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199. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford 1

SUBJECT

  • Soviet Query on Submarine Salvage

Dobrynin gave me March 29 the note at Tab A2 which complains about the activities of the Glomar Explorer, and specifically about the disposition of the bodies of the Soviet sailors. The note, however, refers only to press reports.

We could offer a quasi-confirmation and supply the names of the three bodies that were identified. This, however, would be extremely risky; any official, written confirmation by me would challenge the Soviets. Even if they did not react at present, they would have it in reserve and could spring it at any time. Moreover, there is no explanation that would assuage them. In particular, we cannot argue the legality or legitimacy of the operation without starting a polemic, and the Soviets cannot possibly concede its legality as their note indicates.

Therefore, I intend to make orally to Dobrynin the points at Tab B3 which indicate that we do not confirm, deny or otherwise comment on alleged intelligence activities and that there will be no official U.S. position on this matter. This conforms to your standing instruction not to comment.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Staff Assistants: Peter W. Rodman Files, 1974–1977, Box 1, Subject File, Glomar Explorer. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. An attached memorandum, unsigned and undated, from Scowcroft to Rumsfeld indicates that Kissinger’s memorandum was to be delivered “to the President in a red folder.”
  2. Attached, but not printed.
  3. Not found attached. No record of Kissinger’s oral comments to Dobrynin was found.