220. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Secretary of State Kissinger
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion of Cyprus and the President’s upcoming trip to China.]

Kissinger: We had an effusive reply from Brezhnev—only three days after we sent our letter.2

The President: That is very forthcoming—damned good.

Kissinger: I think we should get another Vladivostok agreement on cruise missiles and Backfire. Then we would work out an agreement and Brezhnev could come by April. That would keep the Middle East quiet. We need to have an NSC meeting, or maybe a principals-only Verification Panel meeting.

The President: I would have Clements attend also, not just Rumsfeld.

Kissinger: If we get the total reduced to 2300, it would take the Soviets out of cruise missiles. We would be permitted 200 on SLCMs as an offset to Backfire. We would count ALCMs over 600 as MIRV and ban them on other than heavy bombers.

They have about 1450 ICBM and about 900 SLBMs. They will be squeezed out of cruise missiles. We would need a side letter from Brezhnev putting a ceiling on Backfire. You don’t have to commit yourself now. Brezhnev wouldn’t invite me without a willingness to negotiate.

Without Congress, we would have the Soviet-Chinese triangle working again. I think we should tell the Chinese I am going to Moscow. The Soviet angle is what keeps the Chinese under control.

The President: When we hung tough on the Peking visit, it obviously worked.

[Omitted here are a brief exchange on the President’s upcoming trip to China and discussion of Congressional investigations on intelligence and foreign policy.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 16. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. Documents 219 and 217, respectively.