170. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Andrei M. Aleksandrov, Assistant to the General Secretary
  • Georgi M. Korniyenko, Member of the Collegium of Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Chief, USA Department
  • Mikhail D. Sytenko, Member of the Collegium of Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Chief, Near East Department
  • Oleg Sokolov, USA Department
  • Viktor Sukhodrev, USA Department (Interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr. U.S. Ambassador to the USSR
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • William G. Hyland, Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, State Department
  • Jan M. Lodal, Senior Staff Member, NSC
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • President’s Visit; SALT; Middle East; Other Arms Control; Vietnam; Economic Relations and Energy; Scientific and Technical Cooperation

Brezhnev: I keep trying to learn this diplomatic language: I am having a hard time. I am an engineer by profession. It is an arduous but [Page 796] honorable one. In another ten meetings, I will be able to speak diplomatic language even in English.

How are your children?

Kissinger: Marvelous. My daughter loved the gift you sent her.

Brezhnev: What did they like best?

Kissinger: My daughter liked the Kremlin best; my son liked the Pioneer Club best.

Gromyko: Did they like the tower [the Ostankino Radio Tower]?

Kissinger: Very much, but it was cloudy.

Brezhnev: The weather was bad. So we couldn’t go to Zavidovo. The fog came in.

Kissinger: I understand. We would have liked to go, but I understand.

Brezhnev: I was hoping we could go by helicopter. It is two to two and a half hours by car.

Kissinger: That would be too much.

Brezhnev: Everything was ready at Zavidovo. But it wouldn’t have been pleasant in the forest, with the rain and fog there. The bad weather that was there today came down to Moscow in the evening.

Kissinger: I appreciate the thought.

I am sure the boar are grateful.

Brezhnev: I wasn’t able in this brief period to get a full report on all you talked about today.2 So perhaps in this conversation we could revert to some of the most important questions we have discussed. Not all, but the more important ones.

Kissinger: I agree.

Brezhnev: And Dr. Kissinger and your friends, I do this from President Nixon’s message,3 where he lays particular emphasis on the questions he feels to be the most important.

There are certain other matters—like the artificial heart—but those are scientific matters, and the scientists will understand each other better than we can. I did inquire from our people about progress in cancer control, and I was told there is broad cooperation already.

Kissinger: Yes.

Brezhnev: I know ceilings are a subject Dr. Kissinger specializes in.

[Page 797]

Kissinger: I specialize really in subceilings.

Brezhnev: Now I know. Can they be low ceilings, like 2.20 meters?

Kissinger: Architecturally, I like high ceilings; for MIRVs I like low ceilings.

Brezhnev: My view is exactly the opposite. [Laughter]

The Secretary of the Party Committee in my town, his name was Svirsky. We were doing our best to strengthen the Party organization in the countryside, so we sent urban party men out to the villages. They would think up any excuse not to go. Some said their wife was sick, some said they had piles, etc. Svirsky said: “That is fine. Now we have exchanged views on this subject. You have given me the benefit of yours. So it is all arranged. You go.” [Laughter]

That is a good principle.

Now if we turn to what we feel are the most important questions, I think we agree the first is limitation of strategic arms. Then the Middle East. Then economic cooperation. And then the European Conference. So perhaps we should talk about some of those.

The President’s Visit

One question which we have not discussed, and I leave it to your discretion whether to discuss it, is the question of concrete dates for the President’s visit.

On June 16, we have nationwide elections to the Supreme Soviet. All of us, the leaders of this country, will be nominated to the Supreme Soviet. I will be speaking on the eve of the election. My other colleagues are elected from other districts, so we all will be traveling around the country the first half of June. It will be a busy time. It all takes time. Therefore, personally I feel that during that time we could not accord President Nixon all the attention he merits by rights. Also, during our election speeches, we could have something good to say about the development of U.S.-Soviet relations, and that could be a way of preparing public opinion for the visit—and the meetings would go better in that background. That is by no means a precondition; it is just our desire to have the best atmosphere.

You could pass it on to President Nixon.

Kissinger: We in fact prefer the second half of June.

Brezhnev: It will give us more time, really, to discuss things and reach agreement.

Kissinger: We would prefer the end of June. Or July. Which do you prefer?

Brezhnev: We would be entirely agreeable and we could agree at some later date about when we make a public announcement in the [Page 798] press. That we leave to President Nixon’s hands entirely. And the text can be left to the channel.

What we are talking about is the exact dates—because we have already announced June.

Kissinger: [to Stoessel] Do you have a calendar? [Stoessel gives him a pocket calendar. Kissinger studies it.] Then can we say June 24th. Monday.

Gromyko: The date of arrival?

Kissinger: Yes.

Brezhnev: As the President prefers. Monday would be a good date of arrival.

Kissinger: That is when he came last time. On a Monday.

Brezhnev: Naturally, as we agreed on, it will be an official visit. And we would be happy to meet any wishes he has regarding travel in the Soviet Union. It will present no problem whatever. He has a residence in Moscow; he knows it. [Laughter]

Kissinger: It was adequate. Essentially adequate.

