125. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Moscow Trip

This book contains the basic papers relevant to my trip including:

  • —the text of my opening statement
  • —a summary of the issues
  • —a Vietnam strategy paper2
  • —a discussion of SALT choices3
  • —a discussion of European problems4
  • —a summary of current bilateral US-Soviet negotiations5
  • —a paper on a possible “Declaration of Principles” to be issued at the summit.6

Although my proposed opening statement is on the whole a conciliatory one, you will note from the issues paper that the strategy I would follow would involve a tough opening position on Vietnam. I would impress on Brezhnev that you are prepared to do what is necessary to turn back the DRV offensive and that you expect the Soviets, who must share responsibility for the offensive, to use their influence to bring about de-escalation. After laying this groundwork, I would then indicate the substantial areas where we and they can cooperate and improve relations. I would seek to structure the talks in such a way that discussion of Vietnam will precede any detailed discussion of other questions, such as SALT, Europe and bilateral matters.

The most important points apart from the Vietnam issues I would like to discuss with you relate to the question of excluding SLBM’s in a SALT agreement and to maintaining some margin of advantage in ABM’s if we have to agree to SLBM exclusion. Both these issues will require early settlement in order to complete an agreement by the time of the summit.

The Soviets will probably press for trade concessions but while giving them some general encouragement, I believe we should not go beyond that for a few weeks until we can see how they perform on Vietnam.

I would also like to discuss the general nature of the final communiqué to be issued at the summit.

[Page 411]


Draft Opening Statement7


1. Our relations in context of present international situation

Since the war three summits (K 59, K 61, LBJ–Kos 67). They occurred when major issue was war or peace between US and SU. Specific crises in which we both involved (Berlin, Middle East). Whether rightly or not each of us was seen as a leader of hostile coalition and relationship between these two camps was seen as major determinant of international politics.
We now have a different situation. It was wise of both leader-ships to let contours of new situation emerge more clearly before agreeing to new summit. We think Soviets now do not see Western camp as monolithic and US guiding hand. We for our part do not see Communist world as monolithic—not because we have deliberately set ourselves task of disrupting Soviet-led coalition, but because we recognize differentiation and play of autonomous forces.8
Present and foreseeable situation characterized by play of several major actors, on one hand, and continued disparity in power as between US and SU and rest of countries. Each of us is still the dominant power in its coalition. Problem now not so much prevention of direct conflict (though still not wholly solved) but cooperation between us so that our power and influence can be used to stabilize international situation as a whole.
This is neither “condominium” nor ignoring of continuing major differences—in systems, in outlook, in history. It means recognizing that we have role to play in containing the dangers of diversity while capitalizing on its assets.
[Page 412]

2. How we view each other

Evolution of new relationship between us faces many obstacles, some real but some more “subjective” than “objective”. In past 25 years we have probably never really tried to sort these out but now have opportunity to start this process.
We understand Soviet sense of “encirclement”, though we believe some of this is due to the way the Soviet Union entered the world scene after its revolution which challenged not only domestic values but also international ones. We perceived Stalinist Russia, after WW II as outward-thrusting and aggressive and responded accordingly. We recognize that in responding we may have conveyed a purpose that to Soviets looked like a design to maintain USSR in a permanently disadvantageous position. We were perhaps less conscious of Soviet concerns stemming from experience of WW II than we should have been. We were perhaps insufficiently conscious that security requirements of continental power differed from one, like ourselves, surrounded by oceans. Our history of no foreign invasion since 1812 made us less sensitive to problems of nation invaded many times in same time span.9 At the same time, a more sympathetic comprehension of Soviet outlook was complicated by nature of Stalinist regime and by universalist claims which Soviets advanced in regard to their doctrines and domestic values.
We recognize that Soviets may have viewed us as having similar universalist pretensions.
We think both of us are approaching point where we understand each has legitimate security interests, especially in adjacent areas; and each has broader world-wide interests.10 In any case, we think both of us now know that this is the only basis for a sound relationship between us. We know that great powers cannot be induced, or persuaded, or pressured or flattered into sacrificing important interests.11 We know that any agreement reached on such a basis cannot last because no great power—nor indeed any power in a relationship of essentially equality with another—will long abide by a disadvantageous agreement. In fact we know from history that agreements or arrangements that may have been made at a moment of disadvantage will become the source of new instability and conflict as soon as the affected party gains or regains its strength. You and we have many problems but we do have the advantage, at the present time, of being able to deal [Page 413] with each other from positions of essential equality. And that provides us with a unique moment in our histories to reach everlasting agreements. In fact, the opportunities for broad cooperation open to the leaders of our two countries at present have never been greater and may decline again if they are not grasped.

