127. Memorandum for the President’s File by the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Meeting with General Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev, Morning, Thursday, June 21, 1973, at Camp David, 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.


  • The President
  • General Secretary Brezhnev
  • Dr. Henry Kissinger
  • Victor Sukhodrev, interpreter

The President and General Secretary Brezhnev discussed the nuclear agreement to be signed the following day.

The President described the agreement as designed to prevent nuclear war. He then summarized the agreement article by article, making particular reference to Article VI on the right of self-defense and obligations to allies and third countries.2 When this agreement is presented to our leaders and the press it can be a great step forward in preventing nuclear war, the President continued. If different interpretations occur it would be very unfortunate. “You and I understand,” he said to the General Secretary.

Dr. Kissinger then mentioned that he would be briefing the press before the signing ceremony on Friday, and he wanted to review in advance the briefing he would give. He would discuss the agreement along the following lines.

[Dr. Kissinger then read from the talking points at Tab A.]3

General Secretary Brezhnev agreed with this presentation, as long as we don’t go beyond the provisions of Article VI. “We will be signing as representatives of our people,” he said to the President. “We will interpret it the same way.” There will be no harm to obligations toward allies, the General Secretary continued. It is an agreement leading to the avoidance and prevention of war. It would have been better if we had been able to have an obligation to ban war completely.

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Dr. Kissinger stated that we would not go beyond what we have said here. And what was written in the letter, the President added [referring to the President’s letter to Brezhnev of June 74 stating the U.S. interpretation of the agreement]. General Secretary Brezhnev said he recalled the letter very well. If we give different interpretations, he added, politically the agreement would be reduced to nothing. Therefore the General Secretary agreed to Dr. Kissinger’s briefing.

The General Secretary said he thought the President’s letter stressed balance of strength as the basis of the US-Soviet relationship, but he thought the agreement would be given added impetus by the SALT principles. He didn’t think we should link all this to the European Security Conference, MBFR and SALT. He indicated that the Soviets would have an MBFR suggestion to make which would suit us very much.

The belief of our people in progress would be undermined by stress on positions of strength. The comments in the press would be very favorable. The Soviets have no selfish purposes in all this matter, he assured the President. He had received a report from Suslov, who was presiding in Moscow in Brezhnev’s absence. The Politboro all sent their warm support, and also their warm greetings to the President.

The President suggested that we should let Dr. Kissinger stress what the agreement does not cover. General Secretary Brezhnev replied that if we gave in to that pressure, Dr. Kissinger would spend all his time on negative things. “Why should we do anything to belittle the agreement?” the General Secretary asked. “So let us comment in a positive way.” Senator Fulbright had said he would positively support the Administration’s policies.

The General Secretary cited the agricultural agreement as an example of the positive approach.5 The two sides had just signed it the other day. The General Secretary now proposed an exchange of letters saying that the Soviet Union will buy an average of five million tons every year for five years, beginning July 1, 1974. This would be announced after the Summit.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Brezhnev Visit Memcons, June 18–25, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Printed from a uninitialed copy. Brackets are in the original.
  2. See Documents 121 and 122.
  3. Attached but not printed. Excerpts from Kissinger’s press briefing were printed in The New York Times, June 23, 1973, p. 8.
  4. Document 120.
  5. The Agreement on Cooperation in Agriculture was signed on June 19 by Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz and Andrei Gromyko. See Document 129.