275. Memorandum of Conversation1
- President Ford
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
- Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
- General George S. Brown, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Fred Ikle, Director, ACDA
- Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
[Discussion of how to deal with press inquiries. It was decided to acknowledge that we have received an answer from the Soviet Union.2 [Page 1028] We should say they have given us their considerations and this is another step in our continuing discussion.]
The President: Don, why don’t you start?
Rumsfeld: I am inclined to a procedural approach.
The President: What do you mean?
Rumsfeld: Asking them what they would propose is no good because they think they have something on the table. We don’t have anything new. I would think put off until January; a summit without SALT, where the two of you can just talk. I would just shy away from dusting off a proposal we had made.
The President: George?
Brown: I heaved a sigh of relief. I thought our last proposal3 had some problems, so I tend to the procedural approach.
The President: Fred?
Ikle: I don’t think we should do anything in the meantime which would interfere with SALT—like Minuteman III. Then perhaps we could put some more issues into Geneva—not the central ones. We could then also undertake to educate them on these ambiguous systems.
The President: Henry?
Kissinger: There are three possibilities—deferral, stall, or make one final proposal.
[Discusses the three options]
The President: Putting it to Geneva is no good. I think we either suspend and ask for more money, or we look at the January proposals and see if there is anything to work with. Why not have the Verification Panel work at it for two weeks? If we can come up with a new wrinkle, fine. If not, we suspend and go to the Congress for more money.
Rumsfeld: I don’t think we necessarily need to ask for more money unless they start to break out.
I would urge you to expand your guidance to include the procedural option and not just review our two proposals and breaking off.
Scowcroft: We should set a deadline and ought to keep working on it.
The President: I don’t want to dilly dally around with Geneva or other procedures. I want either a new crack at it or to break it off.
I would like it if the Verification Panel would take these points of impasse and see if there is some place we can get some movement. I am [Page 1029] just not willing to do nothing for five or six months without sending up a request for more money.
Rumsfeld: I don’t think you should go up for more money just because we are delayed for five or six months. To do that, we should show that the Soviet Union has done something—the fact is they haven’t.
The President: Let’s have the Verification Panel look into the possibilities of modifying our last proposal or the one Henry and Brezhnev discussed.
Rumsfeld: It will certainly leak. We should think about getting out a statement about the Brezhnev response.
Scowcroft: That looks bad. We can have a question planted.
The President: And we could just say they gave us their considerations, and we will study them. This is just another step in the negotiating process.