Brezhnev: We have other residences.

Kissinger: No, that was excellent. The 24th.

Brezhnev: Right.

Kissinger: And we were thinking of what length?

Brezhnev: That date seems to be acceptable. As to length, I would like to leave that to the President’s hands.

Gromyko: As long as he can stay.

Brezhnev: About six weeks, I would say.

Kissinger: That has many possibilities!

Brezhnev: Congress can take a rest then.

Kissinger: I was going to say that.

Brezhnev: They are all tired anyway.

Kissinger: He would probably leave on Sunday.

Brezhnev: Three days is too little; four days is still too little. Something like seven or eight days would be more or less adequate. Because maybe he would like to spend two to three days traveling around the country. It is a very nice time of year. I could take him down to the Crimea.

Kissinger: He would appreciate that. If your Ambassador ever comes to Washington, we can discuss it.

Brezhnev: I invite President Nixon now to come there, on my behalf. Sonnenfeldt has been there.

Kissinger: I am sure he will like it very much.

Brezhnev: He can really breathe there.

[Page 799]

Kissinger: I think it is a very good idea.

Brezhnev: It would be a nice gesture both from the point of view of our hospitality, but also from the political viewpoint. He could visit the Yalta Palace where Roosevelt stayed. It would be next to where he is staying.

Dr. Kissinger will no doubt want to inform the President about this and he can tell Ambassador Dobrynin.

Another interesting place—and he spoke about it—is Lake Baikal. It is a very beautiful place.

I for my part suggest the Crimea, and I want the President to feel free to go to any other place he chooses.

Kissinger: I will be in touch with your Ambassador, and anyway we set it for June 24th.

Brezhnev: Agreed.

Kissinger: And we will propose a date for the announcement.

Brezhnev: Agreed.

Now for the most complicated question of all—it is time for tea and cookies.

[A waiter comes in. The Soviets ask for a “MIRV’d” plate of snacks.]

There was a time everyone was scared about flying saucers.

Kissinger: One family in the United States thought one landed in their backyard.

Brezhnev: It was probably something the neighbors threw over. I threw a saucer once in the air and tried to get it to fly. It broke and my wife complained. [Laughter]


As I recall, on the subject of MIRVs, yesterday you suggested we should have 1,000 and we 600. I felt that was quite unjust. So I made a counterproposal that you should have 1,000 and we have 1,000 too.

Kissinger: That is characteristic of our negotiations—that we don’t accept proposals unfavorable to the other side.

Brezhnev: Of course we only put forward constructive proposals.

We agreed we would think it over overnight. I hope you had pleasant dreams.

On this I rely on the reports in your press, which say our talks have been friendly and in a constructive spirit.

Kissinger: And businesslike.

Brezhnev: Why spoil this very friendly atmosphere? It is not in the interests of either side.

[Tea is brought in. Brezhnev counts the slices of lemon.]

[Page 800]

How many warheads here? One-two-three . . . six! You tested one like this.

Kissinger: No, it was five yesterday.

Brezhnev: You have one with twelve.

Kissinger: No, ten.

Brezhnev: Twelve.

Kissinger: Ten. When you come to the U.S. in 1975 we will show you.

Brezhnev: We will show you ours too. The maximum we have is three.

Kissinger: That is on a good day.

Gromyko: Two and a half.

Kissinger: That is why I say, on a good day it is three.

Brezhnev: But truly this question is a very serious one and it warrants very serious discussion.

So we agreed by way of general principle that we will endeavor to sign an agreement prolonging the previous agreement limiting strategic arms. And I understand you to be in favor of that.

Kissinger: Only in connection with an agreement on MIRVs.

Brezhnev: Okay.

Kissinger: Either that or we have to change the numbers.

Brezhnev: Okay. We accept the principle it would be insufficient merely to state that the existing agreement is simply prolonged. So we accept that something should be added to that.

We could have the first paragraph saying the agreement is prolonged. And the second paragraph saying, in rough words, that the President and the Soviet leaders instruct their delegations to continue work to secure the provision [sic] of the Interim Agreement into a permanent one, by 1980 or so. That would be absolutely essential to it. We are both substantially in agreement on that.

Now to that, as I gather from our two days of talks, something else should be added on top of that.

Kissinger: Exactly.

Brezhnev: Something should be added, in the first place, to preserve the balance so neither side acquires any advantage. Now let’s think about that. I honestly tell you I don’t think your proposal is an appropriate one, for it does not meet that objective. Let me explain my thinking on that score.

Kissinger: Can I bring in my expert? [They nod agreement. Lodal is brought in.]

Brezhnev: [to Lodal] Okay.

[Page 801]

So, as I say, I will try to explain my thinking.

It is no secret, and you didn’t conceal it, that the missiles installed on your submarines have 12 warheads.

Kissinger: Ten.

Brezhnev: Okay, let it be ten. History will prove who is right. Whether it is ten or twelve, you are equally aware we have not done this.

Kissinger: Done what?

Brezhnev: Put MIRVs on submarines.

Kissinger: Not yet.