You have known President Nixon for more than a decade and he is aware that you have raised questions about his attitudes, orientation and predictability. Some of your public statements have tried to analyze his behavior in terms of “forces” influencing him. The President combines concern for long-term evolution with detailed interest in concrete day-to-day decisions. The evolution he sees—and wants to contribute to—is one of a world of several interacting major powers, competitive but respectful of each other’s interests. Within this basic framework, he sees an opportunity for all countries to develop their own identity. This view of the world corresponds to the President’s personal background and up-bringing.

At the same time, he can be tough and even ruthless in dealing with specific problems. You probably recognize that the President is bound to see the present situation in Vietnam not only in its local context but as a renewed effort by outside powers to intervene in our domestic political processes. Moreover, as President he is bound to be keenly sensitive to the fact that our last President was forced to vacate his office because of the effects of the Vietnam war. President Nixon will not permit three Presidents in a row to leave office under abnormal circumstances. It may seem that what he is doing to prevent this from occurring is “unpredictable”. It is in fact quite consistent with his fighting instincts when issues of principle and vital interest are at stake. His reaction should have been expected.

But I have also found that once a matter is settled, the President is prepared to proceed with matters that are in the common interest with those who were on the opposite side in a dispute. This is true in his domestic as well as foreign policies.12 We would say that he “does not bear grudges.” The President can look beyond the issues of the moment to the broader evolution and the wider interests. He is conciliatory because he recognizes that only those agreements are kept which nations wish to keep.

Let me make this more specific and relate it directly to you. The President has a reputation from his past as an anti-Communist. You may think that this is a basic prejudice which sooner or later will assert itself. (Actually, I would not find such a view on your side [Page 414] surprising. I would have thought that you would only regard it as normal that a “capitalist” should be anti-Communist and that you would not respect him if he were not.)

But as a practical matter the President understands that whether he likes your system or not will not affect its existence; just as your likes and dislikes do not affect our existence. He will enter a contest with you when you challenge him and he will do and say things that you may regard as challenging you. But he will not lose sight of the special role that our two countries must play if there is to be peace in the world. That, rather than anti-communism, is the point that will again and again reassert itself—whatever the turbulences of the moment.

Of course, it is also characteristic of the President to be patient and tenacious. His political biography testifies to that. He will accept a setback or a detour—and wait until he can rechart his course. When he has done this, he has shown unusual consistency, even when he makes the most radical moves—which his position enables him to do.


Let me in this context mention China. We understand that nothing we can say to you will persuade you to judge our relations with the PRC other than by actual events. But since this is so, we also know that no purpose will be served—except to create new misunderstandings—if we tried to mislead you. We have understood you to say that you favor a normalization of USPRC relations; but you have expressed reservations about the timing of our actions over the past three years, arguing that they coincided with a deterioration of your relations with Peking. But this is an objective fact, not a matter of arbitrary choice by us.

However, the fact that the state of Sino-Soviet relations in a sense contributed to the development of contacts between ourselves and Peking does not mean that that is the basis of the American relationship with China. The fact is that you are too powerful and influential for our relations with China or any country to be based on hostility toward you. Objectively, there cannot be American-Chinese collusion against the USSR in the world of today.

In addition, while we attach great importance to the opening of a dialogue with the PRC, we recognize that with the Chinese we are at the beginning of a process. Major concrete agreements are not likely in the near future.

With you—given the objective facts of the world situation—we have several important matters on our agenda that can be resolved if there is a mutual respect for each other’s interests.

As regards our internal systems, we should not gloss over the differences; but difference is not synonymous with incompatibility. We are content to let history judge which system ultimately produces the [Page 415] most productive and contented society. We welcome a certain spirit of competitiveness—this is part of our make-up and we think it is part of theirs too.

3. Our Tasks

Cooperate to eliminate or at least contain crises over which we both have influence;13
Cooperate where we can to help bring about solutions to problems that have a potential for becoming dangerous crises;
Develop bilateral cooperation (including in arms control) so that US-Soviet relationship becomes a force for international stability. In this respect, our relationship is unique because the US-Soviet relationship affects the nature of international relationships generally.
In particular, this means developing, either explicitly or by practice, some “rules of conduct”:
  • —recognize that each of us has certain areas of special sensitivity which should be respected;
  • —subordinate short-term tactical advantages to longer-term stability; neither side will permit the other an accumulation of short-term gains and the effort to make such gains will merely produce counteractions;
  • —exercise restraint in crises in which, given our continued competitive relationship, we find ourselves on opposing sides; indeed avoid letting situations get to crisis stage;
  • —use our influence, if necessary by regulating aid and arms supplies, to induce parties to a crisis or conflict to moderate their behavior.

