334. Information Memorandum From Ernest Johnston of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Your Conversation with Peter Peterson on East-West Trade, June 16

Pete Peterson has informed his staff of his conversation with you at lunch on June 16 in which you notified him that you did not wish to send to the President Peterson’s memorandum proposing a telephone call to Henry Ford on possible government considerations of the Kama River project.2

In addition, Peterson informed his staff that you and he agreed that his small working group on East-West trade should begin preparation of a paper to put to the President specific options for a piecemeal approach to the Kama River project. Peterson has also called for consideration of an alternative approach whereby we might use U.S. approval of the Kama River project as a lever on subsequent Russian purchases from the United States.

The Peterson task force will not have a draft until next week. Subsequently, the paper will need ample technical staffing by Commerce and State as well as Defense before it can go to the President.

Peterson may also shortly propose to you a cable to go to Moscow in answer to the request put to Peterson in April by Soviet Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Komarov for an answer before June [Page 853] 25 on U.S. participation in the Kama River project.3 That cable will merely inform the Soviets that the U.S. has not come to a decision on this issue.4 Peterson says that you had decided to convey the same message to Ambassador Dobrynin.5

Peterson’s task force will also have shortly a proposed memorandum from you and Peterson, as you jointly agreed previously, outlining a list of the actions which the United States could take should we wish to move on the East-West trade front. As I envision it, and Peterson’s staff is in accord, this would merely list for the President a sequence of actions for future decision on which we would ask the agencies to submit issues papers according to a timing worked out subsequently by you and Peterson. Peterson might wish the scenario memorandum to be a vehicle to forward the recent interagency study on East-West trade potential, or he might wish to send the latter separately.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 402, Trade, Volume IV 7-12/71. No classification marking. A copy was sent to Sonnenfeldt. At the top of the page Haig wrote: “Houdek—Tell Jon Huntsman again,” and Houdek wrote: “Done 6/28/71.”
  2. In a June 15 memorandum to Kissinger briefing him for a June 16 lunch with Peterson, Johnston wrote: “Peterson wished to send a memorandum to the President asking permission to inform Henry Ford in advance that we may shortly reconsider American participation in the Soviet Kama River truck project. You indicated that you did not wish to do this at this time, and that future East-West trade questions should be handled by you. Peterson is sure to ask about your reaction to his memorandum.” Johnston’s memorandum continued: “You should discuss with him the timing which you anticipate on future East-West trade moves, and also get his agreement on the mechanism for submitting these issues to the President, i.e. joint memoranda or personal clearance by you of all his memoranda on this subject. Peterson believes that American commercial interests have heretofore been neglected in the East-West trade issues; and he is unlikely to welcome the idea that political considerations be governing.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 218, CIEP) See also footnote 6, Document 318.
  3. Komarov visited Washington in May; see Document 332.
  4. A draft message, prepared by R. B Wright (who had also participated in Peterson’s May 17 meeting with Komarov) on June 7, is attached to Johnston’s June 15 briefing paper for the Peterson luncheon.
  5. In the margin next to this and the following paragraph, Kissinger wrote: “There is to be no separate Peterson communication to Soviets. Al, please make sure—The memo must go through me.”