127. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) and the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hyland) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Your Meeting With Gromyko

Introductory Note

Gromyko is likely to be testy: the trade issue continues to rankle, as do the Middle East and Cyprus. The Soviets are also again itchy about Berlin because of the location there of the EC vocational training center. But in the end he will presumably be ready to talk seriously about the various issues. Although there are reports that Gromyko’s authority has risen, we doubt that this is true in any but the technical sense that with Brezhnev out of commission, Gromyko carries the brunt of foreign contacts. He still is not your real interlocutor. Consequently, we doubt the value of extensive philosophizing about our relations. This paper, therefore, reviews issues for your use with Gromyko. We think you should be pointing to your next visit to Moscow, presumably sometime during the next two months. That will be a better occasion for basic review.

For the present we have to proceed on the assumption that recent uncertainties surrounding Brezhnev’s position and Soviet policy will not lead to a major shift and that the Soviets still want to pursue better relations with the US, including a successful summit meeting. At the same time, we have to recognize that the uncertainties may be growing—in the form of both the succession question and a potential Soviet political backlash against détente; this may make the Soviets more difficult to deal with and perhaps less inclined to make concessions. Much will depend, of course, on how the Middle East develops, and what you can offer, if anything, to Gromyko.

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The consequences of the present situation are that we have to (a) identify those issues, including any areas in which we may want to take some initiative, in the short term in order to hedge against a hardening of the Soviet line, but (b) to persist on the more critical issues—especially SALT to ensure that we do not get another trade bill fiasco here. The main variable is the trade/emigration question, and whether we can make any moves.

The other issues, are, first, SALT; second, the conglomerate of security questions—CSCE, MBFR, the threshold test ban, chemical weapons, environmental warfare, and, third, bilateral projects.

1. We need to examine the obviously contentious SALT issues produced by the Soviet draft,2 and anticipate which way the negotiations will need to develop if we are to have a SALT agreement at the summit (this timetable in itself should be considered more seriously, lest we risk another charge of a quick fix).

2. We need to devise a general strategy that embraces all the lesser security/arms control questions, and relates them to the pre-summit period and the summit meeting itself.

3. We need to decide more precisely how to disentangle the knot of problems surrounding the trade bill, and some Soviet assistance is going to be required.

4. Finally, you may want to isolate 1 or 2 cooperative projects that would be prepared for the Summit (this should be a more limited effort than heretofore, to avoid a synthetic build-up of the summit simply for the sake of matching the Nixon–Brezhnev summits).

Your talks with Gromyko—leaving aside the Middle East—will thus be a very important first step in developing an overall scenario for the summit and beyond.


By far the best use of your time with Gromyko on this issue is to impress on him in elementary terms, so that he can convey them accurately to the leadership, what we believe to be the main issues that have to be resolved before the summit, and to ask him to reply in the private channel with their views.

A. Verification of MIRVs

—You should stress that we must have a comprehensive system—not necessarily identical or symmetrical for both sides—that assures us that we can count both MIRV ICBMs and MIRV SLBMs.

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—You should explain our willingness to designate specific areas for ICBM deployment by location and numbers including those fields where the deployment will be partial (Malmstrom)—then, explain we must count every modified (not modernized) silo for the SS–17, 18, 19s as MIRVs, and, if possible, we would like for them to designate specific areas that will include MIRV, and agree to rules for non-MIRV fields.

—Explain why we must count all SLBMs for a submarine class; if they intend to object to this approach then the burden is on them to propose a satisfactory compromise for counting only partial deployment.

—Explain that MIRV counting rules must be written down in a separate protocol (allowing the Soviets not to publish it if they choose), so that we have precise guidelines that will satisfy the skeptics in the Congress.

On the basis of the foregoing, the Soviets might try a draft for you that we could analyze, and if we agree they could introduce it in Geneva.