Brezhnev: Not yet.

Kissinger: But soon.

Brezhnev: That is another question. But in terms of MIRVs, you have an advantage of over 2,000. Let’s place our cards on the table.

Kissinger: In the number of warheads. I don’t have the exact figure, but we certainly have an advantage.

Brezhnev: Certainly a big one.

Kissinger: Today.

Brezhnev: You also know how long it takes and what effort it is to develop and deploy MIRVs on submarine-launched missiles. You say we have an advantage in land-based missiles. But let us recall one fact of no small importance—that we have to destroy 100 rockets to fit out the 62 submarines we are entitled to under the agreement. So even if we proceed from the assumption we will have five MIRVs on each missile—and I doubt that—it means we lose about 500 warheads. Otherwise we are not entitled to build the 62 submarines under the agreement. Because we gained that right to build submarines only if we tear down that number of missiles. So even if we proceed from your calculation of number of warheads, we stand to lose 500.

[Kissinger laughs]

This requires fairly precise arithmetic.

Kissinger: Yes, Mr. General Secretary, but the missiles you have to destroy are a type on which you cannot put multiple warheads.

Gromyko: But we would be entitled to replace them with a more modern type.

As I said yesterday, your military may have their doctrine and ours have their own. But neither has anything to do with political negotiations.

Kissinger: The problem, Mr. General Secretary, is that even the missiles you are permitted are about 1,400, or maybe a little more. Of the characteristics most suitable for MIRVs, on those you can put either five or six warheads now and God knows how many later.

[Page 802]

Brezhnev: The same God doesn’t know how many you can install. You have missiles carrying ten already. We don’t have any yet. So even today, each one of yours equals two of ours. That is the honest method of approaching this.

Kissinger: First, unless we are only making debating points, the missiles that are comparable are the land-based. You can install warheads on more of yours and each of your warheads is more powerful than ours.

Brezhnev: But Dr. Kissinger, I can equally say your scientists are capable of installing bigger warheads.

Kissinger: Only if we build bigger missiles, which, if the agreement lapses, we will certainly do.

Brezhnev: You think it is so easy [for us] to close the gap? It will be years before it evens up. The gap today is that wide. [He gestures.] It will be wider. It is like comparing the salary you get or the salary I get with the salary of a docker. We will be able to pay the docker such a salary when in America a docker’s pay rises to yours. Maybe after five more Brezhnevs. So let us proceed from the factual state of affairs.

Kissinger: The factual state of affairs is . . .

Brezhnev: Then you recall I suggested we both withdraw nuclear-carrying vessels from the Mediterranean. You said it was not appropriate. But you remember I showed you a map which showed you the facts. You didn’t want to take that into account.

When you and we were signing the original agreement, we didn’t take into account all your bases and weapons in the Mediterranean. But the weapons are yours and they are there. So from a legal and military point of view, we are certainly entitled to say that is also a fact to be taken into account. But I am not raising that now.

On the Mediterranean you say it is very difficult to do, and you make reference to allies, and so on.

So even if we prolong the provisional agreement by 1980, we will even by then have fewer MIRVs than you do, and you know that very well.

From a realistic point of view now—I can give you my last word on this—we agree to prolong the agreement to 1980 and you are allowed to have 1,100 and we are allowed to have 1,000. So we will lose 100 land-based missiles under the old agreement, so as to fit out the 62 submarines. So we scrap 100 launchers and report to you about that. And in addition, by way of an advance, or to make it more understandable for public opinion, we allow you to MIRV 1,100 launchers and we are allowed to MIRV 1,000. Now that would be a clear endeavor on our part to meet your position.

[Korniyenko gets up and whispers something to Brezhnev.]

[Page 803]

Correction, correction. We are supposed to scrap 210 land-based missiles.

Kissinger: That is correct.

Brezhnev: Plus you get an additional 100, so you get 310 MIRV’d missiles more. And we get only 1,000, and at a time when you already have a vast superiority in MIRVs. I am sure you know—and I say so in full honesty—that so far we have not a single submarine fitted out with MIRV’d missiles.

Kissinger: No, we believe this.

Gromyko: By 1980 . . .

Brezhnev: Then by 1980, provided we fulfill the terms of the original agreement, we can think over what further steps we can take. And seriously, what I am saying is that I still have to do a lot of discussing with our military men, and with our scientists, to see if they can develop this for us.

And what do we get from this? Politically, to show that the line on limiting strategic arms is continuing. And secondly, in an area where you have a vast superiority, in MIRVs, it allows you by 1980 to virtually complete your full program. So I don’t know what else you want. What else can you ask for the Soviet Union to do? How can you ask for more when you already have a clear superiority?

So I would appreciate it if you discussed this with President Nixon. We couldn’t really go into greater detail.

Because under those terms we would have only the right to do what we are entitled to, but I have no idea whether we could technically achieve it. In fact, our military may say they don’t want to have the full 1,000. Just like some of your military say there is no use firing at certain regions of the Soviet Union but [you] should fire at military targets, while other military people say no, that the most essential thing is to destroy all the launching pads. So it is really not a political question but a question of military doctrine.

