249. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • USSR
  • Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU
  • Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU; Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Georgiy M. Korniyenko, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Andrei M. Aleksandrov-Agentov, Assistant to the General Secretary
  • Vasiliy G. Makarov, Chef de Cabinet to the Foreign Minister
  • V. G. Komplektov, Acting Chief of USA Dept, MFA
  • Viktor M. Sukhodrev, Counselor, Second European Dept., MFA (Interpreter)
  • Maj. General Mikhail Kozlov, Deputy Chief of General Staff
  • Nikolai N. Detinov, CPSU Secretariat
  • U.S.
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Amb. Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Ambassador to the USSR
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department
  • Winston Lord, Director, Policy Planning Staff
  • William G. Hyland, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • James P. Wade, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Plans and NSC Affairs; Director of DOD SALT Task Force
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • SALT; Angola

[Brezhnev entered first, wearing a blue suit, blue shirt, red patterned tie, and four medals: Hero of Soviet Union; Hero of Socialist Labor; the Lenin Peace Prize; and the Joliet-Curie Prize. The speakers stood on one side of the long table on which stood, among other drinks, bottled Pepsi. Black and white portraits of Marx and Lenin were on the wall.]

Brezhnev: [to the press] This is a link-up of Soviet and American journalists, like Soyuz and Apollo.

[To Secretary Kissinger, as he entered] You look much younger.

Kissinger: You look very well.

[Page 918]

Brezhnev: Thanks for the compliment.

Kissinger: I’m fat.

Gromyko: No. You lost weight.

[The members of the Secretary’s party were introduced. The press took photos.]

Brezhnev: [to Sonnenfeldt] Here’s an old acquaintance, a traveling companion.

Nicholas Daniloff (UPI): [In Russian] When will your visit to us take place?

Brezhnev: That all depends on what Secretary Kissinger says.

Daniloff: Can you evaluate the current status of US/Soviet relations?

Brezhnev: It’s hard for me to evaluate. It’s up to what nice things Kissinger has to say.

Kissinger: I hope he [Daniloff] is friendlier in Russian than he is in English.

Daniloff: What are the chief subjects of your talks?

Brezhnev: The primary subject is the achievement of a new SALT Agreement. There are also questions of the reduction of forces in Europe and a general review of the international situation. The world is big, and the subjects are inexhaustible.

Reporter: Will Angola be among the subjects?

Brezhnev: I have no questions about Angola. Angola is not my country.

Kissinger: It will certainly be discussed.

Gromyko: The agenda is always adopted by mutual agreement.

Kissinger: Then I will discuss it.

Brezhnev: You’ll discuss it with Sonnenfeldt. That will insure complete agreement. I’ve never seen him have a disagreement with Sonnenfeldt.

Murrey Marder (Washington Post): The two countries each have a large event coming up on February 24, the New Hampshire primary and the Party Congress. Do you expect—(interrupted)

Brezhnev: The Congress is a great event for me, for our Party, and for the entire country. It is a great event for me as the one who gives the major report. It’s a momentous occasion.

Marder: Will you report about a SALT agreement?

Brezhnev: If such an agreement is reached, I will talk about it. If an agreement is not reached by then, and there is something to report about it, I will do so. Our people are used to being told what is happening.

[Page 919]

Reporter: Do you hope to visit Washington for a Summit in the near future?

Brezhnev: I expect to. I can’t say when. If I can return to the first part of the question, let me say the basic importance of that visit is that agreement must be reached. And then Comrade Brezhnev can go to Washington and sign the agreement.

Reporter: Do you expect these talks to produce an agreement?

Brezhnev: I can’t give a definite reply before the talks, but I certainly appreciate your curiosity. Your question contains your answer.

Gromyko: This is a diplomatic answer.

Brezhnev: I appreciate your interest. Thank you for your respect, and you have to realize that I can’t give precise answers to questions before this conference.

