72. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Restricted U.S.–Soviet Meeting, July 1: SALT


  • USSR
  • A.A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • G.M. Korniyenko, Chief, USA Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Bratchikov, Interpreter
  • US
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department of State
  • Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., Ambassador

Gromyko: The situation is very complicated. I noted you practically didn’t mention the B–1 and the Trident. These should be strictly limited.

Kissinger: If we extend the Agreement for five years, we could slow down the development of Trident relative to the present program. It is now planned to have two a year. This could be slowed down to one. Thus, there would be only two by the end of the interim period.

Korniyenko: There would be four or five by the end of 1979.

Kissinger: Two would be on sea trials. Only one would be commissioned by the end of 1979.

Gromyko: In March, you said there would be three. Have you reduced the number?

Korniyenko: In March you were talking about 1980.

Kissinger: I think I spoke of the end of 1979. I will have to look this up. Maybe there would be none at all—certainly not more than one.

Gromyko: And not more than two on sea trials by the end of 1979?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: And the B–1?

Kissinger: I don’t think there will be very many by the end of 1979. I can check and let you know tomorrow.

Gromyko: I mention this because you didn’t cover this in detail. And what about the main figures?

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Kissinger: This would be 750 for you and no large missiles. There would be 1150 for us. And the Interim Agreement would be extended until the end of 1979.

Gromyko: Those figures are so unrealistic.

Kissinger: Then we should send our Secretary of Defense to talk to you. He thinks you would accept 350.

We would have to explain why we let you build 750. We would build 150 more, and you would get 600 more to catch up. It would be presented this way in the U.S.

Our people say the maximum you can do is 900–1000 in that period. Maybe this is wrong.

Gromyko: We can’t accept your arguments as they relate to your own internal position. You know your own position. I must say we have a strange impression of your position; we’re surprised by it. It doesn’t seem realistic. I don’t see hope if you maintain your position.

I wonder if it is worth repeating again the argument about FBS which was presented by the General Secretary yesterday.2 You know our position on this. The distance between our positions does not narrow, but increases. There is no forward movement.

Kissinger: What are your concrete ideas?

Gromyko: You know them. We presented our figures. We’d like to hear your views. If you have something more realistic to say about the figures, this would be interesting.

Kissinger: I don’t have any different figures. I would point out that the figures we gave are not basically disadvantageous to you. They give you a greater rate than they give the U.S.

The General Secretary told me that you won’t have MIRVs on submarines until the end of that period. By that time, you will be in a position to add rapidly to your sea-based MIRVs, and you’ll still have more land-based missiles than we will.

Gromyko: We have quite different views about the figures. You had no arguments to make against the figures presented by the General Secretary. Your remarks about our heavy missiles as presented in Washington were really not arguments for serious discussion.

Kissinger: What remarks are you thinking of?

Gromyko: Those which you presented in Washington and which you are now talking about with regard to MIRVing our heavy missiles. These are not for serious discussion.

Kissinger: That may be, but it is a serious proposal.

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Gromyko: Then this is all you have for the moment?

Kissinger: Yes.

Gromyko: That’s bad. The situation is gloomy. What should we put in the Communiqué on this?

Korniyenko: We have nothing at the moment.

Kissinger: This is quite a serious matter. It is very difficult for us to fight for an existing agreement with nothing.

Gromyko: We can’t accept any agreement which would violate the principle of equality as stated in the present agreement.

Kissinger: We could put language in the Communiqué saying that the parties seek energetically to limit MIRVs in relation to a possible broadening of the Interim Agreement without getting into figures.

Gromyko: And will continue negotiations for this purpose.

Kissinger: Something like that.

(Korniyenko then read off language which might be used in the Communiqué containing these thoughts.)

Gromyko: Tomorrow the President indicated that he would like to talk at the highest level about the Middle East and the Vienna talks. Sometime during the plenary perhaps you and I could work on the Communiqué. We should also discuss the threshold test ban.

Kissinger: I suggest the plenary be at 11. You and I could meet at 9:30.

Gromyko: This is not good for me. I have another meeting at 9:30.

Kissinger: We should meet on the test ban before the plenary. We could talk about the Communiqué after the plenary.

(There was further discussion about timing of the plenary, discussion of the test ban, and signing of agreements. The Secretary said that he would look again at the language on environment—perhaps we could come up with a new idea.)

Gromyko: Well, let’s adjourn.

Kissinger: (Getting up.) Yes. I’m discouraged about SALT. (The Secretary and Gromyko then moved off to a corner of the room.) I don’t want to be forced into an admission of failure. If we can’t agree now, we should think of some way to keep up movement.

Gromyko: We have our delegations in Geneva. They could meet.

Kissinger: When do you propose they assemble?

Gromyko: (Answer inaudible.) A crucial point is the proportion of weapons. We need realism in the figures.

Kissinger: I am really a strong proponent of a solution. I am not bargaining.

We will have a violent discussion at home about all of this. We’ll look at it again, but it’s going to be very difficult.

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Gromyko: Jackson has frightened everyone?

Kissinger: Jackson alone we could handle.

Gromyko: Your military is frightened, too?

Kissinger: No.

Gromyko: It is difficult for both sides. We’re constantly being asked what is the matter and why won’t the United States agree.

Kissinger: You can’t compare a Phantom fighter with a missile with a 20 megaton bomb.

Gromyko: All of this data is known to everyone. You shouldn’t have the view that we underrate the importance of an agreement. We want to find a solution.

Your figures seem to have changed.

Kissinger: If we let you put MIRVs on all your missiles, this would involve 1400 land-based missiles.

Gromyko: You will be ahead. Maybe for the sake of polemic, you could argue the other way. We’re not going to MIRV all of our missiles. We’re talking about this agreement. (Note: Presumably, Interim Agreement.) For the future, we will consider another agreement. This could represent something new.

Kissinger: We could see if we could find an entirely different basis for an agreement over a longer period with different figures. This could change the overall situation.

Gromyko: So after this agreement, a new, longer one could be agreed on, perhaps for 10 years.

Kissinger: Yes, for 10 years starting now. Maybe this could be on a new basis.

Gromyko: The present agreement expires in 1977. A new agreement would go to 1985?

Kissinger: We could see. This may be the only solution. It could affect the degree of optimism in the Communiqué. We could note the urgency of the problem and the desire of both sides to reach an agreement. Then we could discuss it later. We could say that the two parties agreed to consider a longer-term agreement upon the expiration of the present interim agreement.

Gromyko: Could you formulate a text?

Kissinger: Yes. This could be the best solution. At present, we may be too frozen with each side calculating movements.

Gromyko: This could be a good thing. It would give a sense of a new approach.

Kissinger: If we change the overall numbers, we could be more flexible about the number of MIRVs.

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Gromyko: Then, if there is no agreement for the present, this could be superseded by a more general understanding. It is vague, but in a sense it is an intriguing formulation. It could touch the imagination.

Kissinger: And it could force us to use our imagination.

Gromyko: We should stress our serious intentions to reach an agreement.

Kissinger: I agree. Let’s talk about it tomorrow.3

The meeting then adjourned at approximately 10:45 p.m.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 77, Country Files–Europe–USSR, Memcons, Moscow Summit, June 27–July 3, 1974. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Stoessel. The conversation took place at the Soviet Foreign Ministry Reception House.
  2. See Document 71.
  3. On July 2, Kissinger and Gromyko discussed language for the communiqué. The memorandum of conversation of that meeting is printed as Document 197 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974. The Joint Communiqué signed by Nixon and Brezhnev on July 3 is printed in Public Papers: Nixon, 1974, pp. 567–577.