So I have really set out our final position, a position based on our desire to observe the principle of non-use of force against one another and the prevention of nuclear war. In fact we are prepared to go this far considering the political opposition and certain political difficulties you are experiencing inside your country.

I would request that you transmit the substance of my remarks to President Nixon. I think he will think it over and appreciate the significance of our position.

Kissinger: Let me sum up, so I understand.

Brezhnev: Certainly.

Kissinger: In this total figure, it is not specified in each category how many in that category can be MIRVed—how many ICBMs of what type or how many submarines of what type.

[Page 804]

Brezhnev: That would depend on the desires of each side.

Kissinger: But they don’t even notify each other about their intentions.

Brezhnev: I don’t know. We should think that over. We will, of course, report to you when we scrap some land-based missiles.

Kissinger: That is a different matter.

Brezhnev: But it is very important.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, there is the problem of verification, which arises this way. To be specific. After you have completed testing your submarine MIRVs—whenever it is; I personally think it will be before 1976—

Brezhnev: It won’t.

Kissinger: I believe yes, but we will see. We will then have to assume that every submarine capable of carrying that missile is MIRVed. Because we can’t know, looking at a submarine, whether you have already installed MIRVs or not. Just as you have to assume, when we count our 1,100, you would have to consider every submarine carrying the Poseidon missile as carrying MIRV, and count it. Because if we told you that some Poseidon boats don’t have MIRVs, you would laugh at us, and you would be right. Therefore, de facto, when you count our 1,100 you would have to consider every Poseidon boat as having MIRVs and subtract it. Or else each side simply doesn’t limit submarine missiles. That is the problem.

Brezhnev: Not necessarily. We may consider all your Poseidon submarines to be MIRVed, maybe not. I am not certain we will MIRV all our 62 submarines, even when we invent them.

Kissinger: But, Mr. General Secretary, we would have to consider every boat you have capable of accepting that missile as carrying MIRV. Therefore, assuming you have—I don’t know the number—400 that can accept your new missile for MIRV for submarines—that would have to be deducted from the 1,000.

Brezhnev: You said yesterday that if, for example, one of our launchers was capable of carrying MIRV, you would regard all of them as carrying MIRV.

Kissinger: Yes.

Brezhnev: Our military could take a different view. They could decide to MIRV only 60 percent of them and leave the others with a single warhead.

Kissinger: Yes, but our problem is we couldn’t know this and we couldn’t take their word for it.

Brezhnev: I can’t fully determine the degree of mutual exchange of information, but in the framework of our agreement we would cer[Page 805]tainly inform you. After 1980, when we will be devising a new agreement, we might have a special clause about exchange of information. Because meanwhile we know you have a vast superiority over us in MIRVs. But we proceed from the fact that we have an agreement on Prevention of Nuclear War, and we know we won’t have a nuclear war between us. It is only guided by such a lofty spirit of confidence between us that we can make such a proposal.

Let us have a ten-minute break.

Kissinger: Good.

[There was a break from 7:07 to 7:26]

Kissinger: I was explaining our military proposals to my colleagues who have never heard it.

You know what I think, Mr. General Secretary? Quite honestly, both our military people have painted a picture of the situation that is rather one-sided. Your people emphasize the number of warheads; our people emphasize the weight of your warheads.

Brezhnev: I don’t know how well you are familiar with the concept of the weight of warheads and with what percentage of the weight is lost when you MIRV that warhead. But I do.

Kissinger: I know.

Brezhnev: I have made a little calculation. Our proposal actually means if we agree you are allowed the total number of missiles you have, plus an additional 100 you get, plus the figure we have to scrap for our submarines, it means the United States will have—and this is an exact figure—the United States will be entitled to MIRV 64 percent of all the missiles it is allowed to have, whereas the Soviet Union will be entitled to MIRV only 42 percent of the missiles we are allowed. If you ask your military experts, they will give the same figures.

Kissinger: Yes, but if I ask my military men, they will probably say it proves that in our last agreement you took advantage of us because it allowed you a greater number of missiles that you are allowed to MIRV.

Brezhnev: Yes, well, people can invent anything to say but you can say you have discussed this with the Russians and this is the agreement you have come to.

Kissinger: In this forum I don’t believe we can make progress with these figures. We don’t want to get an advantage in ICBM warheads. Because, for example, if we had an equal number of MIRV’d ICBMs, you would have roughly twice the number of warheads. But this could then be compensated for by submarine missiles. So our concern isn’t that. Our concern is to get some figures that are a realistic limit and are not simply the maximum program of both sides. Because the General Secretary himself said he wasn’t sure he could MIRV as many.

[Page 806]

I am just being analytical, Mr. General Secretary.

But without an agreement, we could MIRV 500 more Minutemen easily, and after 1977 we could deploy Trident missiles on land. So we would accept a limit on our number of both; by extending the Interim Agreement we would accept a limit on numbers and a disadvantage in numbers which gives you the possibility of more over a period of time.