[The press were ushered out and the parties sat at the table and the talks began.]

Brezhnev: I’m happy once again to welcome you here in Moscow, Mr. Secretary. A little over a year now has passed since we last met, but in the world many events have taken place of a different sort.

But the major fact is, in our view, that in spite of all the complexities that exist, our two countries have succeeded in consolidating the line of détente and the line of improvement of US-Soviet relations. That line is, I may say, now passing through a test of its durability. And it is proving, in our view, its durability and its wisdom. We appreciate that both President Ford and you as Secretary of State of the United States are upholding that line in the face of unceasing assault on it by various ill-wishers.

I wish here to place emphasis on one very important point of principle. Since today and tomorrow we are due to engage in very serious discussions, I should like to emphasize that we, for our part, remain dedicated to those fundamental agreements and understandings that have been agreed between our two countries and we are ready to continue efforts to bring about their consistent implementation. At the same time, I must say outright, that in recent months not everything is shaping up in US-Soviet relations as we would like. And I would like to stress, through no fault of the Soviet Union, there has appeared a certain hitch in the development of our relations, and that includes the preparations for a new agreement on strategic arms limitation. We regard it as not only wrong but also harmful to allow of any pause or, all the more, of any stagnation in the implementation of the joint line we have both undertaken.

I, Dr. Kissinger, would not be mistaken to say that you know full well that the Soviet Union—the Soviet Government and the entire Party, and I myself—are in favor of truly businesslike relations with the [Page 920] United States on a broad range of questions. And I don’t know what the reasons are why objections are raised and proposals are put forth that are overly complicated. We must make an effort to improve relations on a broad front, and we have untapped resources in this respect, and we must move forward along that line. I must speak frankly. I trust you’ll agree with me; that our countries have no right to slacken our efforts at ending the threat of war and ending the arms race. And there are other problems, too, requiring our joint efforts.

Dr. Kissinger, this is by no means our first meeting. We have had others. There is a good tradition that has been established in the past, and it is one of a frank exchange of views on whatever questions arise. And I’d like to suggest we discuss today whatever questions we have in the same spirit.

The newsmen a little while ago asked us what questions we would be discussing and I said one of the most important was the negotiation of a new SALT agreement. And I trust you’ll agree. So I would like Dr. Kissinger to start out on the question of SALT and set out.

I want to say I have the full text here of President Ford’s State of the Union speech, but I have not yet had a chance to make a detailed study.

The floor is yours, Dr. Kissinger. Have a cookie. Just one. I really don’t see they are any danger to you. [Laughter]

Gromyko: You see all these plates here are fully MIRV’d. [Laughter]

Kissinger: The General Secretary is personally responsible for at least 15 pounds of my overweight.

Brezhnev: My God! Add that to all my other responsibilities? If that were all, it would be a lot easier.

Another thing I can tell you: I have given up smoking. It took one day to do that.

Kissinger: Where is that cigarette case that had the clock on it?

Brezhnev: I had two. I gave one away. I don’t know where it is. My doctor suggested: Why don’t you give up smoking? I am surprised how easy it was.

Kissinger: When the General Secretary comes to the United States, I hope he can teach my wife how to do it.

Brezhnev: I don’t know whether I can do it. The urge to smoke is just vanishing. I used to do it before going to bed, but now I have the urge a little bit but still don’t.

Kissinger: My wife is in the hospital and has to give it up. So she’s a little irritable.

A year ago, the doctor sent her to a hypnotist as a way to get her to stop. He sent a nurse along with her. Afterwards, she came back to my [Page 921] office and told me about it. She lit up a cigarette while telling me about it. [Laughter] But the nurse has given up smoking. [Laughter]

Brezhnev: That’s like a story by Zoshchenko. I remember it almost literally. He wrote short humorous stories. One dealt with the harm of smoking. A man said: I’ll just give it up. It’s hard, though, so someone suggested I go to a hypnotist. So I went to a hypnotist. The room was in almost total darkness. I seated myself in a chair and the hypnotist says: Take everything out of your pocket and put it on the table. I took out a pack of homegrown tobacco. He made passes with his hands and he said, don’t think about anything. And I said to myself I shouldn’t forget about one thing—to be sure to leave the tobacco when I left. [Laughter]

That is in a collection of stories published here, by Zoshchenko.

