276. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1

SUBJECT

  • Conversation with Vorontsov

After I protested to Vorontsov concerning their latest harassment campaign against our Moscow Embassy, I spoke to him privately.

I told him we had instructed our spokesman to acknowledge that we had had a reply on SALT, that it contained Soviet considerations on the issues and that we were studying it. Vorontsov said this was a good thing to do since Senators and others were beginning to attack the Soviets for dragging their feet. I said we had not said that.

In response to my question, Vorontsov reiterated that the purport of the Soviet response was to indicate that they had felt we were on the way to a solution during the Moscow talks and that they had noted press stories that after North Carolina the President would be wholly [Page 1030] absorbed by domestic politics and that he would not be ready to focus on SALT again until after the Convention, or at any rate would not want to have any agreement until after that.2 Moscow, he said, was not inclined to “impose” on the President in these circumstances. I said this was all speculation and that if there were any additional considerations in Moscow it certainly will be quite possible to deal with them here, whatever the President’s campaign schedule. In any case, we were continuing to study the situation and hoped Moscow would not stand still.

I then said that the PNE talks were going nowhere fast and it looks like March 31 will come and go without agreement. Vorontsov said this will require some diplomatic action with respect to the TTBT. I said we were considering how to handle the passing of the originally envisaged effective date for the TTBT.

Vorontsov asked whether we were yet ready to consult on their broader proposal on mass destruction weapons. I said this remained under study but I personally found it hard to get my teeth into the concept. Vorontsov said they were interested in our ideas, as Korniyenko had told Stoessel and he, Vorontsov, had mentioned to you. I said the matter remained under study.

Vorontsov asked whether we would have any further response on their proposals for a comprehensive test ban. I said I thought Ikle had given him our views, which remained as they were.

I reminded Vorontsov that in our last conversation3 I had urged him to stress in Moscow that we still wanted a positive response from them on the radiation issue in Moscow. Vorontsov said he had reported that but nothing had yet been received. He said that in Moscow they were so mad about what had been happening to their facilities and people in New York that he thought they had not been able to bring themselves to respond on the radiation. I said we had not linked these matters though they quite probably would be in our press because of the additional harassment against our Embassy in recent days. I said the Soviets should not be making the connection since their radiation had been going on for many years and was a form of harassment that should cease under any circumstances. I said we were coming up to the [Page 1031] point where further publicity would become unavoidable. We were briefing, as we had to, personnel who have served in Moscow over the past years and sooner or later this will become public. We would then have to say that our efforts to get the signals turned off had failed. He at once said “Don’t do that, please. The matter is not dead. We will reply.” I said time was getting short and he should report to Moscow again that a response was essential so that this form of action against us will be stopped.

I said in conclusion that we had noted the Soviet role on the matter of the South Africans in Angola. Vorontsov pointed out that Gromyko had publicly stated in London that the Soviets were not going to get involved outside Angola. I said I hoped this was so and that now they should also get the Cubans out of there. Vorontsov said the Cubans would probably be staying awhile, but not for the purpose of other interventions. He said he did not like our escalating rhetoric about the Soviets and Cubans in Southern Africa and that he hoped Gromyko’s comments would have an effect. I said we had taken their involvement in Angola very seriously indeed and remained greatly concerned about further interventions. So, we have to make it known. Vorontsov said he was sure we were inspiring the press reports about contingency plans for blockades and invasions. We should remember that all these stories are copiously reported to Moscow by TASS. I said we were not inspiring this kind of speculation at all but our authoritative statements about Cuban intervention were a reflection of the very serious view we take of any such prospect.

Vorontsov said Dobrynin was out of the hospital and recuperating.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Lot File 81D286, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Box 7, Soviet Union, Jan–April 1976. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Reagan defeated Ford in the North Carolina Republican primary on March 23. During a telephone conversation late that evening, Kissinger and Eagleburger discussed the results: “E: Have you heard the news? K: We lost? E: Beyond that we relaxed a little soon. The news so far is ascribing it to détente so we will hear about it for a couple of weeks. K: That détente brought it about? E: The commentary is that there is some evidence of Reagan taking extra votes on his attacks against you and détente. These are the early commentaries.” “You know the tragedy is we had it licked,” Kissinger commented. “Any victories would have done it.” (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts of Telephone Conversations) The Republican National Convention was scheduled for August.
  3. See Document 271.