44. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Foreign Minister
  • Viktor Sukhodrev, Soviet Foreign Ministry (Interpreter)
  • Secretary Henry A. Kissinger
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Middle East; US-GDR relations; Summit preparations; SALT; CSCE; MBFR; Trade; Brezhnev visit to Cuba; Pompidou and Brandt visits to USSR

[After a brief photo opportunity, the conversation began informally in the anteroom.]

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT II.]

Minister Gromyko: Then, of course, the question will surely arise of strategic arms and a possible new agreement on that score, the question of conversion of the provisional agreement into a permanent one. I recall great conviction and forcefulness with which the President spoke on this, in the summer with General Secretary Brezhnev and in the fall with me.2 We are certainly in favor of such new agreements and arrangements. In fact, General Secretary Brezhnev was emphatic on this with me, and stressed the need to achieve this.

[Page 137]

Secretary Kissinger: But how do we proceed? Because we’re not even in the same framework yet.

Minister Gromyko: We are certainly engaged in a very intensive study of this issue and we have made substantial progress in the formation of our positions in terms of the forthcoming Summit. You know as well as we know that our delegations in Geneva have made no substantive progress, and if you have any thoughts on this. . . .

Secretary Kissinger: We lack a theory of what we’re trying to do. In the first SALT, we had a rough outline in terms of numbers and could work out the details. Now we don’t even have a rough idea of what we want to do.

Minister Gromyko: I would suggest the crux of the matter is not that we lack a theory to guide us in finding practical solutions. I think we have common premises, but we lack practical concepts to convert theory to practice. You said we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be thrown back. We both agree. We proceed from the assumption that we have traversed a very important path in the past by achieving the agreements already signed. For example, we are both in agreement that we are faced with the task of converting the provisional agreement into a permanent one, or else the task of elaborating or covering the provisional one in a new agreement.

Secretary Kissinger: Or extending it, for say ten years.

Minister Gromyko: At least there is no great theoretical difference. The task is to elaborate it to the point of figures.

Secretary Kissinger: And criteria. Have you any ideas?

Minister Gromyko: When you mentioned figures at one time to our Ambassador, you said that you might add something to the considerations you gave. Then you said it was not precisely a promise to give new considerations. Do you have or don’t you have something new, just so we know?

Secretary Kissinger: What figures do you mean?

Minister Gromyko: You mentioned certain figures concerning the Far East, China. You said you might add something—and you even had certain figures—to take into account the Far East. Do you have any precise considerations on this?

Secretary Kissinger: [Picks up briefing papers and reads them to himself]. I just wanted to review some figures. [Reads]. In the context of some limitation on MIRV, for example, if we said that each side had equal throwweight of MIRVs, we might be able to consider some inequality in numbers—not in a permanent but in an extended provisional agreement. For example, if we said you could put MIRVs on . . . The difficulty is that your missiles have more MIRVs—you have four and we have three. Sometimes you have even more than four. Suppose [Page 138] we said the throwweight of MIRVs should be about equal, then you could MIRV somewhat fewer missiles but we could live with some inequality in numbers—including the ones with single warheads. If you MIRV 300 and we MIRV 500, because of the inequality of the number of warheads, then we would not insist on your reducing the overall number of your missiles. You could keep your 1400 and we could keep our 1100—but you would MIRV 300 and we would MIRV 500. We would not ask you to reduce your number.

Minister Gromyko: When you say “extended provisional agreement,” you mean a “reviewed” provisional agreement, or in terms of time?

Secretary Kissinger: In terms of time. But with these new figures.

Minister Gromyko: With these new figures. [Viktor translates Kissinger’s presentation into Russian]. And how about compensation for the Chinese factor?

Secretary Kissinger: We cannot compensate for that in words—but you would have 1400 missiles and we would have 1100, so you would have 300 more than we.

Minister Gromyko: Yes, but then you say you will MIRV 500 of yours while we MIRV 300. That makes the total throwweight equal. Therefore the question of compensation for our geographic factor doesn’t come into the picture. And there is no mention of your forward-based missiles. The geographic factor is in your favor.

Secretary Kissinger: With regard to the first point, the total throwweight of the MIRVed missiles will be equal. The total throwweight of all missiles will be strongly in your favor.

Minister Gromyko: What I am asking is, does that mean you are ignoring the forward-based strategic arms altogether, or simply haven’t reached that question?

Secretary Kissinger: Let me distinguish two things. The Chinese factor is included—we have to be more precise with the figures in a negotiation—because the MIRVed missiles are equal but on top of that you have 900 more and we have 600. Those 300 should certainly compensate for the Chinese factor.

Minister Gromyko: You are approaching that question from an end angle, as it were. The Chinese factor is taken care of in that calculation. It’s built into this calculation.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. You’ll see when you study these figures. It gives you an overall advantage in throwweight and an overall advantage in numbers. It gives a certain equality in MIRVs.

Minister Gromyko: I understand you sort of built that factor into that calculation so it doesn’t poke out of the sack to be visible. But you have elsewhere your forward-based missiles—your heavy bombers, [Page 139] submarines, intermediate-range rockets, and other types of weapons. Is it right that you’ve eased them out of the picture? We shouldn’t leave that out, especially after blini.

Secretary Kissinger: I haven’t fully studied it. But you have certain weapons that can reach these countries. I haven’t studied it fully.

Minister Gromyko: I ask all these questions because we do want to find a common language on this issue. You mentioned figures to our Ambassador some time ago—figures that were supposed to serve as compensation for Chinese factor. I was prepared to say we do not exclude reaching agreement on that basis.

Secretary Kissinger: What figures do you have in mind?

Minister Gromyko: You mentioned 200 additional. The principle itself which you mentioned at that time—but the figures weren’t enough—but I was prepared to say that.

Secretary Kissinger: The principle is still acceptable.

Minister Gromyko: But not the figures.

Secretary Kissinger: I understand.

Minister Gromyko: But now, when you formulated your remarks, your ideas suggest you want to place us in an equal position in one area but you fail to mention other areas.

Secretary Kissinger: Only MIRV. Beyond MIRV you have the advantage.

Minister Gromyko: But you leave out an entire area. Perhaps you can give this further thought and convey your views to our Ambassador. Preferably before your visit.

Secretary Kissinger: Definitely.

Minister Gromyko: Because this is a field in which one has to be objective because it is so important.

Secretary Kissinger: Definitely before the end of January. If you have any new ideas, let me know through Dobrynin, so we can study it.

Minister Gromyko: Yes, but we will await your ideas.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to SALT II.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Country Files–Europe–USSR, Gromyko, 1973. Top Secret; Exclusively Eyes Only. The meeting took place at the Soviet Embassy in Geneva. Gromyko and Kissinger were attending the Middle East Peace Conference in Geneva. All brackets, except those inserted by the editor to indicate omitted passages, are in the original. Printed in full as Document 155 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974.
  2. See Documents 30 and 38.