133. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Wrap Up of CSCE

The preparatory talks are now in recess until April 25. In this last round a fair amount of progress was made in negotiating mandates, and the issues are probably sufficiently narrow that they can be resolved in the next round, provided the Allies do not become too intrigued with pressing the Soviets to the wall on minor issues.

The Soviets ended the round with a burst of impatience and some harsh language about stalling tactics. Apparently, they do not hold us responsible, (at least not in official contacts); we have in fact tried to prod the Allies to step up the pace. Nevertheless, it is likely that the Soviets are becoming disquieted by the drift of CSCE, and will toughen up in the next round.

The main issues seem to be the following.

1. Security—Principles

The Soviets have insisted that one clear, unqualified principle is the “inviolability of existing borders in Europe.” This is anathema to Bonn, and all of the Allies (with some French hesitation) have pressed for a link between renunciation of force and inviolability of boundaries—thus circumventing the de jure confirmation of existing borders.

The Germans, realizing that the Soviets are becoming tougher, have moved to a compromise that would maintain some tenuous linkage, but want to trade this concession for something on human contacts, or some expression on the principle of self-determination and human rights.

We should not have to do anything on this; the Germans can be expected to make their concession, probably in advance of, or during the Brezhnev visit.2

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2. Military Security—Confidence Building

There are two issues: (1) a linkage between CSCE and MBFR, and (2) whether confidence building measures should include “restraints” on major “movements” rather than on maneuvers.

  • —We, the French and the Soviets are holding out against any direct link between CSCE and MBFR that might be made in a declaration. Almost all the other participants, in one way or another, want to emphasize military security.
  • —The probable outcome is some rhetorical reference to European military security, and some patronizing but affirmative references to the value of arms control, including MBFR. This would be satisfactory to us. The Soviets will probably find a way to live with it, but the French may balk at a blanket approval of various negotiations that they are boycotting or oppose.

The “movements” question is exceedingly pedantic. Our ritual formula includes maneuvers, exercise and major military movements that should be pre-announced. The Soviets resisted “movements,” partly because they did not know what exactly was involved. Upon examination we are not so sure of what the phrase really means, but some Allies, abetted by the Romanians and Yugoslavs, see a further restraint on the Soviets.

Presumably, we will end up with a definition of “movements” that refers to “across national boundaries,” but we may have to take a softer position with the Soviets, since there are all kinds of “movements” that we have no intention of announcing.

3. Human Contacts

As expected, the more we go into detail, the more the Soviets resist. Their tactic seems to be to cover whatever is agreed on “freer movement” with a general qualification limiting “European programs” to those that do not interfere with sovereignty, or internal legislation, or have as their purpose stimulating war propaganda, etc.3

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  • —The Soviets apparently are making their own tactical linkage between “inviolable” frontiers and human contacts, hinting that if they get their point on frontiers they will make concessions on human contacts.4
  • —The outcome seems to be a compromise that includes the Western language on freer movement, but does not commit the Soviets to adopt all the measures.

4. Economic Cooperation

The contentious issue is the Eastern insistence that among the principles for European economic cooperation there be a principle of extending MFN and non-discrimination. The West opposes this, though the reasons are not quite clear. It may be that the EC wants to emphasize regional principles rather than bilateral concessions such as MFN. (We probably should shift to MFN as a principle in CSCE. It might be a face-saving way for the Soviets to revoke their emigration tax; if there is a declaration that includes freer movement of people and the MFN principle, the Soviets might have a plausible pretext for dropping their [emigration?] tax.)

5. Permanent Machinery

This has been surprisingly quiescent. The Soviets apparently accept that it cannot be reasonably discussed until later. The Allies are, however, divided on the tactics. The French want to make a gesture toward some sort of coordinating committee that will have in its mandate future arrangements including another CSCE. The other Allies are thinking of a similar committee but do not want to concede on another CSCE, at least not yet. Our position has been that we cannot keep the idea of permanent machinery off the agenda, but should reduce its substance to an ad hoc sort of arrangement without any authority in the security area.

—We are somewhat hobbled on this issue. The State bureaucracy, especially USNATO, taking an earlier lead from the White House, has treated permanent machinery as anathema. Turning to a more conciliatory position—which we have already conceded to the Soviets—is proving difficult.

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6. Soviet-US

Despite what the Soviets may be saying in your channel, as far as we can tell our Delegation has managed to steer carefully between the Soviets and the Allies. We have supported the Allied position, but tried to move the process toward a completion by June. We have supported the Soviets on excluding military security and on some form of permanent machinery.

You will recall that the Soviets badly undercut us by surfacing the fact that a draft declaration was given to you privately.5 This is particularly touchy because both the Germans and French have the same draft as the British now have from us; each seems to be waiting to see who makes the first effort to move toward the Soviet draft.

I will do a separate memorandum incorporating the comments from State and the UK on the Soviet draft.6

7. Dates

We have been operating on the sequence given you in Moscow: namely, starting CSCE at the Ministerial level in late June. This could be a conflict with the Brezhnev visit, and you may wish to raise this problem of a target date with the Soviets. We are planning on about 7–10 days of speeches, and the endorsement of the agenda and mandates.

At Tab A is a brief State wrap up of CSCE.7

At Tab B is a reporting telegram from the Delegation.8

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1335, Unfiled Material, 1973, 5 of 12.
  2. Brezhnev visited West Germany for a summit meeting with Brandt May 18–21.
  3. On March 29, the Soviet representative to the Working Group on human contacts, Valerian Zorin, tabled a Soviet draft mandate in committee. According to a draft translation provided in telegram 833 from Helsinki, March 29, it reads in part: “The committee is entrusted with preparing a draft final document on the question of expanding cultural cooperation and contacts among organizations and people and the dissemination of information.” The translation continued: “Such cooperation should be implemented with respect for the sovereignty, laws, and customs of each country and facilitate the strengthening of peace and mutual understanding among peoples in Europe. It should not be utilized for propaganda or war, enmity and hatred among peoples, racial and national superiority.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  4. Telegram 943 from Helsinki, April 7, reported that in a conversation with Vest, “Mendelevich confirmed that hard-line Soviet stance on human contacts during final week was tactical response to apparent desire certain Western delegations to establish trade-off between Baskets I and III.” (Ibid.) At the talks in Helsinki, the topics of discussion were divided into three “baskets”: Basket I (security); Basket II (economics, science and technology, and environment), and Basket III (human rights, cultural and informational exchange).
  5. See Document 132.
  6. Not further identified.
  7. The April 9 memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger is attached but not printed.
  8. Telegram 940 from Helsinki, April 6, is attached but not printed.