The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 USC 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded. The editors are convinced that this volume meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. The subseries presents in multiple volumes a comprehensive documentary record of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the administrations of [Page IV] Presidents Nixon and Ford. This specific volume documents the U.S. policy on Strategic Arms Limitation Talks from January 1969 until October 1972. While the editor believes this volume and its annotation stand on its own, it is best read in conjunction with several other volumes: Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XII, Soviet Union, January 1969–October 1970; volume XIII, Soviet Union, October 1970–October 1971; volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972; and volume XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXII

This volume is organized chronologically and divided into eight chapters. The first chapter documents the nine-month period of preparation before SALT began and documents the obstacles created by the Soviet SS–9 and MIRV controversy, as well as the potential conflict between SALT and ABM. A preponderance of the documents printed were generated in the National Security Council, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the White House. The first chapter also documents the first meetings of NSC Verification Panel, created in July 1969, to evaluate the feasibility of monitoring Soviet military activity under any agreement. In time, the Verification Panel’s mandate broadened to become the principal forum for reviewing all technical aspects of SALT.

The subsequent chapters coincide with the numerous SALT rounds that alternated among Helsinki, Geneva and Vienna and document internal U.S. policy discussions as well as breakthroughs in the talks. Because there were nearly fifty Verification Panel meetings (with the meeting minutes averaging between 12–20 pages) during the period covered by this volume, the editor chose to account for all the meetings by printing either extracts in editorial notes or by printing only the summary of conclusions. The seventeen National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDMs) on instructions for the SALT delegation, which contained the results of the interagency deliberative process documented by the Verification Panel, Review Group, and NSC, are printed in full.

Throughout the volume, the editor included extracts from memoranda of conversation between Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin that pertain to SALT, demonstrating not only how heavily President Nixon relied on Kissinger to move the negotiations forward but also how Nixon and Kissinger viewed SALT as a détente tool for achieving policy linkage, or diplomatic and political leverage with the Soviets. Chapters four through eight are enriched by a unique source—the White House tapes—and the twenty-five transcripts included in the volume reinforce the view that Nixon and Kissinger sought to control [Page V] SALT. In many respects, however, the White House transcripts reveal as much about the personalities and bureaucratic politics of SALT as they do about the substance of the negotiations.

To offset the NSC and White House-based perspective on the SALT negotiations, the editor made a conscientious effort to include as many relevant ACDA records as possible. Chapters two through eight contain numerous telephone transcripts and meeting memoranda prepared by chief SALT negotiator, Gerard Smith, as well as backchannel messages between Smith and Kissinger. These exchanges often show a dialogue of miscommunication, if not outright misunderstanding.

Much of the documentation for chapters seven and eight on the period covering Kissinger’s secret trip to Moscow in April 1972, culminating with the Moscow Summit at the end of May 1972, is printed in extract in this volume and printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971–May 1972. This volume ends with the Nixon administration’s securing congressional approval of the SALT agreement and ratification of the ABM treaty.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the chief technical editor. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents within the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words repeated in telegrams to avoid garbling or provide emphasis are silently corrected. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where [Page VI] possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed with headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original text are so identified in footnotes.

The first footnote to each document indicates the source of the document, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 USC 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity [Page VII] to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Staff are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Nixon White House Tapes

Access to the Nixon White House tape recordings is governed by the terms of the PRMPA and an access agreement with the Office of Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Nixon Estate. In February 1971, President Nixon initiated a voice activated taping system in the Oval Office of the White House and, subsequently, in the President’s Office in the Executive Office Building, Camp David, the Cabinet Room, and White House and Camp David telephones. The audiotapes include conversations of President Nixon with his Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry Kissinger, other White House aides, Secretary of State Rogers, other Cabinet officers, members of Congress, and key foreign officials. The clarity of the voices on the tape recordings is often very poor, but the editor has made every effort to verify the accuracy of the transcripts produced here. Readers are advised that the tape recording is the official document; the transcript represents an interpretation of that document. Through the use of digital audio and other advances in technology, the Office of the Historian has been able to enhance the tape recordings and over time produce more accurate transcripts. The result is that some transcripts printed here may differ from transcripts of the same conversations printed in previous Foreign Relations volumes. The most accurate transcripts possible, however, cannot substitute for listening to the recordings. Readers are urged to consult the recordings themselves for a full appreciation of those aspects of the conversations that cannot be captured in a transcript, such as the speakers’ inflections and emphases that may convey nuances of meaning, as well as the larger context of the discussion.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department [Page VIII] of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2004 and was completed in 2010 resulted in the decision to withhold 1 document in full, excisions of a paragraph or more in 9 documents, and minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 60 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the record presented in this volume presented here provides an accurate and comprehensive account of the U.S. foreign policy on SALT.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editor wishes to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access. The editor is also grateful to Donna Lehman and Helmi Raaska at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library for informing her about the Melvin Laird papers and providing guidance in their use. John Haynes of the Library of Congress was responsible for expediting access to and copying the Kissinger Papers. The editor was able to use the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, with the kind permission of Henry Kissinger. The editor would like to also thank Sandy Meagher for her valuable assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense. Finally, special thanks are given to Daniel Sanborn of the National Security Council for his kind assistance.

Erin Mahan collected the documents, made the initial selections, and annotated the documents she chose. The volume was completed under the supervision of Division Chief Louis Smith and Edward C. Keefer, General Editor of the series. Chris Tudda and Dean Weatherhead coordinated the declassification review, under the supervision of [Page IX] Susan C. Weetman, Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Kristin Ahlberg, Aaron Marrs, and Carl Ashley did the copy and technical editing. Juniee Oneida prepared the index.

Ambassador Edward Brynn
Acting Historian

Bureau of Public Affairs

September 2010