213. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Ford1


  • Reply to Brezhnev on SALT

I have prepared a reply to Brezhnev’s letter of October 27 on SALT.2 As I noted to you in my earlier memorandum, it is my judgment that the current deadlock cannot be broken in Geneva or in other meetings between myself and Gromyko.

With the approach of the February, 1976, Communist Party Congress in the Soviet Union and our own primary elections, time is of the essence if we are to find any breakthrough which will enable us to conclude a SALT agreement and arrange a summit. The alternative is to recess the negotiations until after the 1976 election. We would then have less than a year to negotiate an agreement covering the period to 1985.

It is likely that Brezhnev will have departed office by that period. Following Brezhnev’s departure, there will no doubt be a period of instability in the Soviet hierarchy no matter who emerges in the position of authority. The new leadership will be cautious and unwilling to make concessions which would permit opponents to criticize what has been done. Therefore, I judge that it is essential to make one more effort with Brezhnev to try to get SALT moving again.


That you authorize me to forward the attached letter (Tab A) to Brezhnev.3

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, “Outside the System” Chronological Files, 1974–1977, Box 3, 11/3/75–11/11/75. Secret; Sensitive. The original is an uninitialed copy. Scowcroft revised the initialed copy on November 3, the day he formally replaced Kissinger as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Although no drafting information appears on the memorandum, Sonnenfeldt and Hyland forwarded two drafts, a “shorter, procedural letter” and a “longer, more substantive letter,” in an October 29 memorandum to Kissinger. (National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Counselor of the Department, Box 6, SALT, July–Oct. 1975)
  2. Document 212.
  3. There is no indication of Ford’s approval or disapproval, but the letter was subsequently sent. See Document 214.