Brezhnev: That is a logic I don’t understand, because it doesn’t meet the figures. I would ask you to report back to the President.

Kissinger: I will report this to the President. Maybe we can develop some counterproposal, and then we will see where we are.

Brezhnev: One other matter. You asked about information about our intentions as to how many submarines we intend to fit out with these missiles. I am not denying the validity of that suggestion. Let me think it over. It may turn out to be acceptable.

Kissinger: Let me say Mr. General Secretary, if that is acceptable, then I think we will be approaching an agreement. At least, this thing will look different.

Brezhnev: I can say we would not be concerned about whatever figure you mentioned—whether 2,000, 3,000 missiles—because we proceed from our agreement in good faith not to use nuclear weapons. So I would never have raised it. But then I hear first one speech by an official in the United States that “we must be stronger,” then another speech, and then Congress is increasing military appropriations. That I feel is in violation of our understandings.

Kissinger: I understand this, Mr. General Secretary, but we are attempting to prevent a runaway arms race in the United States.

Brezhnev: You say so, but on the other hand your military appropriations are growing, and you are mobilizing public opinion behind the idea the United States must be stronger. Which leads Americans to believe the United States is militarily weak and the United States stands on feet of clay.

Kissinger: [Laughs] There is certainly merit in what the General Secretary is saying. I am not arguing every point the General Secretary makes.

Brezhnev: I recently spoke in Alma-Ata, and I will be making my election speech. What if I get up and make a speech [He gets up and gesticulates]: “Comrades, we must make every effort; we must be stronger than America.” Then the military men will say, “Give us the money.”

Kissinger: [Laughs] If you said that, Senator Jackson would give you wide publicity in America.

Brezhnev: Senator Jackson again!

[Page 807]

Kissinger: Of our military budget, of course, the greater part of the increase is due to inflation and most of it goes to personnel. The President never said more than that we will never be number two, never that we must be stronger than the Soviet Union.

Brezhnev: Perhaps we could end the discussion of that subject on that. We feel that could provide a good basis for our meeting.

Kissinger: If you could think over the submarine issue, and we will think over the numbers issue. [They query.] Assuming we accepted your figure for MIRV, and if you could then consider giving us information of how many will be on submarines, then we could think the matter over very seriously.

Brezhnev: I told you I couldn’t rule out the possibility of our informing you whenever we install the first MIRV on submarines. Maybe there is something reasonable in this.

So I take it, if we quite honestly inform you on the subject, this wouldn’t mean imposing any limits on us.

Gromyko: Within the limits.

Brezhnev: Let’s say, within the 62 submarines allowed, we will tell you whether one or five are being MIRV’d.

Dobrynin: Just inform you. No limits.

Kissinger: No, you will have the right to determine the limits in each category.

Gromyko: You are trying to introduce the notion of a ceiling through the back door.

Kissinger: [Laughs] I have tried to explain to you the problem of a ceiling introduces itself the minute you have started testing a submarine missile.

Let me explain how we view the subject—not to debate it, Mr. General Secretary. Let me explain our reasoning, just so you understand us.

First, we do not believe you can put MIRV’d warheads on any of your existing missiles. We may be wrong, but that is what we believe.

Gromyko: Please repeat.

Kissinger: We do not believe you can put MIRVs on any of your existing missiles.

Therefore we have observed you have conducted your MIRV tests with missiles that we consider new and you consider improved, but are in any case distinguishable.

I just want you to see we are not being capricious and trying to take advantage of you.

Brezhnev: It is the same type of rocket. But fitted with MIRV-type warheads, in the same silo. For a new type missile, you need a new silo, that is natural. And you know that.

[Page 808]

Kissinger: You think they go in the same silo?

Brezhnev: Only in existing silos, otherwise it would be a violation.

Kissinger: We thought you would make them deeper, which is not a violation.

Brezhnev: If we had widened the silos, you would have complained.

Kissinger: So, should I continue with our reasoning?

Brezhnev: I think the main thing is, you should inform President Nixon that that is our proposal. That is as far as we can go. And we proceed from the assumption that neither of us will attack each other. If you need them, it is because maybe you think China will attack you. For us, the greatest guarantee is our intention of never attacking you.

In fact, Dr. Kissinger, I can tell you our military men have certain fears about a violation of the agreement, as far as widening of silos is concerned, to house new-type rockets. You know what those fears are based on? The fact that in the United States about 500 land-based launchers have been covered up. And we made two representations about that.

Kissinger: But we have stopped that.

Brezhnev: That is still going on.

Kissinger: That is impossible.

Brezhnev: That introduces certain questions. It is not something I really wanted to mention but it is a fact. Let us act in good faith.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, I have to check this, but we ordered it stopped, and if it is not stopped, it violates orders. But I wasn’t accusing you of violating the agreement. That wasn’t our point. The only point I was going to make was that for the purposes of the agreement, for the purposes of verification, once you test a missile with MIRV, we have to assume it is MIRV’d because we have no way of verifying whether it is or is not.

Brezhnev: I have replied that it is a matter of military doctrine. We ourselves may decide to MIRV only half of them. We will be proceeding not from anything to do with the United States but from something to do with our other potential opponent. So what we are talking about is what each side is entitled to.

