Sources for the Foreign Relations Series

The Foreign Relations statute requires that the published record in the Foreign Relations series include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant U.S. diplomatic activity. It requires that government agencies, departments, and other entities of the U.S. Government engaged in foreign policy formulation, execution, or support cooperate with the Department of State Historian by providing full and complete access to records pertinent to foreign policy decisions and actions and by providing copies of selected records.

The editors of the Foreign Relations series have complete access to all the retired records and papers of the Department of State: the central files of the Department; the special decentralized files (“lot files”) of the Department at the bureau, office, and division levels; the files of the Department’s Executive Secretariat, which contain the records of international conferences and high-level official visits, correspondence with foreign leaders by the President and Secretary of State, and memoranda of conversations between the President and Secretary of State and foreign officials; and the files of overseas diplomatic posts. All the Department’s indexed central files through July 1973 have been permanently transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland (Archives II). Many of the Department’s decentralized office (or lot) files covering the 1969–1976 period, which the National Archives deems worthy of permanent retention, have been transferred or are in the process of being transferred from the Department’s custody to Archives II.

The editors of the Foreign Relations series have full access to the papers of President Nixon and White House foreign policy records, including tape recordings of conversations with key U.S. and foreign officials. Presidential papers maintained and preserved at the Presidential libraries and the Nixon Presidential Materials Project housed at the National Archives and Records Administration include some of the most significant foreign affairs-related documentation from the Department of State and other Federal agencies, including the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Research for this volume was completed through special access to restricted documents at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, the Library of Congress, and other U.S. Government agencies. Although all the material printed in [Page XII] Foreign Relations volumes has been declassified, some of it is extracted from still-classified documents. Nixon’s papers were transferred to their permanent home at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, in Yorba Linda, California, after research for this volume was completed. The Nixon Library staff and Ford Library staff are processing and declassifying many of the documents used in the volume, but they may not be available in their entirety at the time of publication.

Sources for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXIV

In preparing this volume, the editor made extensive use of the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Materials at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland, especially the National Security Council (NSC) Institutional Files (H-Files) and the NSC Files. The editor found the minutes of the meetings of the NSC and its various subgroups, located in the H-Files, particularly useful. These subgroups included the Senior Review Group (SRG), originally called the Review Group during 1969–1970, which reviewed major foreign policy issues, including national security issues, and the Defense Program Review Committee (DRPC), created in October 1969 specifically to review defense issues and the Department of Defense’s budget. The record of the DPRC’s meetings—and the memoranda, studies, and correspondence prepared in advance of, and in response to, those discussions—form the backbone of this volume. Similar documents prepared in conjunction with meetings of the Senior Review Group and of the NSC also proved crucial, as did the basic building blocks of national security policy in the Nixon White House: National Security Study Memoranda (NSSMs) and National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDMs). All of the above records are in the H-Files.

The editor also relied heavily upon records located in the NSC Files of the Nixon Presidential Materials. The ABMMIRV files, featuring documents generated primarily in 1969–1970, detail such topics as the Nixon administration’s decision to pursue an anti-ballistic missile defense in March 1969 and that summer’s controversy regarding whether or not the Soviets had equipped the SS–9 missile with independently targeted warheads. The Agency Files include key correspondence between the NSC and the Department of Defense regarding the U.S. military posture and the Pentagon’s budget. A number of topics pertaining to defense are found in the Subject Files.

Several other portions of the Nixon Presidential Materials yielded key documentation. 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 the White House and Camp David telephones. Transcripts of President Nixon’s selected conversations [Page XIII] provide insight into policy formulation and reveal his views, and those of his leading advisors, on the U.S. defense posture and the military establishment. Similarly, selected transcripts of Kissinger’s telephone conversations uncover the national security advisor’s delicate negotiations with those officials responsible for formulating a defense posture and the Defense Department’s annual budget. Finally, the President’s Office Files, part of the White House Special Files, contain records of Nixon’s meetings with leaders of Congress on defense matters. The handful of original documents found in the Kissinger Papers, consisting largely (but not entirely) of copies of NSC documents located in the Nixon Presidential Materials, helped flesh out the picture of U.S. national security policy during this period.

Second in importance to the Nixon Presidential Materials were the records of the Department of Defense, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Of particular note were the records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, including Secretary Laird’s weekly staff meetings, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. The Laird Papers at the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, comprise select internal Defense Department papers and that department’s correspondence with other government agencies, including the NSC, the Department of State, and the JCS. The records of the two chairmen of the JCS, General Earle Wheeler and Admiral Thomas Moorer, located in the National Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the JCS, provided key evidence regarding the views of the uniformed military.

Department of State historians have access to the records of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA’s History Staff, part of the Center for the Study of Intelligence, facilitates this access. The National Intelligence Estimates, and the files pertaining to their creation, found in the CIA’s National Intelligence Council files were crucial to the volume’s documentation of the U.S. intelligence community’s perception of Soviet and Chinese military capabilities.

The JCS Readiness Test, a heretofore largely secret nuclear alert that occurred in October 1969, presented a special documentary challenge. Several collections helped fill out the story, revealing clues as to the alert’s objectives and implementation. Foremost among those resources was Record Group 218, Records of the JCS, Records of the Chairman of the JCSWheeler, held at the National Archives. The Kissinger Papers at the Library of Congress yielded some crucial correspondence between the national security advisor and President Nixon. Also productive were several collections in the Nixon Presidential Materials: Kissinger’s Telephone Conversations and portions of the NSC Files, including Alexander Haig’s Chronological Files, H.R. Haldeman’s [Page XIV] Journals and Diaries, the President’s Daily Briefing, the appropriate folders labeled “Items to Discuss with the President” within the Subject Files, and the memoranda of Kissinger’s conversations with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin contained in the Trip Files.

Much of the documentation used in the volume has been made available for use in the Foreign Relations series thanks to the consent of the agencies mentioned, the assistance of their staffs, and especially the cooperation and support of the National Archives and Records Administration.

In addition to the paper files cited below, a growing number of documents are available on the Internet. The Office of the Historian maintains a list of these Internet resources on its website and encourages readers to consult that site on a regular basis.