I feel when people can joke with each other, they are in a good mood and can do business with each other. A man who can’t joke isn’t a good man.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, I’d like first to bring you the greetings and warm regards of President Ford, who hopes my mission will succeed and looks forward to your visit to the United States soon, hopefully in the Spring.

Brezhnev: Thank you for the greetings and good wishes. And I say this in great sincerity and great respect for the President.

Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, I first came to Moscow in April of 1972 at a very critical period in our relations. At that time, there was a sharp increase in tensions in the world. The talks on strategic arms were stalemated. Conflicts in other parts of the world, especially Southeast Asia, threatened our relationship. Nevertheless both our countries, conscious of our responsibility, worked with dedication to overcome all obstacles. What we were able to achieve in that atmosphere was a testimony to the special responsibilities we share to bring the nuclear arms race under control and to bring peace to the world at last.

In some respects this present meeting occurs in similar circumstances. For what we accomplish in the next few days, or fail to accomplish, will have a very important impact on the future course of Soviet-American relations and therefore the peace of the world.

Our countries are the strongest nuclear powers in the world. Others can talk about petty problems, but we bear a special responsibility to lessen the dangers of nuclear war, to lessen tensions that could lead to confrontation and to work together to achieve a world of greater peace.

I have had the privilege of many conversations with the General Secretary and I know he is dedicated to bringing about an improvement in our relationship and he is as conscious as we are of the special responsibility of our two countries. On our side, the President is firmly [Page 922] committed to improving our relations. And despite our election campaign and despite attacks by some of the leading contenders for the Presidency in both parties, he will persevere on this course.

And my presence here in the face of much criticism is testimony to the sincerity of our purpose. Nevertheless it is clear that what we accomplish here is going to be subjected to the most minute scrutiny in America.

I am also aware, Mr. General Secretary, that you will be reporting to the Party next month. Thus we both have reason to regard the outcome of this meeting as a very crucial element in both our countries’ foreign policies.

We both have spoken many times of our responsibilities and of the need to make an improvement of our relations irreversible. This remains our objective. But events in the past 12 months have demonstrated this has not been achieved. The majority of Americans still believe that it is essential for world peace that the two strongest powers continue to improve relations and that they take a further step to limit strategic arms.

[Brezhnev speaks loudly to Gromyko while Dr. Kissinger continues.]

We will continue on this course. But we cannot ignore the fact that this possibility will be greatly influenced by events. Thus the first task of our meeting is to make progress on strategic arms limitation and then to make progress on other matters that divide us.

It has been over a year since the meeting at Vladivostok. New issues have arisen on both sides that were not foreseen at that time. We must not permit these issues to become obstacles to the truly historic gains achieved at Vladivostok. I’ve given your Ambassador a new proposal [Tab A]2 which deals with the issues of cruise missiles and the Backfire bomber. We believe these proposals represent a serious effort, and believe it is time that both of us approached these issues in a spirit of compromise, if we are to have any chance of concluding a new agreement.

The day of my departure from Washington, President Ford met with his National Security Council for the third time on this subject.3 At the end of the meeting, he emphasized to his advisers, and to me, the importance he attaches to bringing the negotiations to a successful conclusion, even though it is fair to say not all the advice he received was unanimous. It is an indication of the seriousness in which he approaches my mission and his determination to make every effort that [Page 923] he has approved this proposal and sent me here with instructions to exert every effort to work out a possible agreement that both sides can sign.

I hope to hear your reaction to this new approach.


But before I conclude, I would like to raise one new issue that has arisen between us.