B. Air to Surface Missiles: Cruise and Ballistic Missiles/Sea and Air

The Soviet Draft Treaty lays out the following position:

all missiles of over 600 km range, on bombers will be counted in the 2400 aggregate;

—all such missiles will be banned on any aircraft other than bombers;

—intercontinental cruise missiles (presumably over 3000 km?) will be banned;

—sea-based cruise missiles over 600 km are banned;

—ballistic missiles of a range over 600 km on all waterborne vehicles, except submarines, are banned;

—MIRVs on ASMs are banned.

This was to be expected, but it forces us to face some choices:

—since the deployment of 480 Tridents and B–1s will force a reduction of only 323 older systems, we still have some head room for counting air to surface missiles; even a deployment of 100 air mobile ICBMs becomes difficult, however, if they have to be put only on bombers which already count as one unit; counting all cruise missiles is even more ludicrous and amounts to a virtual bar.

Thus we have to decide whether we want to keep an option for air mobile ICBMs on non-bombers or concede and count ballistic missiles as now agreed; and how hard should we press for non-countable cruise missiles on bombers.

Perhaps the best approach is to be straightforward and press Gromyko for an early answer to the question: under what conditions would the Soviets agree to permit cruise missiles up to 3000 km and not count them? This may lead to a proposal to ban completely air mobile ICBMs.

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C. Backfire

At this juncture you can only hold firm on counting this aircraft, if only to preserve some bargaining leverage. Eventually, however, we will probably not be able to count every Backfire without counting some FBS aircraft.

D. Separate FBS Third Country Negotiations

You should complain on this one, as a breach of faith, because it raises in a different guise an issue that was settled between Brezhnev and the President. The Soviets should withdraw it, (but they won’t) so you might suggest that they consider a non-circumvention formula, rather than separate negotiations. You could also point out that if the Soviets really insist on linking FBS to reductions in follow-on negotiations we will be obliged to inspect all Soviet systems capable of reaching the US on one-way missions and thus get into a hopeless morass.

E. Trident/Typhoon Deployment Limits

You should make the point that this was laid aside in Vladivostok; by raising it again (as Dobrynin has with some Senators) are they reopening the debate on a sub-limit on heavy missiles which we tied to the question of deployment restraints? (Do not be too quick to reject this Trident limit since it looks increasingly as if the Trident schedule will be prolonged to 1985 in any case).

F. Lower MIRV Limits?

If Trident is, in fact, prolonged then should we reconsider the MIRV limits?

—You are aware of the Congressional and other agitation on this question, and it might be better not to shift our position for this reason;

—On the other hand, if in fact our outer limit on MIRVs is 1286, and as rumored the Pentagon would go even lower, then now is the time to raise it, not later.

II. Security Arms Control Issues

All of these issues are proceeding more or less on their merits with no overall strategy.

—Somewhat surprisingly CSCE may be accelerating, even though the Soviets are still intransigent, because the allies are growing weary.

—A CSCE summit in the late summer may not be avoidable, if matters take their course.

—The introduction of Option III in MBFR will take considerable time to work through the Allies; any impact on the Soviets will probably be lost through leaks, and, in any case, if this move is to break the impasse, it almost certainly has to be introduced in your channel now.

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—Negotiations will resume this month on the Threshold Test Ban (PNEs) and Environmental Warfare, and the CCD in Geneva will resume on March 4 where CW will be revived.

We ought to work out a scheme for holding or moving these various issues. A possibility might be:

1. Make a firm promise to Gromyko for a CSCE summit in September (if necessary we can make concessions on CBMs because the allied position is collapsing).

2. Foreshadow to Gromyko that we will make a move on nuclear weapons in MBFR, without going into specifics, in return for which we expect agreement, in principle before the Summit, to a first stage US-Soviet reduction that will also include air forces.

3. Agree to try to work out an Environmental Agreement before the Summit but ask Gromyko to hold off on both Environment and CW in Geneva, until we have had more time to consider how to respond to their CW draft agreement (you might want to surface the idea of an interim moratorium on CW production, rather than a treaty).

