230. Editorial Note

After his meeting with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin on May 24, 1971, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger sent a special channel message to Ambassador to West Germany Kenneth Rush in Bonn with the following instructions on his linkage strategy:

“We would like to keep the Berlin talks and SALT in some sort of balance. This means that we want to make progress in Berlin and show good faith. At the same time, we want to keep open some recourse for the contingency that the Soviets go back on the understanding with the President regarding SALT. This may not be manageable because we do want to keep the Berlin talks moving forward for other reasons. So perhaps my only useful advice is to avoid being stampeded into too rapid a pace.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 59, Country Files, Europe, Ambassador Rush, Berlin, Vol. 1 [1 of 2])

On May 28 Rush reported by special channel that the second meeting of the “Bonn triangle” the night before had “proceeded in the same amicable, cooperative manner as our previous one.” According to Rush, Soviet Ambassador Falin not only was “thoroughly familiar” with the subject but also had “full authorization” to negotiate an agreement. After providing details from the discussion, Rush replied to the strategic concerns Kissinger raised in his last message: “It is very difficult to say to what degree the Berlin talks can by synchronized with SALT. Judging by Falin’s approach yesterday, there is a fair probability that the Berlin talks [will] move ahead quite rapidly by virtue of the Russians [Page 682] taking an easy position on all the remaining issues.” (Ibid.) Both messages are printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, Documents 241 and 244.

The White House, meanwhile, also reconsidered its position on trade restrictions with the Kremlin. In a May 24 memorandum to Kissinger, Ernest Johnston of the National Security Council staff delivered a status report on several export control cases, including the application of the Gleason Works of Rochester, New York, to sell truck manufacturing machinery to the Soviet Union. Although the initial application had been rejected in September 1970, the company had been pressing the Nixon administration to reconsider. “[I]f the President wishes to use relaxation of export controls as a signal to respond to the arms control developments,” Johnston explained, “we are in a good position to have some cases move very fast.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 402, Subject Files, Trade, Vol. IV [2 of 2]) During a telephone conversation with Secretary of Commerce Stans on May 25, Kissinger reported: “If you will send the Gleason case over now we will approve it.” In addition to Gleason, Stans agreed to forward several of the “least sensitive” export control licenses for Kissinger’s approval. (Ibid., Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 10, Chronological File) Johnston advised Kissinger on May 26 that Stans had not only resubmitted the Gleason case but also forwarded $30–40 million in additional applications. According to Johnston, the Department of Commerce understood that, due to the sensitivity of the issue, “it should make no dramatic announcements when these projects are approved and there should be no public linking with any improvements in U.S./Soviet relations.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 402, Subject Files, Trade, Vol. IV [2 of 2])