61. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • CIA Analysis of Hanoi’s Outlook on Paris Negotiations

At my request, Dick Helms has had his people prepare an analysis of Hanoi’s outlook on the Paris negotiations which I am forwarding to you as a matter of interest. The analysis concludes that Hanoi wishes to seriously explore the possibilities for a settlement, but is not yet prepared to accept one which does not, at a minimum, provide for withdrawal of all U.S. forces and guarantee the VC a fairly clear shot at political control in SVN. Other principal points in the analysis are as follows:

The determinants of Hanoi’s negotiating position are its calculation of its military position in SVN, the GVN political situation there, and Hanoi’s estimate of the political climate in the U.S.
Hanoi is probably satisfied that its forces are demonstrating an ability to maintain military pressure in South Vietnam over an extended period. It believes Communist military and political pressure can prevent the GVN from significantly improving its position in the near future.
It also calculates that the U.S. will soon be under mounting domestic pressure to get the Paris talks moving. Until there is some basic change in this assessment, Hanoi is not likely to be very forthcoming in Paris.
Signs of allied eagerness or haste in the negotiations will be read as indications that the political heat is mounting in Washington.2
Most distasteful to Hanoi would be signs that the U.S. was politically prepared for a long haul military and diplomatic involvement in Vietnam.
The DRV is nervous about any indication that the U.S. might be able to reduce its role in the war without cutting overall allied effectiveness. If the U.S. could do this successfully, Hanoi would probably feel impelled to work out a minimal settlement in Paris before the negotiations become irrelevant.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 182, Paris Talks/Meetings, Paris Talks, Memos and Miscellaneous/Memcons, Vol. III, 4/5–69. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Sneider forwarded this memorandum to Kissinger on April 14 noting that it was “per your request” and recommending that he sign it. A note on the memorandum reads: “Pres has seen.” Attached was an April 4 CIA memorandum entitled “Factors Influencing Hanoi’s Behaviors at Paris Peace Negotiations.” Helms sent it to Kissinger under a covering note of April 7, which states the paper was done at Kissinger’s request and notes that, “we come down on the belief that Hanoi is influenced by strong positions on the United States side.”
  2. Nixon highlighted paragraphs 3 and 4 and wrote: “H.K.—This shows urgency of getting out our peace plan—”.