108. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee, CPSU
- Andrei A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Anatoli F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to USA
- Andrei M. Aleksandrov, Assistant to the General Secretary
- Georgi M. Kornienko, Head of USA Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Viktor M. Sukhodrev, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Interpreter
- Andrei Vavilov, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Mr. Helmut Sonnenfeldt, NSC Senior Staff
- Mr. Philip Odeen, NSC Senior Staff
- Mr. William Hyland, NSC Staff
- Peter Rodman, NSC Staff
- Richard P. Campbell, NSC Staff
- Nuclear Agreement; SALT
Brezhnev: Did you have a rest?
Kissinger: Yes, thank you. The air is so nice.
Brezhnev: I hadn’t been out in the fresh air as much as I was yesterday. If it were not for my colleagues here, I would have been in bed until 6:00. Dobrynin, Gromyko, and Aleksandrov made so much noise they woke me up. We should try to get away into the forest.
Gromyko: You might get as far as the taiga.[Page 386]
Brezhnev: The Siberian forests.
Has anything new reached us overnight? On either side?
Sonnenfeldt: You have our messages, we have yours.
Kissinger: No, we don’t have theirs.
We could stop the machinery of your government by giving you copies of all our cables.
Aleksandrov: You shouldn’t underestimate ours!
Kissinger: I had a communication from the President, and then I had another. We are talking about the agreement. I think the best thing I could do to show our attitude is to read it to you. Then there were subsequent events. Because he has agreed to two modifications in these instructions. They are technical changes.
Let me read you the first one: “I have read the report . . .” Should I read it all, or give it to you?
Sukhodrev: It is a text. If you could give it to me . . .
Sonnenfeldt: Will you give it back?
Kissinger: We demand reciprocity.
Brezhnev: Regarding telegrams on our side, I haven’t been getting any telegrams or phone calls.
Kissinger: [reads Tohak 60, Tab A]:2 “I have read the report of your discussions with General Secretary Brezhnev concerning the agreement on prevention of nuclear war and have carefully considered the points which have been raised. You should adhere strictly to the following guidance:
“(a) With regard to Article VI, you must not go beyond present formula, that is, you should refer only to commitments and not repeat not specify treaties and agreements.
“(b) I cannot in this agreement accept a consultation requirement when the risks of nuclear war involve only nonsignatories. The US and USSR are of course free to consult under any circumstances they choose. If the General Secretary is not prepared to accept this, I am prepared to drop whole article.”
“Under no circumstances can I authorize you to initial text while in Moscow. I would, however, be prepared to have you give General Secretary Brezhnev assurance in writing that the substance of the agree[Page 387]ment reached in Moscow is settled and will not be changed in the course of necessary review by legal and language experts. As you know, I am very concerned about this whole project. It is only with the greatest difficulty that I have approved even the positions outlined above. There will be many troublesome questions in Congress and from allies and others when this agreement is disclosed. We are now at the limits of flexibility on this whole issue, and you should not go beyond the above position in accommodating Soviet wishes.”
You see, he accuses me of accommodating Soviet wishes. [Hands cable to Sukhodrev, who translates aloud into Russian, then hands back.]
After receiving this, I got in touch with Washington again.3 The President was in the Bahamas; he is now in Washington. I pointed out to him two matters, one with respect to Article VI, and some suggestions regarding Article IV. I explained to the President more fully why the Soviet side wanted some reference to formal instruments—without giving him the full details. I pointed out that the Soviet side had also made some adjustments in the proposal they had made to us. And he then agreed to accept Article VI as we had drafted it the other evening. In other words, that is agreed to by the President now. [They explain to Brezhnev.]
With respect to Article IV, this instruction gives us only two choices: either accept it as it is, or drop it altogether. After discussing it with the President, he has agreed to a third possibility, that is to omit reference to third countries altogether.
Let me read the phrase we could omit: “Or if relations between states not parties to the agreement appear to involve the risk of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union or between either of them and third countries.” And leave the rest. [They confer]
Aleksandrov: Is this an alternative to your previous proposal?
Kissinger: There are three alternatives: Accept the proposal we made Saturday night,4 or drop the paragraph altogether, or just drop the phrase about third countries.