Kissinger: Okay, so how do we know you have deployed only half of your MIRVs?

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, I am not rejecting your proposal about mutual information. It may turn out to be acceptable. I am not rejecting it. Let’s think it over.

Kissinger: All right. We will both think it over.

[Page 809]

Brezhnev: After all, we have undertaken to inform you we are scrapping a certain number of land-based missiles to build submarines. Maybe we can go on to a broader agreement on exchange of information. But I am not in the position now to give you the exact answer.

Kissinger: No, I understand. Let’s leave it at that point.

Middle East

Brezhnev: Now, Dr. Kissinger could we finish the discussion on the question of the Middle East, by agreeing that we will cooperate with one another completely as was initially agreed upon by our two sides? And I stress the word “cooperate,” and by that I mean not simply inform each other. That should characterize our relationship in the Middle East.

Kissinger: I had a brief talk with your Foreign Minister today, and we agreed we would have a full exchange on the occasion of his visit to Washington. On the Middle East. And we are prepared to cooperate, to answer your question, and not to seek to achieve a unilateral advantage.

Brezhnev: We certainly have no aim to achieve any unilateral advantage. Unless you consider the assurance of the security of Israel and all Arab states a unilateral advantage.

Kissinger: I consider our objectives in this area compatible.

Brezhnev: That is what I think. But we should act accordingly.

Kissinger: I agree we should coordinate our moves.

Other Arms Control

Brezhnev: Now, on underground testing, it would be desirable if, after your consultations with the military experts about which you spoke, you could give us your proposals about the threshold.

Kissinger: All right.

Brezhnev: So we can get down to concrete discussions.

Kissinger: We will make a proposal on the threshold, and I suggest technical experts on the two sides get together to discuss it concretely.

Gromyko: So the experts can also come up with a concrete text.

Kissinger: That, as the Foreign Minister would say, is not excluded. It can be done.

Brezhnev: I agree.

I would like to touch on the limitation on climatic-modification activity for military purposes detrimental to health.

Kissinger: As I told your Ambassador, this is a matter we should be able to form a conclusion about by the time the Foreign Minister comes to Washington. We quite frankly haven’t completed our studies. By the 15th or 16th.

[Page 810]

Brezhnev: I agree, the important thing for me is that you should not reject consideration of this thing.

Kissinger: No.

Gromyko: Agreement between us on this would have very great resonance in the world.

Kissinger: We haven’t completed our studies but we will press it by the 15th.


Brezhnev: One more question. I don’t want to go into details, but I would like officially to tell you that our Vietnamese comrades at all levels, both at the party level and at the state level, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Viet-Nam have made repeated statements to us—the most recent case was when Pham Van Dong was here—to the effect they want to observe most rigorously the Paris Accords. They keep complaining that the Saigon regime is constantly violating those accords. I repeat, I don’t want to go into details on this, but proceeding from our understanding with you, let us make every effort—and I am calling on you to make every effort—to prevent Saigon from doing anything to violate the accords. That is my sole request. I have no other demands. Try and analyze the situation. There are observers in Viet-Nam. Our one request is that the Paris Accords be observed. I have no other requests to make.

Kissinger: We will use all our influence to prevent violations by the South Vietnamese.

Brezhnev: I would like nothing better.

Kissinger: But if you can use your influence, Mr. General Secretary, with the North Vietnamese, who are constantly violating the agreement, particularly Article 7,4 which has to do with infiltration, that would also be a great help.

Brezhnev: Well, I can tell you I for my part will use our influence to prevent any violations.

Kissinger: Then this was a very constructive exchange.

Economic Relations and Energy

Brezhnev: Good. This has something to do with the range of our relations and the whole spirit of relations between the Soviet Union [Page 811] and the United States, that is, trade and a long-term economic agreement, and the question of fulfillment of the promise made by the United States regarding MFN. And also I would like very briefly to hear whether the United States is interested at all in cooperating with us in energy. Because others are—Europe, Japan.

Kissinger: Let me deal with energy first.

Brezhnev: Please.

Kissinger: In principle, we are prepared to cooperate with the Soviet Union across the whole range of the energy problem. We maintain our interest in certain new projects we already discussed with you. And we are also prepared to discuss with you certain new issues that have come up in recent years. Specifically, we are willing to cooperate with you on developing alternative sources to oil. We are doing a lot of work on it already. On other research and development we are devoting over $23 billion over the next five years.

Brezhnev: Could you be more specific? What do you mean by alternative sources?

Kissinger: Liquifying of coal, for example. Utilization of other sources. Matters of this kind, which we are working on on a large scale. Oil shale, and how to make it more economical. Conservation of energy. Matters of this kind. But we have proposed that some of your experts get together with ours and at the Summit we could sign a long-term energy agreement. And we would be prepared to cooperate with the Soviet Union. And as I said, we are already engaged in a major effort quite on our own, but we would be prepared to undertake joint projects.

