15. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1

Dear Mr. President,

One of the questions which were not completed during our meeting with you in Moscow is the question of concluding a Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union on the mutual non-use of nuclear weapons. All of us were so absorbed by the consideration of other questions and projects which had become ripe for completion, that we did not make our way to this question in real terms.

Yet, a positive outcome of our consideration of this extremely important question would have major long-term consequences not only for the relations between the USSR and the USA, but also for the world as a whole. From what you said at the meeting with me on this subject, and from our appreciation of the significance of this question it follows, in our opinion, that it should be dealt with the view of working out, in a possibly not prolonged time, a document acceptable to both sides.

We proceed on this basis and, on our part, have most carefully studied the text which you left with me during our concluding conversation.2

I think that we should find a necessary combination of the principal idea without which the document is totally impossible—prevention of a nuclear war between our countries, with the way in which they should build their relations. In short, we are ready to express in the Treaty the idea that the very development of the relations between the two powers should not contradict the task of not permitting a nuclear war between them.

From our clarified draft3 you will see that we have taken into account your considerations on other articles of the Treaty as well.

In conclusion I think it will be appropriate to stress once more that it is important that any changes and amendments should not nullify the very idea of not permitting a nuclear clash between the Soviet [Page 40] Union and the United States of America. We believe that other states irrespective of the degree of their political closeness to you or to us can only positively meet such a major act in relations between the US and the USSR, since it will further strengthen the basis under the Soviet-American relations for which we both already exerted such serious efforts during our recent meeting in Moscow.


L. Brezhnev4
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 12. Top Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the first page of the letter reads: “Handed to K by D, 12:00 pm, July 21, 1972.”
  2. Nixon handed over the draft during his penultimate conversation with Brezhnev in Moscow on May 29 at 10:20 a.m. The draft treaty is ibid., Box 487, President’s Trip Files, President’s Conversations in Salzburg, Moscow, Tehran and Warsaw, May 1972, Pt. 2. The record of the meeting is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 299.
  3. See Document 17.
  4. Printed from a copy with this typed signature.