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 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 U.S.C. 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 editor is 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. This specific volume documents U.S. national security policy from 1969 to 1972. Readers interested in the larger context in which the formulation of national security policy during this period took place should consult the [Page IV] volumes in the Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, subseries on the Soviet Union (volumes XII through XV), China (volumes XVII and E–13), Vietnam (volumes VI through IX), and Foundations of Foreign Policy (volume I). Readers interested in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks should consult Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, and volume XXXIII, SALT II, 1972–1979; for other arms control initiatives, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–2, Documents on Arms Control and Nonproliferation, 1969–1972. For the U.S. defense relationship with Europe, readers should consult Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972, and Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXIX, European Security.

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

After assuming office in January 1969, President Richard M. Nixon received some surprising news that affected the formulation of national security policy for the remainder of his first administration: since the end of his stint as Vice President eight years earlier, the Soviet Union had achieved rough strategic parity with the United States. Where the United States had at one time enjoyed a commanding military superiority compared to its main global rival, it now suffered from “significant vulnerabilities” vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. This volume documents the Nixon administration’s efforts to grapple with this new strategic situation; its review of U.S. nuclear and general purposes forces and strategic doctrine; its attempts to ascertain the level of technological sophistication achieved by the Soviets in their missile program; and its decision to deploy Safeguard, a modified anti-ballistic missile system (ABM). The volume also examines the evolution of the administration’s strategic priorities as its defense plans ran up against the realities of a worsening American economy and a tightening federal budget; its policy towards the use of chemical and biological weapons; U.S. nuclear policy in Asia; and the transition from military conscription to an all-volunteer armed force, a movement undertaken during the first Nixon administration as the war in Vietnam drew to a close. While the primary focus of the volume is on the formulation of national security policy, one chapter is devoted to the October 1969 Joint Chiefs of Staff Readiness Test, in which President Nixon secretly placed on alert portions of the United States military, including its nuclear forces, a fact that remained virtually unknown for many years thereafter. Throughout this volume, a theme that arises time and again is the relationship between the United States’ military strength and its diplomatic strength; in particular, the importance of military might—real or perceived—to the United States’ ability to maintain its credibility in the eyes of allies and adversaries alike.

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Like all recent Foreign Relations volumes in the Nixon-Ford sub-series, the emphasis of this volume is on the formulation of policy, rather than its implementation. Regarding national security policy, the key players in the policymaking process were the White House, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Central Intelligence Agency, with input from the Department of State.

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 editor 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 original 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 the 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. All ellipses are in the original documents.

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 VI] 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 this and 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 U.S.C. 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. [Page VII] All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project 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 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 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 [Page VIII] specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2005 and was completed in 2011, resulted in the decision to withhold 3 documents in full, excisions of a paragraph or more in 10 documents, and minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 24 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. national security policy from 1969 to 1972.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of officials, namely John Powers, at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland (Archives II). He 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. Thanks are due to members of the History Staff of the Center for the Study of Intelligence in the Central Intelligence Agency, who helped to arrange access to the files of that agency, and to James Van Hook, the former Joint CIA–State Historian. John Haynes of the Library of Congress was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers. The editor was able to use the Kissinger Papers, including the transcripts of telephone conversations, with the kind permission of Dr. Henry A. Kissinger. The editor would also like to thank Sandy Meagher for her valuable assistance in expediting the use of Department of Defense files. Finally, the editor thanks the staff of the National Archives and Records Administration, especially David Langbart and Herbert Rawlings; Michael Waesche of the Washington Nation Records Center in Suitland, Maryland; and Gier Gundersen, Donna Lehman, and Helmi Raaska, for their courtesy, professionalism, and tireless assistance.

M. Todd Bennett collected the documents, made the selections, and annotated the documents under the supervision of Louis J. Smith, Chief of the Europe and General Division, and Edward C. Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Chris Tudda coordinated the de-classification review, under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman, Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. Carl Ashley did the copy and technical editing. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

Bureau of Public Affairs

October 2011

Edward Brynn

Acting Historian