It is intolerable to us that a country in the Western Hemisphere should launch virtual invasion of Africa. Moreover, the support of the Soviet Union to this Cuban force creates a precedent that the United States must resist. We have made it a cardinal principle of our relations that one great power must exercise restraint and not strive for unilateral advantage. If that principle is now abandoned, the prospect is for a chain of action and reaction with the potential for disastrous results.

In addition to Angola, we are also prepared to discuss the Middle East.

Brezhnev: You say that in the sense of a threat of some kind of war breaking out.

Kissinger: It is not a threat of war, Mr. General Secretary. But if every country behaves this way, it could grow into a very dangerous situation.

Brezhnev: But I think we should conduct discussions first and foremost on the SALT issue. If we raise all sorts of extraneous matters, we will accomplish nothing.

I am just sleeping in my bed and all of a sudden I hear about events in Portugal, about which I know nothing. Then I hear Costa Gomes4 wants to visit the Soviet Union. So I receive him. You can read the communiqué. We promised him trade. So what? We trade with many countries. As for the leader of the Communist Party—Alvaro Cunhal—I’ve never set eyes on him in my life.

Then the Angola situation comes up. Portugal grants it independence. Neto approached Cuba after aggression was committed and Cuba agreed to support them. There is no Soviet military presence in Angola.

It is true that before independence we agreed to sell them some tanks, but that is no secret. If you talk of catastrophic consequences for the Soviet Union, that is the wrong way to talk. I could talk of disastrous consequences for the United States in the Middle East, but that’s the wrong way.

[Page 924]

There is no way to underestimate the importance we attach to reaching agreement on strategic arms limitation. We reached an important agreement at Vladivostok. Now someone says that was nothing but a piece of paper. We should deal with it in a businesslike way.

I don’t know what Andrei Andreyevich [Gromyko] thinks on this. He’s the diplomat. But if President Ford were sitting here, I’d say the same thing.

I don’t want to discuss the President’s State of the Union Address because I have not read it. But we had a chance to discuss it yesterday. He talks about the 1976 military budget being greater than 1975, the need to have superior military power, the need to discuss questions including SALT with the Soviet Union from a position of strength. I could never have admitted the thought that such a lackadaisical attitude could be given to such important agreements.

Kissinger: I agree, Mr. General Secretary, first priority should be to a new agreement on strategic arms.

Brezhnev: I agree.

Kissinger: But it is also a fact that our two countries, because of our power and because of our strategic interests around the world, have a special responsibility to show restraint. Because success by one country in one area can always be compensated by success for the other in other areas. I have never forgotten the conversation I had with the General Secretary, when he told me his father said the monument to peacemakers should be placed on the highest mountain. We should remember that the issues that seem important now may look like nothing a few years from now. Tens of millions were killed in Europe over Alsace-Lorraine, and what difference does it make today? The casualties in a future war would end civilized life as we know it.

I must tell you frankly, the introduction into Angola of a Cuban expeditionary force backed by Soviet arms is a matter that we must take extremely seriously. I agree also that we should be prepared to work on strategic arms. We have worked almost five years on this. If we do not complete it, our successors will have to. We will work with all seriousness to conclude the agreement we achieved at Vladivostok, which we do not consider a scrap of paper.

Brezhnev: That I like. If you have instructions to take a serious attitude on that. It is one thing to joke; it is another thing to take it in a serious way.

We will see how matters stand in actual fact.

You mentioned your first visit in 1972 and the situation and atmosphere at that time. You are quite right, it was complicated then. And we showed at that time that the Soviet Union wants good relations with the United States, that we don’t want war, but we want peace with [Page 925] all nations. There could be no better proof of our dedication to peace at that time. The bombs were falling on Vietnam; Communist parties all over the world were berating the United States. We had to face the dilemma of whether to receive Dr. Kissinger and President Nixon in Moscow or not. We gave proof to that. We knew the war in Vietnam would ultimately end and it would not produce a world war. And the decision we made then is proof of our dedication. In this spirit I will be addressing the 25th Party Congress—not from positions of strength but from positions of seeking peace.

