207. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Discussions on Title IV of Trade Bill with Senator Jackson’s Staff

I have had two extended sessions, one with Bill Eberle present, the other with Bill’s deputy John Jackson.2 I cannot honestly say that we [Page 738] negotiated since Perle and Fosdick essentially took the position that they have the votes to pass their amendment and that they would agree to modify it only if certain very stringent conditions were met. In fact, they would not agree to talk about modifications of the amendment until they first had clear assurances that the demands on emigration would actually be put to the Soviets. (This represented a slight advance over their first position which was that they would talk about changing the amendment only after the Senator had received indications of a positive Soviet reaction to the demands.)

The Jackson demands are at Tab A. Originally, Perle gave them to me orally but I urged him to reduce them to paper in the form of generalized principles which would not have the character of direct intervention into domestic Soviet procedures. This resulted in the Basic Principles. But, in addition, there is the memorandum elaborating on each principle.

I pointed out that many of the points in the memorandum in fact described Soviet practices not only toward potential emigrants but their population generally and consequently the memorandum was tantamount to demanding the repeal of the Soviet system. I suggested at one point that perhaps a proper way to formulate the First Principle would be that any requestor for emigration and his family should be treated the same as any normal non-requesting individual and family (Bill Eberle’s idea). Perle and Fosdick were reluctant, though not wholly negative.

I repeatedly stressed my view that such a list of demands was non-negotiable with the Soviets. They insisted that the Soviets have an incentive to let out all who want to leave.

After much back and forth, the principal propositions that emerged seemed to be the following:

Jackson does not necessarily require a written document by the Soviets.
He does require an assurance from the President in fairly specific terms that he has reason to believe the Soviets would permit an increasing volume of emigration and that applicants would not be subjected to discrimination, harassment and indignities.
Such a Presidential assurance would have to be in writing with some oral assurance that it was based on explicit discussions with the Soviets of the terms in the Jackson memorandum. There could also be a legislative history indicating the performance standards that would be employed to judge the Soviets.
Jackson feels strongly about hard-core cases; hence the requirement to let out first those who applied first. He also feels strongly about “good faith” acts.
It is not wholly clear whether Jackson’s agreement to a modified amendment and his support of the Bill will depend on Soviet assurances [Page 739] (as conveyed by the President) alone or also require immediate Soviet performance. (I pointed out repeatedly that in the unlikely event that the Soviets accepted anything approaching the Jackson list they clearly would condition it on first getting MFN and retaining EXIM credits.) Perle has agreed to set down on paper how Soviet performance might be phased. I drew a careful distinction between assurances as the condition for passage of an acceptable bill and performance as the condition for continued granting of MFN and credits after some specified period of time written into the bill.
While Jackson does not insist on an immediate increase to a rate of 100,000 emigrants per year (he thinks there are 500,000 people of all kinds who want to leave and wants the process completed in five years) he does insist on a rapid increase in the rate. 40–50,000 per year is not acceptable. 90,000 may be.
A Presidential statement to Jackson that a document similar to the Jackson principles and memorandum has been handed to the Soviets and that the President believes the Soviets understand that retention of MFN and credits beyond a certain time depends on their performance is not acceptable to Jackson.
In any revised bill, the burden of determining Soviet nonperformance must rest at least as much on the President as on the Congress.
While Jackson would not raise the emigration issue in other legislation if he were satisfied with respect to it for the trade bill, he gives no assurance that he will not raise other issues concerning trade and technology transfers to the USSR. On the contrary, he insists on his right to question individual credit grants on grounds of national security, etc.; and on his right to question such projects as the gas deals and deals involving technology. (He plans hearings on technology transfer to the USSR.)

While I can continue, after my return from Europe, to try to whittle down the performance standards to more generalized language, I do not think I can shake the basic position without your having a further talk with Jackson and Ribicoff. I believe that in such a talk you should shoot for a generalized formula that would be put to the Soviets and form the basis of eventual Presidential assurances to Jackson:

There will be no interference with the right to emigrate.
The flow of emigration shall be steadily increased.
Persons wishing to emigrate and their families shall not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, discrimination and other indignities by virtue of their desire to emigrate. In particular, there should be no efforts to prevent applicants from complying with emigration procedures.

If it were possible for you to agree with the Senators that these are the principles, you and they could then instruct me and their staffs to elaborate these principles by about one paragraph each. In addition, you [Page 740] could agree to raise with Dobrynin (not Brezhnev) some of the details in the Jackson memorandum to make the Soviets aware of more particular standards that we would apply in observing Soviet performance.