Aleksandrov: What is your preference now?
Kissinger: Our preference now is . . . We’re content with the one we gave you, or we are prepared to drop the part in brackets. I would probably on the whole prefer to omit that one clause. [They confer]
Brezhnev: You obviously have very good communication with Washington. It didn’t take much time. Now we will have to communi[Page 388]cate with Moscow, and it will take three days. We will shoot two boars a day, so it will be six more. [They confer]
Shall we adjourn for 1½ days? We have to think things over.
No, let us have a recess of 10 minutes.
Can I bother you with a pure drafting change? A minor thing.
[12:15–12:30 p.m., break]
Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, since we have involved the President too in our discussions, and so as not to complicate matters, and also bearing in mind yesterday’s conversation5 which explained the substance of matters, I feel we can now stop this discussion and adopt Article IV as you suggested day before yesterday—with which the President is in agreement.
Kissinger: Yes. I have one stylistic change. It is really pure grammar. At the beginning, where it says “If at any time relations of one or both of the parties to this agreement with each other or with third countries . . .” it’s really confusing in English. I would like to say, “If at any time relations between the Parties or between either Party and a third country appear to involve the risk . . .” [He hands over Tab B]6
Brezhnev: The first boar we shot that we estimated at 80 kilograms, turned out to be 96 kilograms. The second one that we shot through the throat—they are now working on them here. I told them we wanted to see them when they had processed them.
Gromyko: “A third country” or “third countries”? Let’s say “third countries.”
Kissinger: That’s fine. Agreed.
Gromyko: You might have a fight with Laos and Vietnam and not just Vietnam.
Kissinger: We would never dare fight against both Vietnam and Laos. [laughter] In Laos not even the Communists fight.
Gromyko: So who is fighting?
Kissinger: The North Vietnamese against the Thai!
Brezhnev: For ten years I keep hearing that the Plaine des Jarres has been occupied and reoccupied. They must have broken all the jars by now.
Gromyko: “Third countries” can apply to either singular or plural.[Page 389]
Kissinger: It is a subtle point. You are right. Otherwise it might suggest it is all right to go to nuclear war if more than one third country is involved.
Brezhnev: Maybe we can now talk about strategic arms limitation.
Brezhnev: If you have no objection, I would like to say a few words and then we could have a discussion.
Kissinger: Please do.
Brezhnev: This question of strategic arms limitation has already, so to say, become a permanent item on the agenda of our dialogue with the President. Here let me point out that it is not just that the agreements signed last year directly bind our two parties to actively continue discussions; we are bound to do that not just because we signed those agreements. I would like to emphasize that we, the Soviet Union, really believe that new steps toward limiting the strategic offensive arms of the two sides would be in line with the interests of the two sides and the mutual interests. But also they would to a great extent meet the broad interests of peace as a whole. That is our broad goal in this. When we reflect on the ways to bring about the solution to this important problem—a problem which is at the same time a complex one—we quite definitely come to the conclusion it would be preferable as the main direction of our efforts to seek to turn the Interim Agreement on the limitation of offensive arms into a permanent treaty. That is clear, I trust.
Brezhnev: That is, convert the Interim Agreement into a permanent treaty. If we could achieve that, it would naturally be a broad and long-term arrangement and would indisputably be a big contribution to the cause of permanently restraining the arms race. That is the indisputable conclusion. No one could criticize us for that. It is clear that such questions can’t be resolved mechanically or automatically. Willy-nilly, the question will arise of quantitative aspects and the qualitative freezing of these arms. The question will inevitably arise of the qualitative improvement of such arms. Then in the next phase we could envisage the gradual reduction of those arms. We are regarding as preferable this approach to the problem.
While considering reaching a broad agreement of such a permanent nature, we would also be willing to work toward agreement on certain narrower questions of limitation, agreements that would supplement our Interim Agreement. I think that, broadly speaking, this is in line with the thinking of the President and the US administration in [Page 390] general. Our considerations on this score were recently set out in a draft submitted by our delegation at Geneva.
