321. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Soviet Ambassador (Dobrynin)1

K: I am calling you about that SALT situation.

D: What about?

K: Where things—before things reach an irritation level here. Semenov made a proposal for two industrial/administrative centers on both sites. Our objection was that when we didn’t have one on one site you don’t solve that problem. It excludes missile sites. You know our view. Since one reason we didn’t want to go Washington and Moscow because we didn’t want to destroy what we have. Two of what we don’t want doesn’t help us and two of what you have puts us at a disadvantage. We have tried to help you on Berlin and although they say we move when you do it would have been correct—we probably made a mistake. We have given you 8 weeks to work out bureaucratic problems.

D: Two sites on your side.

K: So we have made a concession. Now you are saying two administrative centers.

D: All right with you if [omission in transcript].

K: We have proposed that each side picks either two military or one military, one administrative center.

D: Now we propose two and two. We propose two industrial/military centers.

K: We won’t accept.

D: What if one by each capital and one by choice.

K: Capital doesn’t do [any] good. It forces us to destroy what we have built. You keep what you have and we destroy what we have.

D: You pressed the zero.

K: We didn’t press it. You conducted a masterful negotiation with Gerard Smith.

D: Asked it 3 or 4 times.

K: It’s your private obsession.

D: Really, what can I do?

[Page 966]

K: I think we should try to get it—

D: Most clear statement I have heard from you—”since we don’t want to destroy what we have.”

K: I have told you many times. Each side keeps what they have. If we don’t come to an agreement, it’s what will happen.

D: Put it this way—not from my government. You would like to have your two and with our capital we will have one.

K: You will have one missile site and capital and we have two missile sites. I will need to consult. I would like to have a [omission in transcript] that doesn’t reflect that nothing was done on May 20.

D: The main point as we propose now with two sites on your side and one with capital here.

K: Moscow isn’t the point. You have a circle of 100 kms. radius.

D: You have 60 miles. [omission in transcript] twice as much as you have.

K: On the numbers and so forth we will come to a compromise if we can settle the principle.

D: Two is beginning of a net. One is not. This is our objection mostly. Perhaps too much emphasis.

K: If your people could make a proposal that takes in our proposal and saying two missile sites isn’t offense against humanity.

D: Your site and two by two.

K: It would be a bargaining position. On the other thing,2 it’s going along. Privately, there’s some feeling that you pressed for us urgently to give an answer in three days and we seem to have the same process.

D: I received private letter from Gromyko today and he said same two days. Brezhnev is in the south and [omission in transcript] is in Moscow. He will go there. Senior member there for [omission in transcript]. He is important. Others are outside Moscow. It’s not a deliberate delay.

K: We didn’t raise the issue, as you know. If we—I think as I told you that we should make a concerted effort to do things in a big way.

D: I don’t want to commit myself. Not moving because of this and perhaps an answer by this weekend. Maybe some administrative changes but looks all right.

K: I told you that on a psychological level.

D: I know how it stands.

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K: Good, if we can make some significant [omission in transcript], if we can get a negotiating posture.

D: If on [omission in transcript]. On major issue on Monday3 at longest. They are just now [omission in transcript].

K: It doesn’t look like you will have a long vacation.

D: That’s why I pressed for it.

K: I had no doubt that self-interest was the (reason). You are tough enough when you are exhausted. Rested you will be impossible.

D: I have given up the idea.

K: Come to the West Coast and we will sit in the sun.

D: Any call from the State Dept.?

K: A number of technical problems which should be handled by counselor in Bonn.4 You and I don’t need to get involved. If they reach a deadlock you and I can do it. Objection of legitimate drafting problems which your side raised too.

D: Second level.

K: We are bringing Rush here tomorrow. The President will see him. Then he will go back to Bonn. I would like to hold it over your head for SALT but you are ahead of us.

D: It’s not very important. We proposed two and two and you didn’t like.

K: You haven’t proposed two we could accept. If you can make some movement there, even if to our position then [omission in transcript] you negotiate.

D: It was not a proposal.

K: Just thinking out loud.

D: Two points beginning the net.

K: I understand.

D: I would look what I could do.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 27, Dobrynin File. No classification marking. Kissinger was in San Clemente; Dobrynin was in Washington.
  2. Summit announcement.
  3. August 30.
  4. The Mission in Berlin reported on some of these “technical problems”—in particular, differences between the English and Russian versions of the draft agreement—in telegram 1734, August 26; see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Document 323, footnote 3.