94. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Bipartisan Congressional Leadership
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

President: Thanks for coming. I appreciate the kind remarks and the actions taken while I was away. I appreciate what has been done on Rockefeller and the Mass Transit bill.2

We have a full plate this morning. I can give you an overview of the trip, and I want to talk about the Aid Bill, the Export-Import Bank, and the budget.

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The trip was strictly a working 8 days. I am glad the wives didn’t go—there was not much for them to do. They had us in a compound in Vladivostok.

[Omitted here is the President’s report on his trips to Japan and Korea November 19–23.]

The most important aspect of the trip, of course, was Vladivostok. I will give you the figures, which I hope you will keep off the record, because it is just an oral agreement. As you know, they have a big program under way. As a result of about 12 hours of hard bargaining, we reached an agreement which is in accord with the language set forth in the Senate language on equivalence. We agreed on a number of 2400 strategic weapons. It is within our program and requires a reduction in the Soviet program. It puts a cap on the launching capacity of the United States and the Soviet Union. On MIRVs the figure is 1320 of the 2400. On bombers, a ballistic missile with a range less than 600 kilometers would not be counted; one with a range over that would be.

The net result is a rigid ceiling on bombers and MIRVs. Those figures are responsible; it does coincide with the Congressional requirements for equivalence. The Secretary of Defense agrees with it, Chairman Brown agrees with it and Secretary Schlesinger assures me the JCS will. This position was worked out with Kissinger, Schlesinger, Brown and it meets the Congressional mandate. As far as I know it meets with the wishes of the people.

Are there any questions?

Rhodes: Is it 1320 warheads or launchers?

President: Launchers.

Thurmond: What will be the means of verification?

President: National means.

Pastore: How will we know about their MIRVs?

President: We watch their testing program and we will count any new missile installed as MIRV’d if it is a type they have tested with MIRVs.

Question: How much delay is there in getting the agreement? You will be involved.

President: We will have a written agreement in principle within a week. It will be worked out by next summer.

Pastore: What do we have to do to match them? A lot of people have asked us.

Byrd: How about freedom to mix?

President: There is complete freedom to mix within the constraints of SALT I.

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Thurmond: Jackson was on the radio saying it should have been 1700 not 2400. Can you answer that.

President: They wanted the higher figure. This was the best we could get. Scoop will argue this is not an ones [onerous?] reduction—but it is below their present program. And this won’t preclude further negotiations on reductions. You have to start somewhere, and this puts a cap on it. This puts a ceiling on planned development. Their program was substantially more than 2400.

McClellan: This is a reduction below their existing and planned program.

President: Particularly what was planned.

McMarhan:3 Was it wise to restrict the B–1 missiles?

President: The military think so.

Cederberg: Why a 600 km limit?

President: Beyond that it’s treated as a strategic weapon.

Frelinghuysen: Why did they agree?

President: I think they are concerned about an unending arms race. This is enough for security and it is stabilizing.

Whip: Did you detect anything more hopeful this time compared to their previous attitude?

President: I think he was genuinely concerned about an arms race.

Rhodes: How about limiting other weapons? Like naval expansion.

President: Not this time. We had only a limited time available.

Scott: Did you discuss energy and Siberian development?

President: Yes, and with the Japanese, too. The Japanese are negotiating on the Yakhutsk project. There were no firm discussions.

Sparkman: You mentioned some concern about the EXIM and foreign aid. I hope we can work out something on foreign aid today. The EXIM conference report comes up today. There is considerable opposition. I hope it will be supported.

President: I hope you will support the conference report.

I hope the Senate will act on the Trade Bill. We have a confidential arrangement on Jewish emigration and Brezhnev has reaffirmed his commitment. There will be no harassment, no limitation on applications, and no restrictions except on grounds of national security.

Pastore: How much can we say?

President: I told the Soviet Union I had to give you the figures. I hope you will not talk about the numbers.

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McClellan: This will be formalized within a week?

President: Yes.

Rhodes: Can we say that it is a figure that is below the Soviet program?

President: Yes.

Now Roy has the bad news about the budget.

[The meeting continued on budgetary topics.]4

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, 1973–1977, Box 7. Confidential. The meeting was held in the White House Cabinet Room. A list of attendees is attached but not printed.
  2. The Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously on November 22 to recommend Rockefeller’s confirmation as Vice President. The Senate passed the National Mass Transportation Assistance Act on November 20, the House on November 21. Ford signed the bill on November 26, after this meeting with Congressional leaders.
  3. This is an obvious error. The speaker could have been McClellan or Congressmen Mahon or Morgan, both of whom were present.
  4. Brackets in the original.