4. The Summit

Although it comes after some three years of preparation and in that sense is a sort of culmination of our efforts, it is also a beginning. It will engage the leaders of both countries; it will establish a pattern of contact; it will provide dramatic impetus to our future endeavors for a peaceful international order (though of course only if there are concrete accomplishments).

HAK has been sent to Moscow because the President wanted to assure the most comprehensive and meticulous preparations of the Summit. He understood you to have the same motivation.
We had not of course anticipated that our Summit would coincide with the renewed intense fighting in Vietnam. It is a tough problem and we must take account of your assistance to the DRV’s effort [Page 416] to win the war and drive the President out of office. While leaving a more detailed discussion until later, I can say now that this affects not only the climate of the Summit but the specific accomplishments that will flow from the Summit.14 For this reason, both of us have an interest in getting the escalation of the fighting stopped and to have negotiations resumed. In our own country, the Congress and the public will measure the achievements of the Summit to an important extent by whether the trend of the last three years toward a winding down of the war will be resumed. In the Soviet Union a similar test may be applied. We do not want the Summit to be merely an episode—another meeting of no particular historical significance—we want it to be a new beginning that sets us on a new path. Our energies should be concentrated on the task of constructing peace, not diverted to those of fighting war. We think you see it the same way. Inevitably, at this moment, this problem has to be uppermost in our mind and on our agenda.
If it were not for the acute problem of Vietnam, strategic arms limitation would engage most of our attention. We recognize that the agreement we are now talking about may disappoint some and it will indeed only be a starting point. Yet for that very reason—a starting point opening the way for more to come—this first agreement must be such that both of us can be satisfied that our interests are protected. And it must be such that we have a real platform from which to proceed to the next step. The subject is intricate and technical but both of us understand that we are dealing now with political decisions serving political ends as well.
The viability of any agreement in so central an area as that of strategic arms depends heavily on the general political relationship between us. The President strongly feels that arms control agreements serve little purpose if existing arms are used for aggression or pressure.
As regards Europe, so long the center of our concerns and the source of tension and danger, we want now to find ways of building on what has been achieved. We in the US are prepared to play our role, recognizing that some aspects involve Europeans more directly than ourselves.
Middle East.
Bilateral relations and trade. Here we have broad long-term opportunities to develop cooperative relations. We are currently engaged in a whole series of negotiations ranging from trade issues, to scientific and outer space cooperation. Both of us stand to gain. But we must [Page 417] be realistic: a lasting and productive set of relationships, with perhaps hundreds or thousands of our people working with each other and perhaps billions of dollars of business activity, can only be achieved in a healthy political environment. The past history of our relations has clearly shown the connection between the political aspects and others, like the economic. The President wants to be candid with you: he cannot make commitments, say for credits or tariff concessions, if these measures do not command wide support among our public and in the Congress.15 And this depends critically on the state of our political relations. Moreover, we must make sure that once commitments have been entered into they will not soon be undermined by renewed crises and deterioration of our relations. I say this not because we want you to “pay a price” for economic and other relations with us or because we expect you to sacrifice important political and security interests for the sake of trade relations. I say it as an objective fact of political life.
The final communiqué—public framework for our relations.


Talking Points:

