245. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon 1

Dear Mr. President:

I would like to express some further considerations in continuation of our correspondence, having in mind your letter of last February [Page 746] 152 and the conversation with our Ambassador in Washington on March 17.3

I and my colleagues likewise closely follow the course of preparation for the May meeting in Moscow as well as all the events attendant to that preparation.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to SALT.]

I and my colleagues attach special significance as you do, Mr. President, to the forthcoming discussion in Moscow on the questions of strategic arms limitation. We would like to hope that the discussion on those questions will be constructive and yield concrete positive results. Of course, this will require maximum joint efforts to be applied in the remaining period so as to find a mutually acceptable solution based on the principle of equal security for both sides.

I think it is quite realistic. Let us take a question on which a proximity of positions has already emerged—that of cessation, beginning from July 1, 1972, of new construction of silo launchers for land-based ICBMs. This would mean that for a specified period the sides would not increase the number of such launchers which each of them would have as of the date of the beginning of the “freeze”. The time-period to be established could be lengthier, namely—three years, while in the meantime, as agreed, further active negotiations would be pursued on strategic arms limitation. An agreement on such a “freeze” should not, of course, involve the possibility for modernization and replacement of appropriate weapons on which there already exists agreement between the two sides.

Conclusion of such an agreement on “freeze”, along with a treaty on limitation of anti-ballistic missile systems—and here our positions have drawn nearer as well—would be such an important step in the relations between our countries, that its significance can hardly be overestimated. That fact would undoubtedly make a profound favorable impact both in our countries and in the whole world.

As for the considerations transmitted by you with regard to fixing, on a temporary basis, appropriate levels concerning submarines with ballistic missiles, we are carefully studying those considerations with due account of all related factors, whose complexity, it seems, you also recognize, and we shall inform you of our opinion.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to SALT.]

[Page 747]

In conclusion I would like to emphasize again the importance of a situation in which our talks are prepared and will be held in Moscow. On that, of course, in many respects will depend the results of the negotiations themselves. Making conditions most suitable for our meeting should in an equal degree be a concern of both sides. Therefore, I would like to tell you frankly, Mr. President, that continued bombings of the DRV—which, as I wrote to you in my previous letter, push the developments in Vietnam in a direction opposite to peaceful settlement—can only complicate the situation. We hope that you will weigh all aspects of this question.

Sincerely,

L. Brezhnev 4
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 498, President’s Trip Files, Exchanges of Notes Between Dobrynin and Kissinger, Vol. 3. No classification marking. A handwritten notation on the first page of letter indicates that Dobrynin handed it to Kissinger at 12:45 p.m. on March 28. The full text of the letter is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972, Document 72.
  2. See Document 232.
  3. See Document 237.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.