Are we here to discuss SALT? Or Angola? What do we need a success in Angola? We need nothing in Angola. But the whole world can read in the press that the West, and America, are sending arms and mercenaries in Angola. And you turn everything on its head. I’ve never been to Portugal; we are not responsible for anything there.

In Spain, there are lots of strikes going on—and you can hold the Soviet Union responsible. If you have proof to the contrary, lay it out on the table.

Aleksandrov: Tell him about what you read.

Brezhnev: Recently, I read Kissinger will be going to Spain.5 An American delegation was there and made preparations for a new agreement on military bases. Here am I making every effort for peace, and Kissinger is going around making agreements on military bases. I won’t say this publicly, but this was in my head. If I were discussing strategic arms, I wouldn’t go around organizing military bases, but I would go home and report to President Ford and work on a new agreement on strategic arms. So you can visit Moscow only in passing and your primary aim is to visit Madrid, you can do that if you want, but it certainly won’t earn you respect in the world.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Let me now, Dr. Kissinger, say a few words on substance of SALT, our principal goal. We have recently, Dr. Kissinger, already set out to the President our assessment of the state of affairs regarding the new agreement. We did this in all frankness and without beating around the bush.

Kissinger: What is the General Secretary referring to?

Dobrynin: The last letter [Tab B].6

Brezhnev: After all, work on preparing a new agreement has not yet been completed and therefore the Vladivostok understanding so far [Page 926] remains unrealized. I believe all this should be of equal concern to both sides since we do not believe the United States is interested in an agreement to any less extent than is the Soviet Union. During the negotiations already after Vladivostok, we for our part have made significant important steps to meet the United States in questions that are of particular importance to the American side, to display a readiness to seek constructive solutions to highly important problems. The United States to date has made no equal responsive steps or even steps comparable with ours.

The American side, as is evident from its latest proposals of January 14, attempts on the one hand to introduce limitations on Soviet arms that are not strategic arms at all, and on the other hand to legalize for yourself new systems that are genuinely strategic. Needless to say, such an approach complicates the process of reaching agreement.

Could we have a little five minute break?

Kissinger: I was going to propose the same.

Brezhnev: So we have achieved our first agreement!

[There was a break from 12:25 to 12:41 p.m., and the meeting resumed.]

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, let me just in passing express my gratification that you have, as you say, instructions—as I have, too—to work out a mutually acceptable agreement on strategic arms. And I would like both of us to carry out our instructions in good faith, without worrying about second-rate matters. We can have different views about bombers, about 100 questions, and you could put questions to me and I to you. But let us secure an agreement and the kind of peace we want, and we can crown our efforts.

Kissinger: I agree. And that is the spirit we should conduct our discussions.

Brezhnev: Good.

[Brezhnev and Gromyko confer about the schedule.]

We are threatened with complete starvation. They have taken all our teacups and everything.

Kissinger: I’m sure you have lost many state guests to starvation in the Kremlin!

I met yesterday the Queen of Denmark who was very impressed with her visit to the Soviet Union.

Brezhnev: I didn’t meet her.

Kissinger: If you start undermining royalty . . . She saw some family jewels in the Kremlin. [Laughter]

Gromyko: She was very impressive as a personality.

Brezhnev: There are some very impressive people there.

[Page 927]

Kissinger: But when you start impressing European royalty, the sense of insecurity is great. [Laughter]

Brezhnev: Women start out by looking at jewels. That is why there are so few women in politics.

Kissinger: The ones that are bloodthirsty.

Brezhnev: So, who dictates the terms of the new agreement? We’ve got to get down to writing a draft.