4. On the Threshold Test Ban, the real issue comes down to our toleration for excavation PNEs over 150 kt with non-firm guarantees. If this is not supportable in Washington, can we strike a bargain to limit all PNEs to 150 kt, if we enter into a “cooperative arrangement” with the Soviets (which has strong overtones of a nuclear condominium).

—Since the outcome of this negotiation is bound to lead to a new controversy, there is no reason to force the pace. On the other hand, it would be appropriate to announce at the summit that the issue is resolved.


At CSCE, the Soviets have maintained their inflexibility on both CBM’s and the remaining Basket III issues while continuing to argue that the major issues of the Conference have been settled and that it should end soon at the highest level. This Soviet intransigence can contribute to your current strategy of stretching out the negotiations and delaying Stage III and our final agreement to a summit until after Brezhnev’s visit here, but it also depends on the Allies not giving in prematurely.

Gromyko can be expected to complain that we are not being active enough in pushing the Allies toward more “realistic positions,” and not carrying through on the BrezhnevFord agreement at Vladivostok to work together to conclude the Conference at the earliest possible time.

You should say the US has accomplished a good deal since last fall—both in the Principles Declaration and in Basket III—in moving the Allies along, but that the Soviets must accept that further compromises will be necessary on their part, especially on the peaceful change [Page 462] language, CBM’s, and the unresolved Basket III issues. (You have a detailed memo on CSCE issues in your briefing book.)3


You may decide to raise Option III, as follows:

—It is our impression that if we included air and nuclear forces in our proposals, the Soviets would be willing to include the withdrawal of a tank army.

—In the interest of moving the talks forward, we are considering certain proposals on air and nuclear elements. In particular, we are considering an offer to withdraw a significant number of nuclear weapons from the NATO Guidelines area (along with 29,000 ground forces).

—In return, we would have to have Soviet withdrawal of a tank army consisting of 68,000 men and 1,700 tanks in Phase I and agreement on the concept of a common manpower ceiling within the area as the goal for reductions in Phase II.

—However, we would be interested in obtaining the reaction of the Soviet side in these channels as soon as possible.

C. Environmental Warfare

Our first series of talks in Moscow November 1–54 only pointed up the differences between the Soviet catch-all approach, as set out in their draft convention tabled earlier at the UNGA, and our strictly limited “Option II” position, which would not include limits on “tactical” uses of environmental modification such as rainmaking. We will be meeting with the Soviets again at the experts level in Washington on February 24, and are working on a counter draft convention to give them at that time. Our immediate objective is simply to maintain the dialogue and forestall tabling of a Soviet draft in Geneva by extending the bilaterals into the period when the CCD is in session. If you offer an agreement by the Summit, the Soviets might see it in their interest to subscribe to our more limited approach (especially since it is not a serious issue).

D. Chemical Warfare

The Soviets have been pressing us for bilateral talks on chemical weapons, citing our agreement in the July 3, 1974, summit communiqué to consider a joint initiative in the CCD. Vorontsov gave you a draft convention last August5 which is too broad in scope, inadequate on verification, and by limiting CW agents above a certain level of lethality, would catch all agents in our stockpile while leaving most of [Page 463] theirs untouched. In the SRG of January 276 you asked for more work on the question of whether we should produce binary weapons. Until these studies are completed and a decision taken, we are not in a position to respond to the Soviets.

Meanwhile, however, we should urge them not to table their draft convention in the CCD, which reconvenes March 4, pending bilateral discussion with us. You may want to suggest that since a formal treaty is unverifiable, a moratorium for say 5 years limiting stockpiles could be undertaken: a production ban may be inevitable if we have no programs.

E. Threshold Test Ban and PNE’s

The second session of the TTB/PNE talks will be in progress when you see Gromyko. There are four key issues that will have to be worked out if—as the Soviets wish—we are to have an agreement by the Summit.

