113. Editorial Note

On May 8, 1972, immediately following the President’s address on the situation in South Vietnam (see Document 112), Nixon spoke to the Cabinet and selected senior White House staff in the Cabinet Room. According to the notes of the President’s Assistant, Raymond K. Price, Jr., the President discussed the possible risk to the Moscow Summit that could result from his decision to mine Haiphong harbor:

“‘We’re aware of the risks. We also must realize that an American President couldn’t be in Moscow when Soviet tanks were rumbling through the streets of Hue—unless he could do something about it.’

“He added that we have put the proposition to the Soviets very directly: we are prepared to go forward and negotiate on SALT, etc., and even with the Summit—so the responsibility is theirs as to whether it goes forward or is postponed.” (Memorandum for the President’s File, May 8, 1972; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, President’s Office Files, Memos for the President, Box 88, February 27-May 28, 1972)

The next day, May 9, Henry Kissinger told a group of reporters at a news conference:

“For 2 years we have been engaged in negotiations on a broad range of issues with the Soviet Union. We are on the verge not just of success in this or that negotiation, but of what could be a new relationship of benefit to all of mankind, a new relationship in which, on both sides, whenever there is a danger of crisis, there will be enough people who have a commitment to constructive programs so that they could exercise restraining influences. But in order for such a policy to succeed, it cannot be accepted that one country can be oblivious to the impact on [Page 383] another of the actions of its friends, particularly when those friends are armed with the weapons of this country.” (Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Volume 8, May 15, 1972, page 844)