Kissinger: We made a proposal to you, to which we have not yet received a reply, in which we really attempted to meet several of your points. So we would appreciate your reflections or any counterproposal you may have. Of course, we could also sign this proposal, and then I could go to Leningrad tomorrow. If it exists.

Gromyko: Maybe Leningrad is just a legend—spread since the time of Peter the Great.

Kissinger: Since my wife saw it, I’m a little bit more convinced.

Gromyko: Couldn’t that have been hypnosis? [Laughter]

Brezhnev: Like the man sitting and thinking about one thing in the world—not to forget his tobacco. [Laughter]

First of all, I would deem it necessary to remind you that the readiness to count in the number of MIRV’d missiles, in the 1320, all missiles of such types as had been tested with MIRV’s was and is contingent on mutually acceptable solutions on the other as yet outstanding questions.

Kissinger: I understand that.

Brezhnev: So I trust there is no misunderstanding on that.

Kissinger: The Foreign Minister has made it clear. I do not exclude there are one or two others in our government who believe you have conceded that. But the Foreign Minister has made it clear in every meeting we have had.

Brezhnev: Now as regards air-to-ground cruise missiles. We feel as hitherto that air-to-ground cruise missiles with a range of over 600 kilometers carried by heavy bombers must be on an equal footing with ballistic missiles of that class and must be counted in the total of 2400 strategic armed vehicles, each one counted as one vehicle.

Kissinger: But this was always your position.

Brezhnev: That solution most effectively meets the goals of limiting strategic arms and accords with the substance of the Vladivostok understanding.

Comrade Kissinger—I mean Dr. Kissinger. [Laughter]

Kissinger: Maybe at the Party Congress they will do it. [Laughter] I believe if the General Secretary called me Comrade Kissinger, it would [Page 928] not be without influence on subsequent primaries. Jackson and Reagan would be very grateful.

Brezhnev: I’m not all that familiar with all the ramifications of your election campaign. So I’d better be objective.

At the same time, Dr. Kissinger, we are prepared to look for a possible other way of solving the question of equipping heavy bombers with air-to-ground cruise missiles. But on the essential condition that the limitations on such missiles be organically tied in with the basic parameters of the quantitative limits agreed in Vladivostok.

Kissinger: I’m sure the General Secretary will explain that.

Brezhnev: We will be prepared to make this additional step forward to meet the United States, or speaking more directly, this concession to the United States, on condition that a mutually acceptable solution is achieved to the entire complex of issues on cruise missiles.

Specifically, as such a variant of a solution to this question, we are proposing that heavy bombers with cruise missiles with ranges exceeding 600 kilometers be regarded as vehicles equipped with MIRV’s and that accordingly they be counted within the agreed figure for those vehicles, that is, 1320.

At the same time, a B–52 heavy bomber should be termed to be equal to one MIRV’d missile, and the B–1 heavy bomber equal to three such missiles.

As regards the US proposal that the cruise missiles with a range over 2500 kilometers on heavy bombers be banned, we agree with it.

That is our view on what we feel to be a very important element of the whole complex of strategic arms limitations.

Kissinger: Could I listen to the rest of . . .? If the General Secretary has reactions to the rest of our proposal. And then I will give a comprehensive answer.

Brezhnev: All right.

[Kissinger confers briefly with Wade.]

I’ll go on, Dr. Kissinger, and go on now to sea-based cruise missiles.

Our position on sea-based cruise missiles of long range remains as before. We propose that all such cruise missiles of over 600 kilometers in range be completely banned. We consider that only such a solution can ensure the effective closing off of a new channel for the strategic arms race. We believe the fact that the United States now agrees to the banning of such missiles on submarines is a good thing. But it is not enough. This ban should apply also to surface ships. This also is a very realistic and concrete proposal.

Now on land-based cruise missiles. We proceed from the assumption that between us it is already agreed that land-based cruise missiles [Page 929] of intercontinental range should be banned. And we understood that agreement to mean that insofar as the United States and Soviet Union are concerned, there should be no question at all of shorter-range cruise missiles.

