75. Message From the Soviet Leadership to President Nixon 1

When we look back at the road covered in Soviet-American relations since the May meeting, we naturally feel satisfied with the positive changes in the relations between our countries. It is also quite understandable at the same time that our thoughts are more and more returning to those matters which happen to be yet unresolved. In this connection we would like to draw the President’s attention first of all to the following two questions.

First. We proceed from the fact that we have an understanding of principle with the President on the question of non-use of nuclear weapons by the Soviet Union and the United States against each other. The conclusion of such a treaty would be really a considerable step forward, which would be of long-run positive consequences both for the relations between our countries and for the whole world.

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The sides, as is known, have already exchanged several drafts of such a document. At the time when our Minister A. A. Gromyko was in Washington at the beginning of last October, the President said that the work on the text of such a document might be continued in the month of November.2 But until now it did not turn out to be possible to do so, though we, on our part, are prepared to take up that matter at any moment. We believed before and we believe now that the more definitely the essence of the basic idea is expressed in such a treaty—not to allow a nuclear confrontation between our countries—the more significant the conclusion of this treaty between the USSR and the US would be.

At the same time we agree that the formulation of that basic idea could be supplemented—and it has already been taken into account in our latest draft treaty3—with the provisions that our countries will build their relations in such a way that those relations would not be in contradiction with the parties’ obligations not to use nuclear weapons against each other as well as with their undertakings regarding non-use of force in general.

We consider it also very important that in the treaty there should be clearly expressed the determination of our countries to prevent such situation when they would turn to be involved in the conflict with the use of nuclear weapons as a result of actions of the third states.

In our opinion, it is quite possible to solve also the question of consorting the obligations of the sides, to be taken in accordance with the treaty, not to use nuclear weapons against each other with the allied obligations of the sides towards the third states.

Thus we are ready and invite the President to directly engage ourselves in the interests of the cause of peace in the business of completing the working out of a document, which would formalize the agreement concerning non-use of nuclear weapons and would become the major event of world politics not only for 1973 but also for a far longer foreseable period of time.

Second. L. I. Brezhnev paid attention to the readiness of the President expressed in the message of December 18, 19724 to continue the discussion of the questions of the Middle East settlement, which the President quite justly ranks among the foremost foreign policy tasks, which demand the exertion of efforts on the part of our states in this 1973.

Consequently, we on our part repeatedly raised the question concerning the necessity of seeking a constructive settlement of the Middle [Page 260] East conflict and suggested to resume an active discussion of this question, particularly through the confidential channel.

However, in reply to our appeals we were told that the US were totally absorbed in the Vietnamese affairs and therefore could not for a while pay due attention to the subject of the Middle East.

Speaking about this question, it is necessary to emphasize that time is passing while the situation in the Middle East remains complicated and dangerous. If effective measures are not taken the events there can get out of control. There is no doubt that if hostilities in the Middle East erupt once again then—taking into account existent ties with this area of other states including major powers—there could develop quite unwelcome consequenses for the cause of international security, and it is difficult to envisage what would be the end of it and for how long these complications would persist.

As is known, in the course of the Soviet-American exchange of opinion, including that on the highest level, a thought has been repeatedly stressed that the United States and the Soviet Union should not allow that the development of events in that area would lead to a confrontation between our countries; it was stressed that it is necessary and possible to find a solution answering to the interests of all states in the Middle East, to the interests of our states and the interests of peace in general. This has been pointed out personally by President Nixon as well, who not [just?] once spoke about his readiness to use his influence for the solution of the Middle East problem in this very spirit.

We think that both the USSR and the US really can use their influence, their weight, and nature of their ties with the countries-participants in the conflict in order to finally bring the whole matter to the liquidation of the military hotbed in the Middle East.

In this connection a postponement of the exchange of views between us on this important problem seems to be unjustified. There can be of course an order of priority in the solution of problems, but there are problems which can and should be solved in parallel with other urgent international issues. We believe that in the interests of big policy it is exactly in this way that we should approach the solution of the Middle East problem.

As for the Soviet Union, we are prepared for a confidential exchange of views with the American side on this problem. The President knows well the essence of the Soviet position. We have consistently proceeded and proceed from such provisions of principle, which are contained in the known resolution of the Security Council.5

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The key question of a settlement in the Middle East is, undoubtedly, the question of Israeli troops withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied in 1967. If it is solved, then there can be no doubt that there will be no special difficulties in solving other questions of the settlement as well, such as providing for the security and independent existence of the state of Israel and of other countries of that area; establishing demilitarized zones, providing for the freedom of navigation of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and in the Gulf of Aqaba, respect for the rights of the people of Palestine etc. Of course, the whole complex of the Middle East settlement should cover not only Egypt, but Syria and Jordan as well.

We have expressed those thoughts to the President more than once. Some time ago we have already forwarded to the US Government concrete proposals on this matter as well. We still believe that these proposals constitute an appropriate basis for agreement.

Now as never before the time factor has become of decisive importance in the question of political settlement in the Middle East. We are well aware of the feelings of the Arabs. Further existence of the deadlock in the settlement, for which Israel is to blame, cannot but force the Arab countries to seek a way out along the lines of using military methods to solve the lingering crisis no matter what would be the attitude of others to it.

Only substantial progress in the settlement through political means can prevent such a dangerous turn of affairs. We hope that in accordance with the results of the negotiations in Moscow we can start in the near future an exchange of views aimed at working out joint agreement on the settlement of the situation in the Middle East.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 495, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 15. Top Secret. A handwritten notation at the top of the page reads: “Handed to HAK by Dobrynin 1/28/73.”
  2. See Document 56.
  3. Presumably the draft Dobrynin gave to Kissinger on September 21, 1972; see footnotes 17 and 18, Document 55.
  4. Document 71.
  5. A reference to UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.