77. Note From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1
Attached is a memorandum on the nuclear non-use problem together with some new drafting.
I have not in this paper attempted to relate this issue explicitly to the more complex problem of balancing our overall Soviet relations with our Chinese relations since I cannot very confidently judge what it may be desirable to do with respect to the former in the light of the most recent developments in the latter. Your trip2 and its results and consequences may of course make it desirable to inject some momentum into our Soviet relations—although it is not self-evident that the initiative in this respect needs or ought to be all ours. Undoubtedly, the Soviets are edgy, not only because of your China trip but because many aspects of our relations are beset by problems: CSCE and MBFR are moving slowly or stalled because we cannot easily control Allied behavior3 (itself a reflection of Allied suspicions and anxieties about our Soviet relations and of uncertainties in our European relations due to economics); SALT is stalled over a seemingly basic incompatibility of interests and objectives; the gas deals are hung up because of our uncertainties over energy policy and bureaucratic snarls; the US-Soviet Commercial Commission is stalled because we have not appointed a successor to Peterson. I cannot judge how maneuvering over the Middle East interacts with all of this. Brezhnev is almost certainly in an uncomfortable position with his colleagues and he must worry about the outlook for his trip to the US. (The fact that other, less central aspects of our bilateral relations are doing reasonably well is not enough to offset the various difficulties cited above.)
The Soviets will undoubtedly try to turn the non-use issue into a catalyst that breaks the logjam on other matters and as the center-piece of what might be accomplished during a Brezhnev trip. But this is precisely our dilemma: this issue almost certainly cannot be solved by us [Page 264] without either doing grave damage to our Chinese relations or further complicating those with Western Europe.
Perhaps, before you go further on any of the alternatives suggested in the attached paper, we should try to talk all this out.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 67, Country Files—Europe—USSR, Map Room, Aug. 1972–May 31, 1973 [1 of 3]. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only.↩
- Kissinger visited China February 15–19 as part of an 11-day trip to Asia.↩
- See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIX, European Security, Documents 127 and 129.↩
- Sonnenfeldt initialed above his typed signature.↩
- Sent for action.↩
- See Document 66.↩
- Pyotr Shelest, head of the Communist Party in the Ukraine, was ousted on May 25, 1972. (“Shelest is Removed as Ukraine’s Leader,” The New York Times, May 26, 1972, p. 5) Dmitri Polyansky was demoted from First Deputy Premier to Agricultural Minister. (“Soviet Farm Minister Out; His Superior Demoted,” ibid., February 3, 1973, p. 5)↩
- See footnote 2, Document 25.↩
- For the text of the agreement on measures to reduce the risk of outbreak of nuclear war, signed at Washington September 30, 1971, (22 UST 1590; TIAS 7186), see Department of State Bulletin, October 18, 1971, pp. 400–401.↩
- See Document 70.↩
- Tabs A–C are attached but not printed.↩