Kissinger: Could you explain this?

Dobrynin: They would be banned.

Kissinger: All land-based cruise missiles?

Dobrynin: He will go on.

Kissinger: All right.

Gromyko: All land.

Brezhnev: Since, however, as will be seen from the latest American proposals, the United States admits of such a possibility, by proposing there be permission to build missiles of very long range, that is, up to 2500 kilometers, we regard it as a necessity to introduce complete clarity on this score by banning land-based cruise missiles of a range over 600 kilometers.

Now, on the Soviet TU–22 bomber—the one that you call Backfire. As we have officially stated on more than one occasion, the Soviet bomber called the Backfire by the American side is not a heavy bomber. This in fact was admitted by the American side. Therefore they have nothing to do with the agreement now being negotiated. American proposals having to do with this, including the very latest ones, limiting this within the total number of 2400, are totally unacceptable.

To put an end to all sorts of speculation on the characteristics of this airplane, I am prepared to give you officially its range. The maximum range is 2200 kilometers. And I wish to inform you we would be prepared to reflect that figure in the materials of the negotiations.

Kissinger: About 1400 miles. If an airplane flies over the United States and drops bombs, we know it’s not a Backfire.

Sukhodrev: It’s radius of action is 2000 kilometers.

Kissinger: Is the General Secretary finished?

Brezhnev: Maybe I should stop there. I feel there is ample material from what I’ve said to fulfill the instructions we both have and reach agreement.

Kissinger: May I ask a technical question, Mr. General Secretary? And then I’d like a five minute break.

Brezhnev: Please.

Kissinger: How did you calculate this range? What speed and at what altitude?

Brezhnev: I’ll be absolutely honest. I don’t know. But I can ask for an official brief on that.

[Page 930]

Kissinger: Because that makes a difference. If you calculate it at supersonic flight at a low altitude, you get one answer. If you calculate it subsonic speed and a high altitude, it is another answer. With a heavy load there is a different answer; with a different load, another answer.

Kozlov: [Standing up at the end of the table] The plane was flying at a high altitude of 18,000 meters, at speeds intermittently both subsonic and supersonic. And the loads were minimal. If it was carrying a maximum load, the range would have gone way down to 1000 kilometers.

Brezhnev: That is absolutely official.

Kissinger: Let me understand. What is the range if it flies subsonically, at a high altitude, with a medium load?

Kozlov: As I just reported to the General Secretary, if the load is increased, and at that height, the radius would only be 1000 kilometers.

Kissinger: The General Secretary said alternating . . .

Brezhnev: Would you excuse me.

[He goes out.]

Kissinger: The General said 1000 kilometers at a medium height. If it flew at say 15–20,000 meters altitude, all subsonically, what would be the radius?

Kozlov: In that case, given a tailwind, the radius could perhaps go up to 2400 kilometers.

Kissinger: He is very conservative. We think it could do 6,000 kilometers, or more.

Wade: 4,000 kilometers.

Hyland: 4,000–5,000 radius.

[Brezhnev returns]

Brezhnev: What is the time in Washington now?

Kissinger: 5:30 in the morning.

Brezhnev: How do you get yourself accommodated so easily?

Kissinger: I had a good night’s sleep. I was here.

Brezhnev: I saw your arrival on television last night. I saw your fur hat.

Kissinger: I got it in Vladivostok. If you say about 2400 kilometers [radius], then the range one way would be 4500 to 5000 kilometers. Is that right?

Kozlov: Yes, you are absolutely right.

Kissinger: 5000 plus.

Kozlov: That is the range.

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, not you yourself, but let’s as an experiment, put Sonnenfeldt on that plane, and fill it with gas and fly it to New York. Or both, and call it MIRVed.

[Page 931]

That is a very substantive answer. Because my honest word is behind it. Because if this isn’t true, I would stand exposed before the whole world. Because if I say this officially and agree to have it reflected in the document, if it were not true, it would be a serious thing.