While I understand that there may be differences between Ribicoff and Jackson, Perle and Fosdick maintain that the two Senators are totally in tandem. You may be able to form some judgment on this point and on whether Ribicoff’s man could usefully be drawn into any future contacts.


That you indicate after my return from Europe whether, and if so, along what lines you wish us to pursue this matter with Perle and Fosdick.

Tab A

Basic Principles

  • Principle I: Persons Wishing to Emigrate Must Not Be Subjected To Harassment or Intimidation

    Persons seeking to emigrate shall not suffer discrimination, harassment or intimidation as a consequence of their desire to emigrate.

  • Principle II: Assuring The Right And Opportunity To Emigrate

    Persons wishing to emigrate shall be able to comply with the application procedures without interference.

  • Principle III: Visas Shall Be Granted In The Order In Which Applications Are Initiated And Without Discrimination

    Applications should be processed and visas granted in the order in which they are initiated without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, place of residence, professional status, etc.

  • Principle IV: A Good Faith Effort Must Be Made To Assure Freer Emigration

    In the spirit of détente and mutual accommodation there must be a good faith effort to assure freer emigration accompanied by immediate positive action.

  • Principle V: The Rate Of Flow Shall Be Increased To 100,000 Per Annum


Some Points in Elaboration of Principles I Through V

  • Principle I: Persons seeking to emigrate shall not suffer discrimination, harassment or intimidation as a consequence of their desire to emigrate; for example: [Page 741]
    Persons desiring to emigrate shall not be fired from their jobs nor demoted to tasks that do not reflect their professional qualifications.
    Persons desiring to emigrate, or their children, shall not be expelled or suspended from their schools or universities.
    Persons desiring to emigrate must not be subjected to harassment or intimidation by security authorities, interrogation, surveillance, etc.
    Persons desiring to emigrate must not be subjected to public recrimination at their place of employment, residence, trade union, etc.
  • Principle II: Persons wishing to emigrate shall be able to comply with the application procedures without interference; for example:
    There shall be no interference with the communications necessary to obtain the documents required for filing an application to emigrate. Letters sent abroad for the purpose of obtaining a Vysov3 shall not be intercepted and incoming letters containing requisite documents shall not be withheld from the addressee.
    Documents required from internal authorities shall not be withheld. There should be no administrative obstacle to the completion of the required application.
    Travel for the purpose of completing application requirements shall not be prevented.
    The necessary forms and information necessary to complete them shall be available upon demand.
    Persons of adult age shall not be required to obtain the permission of parents, grandparents or other relatives in order to emigrate.
    Persons desiring to emigrate shall not be required to submit character references from their places of employment.
    Taxes and/or fees associated with applications to emigrate shall be nominal and shall not constitute a barrier to emigration.
  • Principle III: Applications should be processed and visas granted in the order in which they are initiated without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, place of residence, professional status, etc.
    Those who have waited longest should be the first to receive visas. In assuring this, applications should be reviewed expeditiously.
    Visas should be available equally without regard to race, religion or national origins.
    Visas should be available equally without regard to place of residence or birth.
    Visas should be available equally without regard to professional status, job training, employment or education.
    Persons wishing to emigrate who have been actively engaged in work of a secret nature should be notified upon application as to the earliest date on which they will become eligible to receive a visa.
  • Principle IV: In the spirit of détente and mutual accommodation there must be a good faith effort to assure freer emigration accompanied by immediate positive action. To this end:
    There shall be sympathetic and expeditious consideration of any individual case raised by the government of the United States.

    Those persons presently imprisoned who, prior to their imprisonment, indicated an interest in emigration shall be granted visas upon the expiration of their present sentences;


    Sympathetic and humanitarian consideration shall be given to the commutation of sentences and/or a general amnesty for those persons.

    Persons whose applications to emigrate are denied shall be informed of the reason for such denial.
    The government of the United States shall be supplied with such information as may be required to enable the President to assess the good faith of the implementation of these Principles.
  • Principle V: The rate of flow shall be increased to 100,000 per annum.

The number of visas granted in recent years suggests that substantial growth in the rate of flow is possible.

100,000 visas per annum would be consistent with a good faith effort to permit substantially freer emigration.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 5, Nodis Memcons, 1974. Confidential; Eyes Only. Sent for action.
  2. Eberle’s report to Kissinger on his meeting with Sonnenfeldt and Jackson’s staff members is ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 404, Subject Files, Special Assistant for Trade (Ambassador Eberle).
  3. A vysov, or vyzov, was an invitation.