So we will lose 100 land-based missiles under the old agreement, so as to fit out the 62 submarines. So we scrap 100 launchers and report to you about that. And in addition, by way of an advance, or to make it more understandable for public opinion, we allow you to MIRV 1,100 launchers and we are allowed to MIRV 1,000. Now that would be a clear endeavor on our part to meet your position.
[Korniyenko gets up and whispers something to Brezhnev.]
Correction, correction. We are supposed to scrap 210 land-based missiles.
Kissinger: That is correct.
Brezhnev: Plus you get an additional 100, so you get 310 MIRV'd missiles more. And we get only 1,000, and at a time when you already have a vast superiority in MIRVs. I am sure you know—and I say so in full honesty-that so far we have not a single submarine fitted out with MIRV'd missiles.
Kissinger: No, we believe this.
Brezhnev: Then by 1980, provided we fulfill the terms of the original agreement, we can think over what further steps we can take. And seriously, what I am saying is that I still have to do a lot of discussing with our military men, and with our scientists, to see if they can develop this for us.
And what do we get from this? Politically, to show that the line on limiting strategic arms is continuing. And secondly, in an area where you have a vast superiority, in MIRVs, it allows you by 1980 to virtually complete your full program. So I don't know what else you want. What else can you ask for the Soviet Union to do? How can you ask for more when you already have a clear superiority?
So I would appreciate it if you discussed this with President Nixon. We couldn't really go into greater detail.
Because under those terms we would have only the right to do what we are entitled to, but I have no idea whether we could technically achieve it. In fact, our military may say they don't want to have the full 1,000. Just like some of your military say there is no use firing at certain regions of the Soviet Union but (you) should fire at military targets, while other military people say no, that the most essential thing is to destroy all the launching pads. So it is really not a political question but a question of military doctrine.
So I have really set out our final position, a position based on our desire to observe the principle of non-use of force against one another and the prevention of nuclear war. In fact we are prepared to go this far considering the political opposition and certain political difficulties you are experiencing inside your country.
I would request that you transmit the substance of my remarks to President Nixon. I think he will think it over and appreciate the significance of our position.
Kissinger: Let me sum up, so I understand.
Kissinger: In this total figure, it is not specified in each category how many in that category can be MIRVed—how many ICBMs of what type or how many submarines of what type.
Brezhnev: That would depend on the desires of each side.
Kissinger: But they don't even notify each other about their intentions.
Brezhnev: I don't know. We should think that over. We will, of course, report to you when we scrap some land-based missiles.
Kissinger: That is a different matter.
Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, there is the problem of verification, which arises this way. To be specific. After you have completed testing your submarine MIRVs—whenever it is; I personally think it will be before 1976
Brezhnev: It won't.
Kissinger: I believe yes, but we will see. We will then have to assume that every submarine capable of carrying that missile is MIRVed. Because we can't know, looking at a submarine, whether you have already installed MIRVs or not. Just as you have to assume, when we count our 1,100, you would have to consider every submarine carrying the Poseidon missile as carrying MIRV, and count it. Because if we told you that some Poseidon boats don't have MIRVs, you would laugh at us, and you would be right. Therefore, de facto, when you count our 1,100 you would have to consider every Poseidon boat as having MIRVs and subtract it. Or else each side simply doesn't limit submarine missiles. That is the problem.
Brezhnev: Not necessarily. We may consider all your Poseidon submarines to be MIRVed, maybe not. I am not certain we will MIRV all our 62 submarines, even when we invent them.
Kissinger: But, Mr. General Secretary, we would have to consider every boat you have capable of accepting that missile as carrying MIRV. Therefore, assuming you have—I don't know the number—400 that can accept your new missile for MIRV for submarines—that would have to be deducted from the 1,000.
Brezhnev: You said yesterday that if, for example, one of our launchers was capable of carrying MIRV, you would regard all of them as carrying MIRV.
Brezhnev: Our military could take a different view. They could decide to MIRV only 60 percent of them and leave the others with a single warhead.
Kissinger: Yes, but our problem is we couldn't know this and we couldn't take their word for it.
Brezhnev: I can't fully determine the degree of mutual exchange of information, but in the framework of our agreement we would certainly inform you. After 1980, when we will be devising a new agreement, we might have a special clause about exchange of information. Because meanwhile we know you have a vast superiority over us in MIRVs. But we proceed from the fact that we have an agreement on Prevention of Nuclear War, and we know we won't have a nuclear war between us. It is only guided by such a lofty spirit of confidence between us that we can make such a proposal.
Let us have a ten-minute break.
Kissinger: I was explaining our military proposals to my colleagues who have never heard it.
You know what I think, Mr. General Secretary? Quite honestly, both our military people have painted a picture of the situation that is rather one-sided. Your people emphasize the number of warheads; our people emphasize the weight of your warheads.
Brezhnev: I don't know how well you are familiar with the concept of the weight of warheads and with what percentage of the weight is lost when you MIRV that warhead. But I do.
Kissinger: I know.
Brezhnev: I have made a little calculation. Our proposal actually means if we agree you are allowed the total number of missiles you have, plus an additional 100 you get, plus the figure we have to scrap for our submarines, it means the United States will have—and this is an exact figure—the United States will be entitled to MIRV 64 percent of all the missiles it is allowed to have, whereas the Soviet Union will be entitled to MIRV only 42 percent of the missiles we are allowed. If you ask your military experts, they will give the same figures.
Kissinger: Yes, but if I ask my military men, they will probably say it proves that in our last agreement you took advantage of us because it allowed you a greater number of missiles that you are allowed to MIRV.
Brezhnev: Yes, well, people can invent anything to say but you can say you have discussed this with the Russians and this is the agreement you
have come to.
Kissinger: In this forum I don't believe we can make progress with these figures. We don't want to get an advantage in ICBM warheads. Because, for example, if we had an equal number of MIRV'd ICBMs, you would have roughly twice the number of warheads. But this could then be compensated for by submarine missiles. So our concern isn't that. Our concern is to get some figures that are a realistic limit and are not simply the maximum program of both sides. Because the General Secretary himself said he wasn't sure he could MIRV as many.