89. Transcript of a Telephone Conversation Between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) and the Under Secretary of State (Irwin)1

I: Where do I find you?

K: Back here. I just arrived.

I: Henry, I have a couple of things but the principal item is the thing with the Soviets vis-à-vis the bombing and the action by the Jewish people against the Soviet league.2 I wanted to tell you what we are moving to do. First, I have the group here to see what can be done legally, legislatively, information-wise, etc. More specifically, we have made a proposal to Justice to see if we can seek an injunction on the basis of harming U.S. relations with the Soviet Union and we think the Justice Department will be willing to do this although the decision has not yet been made. I have asked our legal people to talk to the legal people at the White House and I wanted to tell you what we had done and touch base with you.

K: That sounds good.

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I: I think it is a serious situation all around and I want to take all the action we can. My own feeling on it is that if we are moving in this way to try to prevent acts of violence, acts that will create problems, that we will have the support of the Jewish Community and there has been a letter from Paul Weiss and they wrote, in effect, a letter of support to Charlie Yost.3 That is the situation to date and I just wanted to let you know.

K: I think it is essential, Jack.

I: We are coming up with a paper.4

[Omitted here is discussion of matters unrelated to the Soviet Union.]

I: I telephoned Dobrynin to tell him how distressed I was about the incident last night. He accepted that but said his Government could not understand it and said it was contributing to deterioration of relations. He said he would pass the message along.5

K: I think it is the right thing to do.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry Kissinger Telephone Conversation Transcripts, Box 8, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. On January 8, a bomb exploded at 4:30 a.m. near the Soviet Embassy’s Commercial and Information Office in Washington, causing moderate damage. The Jewish Defense League, which had been linked to similar attacks on Soviet facilities in the United States, denied responsibility for the incident.
  3. Not found.
  4. Memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger, January 10; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 405, Subject Files, USSR (Jewish Defense League).
  5. In telegram 3952 to Moscow, January 9, the Department reported: “Acting Secretary telephoned Dobrynin [on January 8] to express his and Dept’s distress at this irresponsible and irrational action and give assurance we would do everything we can. Dobrynin responded that he would report call to his government, characterizing act as out of all proportion and emphasizing that it definitely damaging to our relations. He thanked Acting Secretary for calling.” After the telephone call from Irwin, Vorontsov delivered a protest note to Davies, which included the following passage: “USSR Embassy insists that the State Dept take all suitable steps immediately to ensure security of Soviet establishments and their employees in the US; to fine and punish criminals who are perpetrating explosions and other terrorist acts against Soviet establishments and their employees in US and who publicly threaten lives and security of Soviet personnel in US; and to pay compensation for damages caused to Embassy by latest explosion.” (Ibid.)