We go on the assumption that you have an interest in bringing the Vietnam war to an end. We do not assume this because we think you have an obligation or a desire “to help us” but because we think you have more direct interests.
In the first place, as long as the fighting goes on you apparently are under obligation to supply military material to the DRV. This is not only a drain on your resources, but more important, puts the DRV in a position to use military means you supplied at times and for purposes over which you may not have full control. This means that Hanoi has the ability to determine the international climate in which you conduct your policy.
More specifically than that, you run a certain risk that your supply operations could become involved in the fighting. This is of course not a matter of design on our part but simply inherent in the situation.
Even if Hanoi were to win the war with the means you supplied (which we will do what we can to prevent for our own reasons), this will not mean that your interests in the area of Southeast Asia will subsequently be protected. Geopolitics argues against it.
On the other hand, a negotiated settlement can hardly be made without your support. You will be far more likely to be able to protect your interests in the area with a guaranteed settlement that assures the [Page 418] status of all Indochinese nations rather than under conditions of continued conflict.
Historically, US-Soviet relations have been inhibited by the Vietnam war. Objectively, both of us can survive when our relations are poor and distant. But both of us, and the rest of the world, are better off when there can be a measure of cooperation between us.
  • —Intensified fighting, or even a continuation of lower levels of fighting, inevitably puts us on opposite sides; this makes it more likely that we will be on opposite sides in other conflict situations; this increases the overall danger of conflict between us and diverts resources.
  • —All forms of cooperation, particularly those in the areas of trade and technology, are inhibited.
  • —A deterioration of American-Soviet relations is likely to spill over to your relations with other industrialized nations—again not by our design but because of the operation of objective factors inherent in the present international structure. (“Selective détente” can work as a temporary tactic but not as an extended policy.)
I do not mean by all this that you have a greater interest than we in getting the war stopped. Many of the factors mentioned apply to us as well as you. It does mean that we have a joint interest in getting the war stopped and this is the basis of our approach to you.


Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon16


  • Issues for My Moscow Trip

The first issue is one of strategy: how do we relate what happens in Vietnam, and the Soviet role with respect to it, to the summit and the substantive issues we are in process of negotiating with the Soviets? I believe it has become clear to the Soviets that you intend to do what is necessary militarily to stop the Communist offensive and in that sense are prepared to subordinate your relationship with the USSR to the immediate requirements of the Vietnam situation. To judge from Soviet behavior—including, of course, their urgent desire to have me come to Moscow—Brezhnev does not wish to sacrifice his “Western”[Page 419]policy to Hanoi’s purposes. Consequently, we should have some flexibility in insisting on a constructive Soviet role regarding Vietnam before we turn to the summit-related substantive issues of US-Soviet relations.


As regards Vietnam, the following set of propositions would be put to the Soviets:

  • —We want the Soviets to use their influence to get the North Vietnamese to desist from their invasion across the DMZ; to pull back to North Vietnam the three NVA divisions, accompanying armor, artillery and anti-aircraft equipment involved in that invasion; and to fully restore the 1968 understandings, including complete respect for the DMZ and no shelling attacks on major South Vietnamese cities.
  • —If this is agreed and, as it is being implemented, we will correspondingly reduce our air and naval bombardments against the DRV and cease them completely when the foregoing has been accomplished.
  • —If this is agreed we are also ready to resume public and private talks towards a settlement which could take place as implementation of the above is underway.
  • —It would be made clear to the Soviets that we would expect the Soviets to use their material aid to the DRV as leverage.

The Soviets must bear considerable responsibility for the Communist offensive in Vietnam and we should therefore not be expected to “reward” them for using their influence to bring about deescalation. Nevertheless, the most promising tactic for implementing the general strategy will probably be to hold out to Brezhnev the prospect of a broad improvement in relations with us.

In sum, our approach would be to indicate that we will not shy away from the military actions necessary to beat back the Communist offensive in Vietnam; but that if our proposed scenario for deescalation is followed, there will be an opportunity for substantial progress in US-Soviet relations.


The major substantive subject being negotiated prior to the summit is SALT. It is at the moment stalled on two major issues and several minor, largely technical ones.

The major issues are (1) whether to include SLBMs in the offensive agreement and (2) where each side can deploy its ABMs. We have related these two by taking the position that an offensive agreement excluding SLBMs would confer such numerical advantages to the Soviet Union that it would be impossible for us to accept equality in the defensive agreement. The Soviets argue that the defensive agreement is permanent and therefore should be equal, while the offensive one is merely interim and any imbalances can be worked out in the follow-on talks for a permanent offensive agreement.

[Page 420]

We have not yet exhausted all possible fallbacks on the SLBM question. These would involve schemes whereby the Soviets could continue construction of SLBMs in exchange for dismantling older SLBMs and ICBMs. Present evidence, however, suggests that the Soviets are unwilling to include an SLBM even if, as under the above schemes, they could in fact continue their present rate of construction for several years. Thus, we must confront a decision as to whether to accept a SALT agreement without SLBMs and perhaps with only an understanding that submarines will be the first subject of follow-on negotiations. If there is to be a SALT agreement in the next several weeks, we would probably have to take this step.

