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

Dear Mr. General Secretary:

[Omitted here is material unrelated to SALT.]

Finally, in the area of bilateral relations, I share what I know to be your desire to proceed at an early date to the next stage of the negotiations to limit strategic arms. I plan very shortly to submit the treaty limiting ABM systems and the interim agreement on offensive strategic arms to our Congress. From my initial discussions with key members of the two houses of the Congress, I am confident that the agreements we concluded will command a substantial majority. There will, of course, be considerable public discussion, and indeed some controversy, about certain of the terms of these agreements. I consider such discussion vital because it is essential that a historic agreement affecting basic security interests should be fully understood by the public. I believe you are aware that certain aspects of the agreement, especially those dealing with offensive weapons, are viewed by some in this country as disadvantageous to the United States. While I am convinced that the “freeze” agreement represents a fair compromise, safeguarding the security of both sides, I know you will understand that members of my Administration who will appear as witnesses before the relevant Congressional committees will be required to give a full explanation of the terms of the agreement and of their implication for our security.

Once the process of debate, explanation and approval has been completed, we will be in a position to move ahead with the follow-on negotiations looking at an early agreement for the permanent limitation and, hopefully, an actual reduction of offensive strategic weapons. However, even before that I believe we should, through our confidential channel, seek to clarify the issues for the next stage. Moreover, it would be helpful if, through the same channel, we can communicate regularly to ensure that the implementation of the initial agreements is carried out to the satisfaction of both sides and in a way that avoids misunderstandings. Obviously, the negotiations for a follow-on agreement [Page 943] will have the best chance of succeeding in an atmosphere of confidence about the implementation of the first agreement.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to SALT.]


Richard Nixon
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 494, President’s Trip Files, Dobrynin/Kissinger, 1972, Vol. 12. Top Secret. A handwritten notation on the letter indicates that it was handed to Dobrynin by Kissinger at 10:50 a.m. in the Map Room at the White House.