Brezhnev: Are you continuing or have you stopped your dialogue with the Japanese about developing Siberian sources of oil?

Kissinger: To my knowledge we are continuing it and we continue to support it.

Brezhnev: Good. In very general terms, Dr. Kissinger, is the question of deals on a compensating basis of interest to you?

Kissinger: Along the lines of our discussions last year?

Brezhnev: Exactly. Just for example—it is for the scientists and businessmen to go into the details—some U.S. company extends credit to us for building a pulp mill to turn out paper of the highest quality and we pay you back with supplies of the end product.

Kissinger: Yes.

Brezhnev: It will then depend on the exact terms agreed on, whether we pay you back in five years, ten years. If we agree on a five-year repayment, 80 percent of the product; if ten years, then 100 percent of the product.

Kissinger: I understand.

[Page 812]

Brezhnev: Another example: The United States supplies us with certain material to be used in, say, smelting of nickel or tin, and we pay you back by the end product. It is a very energy-consuming process. This way we save your energy, which is money in your pocket.

Kissinger: As a concept we will support it. We will have to examine each case. We will strongly encourage our companies to cooperate in this. Where credits are required, we are in principle prepared to increase credits. The same group trying to stop MFN is also trying to stop the credits. So we can deal with both of these problems hopefully simultaneously, along the lines of our discussion yesterday.5

Brezhnev: You know we have this agreement with Armand Hammer. He supplies equipment and we pay him back with ammonia, which the United States is in need of. I would imagine his company has examined the situation and wouldn’t agree to anything that would lose.

There are many such projects. I was just asking for your general assessment.

Kissinger: Our assessment is positive, and we will use all our influence with the banks to encourage it.

Brezhnev: I lay such emphasis on this question not because we are just dying for lack of such deals, but because it is in our mutual interest.

Kissinger: It is in our interests because it links our two countries together and it is a concrete expression . . .

Brezhnev: I don’t want to elaborate on any other subjects.

Scientific and Technical Cooperation

Brezhnev: On scientific and technical cooperation, we have given you our drafts and you have ample food for thought when you get home.

I feel we have exchanged some very constructive views, and we should now make an effort not to waste time on questions of second-rate importance, and more attention to what we have spent the last two days on. Then President Nixon will be armed with documents which will be truly worthy of his visit.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, may I raise two questions? One is, the President will be prepared to agree to a second U.S.-Soviet space mission once the first one is completed.

Brezhnev: I can say in advance that is more than likely to evoke a favorable response.

Kissinger: So we will have Mr. Fletcher, head of our Space Agency, get in touch with the appropriate officials.

[Page 813]

Brezhnev: Certainly.

Kissinger: Should we also have our people begin talking about an energy agreement? Or is that premature?

Brezhnev: I don’t think it would be premature.

Kissinger: So we should.

Brezhnev: In several days time, a big delegation from here, headed by Minister [K. I.] Galanshin,6 is going there at Kendall’s invitation, on the paper and pulp industry.

Kissinger: [To Dobrynin] If you keep us informed and you need governmental support, we will do whatever is necessary.

Gromyko: We will inform you of the exact dates.

Kissinger: You can count on the support of our government.

Other Matters

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, these last couple of days we have been issuing communiqués to the press about what we have been doing. Tomorrow you are leaving. We ought to issue some kind of communiqué. My colleagues say they have handed a draft to your people.

Kissinger: I have just gotten it this minute.

Brezhnev: The short press release about today’s meeting is already agreed on with your people.

Kissinger: As long as it says “constructive and businesslike.” [Laughter]

Dobrynin: It has “more constructive than yesterday.”

Kissinger: As long as it is in the same order as yesterday.

Gromyko: Constructive and businesslike.

Kissinger: That is not without merit.

[Kissinger and Sonnenfeldt edit the Soviet draft.]

Dobrynin: [To Dr. Kissinger] Do we have to meet today, or tomorrow?

Kissinger: Tomorrow. But it is not subject to negotiation. I gave you the categories. The numbers.

Brezhnev: A piece of paper with that factual material I promised you—my colleagues will give it to you tomorrow morning.

Kissinger: That is all right.

[There was a brief break from 8:43 to 8:46.]

Kissinger: We have studied the communiqué and have really no substantive questions. Only a few stylistic suggestions.

[Page 814]

Brezhnev: I really haven’t read it.

Kissinger: Does Korniyenko draft for both sides now? Did you know he is joining my staff for a year? On the basis of equal torture for both sides. We will trade Sonnenfeldt for Korniyenko if you will get an additional man who can read upside down.

[Brezhnev goes out for a few minutes, returns.]

Kissinger: [To Gromyko] I will talk to the British about that European Security Conference. I will send a message to you on Friday.7

Gromyko: Good.

Kissinger: I think it is still bureaucracy. I will talk to Callaghan8 tomorrow. They probably haven’t had time to study it.

Brezhnev: Really, Dr. Kissinger, I find the thought rather dull that you are leaving tomorrow.

Kissinger: I always enjoy our meetings.

One possibility that occurred to me, Mr. General Secretary. If we make some progress on SALT, I would be prepared to return for a couple of days in May.