As regards ABMs we can probably expect only a slight advantage, even if we concede on SLBMs. I would not propose in Moscow to accept equality even if the Soviets remain adamant in insisting on it. A number of variants involving certain advantages for us have been examined within our Government. But one special issue needs to be faced: are we prepared to give up our second ABM site at the Malmstrom ICBM field in exchange for an ABM site in Washington? Secretary Laird and Gerry Smith have both recommended this,17 and there is some evidence that the Soviets might accept a deal whereby each side would have one ABM site in an ICBM field (Grand Forks for us) and one around the national capital. Such a scheme would still permit us to defend a larger number of ICBMs since our ICBM fields contain more launchers than do Soviet fields. If the Soviets continued to make an issue of this “inequality” we would have to consider the matter between my trip and the time of the summit.

A further SALT issue relates to the duration of the offensive agreement. We have argued for an indefinite duration, the Soviets for three years. (If the agreement lapsed after a fixed period we would end up with an ABM-only agreement, which we oppose.) But we can probably accept some fixed duration, e.g. four years, on the understanding that if by that time there was no permanent offensive agreement, we might abbrogate the ABM treaty.

European Security

The next major subject—of particular interest to the Soviets—is Europe. As you know, they have been eager to engage us in bilateral talks about their conference proposal but so far they have not shown much interest in MBFR. Our own interest in MBFR has been largely [Page 421] the result of our need to counter Senator Mansfield18 with a positive position. While at the moment our domestic pressures for troop reductions are manageable they could of course arise again, and we would probably be in a stronger position to meet them if we had some sort of MBFR negotiation in prospect with the Soviets.

We have already in various ways agreed in principle to preparations for a European conference once the Berlin agreement takes effect. Although the conference idea remains nebulous, we could try to use our agreement to proceed with conference preparations as a means to get the Russians to agree to MBFR preparations. As part of this latter process we could attempt to develop certain principles. As you know, however, we have had little success in coming up with any substantive MBFR position that is both negotiable and in our security interest. Consequently, our main interest will continue to be to use MBFR talks to prevent the unraveling of NATO through unilateral troop cuts.

Trade and Technical Cooperation

One of the major Soviet interests in seeking détente with us is to stimulate trade and access to our technology. We have more than a half dozen separate negotiations currently under way that relate in one way or another to these Soviet interests. The Soviets understand that progress here is related to our political relations, though they resent any explicit linkage.

The key decisions that will have to be made on our side in the next several weeks relate to making available EXIM Bank facilities to the USSR and to seeking MFN legislation. Both are essential if there is to be any sizeable volume of US exports to the Soviet Union. You already have legislative authority to move on EXIM Bank facilities; MFN authorizing legislation could probably not be obtained before 1973 although the act of asking for it this year would be read by the Soviets as a move favorable to them.

I would propose in Moscow only to indicate that, assuming a generally favorable trend in our relations, these important political/economic steps will be positively considered in the coming weeks. (Pete Peterson is to meet with his Soviet counterpart in early May. This will afford a chance to try to work out many of the detailed issues involved in an improved overall trade relationship.)

As regards science and technology, the Soviets are eager to have early institutional arrangements for cooperation. As a tactical matter, I [Page 422] would propose to indicate that we will proceed on the merits with each program. In fact, we can easily regulate the pace in accordance with the political situation.


A final issue to face is the Soviet desire to have a formal US-Soviet declaration of principles promulgated at the summit. They have done this with France and Canada, and they will have even more formal treaty arrangements with the FRG. The principles themselves essentially repeat the basic terms of the UN Charter and they involve a commitment to consult regularly. Historically, since the Eisenhower Administration, we have avoided this kind of declaration because we felt it could be used to undermine our alliance relationships even though the actual terms largely repeated the Charter.

I have given Dobrynin informally a watered-down set of very general principles (dealing with the need for negotiation of disputes, the desirability of restraint and of cooperation and a general clause to consult) to be embodied in the final summit communiqué.19 In view of the French precedent it may be difficult to avoid a more elaborate document. If we accepted this, we would have to inform our allies and to include language that made clear that no existing alliances or other commitments were affected.


That you approve this approach to my Moscow meetings.20


Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)21


  • Issues for Presidential Decision
[Page 423]

A fundamental strategic and tactical decision revolves around the relationship between Vietnam and the rest of US-Soviet negotiations. There are two aspects to this:

  • —On the one hand, we need to be clear about the extent to which we wish to make what happens in Vietnam, and the Soviet role with regard to it, a determinant of what happens next in US-Soviet relations.
  • —On the other, we need to be clear about the extent to which our substantive positions on other issues should be influenced by whatever the Soviets may do for us regarding Vietnam.