At the same time the thought has arisen in our minds that the negotiations on further limitation of strategic arms would be considerably facilitated and advanced if during our meetings with the President we could concert and formalize general principles on which these agreements could be based. Even though we did not have too much time, we did make an effort to draw up a new version of such a document, which takes into account some of the formulations you communicated to us. We could give you our draft today, so you could look at it and perhaps do some preliminary work on it here. I assume you would want to get in touch with the President. We would certainly consider it highly desirable if we could concert on it and reach the final drafts while you are here. For that you will need another week here!
Kissinger: You won’t have any boars left!
Brezhnev: That would take a year.
That, Dr. Kissinger, is a kind of preamble to our discussion of this question. I think it is fully in line with what we talked about yesterday. Because unless we at a high level give clearcut guidance on this question, our delegates at Geneva will go into a five-year period of work.
Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, we agree with many of the things you have outlined. We believe the objective of the negotiations at Geneva should be to turn the Interim Agreement into a permanent agreement, with the appropriate numbers and so forth. And we also agree in the next phase the objective should be to bring about reductions. Finally, we agree it should be possible to achieve an agreement on those, either in the form of permanent agreements or adding them to the Interim Agreement.
Where we perhaps disagree or have a different emphasis is about the significance of the principles standing alone. We are prepared to work on some principles, but in order to make them significant, they have to provide a link to some concrete arrangement. This is why last September when I was here, we gave you an outline of some ideas that could be used to approach the discussion of strategic arms limitation talks. And that is why last week we gave you some other considerations.
As I explained to the General Secretary yesterday, if we simply publish general principles, we will be involved in a domestic debate in the United States for no very concrete achievement. And therefore, we continue to believe these principles should be joined with some concrete achievement in the field of strategic arms limitation. We have given you some ideas last week that were rather comprehensive but were at the same time put in this form in order to expedite the agreement.[Page 391]
I have also proposed informally here a more limited version of what we proposed last week, that both sides stop deploying multiple warheads on their land-based missiles for the duration of the Interim Agreement. Yet another possibility is that we agree, for the period of the Interim Agreement, not to deploy long-range missiles on our airplanes, which is one of the proposals on your list, in return for your agreement not to deploy multiple warheads on your large missiles.
Dobrynin: Is it “or” or “and”?
Kissinger: We are prepared to do both.
And for all these reasons, we believe one of these three possibilities should be joined to the discussion of principles. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to explain what exactly these principles are supposed to accomplish. And also it will help with the reception of the other agreement, by proving there is a movement in the limitation of strategic arms. And to maintain the momentum of our achievement of last year.
These various proposals have not been made for a unilateral American advantage. In fact, if there is no concrete achievement in the near future, the momentum of our own programs is going to become stronger and stronger.
Thus I am prepared to discuss these principles with you and also further measures of agreement by the time you and the President meet.
[Brezhnev picks up a knife.] I must have said something wrong, because the General Secretary is playing with his knife.
Brezhnev: No, it is just to keep my hands occupied.
In this discussion, I would not like anyone to minimize the importance of these principles, particularly since what we intend to do today is to give you our principles which have been reviewed with due account of your observations. So we would be proceeding from the assumption that the final decision would be taken at the final Summit meeting, but we could reach an agreement here on the basic text, with the possibility of today or tomorrow considering any other changes you would like to suggest.
On the substantive side, let me just say the principles should not be regarded as necessary only for our side. They should be for both sides and should be the basis for subsequent negotiations on both sides. Let us recall how the process developed of hammering out the principles underlying the freezing of strategic arms. It took a long time, but they finally were worked out in the agreement we are now following. It took a long time to work out the Basic Principles of Relations, but now they are a law governing our relations. So I see no need for an addition to make it significant. We recognize you have certain domestic considerations of the momentary nature, but we take a profound view, and we can consider any additional questions and issues you may raise.[Page 392]
Unfortunately there is one fact which impedes normal progress and discussion between us on this question. After the Interim Agreement we have on no occasion said anywhere, even privately between ourselves, that we obtained unilateral advantages over the United States. We have been saying everywhere that it is based on the equality of both sides. But in your country anyone can come up and accuse the President of having acted unilaterally and given the Soviet Union advantages. He has no proof, but can just shout about it. If that approach is taken, any agreement can be toppled. That is an erroneous method. In that agreement many of our scientists and military people worked on it for 2½ years; they must have studied the implications. After all that work, some newspaper accuses the President of acting wrongly; this creates a certain opinion in the United States. But we, never even privately, never said we had achieved an advantage over the United States. We speak only of an equal agreement.
