222. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Soviet Intentions Regarding a Cuban Base


  • Mr. Yuly M. Vorontsov, Minister Counselor, Soviet Embassy
  • Mr. Raymond L. Garthoff, Deputy Director, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs

In a luncheon conversation arranged to discuss procedural aspects of the forthcoming SALT talks in Helsinki, Vorontsov took the initiative in raising the subject of American agitation over a possible Soviet [Page 667] naval base in Cienfuegos in Cuba. He said that we could expect the subject to be mentioned at Helsinki, that Semenov would no doubt refer in more than one statement to the inconsistency of an American position opposing Soviet proposals for abolition of overseas bases and limitation on missile submarine deployment, while maintaining such bases, and then objecting to the fact that the Soviet Union might get such a base itself. Vorontsov said there was no reason for the US to be concerned. I replied that I hoped he was saying that the Soviet Union would not be establishing a submarine base at Cienfuegos. Vorontsov objected that he had not said that, nor had he said that they would do so, but that in any case there were no grounds for American objection or concern. I replied that the United States would make its own determination of what constituted a cause for concern, but that although Vorontsov chose to be vague, I still hoped that he meant that the Soviet Union would not seek to establish such a base. Vorontsov then said that the Soviet Government would “explain fully” its position regarding developments at Cienfuegos “soon.” He, Vorontsov, did not want to say more in advance of the Soviet Government.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 490, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1970, Vol. II. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Garthoff. On October 2, Haig sent Kissinger this memorandum through Lord. Also included was a covering note from U. Alexis Johnson to Kissinger that reads: “Enclosed is a copy of a report of a very interesting conversation in which, to my knowledge, the Soviets for the first time took the initiative in bringing up the Cuban submarine base question with an American official. I particularly draw attention to the penultimate sentence in which Vorontsov said that the Soviet Government would soon ‘explain fully’ its position regarding the base.” Copies of this note and the memorandum of conversation were also sent to Helms, Packard, and Moorer.