As regards the first question, do we require a return to the status quo ante (however defined) in Vietnam and a visible Soviet role in bringing this about before we proceed with further preparations of the Summit? The answer is presumably negative, given the present state of the battle. The next question is do we require a Soviet commitment to take steps with Hanoi to bring about a return to the status quo ante before we proceed further?
  • —A tough position would be to answer “yes”, on the hypothesis that Brezhnev has so much riding on his relationship with us and the Summit that he is prepared to move on Vietnam. (This is not the old illusion that Moscow will help us for the sake of some undefined benefits later. The assumption here is that the whole Brezhnev policy line, and perhaps his political future, is today more dependent on relations with us than was true 4–5 years ago.)
  • —A more cautious answer to this question would be to say that we lay out a more or less complete negotiating scenario beginning with Vietnam but comprising all major issues currently in play. That is, we lay out in relatively specific terms a vista of what will happen in US-Soviet relations if the Soviets agree to play ball on Vietnam.
  • —A different approach would be for us to talk about Vietnam in Moscow but to make clear that we, for our part, are prepared to continue with other issues irrespective of what happens in Vietnam. This would leave the initiative for establishing a linkage to the Soviets.
  • —A more subtle variant would be for us to proceed with other issues but to imply that (a) we will continue to do what is necessary against the North to defeat the offensive and (b) that at some unspecified point the Vietnam situation may make it difficult for us to proceed with other negotiations including the Summit.
The next question is whether we should calibrate our substantive flexibility on other issues according to what the Soviets may do constructively on Vietnam.
  • —With respect to SALT, we should probably draw no such precise connection. Vietnam with all its anguish and dilemmas is now a short-range problem; SALT involves a long-term strategic relationship and [Page 424] any agreement we make this year should stand on its own feet. Moreover, it will have to be defended in Congress, before the country and with the allies on those terms.
  • —The same general philosophy applies to Europe where a longer-term relationship is involved. (It may, however, be reasonable to assume that if the US-Soviet relationship should deteriorate because of Vietnam, progress in Europe will be slowed and the German eastern treaties would suffer.

    Conversely, a general impetus to US-Soviet relations at this moment, would probably intensify interest in progress on European issues and ease Brandt’s task with regard to the eastern treaties. These processes are essentially self-regulating and require no specific decision by us, unless we wish to play some explicit positive role in behalf of the Brandt government on treaty ratification.)

  • —Bilateral issues lend themselves more readily to carefully calibrated concessions or rigidity. A logical connection can be made between Vietnam and our ability to move on MFN and EXIM facilities. The decision required is whether we should foreshadow early positive action on one or both in return for Soviet movement on Vietnam.
  • —We also have flexibility on environmental cooperation and science cooperation. On both, we are now proceeding deliberately. The Soviets want more speed so that specific agreements could be signed at the Summit. This is not a major decision but it could be made on a contingency basis for discretionary use.

SALT (See also the more detailed paper).22

Presidential decisions are required on the interrelated issues of SLBMs and ABMs. The interrelationship here is not organic to the proposed agreement; it is largely psychological and political: how the agreement appears to the US and world publics. The manner in which the SLBM question is handled also bears on where we stand in the follow-on negotiations.


As regards SLBMs, the President must decide whether ultimately he can accept an agreement without their inclusion. Such a decision should represent an ultimate fallback which would not be used until other possibilities have been exhausted. These include:

replacement of G & H subs (8 subs, 100 SLBMs);
plus slipping freeze date to ratification date (plus 2 new subs, 24 SLBMs);
plus replacement of OLD Silo ICBMs (plus 6 new subs, 75 SLBMs);
plus replacement of soft Pad ICBMs (plus 11 new subs, 134 SLBMs).

[Page 425]

Cumulatively, this could give the Soviet up to 70 new subs and as many as 985 SLBMs even with an agreement. Under less generous variants (i.e., permitting only some of the above substitutions), the Soviets could get up to 51 subs and 752 SLBMs at the lowest end of the spectrum. Although all these variants give the Soviets more subs and SLBMs than we have, those involving substitutions do require the Soviets to scratch other weapons, which so far they have shown no inclination to do. We would thus gain (1) an upper limit, (albeit quite high), to Soviet SLBMs and (2) the reduction of certain existing Soviet strategic forces (albeit of older vintage, though of use to the Soviets against our allies and in a first strike.) If any of these variants were accepted, we would have to scratch existing Polaris boats and possibly Titans as ULMS boats came in. We probably would be prepared to do this in any case in the time frame involved.