In your country things sometimes proceed differently. If we try to meet those doubts and allegations that are put forward in the United States, then we would have to act always to provide the United States with those advantages to the United States to preclude any such charges. This is in line with the President’s thinking, I think. In the United States anyone could become a news secretary and take any line.
To take one example, we could give one of our journalists some advice to write an article in that vein—he could write that the United States has its submarines anywhere in the globe that can attack from anywhere, whereas ours must traverse long distances to retaliate. This could undermine the leadership of this country.
But, as I said, never are we refusing to consider any proposal you are giving us. But in terms of propaganda we should have complete honesty in coverage.
In the Soviet Union you won’t find any example of journalists casting aspersions on agreements reached. That is the kind of society we live in.
This is why I am indignant at what Jackson is saying. He is saying that here the Soviets are eating bread made with US wheat at cheaper prices. If he had to eat this bread, it would stick in his throat. And the price—we bought it at 60¢. Why didn’t he say we also bought it when the price went to 96¢ and to $1.06? The price reflects the actual situation in trade. It always changes. Why didn’t he say that the freight rates went up?
As I see it, our task with the President—whose efforts we highly value and appreciate—we must cast aside all this prattle in the press and discuss the relationship as we discussed yesterday. That is my frank and honest opinion. We should be frank and honest.[Page 393]
What we are up against in the case of Jackson, is, in his bitter opposition to the President he is engaging in demagoguery not only on the question of emigration of Soviet nationals, but also about Soviet grain. He is trying in every field to oppose the President. We can see that.
The situation is, on the one hand Jackson keeps talking about grain purchases and the advantages we allegedly derived, and on the other hand businesses and Shultz, when I talked to him, are interested in entering in an agreement on long-term grain purchases. I didn’t give him an answer then, but I can say that a long-term agreement in grain is possible. We won’t always have problems with the harvest. In the interest of good relations we are prepared to enter into such an agreement.
To return to the principles, they have to be a proof of mutual understanding. Both sides have to agree that it is useful. If you think they are inconsequential, we can simply work out some narrow agreement. I don’t rule out the possibility that on the basis of these principles we could work out some agreement on some narrower concrete issue. The principles could help get an agreement. If we adopt them, then Semenov and Johnson at Geneva could look to the principles and follow them.
I am thinking that the President is right that without some joint principles the Geneva delegates would enter a five-year work period. But with the principles they could be speeded up.
Dr. Kissinger, perhaps we should act this way, to insure our work is more fruitful. We gave you a draft and you gave us one, and we prepared one taking yours into account. We can give it to you now, and you can have a recess and consult Washington.
Kissinger: That is an agreeable procedure. But since the General Secretary touched on so many subjects, I would like to say a few words on them.
Brezhnev: Certainly some of my remarks were mainly by way of illustration.
Kissinger: The General Secretary made some observations about the attitude of our press and certain other opponents of Soviet-American relations. He spoke about other aspects of Soviet-American relations, for example, the grain purchases and how they are interpreted. Also he commented on our motives in trying to get progress concretely in SALT. And then he spoke about the relation of the principles to concrete progress in SALT. If I could make a few comments on this.
Kissinger: First, if we were guided by our press or our opponents, we would be conducting opposite policy from what we are doing. As [Page 394] events in recent months make clear, we don’t control it. The press is mainly against us. They are looking for things to criticize the President and will do it whatever we do. To what extent we can influence the press—and your Ambassador is good at it—you won’t find an example in the past 1½ years of anything inspired by the White House that harms Soviet-American relations. All of what we do is in a positive direction.
Brezhnev: Not all the press [is hostile.]
Kissinger: No, but a good part of the press. We are not trying to win over the press, or meet the criticism of the press. Because no matter what we do, the press will find some reason to criticize it. Our goal is to move toward the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union on a broad basis in the recognition that our two countries have a special responsibility to preserve the peace and to look into the future and build this relationship on a very solid basis.
