174. Editorial Note
From 1:10 to 2:45 p.m. on April 28, 1972, Assistant to the President Henry Kissinger, met with Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin for lunch in the Map Room at the White House to discuss several issues, including the tentative verbal agreement on submarine-based launched missiles. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1968–1976, Record of Schedule) No substantive record of the meeting has been found. Kissinger discussed the meeting in a telephone call later that day with Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. Kissinger suggested that the Soviets, through Dobrynin, had made a major move on the issue of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs):
“HAK: The President is in the Bahamas and I am having a problem. We have the SALT thing, and I had everybody in position. Everyone is for it. At the end of the Verification Panel meeting, Smith was opposing to come up with the Soviets. He comes out with a totally different proposal which he works out with Rogers. If we surface this, the Soviets will know we are [bluffing] and the President called off the deadlock. This puts [Admiral] Moorer in a bad position because he has to go for the stronger position because he can’t be on the record as going for the softer side. The President must get credit for it and we have to get this agreement. If there is some bleeding coming into Key Biscayne, I wanted to tell you why. This is exactly like the Berlin deal. This is a very good deal.
“BH: No question the President is sold on it, too.
“HAK: If you can keep Rogers from getting to him before I explain it to him.[Page 653]
“BH: If Bill calls, I will say that I have to get to him first and that the President said that we shouldn’t budge on it.” (Transcript of telephone conversation between Kissinger and Haldeman, April 28, 6:30 p.m.; ibid., Box 372, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
Immediately following the conversation with Haldeman, Kissinger telephoned Ambassador Gerard Smith. As the response from the American side on the SLBM issue, Smith suggested: “We can agree in principle to a five-year SLBM freeze under which additional launchers could be built as replacements for SLBM’s and old ICBM’s.” (Transcript of telephone conversation between Kissinger and Smith, April 28, 6:40 p.m.; ibid.) The next morning Kissinger and Smith again discussed the issue and Kissinger promised to gain the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the new position on SLBMs. (Transcript of telephone conversation between Kissinger and Smith, April 29, 11:20 a.m.; ibid.)
President Nixon was on holiday in Key Biscayne, Florida, and flew to Grand Cay, the Bahamas, the afternoon of April 28. He returned to Key Biscayne the next day. On April 30 he flew to Texas for a brief stay at the ranch of Secretary of the Treasury John Connally and arrived back in Washington on May 2. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) On the morning of April 29 the President and Kissinger discussed SALT on the telephone. An excerpt of the conversation reads:
“RN: Did you get the message?
“HAK: Yes, and we sent one back. It is being implemented with one minor qualification. Should maintain a little effort in the other area so there isn’t a lot of bad coverage when we start up again. I gave Moorer it during the Verification Panel meeting.
“RN: How was your host?
“HAK: Bubbling. His boss is all out and all of that is on course. We got all that settled. There is one technical problem that I will discuss with you when you get back to Key Biscayne. Went very well and they are acting positively. (Transcript of telephone conversation between Kissinger and Nixon, April 29, 10:15 a.m.; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 372, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)
Notes of the meetings of the Verification Panel for April 28 and April 29 are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–108, Verification Panel Minutes, Originals. Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs Ronald Spiers prepared an assessment of the SLBM proposals and attached it to an April 27 memorandum to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Johnson. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 18–4 US–USSR)