36. Message From the U.S. Leadership to the Soviet Leadership1

Prevention of Nuclear War

1. The President has considered our discussions on this subject of great importance.

2. We believe that the drafts on this subject should take the following points into account:

—We believe it important to avoid any formulation that carried an implication of a condominium by our two countries;

—We believe it important that an agreement between our two countries should not carry any implication that we were ruling out only nuclear war between ourselves but were leaving open the option of nuclear war against third countries;

—We think it important that in concentrating on the prevention of nuclear war we should not at the same time appear to be legitimizing the initiation of war by conventional means;

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—We think it important that past agreements, whether alliances or other types of obligations, designed to safeguard peace and security should be enhanced by any additional agreement between ourselves relating specifically to the prevention of nuclear warfare;

—We regard the considerations of paragraph II of the U.S. draft important even though the wording can be modified to meet some of the objections raised by Ambassador Dobrynin.

3. Within this framework the President is prepared to continue the exchanges in the confidential channel with the objective of developing a mutually satisfactory text. Negotiations in this channel are always conducted with a view to reaching some agreement.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 79, D: Nuclear Understanding, Exchange of Notes. No classification marking. A handwritten notation reads: “Handed to D, Sept. 7, 1972.” According to Kissinger’s Record of Schedule, he and Dobrynin met briefly in the Map Room of the White House from 5:15 to 5:17 p.m. on September 7. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 438, Miscellany, 1969–76)