Brezhnev: That last portion of your remarks we can single out and sign it jointly as an agreement and broadcast it over the radio at 8:00 p.m. and have it in the papers in the morning. I say that to fully associate myself with it.
Kissinger: I understand.
Brezhnev: I would single it out to the President.
Kissinger: I can do that.
Some of our critics take one issue, grain or MFN, in isolation. We look at all of it as part of a broad basis of our relationship. We don’t seek to be paid for every item but find our compensation in the broad basis of our relationship—as you do. And that is a big difference between us and Senator Jackson, for example.
So on objectives, I believe we and the General Secretary are agreed.
Now let me turn to the specific issues of SALT and how they affect this relationship.
In the General Secretary’s remarks, I detected an interpretation that we think—or at least some of our critics think—that the Interim Agreement was unequal or disadvantageous to us and that we are trying to compensate for this by putting the Soviet Union at a disadvantage in the subsequent agreement. This is an erroneous interpretation.
First, we don’t think that the Interim Agreement was disadvantageous to us. For the period it covers, it reflects the objective situation. We have both acknowledged in writing that we will do what we intended to do in the first place. If we are speaking frankly. Some people who were perfectly willing to leave us with 41 American submarines in the absence of an agreement suddenly began screaming bloody murder when we agree we would be limited to 41—even though we had no intention of asking for more than 41. So all of this is irrelevant. So we [Page 395] don’t think of the Interim Agreement as disadvantageous to the United States.
But obviously in an interim agreement, there are always fluctuations existing in different programs entering inventory, and adjustments are possible. In a permanent agreement we have to look at the figures in a different context.
Brezhnev: Let me say again, those last remarks I have heard, I listened to with profound satisfaction. [refers to the penultimate paragraph of above]
Kissinger: So the permanent agreement is more difficult to negotiate because it covers a period obviously longer than five years and must take into account the fluctuations over a longer period. If we make any additions to the Interim Agreement it must be on the basis of equality.
It cannot be disadvantageous to one or the other. So when we design proposals we make a serious effort to take account of the mutual interest—though undoubtedly we are more conscious of ours than of yours.
Now let me say something about the relationship of the principles to the final settlement. The General Secretary pointed out that the permanent agreement and the Interim Agreement were achieved because we first started with principles. The fact was we started very concretely, and the agreement on May 20, 19717 defined very precisely the direction we were going to go, and we did not spend much time on general information.
It is clear from the proposals already exchanged in Geneva that there are very concrete differences. But the principles will be very abstract—and probably the principles can only be achieved if they are so general that they can be interpreted by each in the way it prefers. So the result will only be to produce in the principles the same difficulty we have already encountered in Geneva. And it will be hard to explain—to ourselves—why we were unable to agree on even a limited concrete step if we have principles that are supposed to be so good at solving concrete problems. [They explain it to Brezhnev.]
It is like Security Council Resolution 242! Resolution 242 is a principle that was adopted five years ago, and by itself it has not led to a resolution of any of the disputes.
But we will be prepared to look at any Soviet proposals on principles. I won’t have to refer them to Washington for initial discussion, but I would like a few hours to look at them here. But I would like to ask the General Secretary to ask his Government to work on some pro[Page 396]posals that are equal, and that have some concreteness, and can give significance to the progress made.
I have given the General Secretary and also the Ambassador three possible approaches.
Kissinger: Well, one is numbers plus multiple reentry vehicles on land-based missiles. The second is only MIRVs on land-based missiles. The third is no MIRVs on SLBMs, and limits on long-range missiles on airplanes.
Dobrynin: That is today’s.
Brezhnev: So I would then suggest I give you our latest version of the text of principles, so you can either approve it or suggest amendments. Second, I don’t exclude reaching some agreement between the Interim Agreement and the permanent agreement, including even reductions.
On European problems, I heard a report on your discussion yesterday, and I see no problem. I convey my appreciation to President Nixon for the same basic view. As for the French and the Federal Republic of Germany, I am sure any problems can be worked out by Pompidou and you and my visit to Brandt.
