100. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Talk with Perle, December 18, 1974, 6 p.m.

Perle called to say that the passage in Anderson’s statement on the Gromyko letter today,2 which said there were no assurances on numbers, could be read as meaning that you repudiated the statement in your October 18 letter to the effect that emigration numbers would rise to meet applications. I said that nothing said by the spokesman affected your letter of October 18, the President’s statement in Tucson on October 213 and your Senate Finance Committee testimony. Perle said he thought this would take care of “Scoop’s concern” on this but Scoop may want to nail it down in writing. I said this was absurd.

He then asked me why I thought the Soviets had done what they did. I said I could only speculate: the Gromyko letter itself undoubtedly was a reaction to the unfortunate White House press conference by Scoop after his meeting with the President;4 publication of the letter was probably a further reaction to weeks of additional commentary in the arguments over the trade bill and to the steady whittling away at the ExIm bill. There had just been a Central Committee meeting in Moscow and it may well have been argued to Brezhnev that there were now such minimal benefits in trade with the US that it simply was not [Page 387] worthwhile to make concessions on emigration and to have a constant barrage of pressures and intrusions into their internal affairs. I said that if this business persisted the Soviets might just tell us to go to hell on MFN so that they would have no commitment of any sort on emigration. Perle said that if the Russians do that “we will cut off technology—we have the votes; not a single item will get to them.” I said he was doing great trying to run our foreign policy and he would probably get his reward when the next Middle East war breaks out. Perle merely said “so you blame us for that as well.”

(In an unpleasant encounter at Georgetown yesterday, at a SALT discussion, I had pointed out to Perle that his position would have the effect of reinforcing opposition to the Defense budget and to our ability to use the flexibility allowed for in the Vladivostok agreement to meet Soviet strategic weapons development. I had also pointed out to him that his SALT proposal would allow the Soviets over 1700 MIRVed missiles, including large numbers of SS–18s, against the 1320 agreed to at Vladivostok and would thus be highly destabilizing.)

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 8, Trade Bill, Sept–Dec 1974. Eyes Only.
  2. Robert Anderson, Department of State spokesman, released the following statement at 4:30 p.m. on December 18: “The private communication from Foreign Minister Gromyko to Secretary Kissinger of October 26 which was published by TASS today does not, in our view, change the understandings referred to in the Secretary’s letter to Senator Jackson of October 18. The Administration has always made clear, most recently in Secretary Kissinger’s testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on the Trade Bill, that there exists no understanding or agreement either with the Soviet government or with Senator Jackson concerning numbers of emigrants from the Soviet Union.” (Ford Library, Nessen Papers, Box 125, Foreign Guidance for Press Briefing, USSR) Gromyko’s October 26 letter is Document 75. The Secretary’s October 18 letter is Document 75. For Kissinger’s testimony, see U.S. Senate, Committee on Finance, Emigration Amendment to the Trade Reform Act of 1974: Hearing Before the Committee on Finance, United States Senate, Ninety-Third Congress, Second Session, December 3, 1974 (Washington: US GPO, 1974). On December 18, TASS also released an official statement, rejecting “as unacceptable any attempts, from whatever source, to interfere in affairs that fall wholly within the internal jurisdiction of the Soviet state and involve no one else.” For the text of the TASS statement, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXVI, No. 52 (January 15, 1975), p. 5.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 63.
  4. See footnote 8, Document 59.