A fallback just short of total exclusion of SLBMs would involve incorporation in the interim freeze a commitment to negotiate on SLBMs either separately or as the first order of business in the follow-on negotiations. This may have the advantage of postponing any early renewed focus on FBS. It could have the disadvantage of having SLBM negotiations at a time when Congress focuses on ULMS funding. It might also make it difficult to obtain Soviet concessions on other SALT issues because of the non-inclusion of SLBMs.


ABMs. Here the President must focus on the essentially political decision whether to go for a US “advantage” if SLBMs are excluded or merely mentioned as a topic for follow-on negotiations; or whether to accept the Soviet point that this is a treaty which should stand on its own, and must therefore be “equal”.

  • —If the decision is for an “advantage”, the most logical variants are those that provide a US “advantage” as long as SLBMs are excluded but involve equalization as and when they are included. This argues for the deferral options.
  • —If the decision is for “equality”, we should probably go for Grand Forks and Washington vs. Moscow and one Soviet ICBM site. Note: The Soviets might object because of the lower number of ICBMs at their ICBM sites. Numbers of interceptors would be equal, however.

    To repeat, however, the basic Presidential decisions are: (1) “advantage” vs “equality” and (2) whether under any variant we take Washington. Once these decisions are made, the variants can be juggled.

Duration. The basic Presidential decision here is whether there is to be any fixed time limit on the offensive freeze. Since the Soviets have proposed three years and we are prepared to go to five years, the logical decision is four years. We, of course, prefer an unlimited duration to avoid ending up with only an ABM treaty but we are protected, to a degree, by the supreme national interest clause.

Radars. This is highly technical and it is difficult to see a specific Presidential decision. As regards the NCA radar setup, we are relatively close to agreement. (MARCS) For ICBM sites we may have to fall back to a combination of quantitative and qualitative restraints since the Soviets are unlikely to accept the MARC concept. This should be settled between the two Moscow trips.

—On OLPARS, we now have the first signs of Soviet movement. The SALT delegation is probing further. The only Presidential decision now, if any, would be to insist that there must be some agreed restraint on OLPARs.


Europe (Note: See separate longer paper).23

The decision here is, first, for authority to talk bilaterally to the Soviets. This follows logically from previous confidential exchanges, though these related to Europe generally (ESC) rather than to MBFR. This is a delicate problem because of European sensitivities. Moreover, we are committed not to talk specifically about ESC until after the Berlin agreement takes effect. No such restriction exists on MBFR.

The major current hangup relates to the interrelationship between ESC and MBFR. We have always wanted to keep them separate, largely for Congressional reasons but also because it makes no sense to have large numbers of European governments involved in MBFR negotiations that affect only a few countries.

If the German treaties are ratified and Berlin is settled, ESC preparations should begin next fall. The old imperative (Congressional) of holding open the possibility of MBFR while hanging back on ESC will no longer be valid then. We already have a USG decision to establish a tenuous link between MBFR and ESC, that is, to use the occasion of ESC preparations to try to get MBFR talks started also. This is worth trying out on the Soviets.

We also have a set of MBFR principles developed by the Verification Panel and generally consistent with what NATO has been doing. Brosio would have made an effort to probe the Soviets on some of these.

On balance, it seems wisest to confine preparatory work with the Soviets to the procedural issues.

ESC is a Soviet desideratum. We should stick to the NATO approach on timing. A Presidential decision might be made (1) that we can assure the Soviets we will cooperate with ESC preparations after Berlin, and (2) that we are prepared to maintain contact with them to help structure the conference most usefully.


Bilateral Issues.

The basic Presidential decision is on trade issues. How far can you go to assure favorable action on EXIM facilities. What assurances can you give that we will seek MFN legislation (probably not obtainable this year.) Even a basic Presidential decision on EXIM still leaves us flexibility as to implementation. In any case, any public disclosure should be at the Summit.

Lesser decisions relate to the pace with which we move on environmental and scientific cooperation—before the Summit, at the Summit, after the Summit. Our present tack on both is an agreement in principle at the Summit with broad terms worked out before and details to be nailed down afterwards.


Final Communiqué.

