45. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • NPT and SALT


  • Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • Mr. Malcolm Toon, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs

The Secretary asked Ambassador Dobrynin to stop in for a brief chat after his meeting with Mr. Sisco. The Secretary told the Ambassador that before his departure on the Far East trip2 he wished to discuss with him his current thinking with regard to NPT and SALT.


The Secretary asked when the Soviets would be prepared to respond to our proposal for joint action in ratification of the Treaty. Dobrynin said that he had been informed by Moscow this morning that Ambassador Beam had been given some information by Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov with regard to Soviet ratification plans.3 [Page 153] Ambassador Dobrynin’s understanding on the basis of the cable he received was that the Soviets now intended to begin the ratification process. Mr. Toon added that according to Ambassador Beam’s reporting telegram, Kuznetsov had also said that his Government had not yet decided when the final act of ratification should take place.

The Secretary said that the President was interested in holding joint ceremonies both here and in Moscow which might be covered on world-wide television through a Telstar hookup. It was not the Secretary’s intention to press the Soviets to fix a date now for such joint ceremonies, but he did feel if we could reach agreement in principle, leaving the date open, it would be helpful to us in our planning. It was the President’s view that joint action by our two countries would give momentum to the NPT and might encourage reluctant non-nuclear countries to sign. Ambassador Dobrynin said he would report the Secretary’s remarks to Moscow.


The Secretary told Dobrynin that he hoped to see him again immediately after his return from his Far East trip in order to discuss modalities for beginning the strategic arms talks, including date, place, and the level of negotiations. He wondered how soon after a specific proposal were put to Dobrynin his Government would be able to react. Dobrynin said that this was difficult for him to answer at this time, and indicated that it would be helpful now if the Secretary could give a more specific indication as to his own ideas on modalities, particularly timing. The Secretary said that on timing he was not really able to go beyond what he said before—i.e., early summer. With regard to place, the Secretary understood that Geneva had been suggested informally as a suitable location and he assumed that this would not give the Soviets a problem. Dobrynin said that the question of place, he felt, was secondary and while he could not give a definitive answer, he believed that Geneva might be an acceptable location. The important thing, however, was to fix an opening date and he would look forward to his talk with the Secretary when he returned from the Far East.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 709, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Vol. II. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Toon. On May 9, the Department sent telegram 73688 to Moscow summarizing Rogers’ conversation with Dobrynin and added: “In view of this development and because we continue to feel that joint action is desirable from several points of view, we do not contemplate at this juncture any further move in ratification process.” (Ibid.)
  2. Rogers left Washington on May 12 for a 17-day trip to the Far East to confer with Asian leaders. Rogers’ press statement and details of his itinerary are in the Department of State Bulletin, May 19, 1969, pp. 433–434.
  3. Beam met with Kuznetsov on the morning of May 8 and received the following oral statement: “In connection with the question posed by the American side concerning the desirability of a simultaneous ratification by the Soviet Union and the United States of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, I can inform you that the Soviet government has decided to approve the treaty and to transmit it to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for ratification. Of course, the completion of the process of ratification of the treaty by the Soviet Union will greatly depend on the accession to the treaty of countries possessing potential possibilities to produce nuclear weapons, especially the Federal Republic of Germany.” Beam reported on his conversation with Kuznetsov in telegram 1963, May 8. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Subject Files, Box 366, Non-Proliferation Treaty April 1969–Mar 70)