83. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford1

Secretary Kissinger has asked that I pass you the following report of his meeting with Brezhnev this evening.2

“After an hour’s delay I had another two and a half hours with Brezhnev this evening. Meeting was again in a paneled Kremlin conference room with green felt conference table and pictures of Marx and Lenin watching. Brezhnev was more serious and to the point than this morning. His briefings on our SALT proposal3 clearly have predisposed him to see it as designed to freeze Soviets into a disadvantage. Gromyko, who has only slightly better grasp of technical issues involved than Brezhnev, reinforces Brezhnev’s prejudice. The main thrust of Soviet comments on our proposal was that they ignored special Soviet requirements due to capabilities of their [third?] countries—especially China—geographic position and our forward bases. They also saw our 2200 aggregate as allowing us to increase our present numbers while they would have to cut theirs—a statement which is essentially true. They continued also to stress our warhead advantages. Thus basic Soviet response was quite negative, even after I noted that under our concept Soviets might have 2–300 missile/bomber advantage over us in 1982 before both of us go to equal 2200 level. Brezhnev reacted with special emotion against our proposed prohibition on MIRVed SS–18s. Judging from Gromyko’s almost obsessive references to Chinese threat, Soviets may be looking to SS–18 as their long-term weapon against China.

“After about two hours of argument on above issues, during which Soviet group huddled several times, Brezhnev folded up his papers and announced we were far apart because U.S. was seeking an advantage. I responded that we had no such intention and stressed that this would be third Moscow meeting in a row that would end in failure. I said this was regretful for me personally since I had been staunch advocate of a new agreement and had labored hard on our proposal despite much opposition in our government. I said there was bound to be a hiatus in efforts to find arms limitations and we would just have to see what happens next.

[Page 371]

“This produced somewhat more positive manner in Brezhnev but he again flatly rejected our proposal. But he then asked whether we might consider a 15-year agreement. I agreed to consider it. Brezhnev then alluded to a proposition he had raised alone with President Nixon at the last Summit and said he wanted to discuss it with me privately tomorrow.4 Scowcroft can brief you on essence of that proposition which Brezhnev might possibly view as precondition to any SALT agreement this year and he may try to get you to approve it at Vladivostok. This is a matter I will have to discuss with you orally on my return.

“For now I see little prospect of progress on SALT for the reasons mentioned in my previous reports. But we will have several hours more tomorrow which may give me a clearer basis for an assessment. It is clear to me that if the deadlock remains, our only possibility of getting the Russians to move will be through a substantial increase in strategic budget in the coming fiscal year.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger Reports on USSR, China, and Middle East Discussions, Box 1, USSR Memcons and Reports, October 24–27, 1974, Kissinger/Brezhnev Talks in Moscow. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information. Ford’s initials are at the top of the page.
  2. The memorandum of conversation, October 25, 7:30–10 p.m., is Document 71 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XVI, Soviet Union, August 1974–December 1976.
  3. See Document 78.
  4. Brezhnev reportedly proposed to Nixon privately in Oreanda on June 30 a treaty of mutual non-agression between the United States and the Soviet Union. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974, Document 190, footnote 2.