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. Because of the long-term nature of the SALT II negotiations, this volume also in [Page IV] cludes the administration of President Jimmy Carter. It therefore covers U.S. policy on SALT II from October 1972 until November 1980.

While the editor believes this volume stands on its own, it is best read in conjunction with several other volumes. Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, documents the decision-making and negotiations on the limitation of strategic arms from the beginning of the first Nixon administration through the signing of the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Interim Agreement on Certain Measures With Respect to the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms at the June 1972 Moscow Summit. In addition, a number of volumes print documentation in full that is presented in part in this volume. Documentation relating to Brezhnev’s June 1973 visit to the United States, Kissinger’s March and April 1974 visits to the Soviet Union, and Nixon’s June 1974 meetings with Brezhnev in Moscow is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974. Full documentation on conversations between Ford and Brezhnev at the November 1974 Vladivostok Summit can be found in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XVI, Soviet Union, August 1974–December 1976. Other volumes that provide useful context for the issues covered in this volume include Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXXIV, National Security Policy, 1969–1972; Vol. XXXV, National Security Policy, 1973–1976; Vol. E–2, Documents on Arms Control and Nonproliferation, 1969–1972; Vol. E–14, Part 2, Documents on Arms Control, 1973–1976; and Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Vol. IV, National Security Policy; and Vol. VI, Soviet Union.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection

The SALT II negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union extended across three Presidential administrations, as Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter worked to resolve the complex, evolving, and interrelated issues necessary to reach an agreement. All three presidents sought to go beyond the Interim Agreement signed at the Moscow Summit in May 1972 through the achievement of a formal treaty on strategic arms. The negotiations were a central component of foreign policy for all three administrations, demanding sustained attention at the highest level of government. This volume offers a rare direct comparison of bureaucratic processes and leadership styles as well as the personal and institutional interplay across these administrations.

The documentation illuminates the sustained high-level attention to these negotiations and the difficulties involved in establishing agreement—first on U.S. Government positions and negotiating strategies and then with the Soviet Union. The volume picks up where Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972 leaves off, with the Nixon administration working to establish objectives and negotiating [Page V] positions beginning in October 1972. This work is represented primarily through the internal memoranda drafted by National Security Council staff members; the formal interagency process is reflected in minutes of the Verification Panel and the National Security Council, with the subsequent decisions reflected in six National Security Decision Memoranda. As in previous volumes, the reader encounters extraordinary working relationships between top U.S. and Soviet interlocutors in the form of Henry Kissinger’s backchannel with Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and his negotiations with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, as well as Nixon’s summit with Brezhnev in June 1974, a period in which his presidency was collapsing.

President Ford accepted the U.S. position as he found it on his arrival in office, though it was to evolve in his negotiations with the Soviet Union. The documentation for his administration reflects his emphasis on open decision making with fourteen NSC meetings, compared with four during the Nixon years covered in this volume. The Department of State is better represented in this administration than in the Nixon years, as Kissinger served as Secretary of State for the entirety of Ford’s presidency.

President Carter came to office determined to push for lower levels of strategic arms than those Ford and Brezhnev agreed to at the Vladivostok Summit in November 1974. Carter was “wiping the slate clean of the packages Kissinger put forward,” as he put it. After Brezhnev balked at simply discarding the hard-fought Vladivostok package, Carter and the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski, used the Special Coordination Committee extensively as a forum for interagency discussions of the SALT II negotiations; minutes and summaries of the SCC are well represented in the documentation. Once Carter and Brezhnev finally signed the SALT II Treaty in June 1979, the documentation then focuses on the battle for ratification in the U.S. Senate—specifically, strategies for building domestic support and countering a letter summarizing serious concerns signed by 19 senators. Ultimately, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 led the Carter administration to recall the treaty from Senate consideration. The volume concludes by documenting the administration’s deliberations on whether, how, and when, to resume efforts toward ratification.

Throughout these three administrations, critics of the SALT II deliberations warned of the implications for the strategic balance. In a time of rapid modernization and expansion in Soviet strategic forces, they were especially anxious about the divergence between the United States and Soviet Union when it came to missile throw-weight, an asymmetry of particular concern with the advent of MIRV’d ICBMs. The selections in the this volume include letters from Senator Henry [Page VI] Jackson outlining his concerns; NSC minutes and other memoranda of conversation portray him as a constant thorn in the side of the White House and the Department of State.

The views of the uniformed military are represented in CJCS and JCS memoranda, and in comments captured in the NSC, Verification Panel and other meetings. The Central Intelligence Agency contributed to the decision-making process through its presentations of Soviet forces and their projected growth, and through recurrent assessments of Soviet decision making and priorities.

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 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 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 [Page VII] 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 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 [Page VIII] 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 of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 13526, 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 vol [Page IX] ume, which began in 2008 and was completed in 2012, resulted in the decision to withhold no documents in full, excisions of a paragraph or more in 15 documents, and minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 21 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 provides an accurate and comprehensive account of U.S. foreign policy on SALT II.


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 also 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 thanks the staffs of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, particularly Geir Gundersen, Karen Holzhausen, Donna Lehman, and Helmi Raaska, and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, especially Ceri McCarron, David Stanhope, and James Yancey, for their valuable and tireless assistance. Thanks are also due to Nancy Smith, former Director of the Presidential Materials Staff at the National Archives and Records Administration, and to the Central Intelligence Agency for arranging access to the Carter Library materials scanned for the Remote Archive Capture project. John Haynes and Ernest Emrich of the Library of Congress expedited access to and copied the Kissinger Papers and the Harold Brown Papers respectively. The editor used the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, and the Brown Papers with the kind permission of Henry Kissinger and Harold Brown. The CIA and DoD provided full access to their records. The editor would like particularly to thank Sandy Meagher for expediting the use of DoD files.

Erin Mahan collected the documents, made the selections, and annotated the documents for this volume. The volume was completed under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, then General Editor of the series. Chris Tudda collected documents from the Library of Congress and compiled the lists of abbreviations, persons, and sources. He also coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman and Carl Ashley, successive Chiefs of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Erin F. Cozens did the copy and technical editing. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

Stephen P. Randolph, Ph.D.
The Historian

Bureau of Public Affairs
August 2013