11. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between President Nixon and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is a brief exchange on an unidentified individual.]

K: That Soviet submarine tender went on a little maneuver and then stopped at a port on the northern shore of Cuba—the normal port of entry and return. We have no reason to suppose that they will not [Page 37] return. Despite instructions not to say anything the Defense Department put it out that it has returned to a Cuban port.2

P: Who the hell over there is doing it? We ordered them not to say a damn thing.

K: Not a damn thing. They released it 1/2 hour after the incoming message had been received.

P: How did they put it out? Did it come from the Secretary’s office, or Navy’s?

K: Statement. The regular Defense Department briefing.

P: Well be sure that Bill knows this before his briefing tonight. Call him and tell him we want him to know that we did not know anything about it. I am raising [holy] hell about it.

K: They released it after I had put out another directive reminding them not to say a word about it.

P: We must be sure that Bill just knows. I talked to him about announcing the meeting between Gromyko and myself.3 Told him that any mention of the Summit would be later. That we did not want anything to crack on it.

K: I think he is relaxed mood about this.

P: On this Summit thing. I would have no objection if Gromyko came at him about it but there would be a lot of people in the room, wouldn’t there? [Would be better not to have anything said about it.]

K: As long as Bill knows what we know about it then there shouldn’t be any problem.

P: This question of who goes first. They would go … I would go. I don’t know. If it could come up in a way …

K: I am seeing Dobrynin tomorrow and I will get it straightened out.

P: Tell him this is no protocol problem or anything here. We both know what we want. Perhaps he could note interest and the communications in discussions. They note what we want. Then he will come in and say why not here and I will come in and say that is fine.

K: OK Mr. President.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 7, Chronological File. No classification marking. All brackets, other than those indicating omission of unrelated material, are in the original. According to several typewritten notes, the transcript was “paraphrased” and the transcriber “entered the conversation late.”
  2. Daniel Henkin, the Department of Defense spokesman, announced on October 16 that the Soviet submarine tender had arrived the previous day in the Cuban port of Mariel. “Whether they’re there for crew rest or refueling or any other purpose,” Henkin added, “I do not know.” (“Two Soviet Vessels at a 2nd Cuban Port,” New York Times, October 17, 1970, p. 2) Haldeman wrote in his diary on October 16 that Kissinger was “distraught because Defense had announced the Soviet sub tender was back in a Cuban port.” (Haldeman, Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition)
  3. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Nixon called Rogers in New York at 10:41 a.m. on October 16. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files) No record of the conversation has been found.