The basic decision here is whether we want a separate declaration of principles (you have already given the Soviets a set, but as part of a final communiqué); and whether we want to point toward setting up a permanent consultative mechanism. This latter is mostly optical, since we can do all the consulting we want anyway and already have adequate top-level channels. The Soviets would want both principles and consultative mechanism; the trap for us is alliance reactions even though several allies (France, Canada) have already done the same. In-between solutions (probably preferable) are: a set of principles in the communiqué; a general agreement to consult but no special mechanism. Note: Nothing included on Middle East.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 21, HAK’s Secret Moscow Trip Apr 72, TOHAK/HAKTO File [1 of 2]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.
  2. Attached but not printed are two papers on Vietnam. In the first, entitled “What Do We Demand of Moscow and Hanoi?,” drafted on April 17, Negroponte and Lord developed a strategy for negotiating a settlement in Vietnam, including immediate steps on the ground, a sequence for subsequent negotiations, and ways to secure Soviet support throughout the process. They suggested a two-sided approach to encourage the Soviets to use their leverage to force the withdrawal of North Vietnamese divisions behind the demilitarized zone. “Our stick,” they explained, “is our bombing of the North, and our naval deployments, with specific reference to Haiphong.” “Our carrot is a conciliatory posture on summit-related topics.” The second paper, entitled “Possible Flexibility in Our 8-Point Plan,” unsigned and undated, addressed the possible “appearance of flexibility” in the 8-point negotiating plan offered by the United States and South Vietnam on January 25—specifically in the provisions for troop withdrawals and a political settlement.
  3. Attached but not printed is an undated memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon, discussing, in particular, the inclusion of submarine-launched ballistic missiles in the interim agreement to freeze offensive weapons, and the level of anti-ballistic missile coverage in the proposed treaty. The memorandum is summarized in the attached memorandum from Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, printed below.
  4. Attached but not printed is an undated memorandum from Kissinger to Nixon, discussing the ongoing talks for mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR) as well as a conference on security and cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The memorandum is summarized in the attached memorandum from Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger.
  5. Attached but not printed is an undated paper briefly discussing the current status of all significant U.S.USSR bilateral negotiations.
  6. Attached but not printed is an undated and unsigned paper, discussing the proposed U.S.–Soviet declaration of principles, including copies of the following: the draft joint communiqué Dobrynin gave Kissinger on March 17 (see Document 62.); the principles of cooperation signed by Brezhnev and Pompidou in Paris on October 30, 1971 (see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, vol. XXIII, No. 44, November 30, 1971, pp. 7–8); and the joint statement released on September 27, 1959, following discussions between Eisenhower and Khrushchev at Camp David (see Public Papers: Eisenhower, 1959, pp. 692–693).
  7. This is the fourth and final draft of Kissinger’s proposed opening statement; excerpts from the same draft were first published in Safire, Before the Fall, pp. 433–436. On the back of the previous page in the briefing book, the President wrote: “We are the 2 that matter now—But others (Japan & China could). We are equal—neither can push other around—neither will allow other to get advantage.” Nixon also wrote and circled the words: “sick POWs.”
  8. On the back of the previous page in the briefing book, the President wrote: “Single Standard. ‘Liberation’ of their camp? But we can’t tolerate forceful ‘liberation’ in ours.”
  9. The President wrote a question mark in the margin next to this sentence.
  10. The President underlined most of this sentence.
  11. The President underlined most of this sentence. Nixon also wrote on the back of the previous page: “RN respects B[rezhnev] or strong man (also respects Mao).”
  12. On the back of the previous page in the briefing book, the President wrote: “President has decided politics be damned, fatalistic. He can deliver the right.”
  13. On the back of the previous page in the briefing book, the President wrote: “Spirit of C[amp] D[avid]—Spirit of Vienna—Spirit of Glassboro—We need spirit of Moscow! 2 hard-headed strong men can do it.”
  14. On the back of the previous page in the briefing book, the President wrote: “successful summit—indispensable to have progress on V. Nam.”
  15. On the back of the previous page in the briefing book, the President wrote: “Congress won’t approve credits—if political tensions exist.”
  16. Sent for action.
  17. Smith recommended this position in a backchannel message to Kissinger on April 8. (Backchannel message 0924 from Smith to Kissinger, April 8; National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Files, Backchannel Messages, SALT 1972) Also see Smith, Doubletalk, pp. 363–364.
  18. Senator Mike Mansfield (D–Montana), Senate Majority Leader. In addition to his efforts to legislate withdrawal from Vietnam, Mansfield repeatedly sought to pass legislation requiring a significant reduction in the number of American troops stationed in Europe.
  19. Kissinger gave Dobrynin the U.S. draft for a joint communiqué on March 17; see Document 62.
  20. The President initialed his approval with the following handwritten caveat: “OK—as modified by RN’s oral instructions.” For Nixon’s oral instructions, see Document 126.
  21. The memorandum is not initialed.
  22. See footnote 3 above.
  23. See footnote 4 above.