Yield Limit of Contained Explosions. We are proposing a 100-kiloton limit and on-site observers. However, we have some flexibility to move the yield up or to drop the observers.

Verification of Excavation Shots. Here we have proposed a yield limit of 150 kilotons (with a salvo limit of 500 kts), observers and a very low limit on the fission yield of the device (say one-half kiloton). Eventually our verification needs could be satisfied either by the overall yield limit or, if the Soviets want explosions over 150 kilotons, by limiting the fission yield of each shot. This is going to be difficult for the Soviets either way, however, because a 150-kiloton threshold may constrain to some extent the Pechora–Kama project while the fission yield limit will require fairly intrusive on-site observer activity.

LTBT. Any excavation program is likely to violate the LTBT.7 The Soviets will probably want explicit or tacit help from us in getting around this problem. This will be very difficult for us to do because the Senate is unlikely to ratify any TTB/PNE arrangement which looks to modification of the LTBT.

PNE Cooperation. The Soviets want us to conclude a broad cooperative agreement on PNEs. We can probably go along with a modest program of cooperation covering domestic PNE applications, only on condition that our verification concerns are fully met. However, we [Page 464] cannot accept the Soviet idea of joint US/Soviet PNE services to third countries because of the over-all political implications of superpower condominium.

The most valuable message you could leave with Gromyko is that verification is a very serious problem for us which, if it is not solved, will make it impossible to obtain the needed Congressional support for ratification of the TTB.

F. Non-proliferation

The Soviets have agreed to attend a multilateral nuclear exporters meeting. On the other hand, they are very strong supporters of universal NPT adherence and the closest possible links between safeguards and the NPT. We are concerned that a conspicuous and inflexible public posture on the NPT will make it very difficult for the French to engage in meaningful cooperation on safeguards. Thus, if the Soviets are not willing to tone down their NPT position, we will lose both ways: the safeguards problem will get out of hand without French cooperation and the NPT rhetoric will not succeed in gaining NPT adherence by France and the other countries that matter.

III. Trade/Emigration

We are not sure how you intend to proceed with the Congress, but Gromyko will certainly want to know your strategy.

At this time you might make the following points to Gromyko:

—We want to preserve the general institutional structure of economic relations, and we should both be careful not to allow it to erode or be dismantled.

—We will definitely seek new trade legislation, but we cannot forecast a timetable, because we will first have to work quietly with key Congressional leaders.

—Meanwhile, the Soviets must realize that however sensitive the issue may be, their policies and performance on Jewish emigration is still a real issue in the Congress. In particular, a major decline in emigration will make the worst possible atmosphere for renegotiating the trade bill.

—At some point, the President will have to make a public statement that he believes that emigration is proceeding according to Soviet law and without interference. Even though it will be in no way binding on the Soviets, something along this line cannot be avoided.

—A possible first step might be to break the link between MFN and the EXIM credits, but we might have to compromise by accepting a higher ceiling, and some other restrictions on energy related credits.

(Optional: It would be a very helpful gesture if the Soviets did not renege on the next Lend Lease payment, which is due in July, and could [Page 465] indicate publicly that they will not invalidate the agreement in the hope of straightening out the trade mess. This may be too much for Moscow, but would be useful in Washington.)

IV. Bilateral Cooperation

We have no new shopping list, and indeed, it may not be advisable to try to work up essentially phony topics just for a summit. Yet, the Soviets always have a few ideas that we might accept. You might simply ask Gromyko for one or two items they would like to see developed for the Summit.

The effect of the Middle East, and even Cyprus is incalculable, but may well further aggravate relations with the Soviets. There is little doubt that they are working against you on both issues. On both the Cyprus question and the Middle East, you will want to be careful not to give Gromyko the impression that because of the trade bill fiasco, we are so concerned that we will not oppose their tactics.


You are aware of Soviet agitation with Makarios and Athens and Ankara. We can only conclude that they want to prevent a US-sponsored settlement and maintain Greek-Turkish tensions.