Brezhnev: You know, I was thinking about that. But I decided not to mention it. But I really thought we might need one more meeting, to finalize or almost finalize some of the documents. I didn’t think it would be on SALT, because I thought we had already settled that.

Kissinger: What are 3,000 MIRVs among friends? [Laughter]

But still we have to write down the small print.

Brezhnev: I don’t think I will live to see the day when we have 300 MIRVs in our favor.

Gromyko: To make things fair, we should be given 1,100 and you 1,000.

Kissinger: You will end up with more warheads. We will write down our considerations, because I really think I haven’t had a chance to give them to you. Our analysis of the problem.

Gromyko: Whenever you give us something in writing it looks very negative. Conditioned reflexes.

Brezhnev: What we gave you was really our final position. It means we are really giving you the maximum. I really should be fired from the Council of National Defense and all my other posts. You just think it over, how far I have gone. I for one—you absolutely never expected me to say what I have done. We have completed our discussions in a friendly way; I am sure you didn’t expect me to go so far. [Page 815] [Laughter] When you tell President Nixon, I am sure he will give you a third post, in addition to the two you have.

[Both sides confer. Kissinger and Sonnenfeldt study the draft communiqué.]

Kissinger: What time does this have to be released tomorrow? 10:00?

Gromyko: We could maybe give it to the radio and TV tomorrow night and publish it in Pravda the next day.

Kissinger: I agree.

Brezhnev: There is an aspect to it. I am conducting these talks as leader of the Party, therefore the Party paper should publish it first.

Kissinger: Let’s just establish a time.

Gromyko: 7:00 Moscow time.

Kissinger: All right. We will give it to our press.

Dobrynin: Going to Washington?

Kissinger: No, to London. 5:00 London time, 7:00 local time [here], which is noon Washington time.

Brezhnev: Both radio and TV at 7:00. Then the day after tomorrow’s edition of Pravda.

Kissinger: It is good for us too, because it makes evening TV.

Gromyko: Agreed. Completely agreed. Essentially agreed!

[The final draft of the communiqué is attached at Tab A.]9

Brezhnev: This might disappoint you, but I have no intention of considering any new proposals on SALT.

Kissinger: We have to now . . .

Brezhnev: Maybe something will come out of the information problem.

Kissinger: Exactly. If we can do something with the information problem. This is the direction my mind is now working.

Brezhnev: I believe you. And I hope so.

Thank you Dr. Kissinger, and I thank all your colleagues for the spirit that reigned during these discussions. Please give my highest regards to President Nixon for all my Comrades. My best wishes to him and my hope that his visit will be a good one.

Kissinger: On behalf of my colleagues, and especially my children, I would like to thank you for the spirit of these talks and your hospitality to us.

[Page 816]

Brezhnev: Since I remember meeting your children at San Clemente, please give them my best regards. I hope they like Moscow.

Kissinger: Very much.

Brezhnev: And please come again.

Kissinger: I am confident the visit will be a successful one and a great contribution to peace.

Brezhnev: We have emphasized and re-emphasized that we both feel we are on the right course, and the further ahead we go, the more the American public and world opinion will conclude we are doing a truly great job.

Kissinger: Thank you.

[Brezhnev and Kissinger confer alone briefly on the way out.]

Brezhnev: I won’t see you tomorrow.

Kissinger: In June, and perhaps in May.

Brezhnev: Let us do some more work so we can settle it. And work out documents so they can be signed.

Kissinger: Certainly.10

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, HAK Office Files, Box 76, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Secretary Kissinger’s Pre-Summit Trip to Moscow, Memcons & Reports, March 24–28, 1974. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in Brezhnev’s office in the Council of Ministers building at the Kremlin. Brackets are in the original.
  2. Presumably Kissinger’s March 27 meeting with Gromyko at the Soviet Foreign Ministry at which they discussed the Federal Environmental Office in Berlin. For the memorandum of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–15, Documents on Eastern Europe, 1973–1976, Document 92.
  3. Document 163.
  4. Article 7 of the Paris Accords reads, in part, “From the enforcement of the cease-fire to the formation of the government provided for in Articles 9(b) and 14 of this Agreement, the two South Vietnamese parties shall not accept the introduction of troops, military advisers, and military personnel including technical military personnel, armaments, munitions, and war material into South Vietnam.” For the full text of the agreement, see The New York Times, January 25, 1973, pp. 15–17.
  5. See Documents 167 and 168.
  6. Konstantin Ivanovich Galanshin, Soviet Minister of Pulp and Paper Industry.
  7. March 29. No message was found.
  8. James Callaghan, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from March 1974.
  9. Attached but not printed. For the text of the communiqué, issued on March 28, see Department of State Bulletin. It was also published in The New York Times, March 29, 1974, p. 6.
  10. Kissinger’s memorandum for the President summarizing his final meeting with Brezhnev is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Kissinger Office Files, Box 76, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Secretary Kissinger’s Pre-Summit Trip to Moscow, Memcons & Reports, March 24–28, 1974.