On the communiqué of my visit to the United States, I would like to give you our draft of the communiqué that could result. We have this draft that sums up the general discussion we have had. Naturally it will take work to get it into final form. But I think I should give it to you today.
Kissinger: I agree.
Brezhnev: I also have a document to give you on the Middle East.
Brezhnev: Then I would further suggest we give you all these, the three documents for your consideration. We could now adjourn, study the documents, have lunch, and resume the discussion at 6:00 or 7:00 p.m.
Kissinger: I agree.
Brezhnev: We also, I guess, have to discuss the matters of trade, and so on. But we could do that tomorrow.
Kissinger: And we have a number of things to settle—minor things—the timing of the announcement, the announcement of my visit. I am instructed by the President to find out how we can make your visit as comfortable as possible. I will be blamed only for not finding out your wishes.[Page 397]
Brezhnev: I agree, the announcements are easy. As to my wishes. I will tell you.
[Sonnenfeldt hands over the US draft of the Communiqué, Tab C.]8
Kissinger: And one other subject we have to discuss while I am here is Indochina.
Brezhnev: When I enumerated the documents we will hand over, I presume we will discuss those.
Brezhnev: Indochina we can discuss tomorrow morning.
Brezhnev: Let us recess now.
Kissinger: Until 7:00 p.m.
Brezhnev: I agree.
Sonnenfeldt: Can you give us the documents now?
Brezhnev: No! It is enough that we mention them!
[Kornienko gives the documents: SALT principles, Tab D; Soviet draft communiqué, Tab E; Middle East principles, Tab F]9
I want to tell you I have sent three copies to Moscow of the nuclear treaty, to the three people that it concerns. Only for familiarization: Podgorny, Kosygin, Grechko: three copies to be returned to me. And we will tell them I have agreed to it.
And the President told you to leave a written assurance that it would not be changed.
Kissinger: I will leave it when we go.10
Brezhnev: And our people will work out a brief announcement of your visit.
Brezhnev: I will have a talk with you about my wishes.
Kissinger: We can do that in a smaller group.
Brezhnev: It is very simple. I will fly over; you will meet me; we talk; we eat; we sleep. A very ordinary life. I won’t arrive in an interplanetary rocket. I like walking, and driving a car.
Kissinger: One thing our Secret Service won’t allow you to do is drive your own car.
Brezhnev: I will take the flag off the car, put on dark glasses, so they can’t see my eyebrows, and drive like any American.[Page 398]
Kissinger: I have driven with you and I don’t think you drive like an American!
Brezhnev: Do they still have that emblem on the old Lincoln Mark III? We could enter in a little business deal now, and have the emblem of a wild boar on one of your cars. [laughter]
Kissinger: You will start shooting at it.
Brezhnev: I just read a book about Brazilian football. There was a great Brazilian player, Gorincha, better than Pele. There was a bar in his town, and it was going broke. The owner was a friend of Gorincha, and Gorincha announced a reception for all his friends in that bar. After that the place was chock full all year.
So when we take up the idea of using a boar as an emblem, we will say it was the boar shot by Dr. Kissinger and Mr. Brezhnev. Either we will be ruined in one day, or we will make a fat profit.
Gromyko: Can we have three small boars who are assistants?
Sonnenfeldt: We were very careful to shoot smaller boars than the General Secretary.
Brezhnev: Bon appetit.
[The meeting then adjourned.]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Kissinger Conversations at Zavidovo, May 5–8, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting was held in Brezhnev’s office in the Politburo Villa. Brackets are in the original.↩
- Attached but not printed is message Tohak 60, May 6. Another copy is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Office Files, Box 32, HAK Trip Files, HAK Moscow, London Trip, May 4–11, 1973, TOHAK 1–74)↩
- This message was not found.↩
- See Document 105.↩
- See Document 107.↩
- Attached but not printed is the text of the proposed amendment.↩
- The Interim Agreement was signed on May 20, 1972.↩
- Not found attached.↩
- Not attached. The Soviet draft of SALT Principles is attached to Document 109 at Tab A. The Soviet paper on the Middle East is attached to Document 112 at Tab A.↩
- See Document 114.↩