—You should be brittle with Gromyko on Soviet meddling, especially in promoting the “internationalization” scheme.

—You should point out that the Security Council cannot resolve this dispute, and that the net result of Soviet strategy will be to ensure permanent partition if not enosis which is what the Soviets claim they fear.

—You might want to go as far as saying that on both Cyprus and the Middle East that Soviet policy would guarantee a deadlock, which makes us wonder what their real motive is.

Middle East8

The Soviets are also sharply criticizing your phased approach, e.g., “It is clear that the architects of the phased plan are relying on the fact that by this method they will succeed in undermining the UN supervision over the implementation of its resolutions . . . Israel’s willingness to withdraw from some territories is to set the foundation for procrastination for an indefinite time.”

They are making the point that the Soviet-Syrian commitment to reconvene in Geneva in late February will “put an end to talking about [Page 466] peace and commence the practical application of the demand” for Israeli withdrawal, etc.

It may be that the Soviets have accepted the possibility of a successful Sinai disengagement, but want now to head off another Syrian round, and guarantee that even Sadat cannot avoid Geneva.

Frankly, we do not know what you have in mind, but you should anticipate that the Soviets will want to spoil your diplomacy. If a Geneva conference is inevitable, then offering it to Gromyko now may be the way to cause them to moderate their agitation in the Arab world.

On the PLO, it is interesting to compare texts of the Syrian and Egyptian communiqués;9 neither went as far as mentioning a PLO “state,” as Gromyko did in his speech in Damascus. The Syrian communiqué suggests some nuances of differences with Moscow, but it certainly went much further than the Egyptian one, suggesting that the Soviets failed to get very far with Sadat.

If you have to discuss something substantive on the Middle East with Gromyko, a candidate might be the subject of guarantees: If Geneva convenes, the result of a quick meeting of the parties might be to set up a working group of US and USSR alone, or including Egypt and Syria and Israel, on guarantees for a peaceful settlement—this could be dangerous, but it is difficult to see what less might buy off the Soviet pressure for the PLO issue to be addressed.


You may wish to discuss with Gromyko your thinking on how a negotiated settlement might be reached in Cambodia and the role which might be played by various actors including Prince Sihanouk.

Your book includes extensive backup on all the foregoing.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 5, Soviet Union, January–March 1975. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. The memorandum was drafted to prepare Kissinger for his meetings with Gromyko in Geneva February 16–17. It bears the incorrect handwritten date of “2/7/74.”
  2. The Soviet Union tabled a draft SALT treaty in Geneva on February 1. Kissinger forwarded an English translation of the text and commented on its substance in a memorandum to Ford on February 17. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1974–1977, Box 28, USSR, The “D” File)
  3. A copy of Kissinger’s briefing book is ibid., Trip Briefing Books and Cables of Henry Kissinger, 1974–1977, Box 5, Kissinger Trip File, February 10–18, 1975—Middle East and Europe.
  4. See footnote 10, Document 86.
  5. See Document 13 and footnote 5 thereto.
  6. The minutes of the Senior Review Group meeting are in Ford Library, National Security Council Institutional Files, 1974–1977, Box 23, Meeting Minutes—Senior Review Group, November 1974–January 1975.
  7. The Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Under Water was also known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The treaty was signed by the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union at Moscow on August 5, 1963, and went into effect on October 10, 1963. (14 UST 1313; TIAS 5433)
  8. In a memorandum to Kissinger on February 8, Atherton also briefed Kissinger on the Middle East in preparation for the upcoming meeting with Gromyko in Geneva. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 91D414, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–77, Box 14, Briefing Memos, 1975, Folder 5)
  9. Gromyko met with Assad and Sadat during official visits to Damascus (February 1–3) and Cairo (February 3–5). For the English text of the official joint communiqués, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, Vol. XXVII, No. 5 (February 26, 1975), pp. 15–16. Gromyko also met with Arafat in Damascus on February 2.