Kissinger: Let me take five minutes to discuss this.

Brezhnev: All right. I think, Dr. Kissinger, you and I have a good basis for understanding. We should not try to pull things out of each other.

Kissinger: I tell you. Our generals double the range of your Backfire; your generals cut it in half.

Brezhnev: Your generals should not control your government, any more than ours do ours. If generals were allowed to govern, there would be a world war and they wouldn’t be among the living and would have no one to govern.

[The meeting broke from 1:30 to 1:40 and then resumed.]

Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, please. Could I just say something? I want to make one suggestion. This is a very important question we are discussing. This is really the very core of our future relationship. So I would like to make this suggestion. This is a matter that I am sure requires a certain thinking and consideration and therefore a certain period of time. So perhaps we should declare a recess. All the more so since Comrade Gromyko has a luncheon party for you which will require some time. After all, it takes time to talk.

And we could perhaps resume our discussions at five o’clock this afternoon.

Kissinger: That’s a better idea.

Brezhnev: I’m seeking no advantages for myself.

Kissinger: I was going to make the same proposal.

Brezhnev: [Pointing to the album which the Secretary has taken out in front of him] What are those and I hope reasonable proposals?

Kissinger: [handing over the album of photographs] These are photos we took of the General Secretary at Vladivostok and Helsinki. There are some very good pictures in it.

Brezhnev: [Looks through the album] I weighed less when I was in Helsinki than now. Now I’m 85–88 kilos.

Kissinger: The General Secretary looks very well.

Brezhnev: I try. All young people try and look that way, so I try.

Kissinger: I understand the General Secretary’s speech [to the Party Congress] has to be two-to-three hours. That takes great stamina.

Brezhnev: Even more.

Aleksandrov: Castro once talked 10 hours!

[Page 932]

Brezhnev: But ours will get big attention—the international part. There will be an economic section, and a part on the Party itself. As at the 24th Congress, we are setting out the program for the coming five years. And we have a very big step forward in these last five years—in the economy, in various social fields, in the spiritual field. Our own political unity of the people and the Party has gained in strength. It is a big Party, so there are quite a few things to say. About 15–15½ million members, quite a big organized force.

Kissinger: We will meet again this afternoon.

Brezhnev: Good.

Kissinger: Can I meet with the General Secretary one minute alone?

[He confers privately with the General Secretary at the end of the table.]7

I’d like to say a word about that electronic problem. We have not briefed our people on it. Your measurements were taken at ground level. But on the higher floors, which we will let you measure, it becomes very high. If it becomes public . . .

Brezhnev: The President answered me on that.

Kissinger: I’m not saying it for negotiating purposes. We appreciated your reply. If you could pay some attention to it.

And in general terms we wanted to tell the General Secretary we genuinely want an agreement. We have a difficult situation.

Brezhnev: We hope we can achieve an agreement and it will help Ford’s situation.

Kissinger: Not so much Ford’s situation but we have a concrete subject to defeat the opponents [of détente]. I agree you have nothing to gain in Angola. We have nothing to gain in Angola. But 8000 Cubans running around . . . You wouldn’t want Hungarians running around conducting anti-Soviet activities.

[The meeting ended.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, 1974–1976, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, January 21–23, 1976—Kissinger Moscow Trip (1). Secret; Nodis. All brackets are in the original. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. The meeting was held in Brezhnev’s office at the Kremlin.
  2. Not attached. Reference is presumably to Document 243.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 248.
  4. Francisco da Costa Gomes, President of the National Salvation Junta in Portugal.
  5. During his visit to Madrid on January 24, Kissinger signed a bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.
  6. Not attached. Reference is presumably to Document 212.
  7. Brezhnev and Kissinger apparently discussed Angola at this time; see Document 256 and footnote 4 thereto. No other record of the discussion has been found.