205. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Kissinger in Jerusalem1

Tosec 936/107929. Subject: CSCE: Confidence-building measures (CBM’s). From Sonnenfeldt and Hartman.

[Page 627]
Our Allies and the Soviets are still firmly dug in on this issue, which is thus stalemated at CSCE. Both sides want us to help break the impasse, and we need your guidance on next steps.
You will recall that, after your conversation with Gromyko in Geneva, we told Ramsbotham here in low key on May 2 (Tosec 224)2 of the need for the UK to show more flexibility on the criteria for preannouncement of maneuvers. In our discussion, Ramsbotham mentioned your conversation with Callaghan March 283 and claimed that you had given a general blessing to the UK approach to CBM’s. He added that Callaghan has reviewed the UK position and wanted US support for a meaningful CBM on maneuvers. He asked explicitly that we be less taciturn on this issue at Geneva. The British are still willing ultimately to drop prior notification of major troop movements, as a tradeoff against some Soviet give on maneuvers.

On May 22, Von Staden approached us here under instructions and made a strong request for a substantive CBM on maneuvers, leaving a lengthy paper which in summary made the following points:4

Begin summary of FRG paper: For the FRG, a satisfactory solution of the CBM issue is essential for an overall satisfactory result of stage II. The extent of Soviet territory included within the zone of prior notification of maneuvers remains the essential criterion. Other aspects of the measure are of less importance. The starting point for negotiations on area should remain “in Europe.” However, the FRG would ultimately accept a wide band of Soviet territory, extending 700–500 kilometers from the western frontier of the USSR.

The German position on the area of application of CBMs relates above all to the likely application of stabilizing and other collateral measures in MBFR. These will apply exclusively to states in the NATO guideline area and will therefore focus on the FRG. Bonn wishes to avoid the creation of zones in Europe with a special political status. If CSCE CBMs apply to a considerable portion of Soviet territory, this would counterbalance, in its political effect, the narrower application of MBFR stabilizing measures. FRG willingness to accept commitments [Page 628] to MBFR stabilizing and other measures “which subject the NATO guideline area and by this the FRG territory to special political obligations will not fail to be influenced by a satisfactory solution of the CBM problem in Geneva.” Moreover, preannouncement of maneuvers should be given, not only to neighboring states, but to all CSCE participants.

FRG is aware that the US will continue to oppose advance notification of troop movements. FRG could eventually agree to drop CBM on movements if geographical area of maneuver CBM could be established according to German interests. We realize that these interests can hardly be accomplished without active American support in Geneva. We therefore emphatically request that the American Government support this CBM position. End summary.

Meanwhile, on May 15, Soviet Ambassador Mendelevich made a long statement in Geneva5 reiterating the minimalist Soviet position on the maneuver CBM, emphasizing that CSCE agreements in this area should not undermine the military balance in Europe. This reflects, our delegation believes, an underlying fear that the Western side is seeking, through CBMs, intelligence information on Soviet military activities. Mendelevich added that, if détente flourishes over the next 5–7 years, the content of the maneuver CBM could be strengthened.
Specifically, Mendelevich said that preannouncement should be limited to army or army corps maneuvers in border zones, the width of which could be negotiated. Five days advance notification would be given to neighboring states in most cases, but to all CSCE participants in the case of multilateral maneuvers.
In this chicken-egg situation, if we do nothing the issue will remain deadlocked in Geneva, and we can expect continuing and conflicting pressures from the Soviets on one side and the British on the other. While you have told us you do not wish this resolved before the Moscow summit, we will have need to continue to try to work out with Callaghan an approach that comes to grips with the problem. But, we believe that to prime the pump we need to play a more active role now entailing essentially the following scenario:
Instruct our delegation in Geneva to give more positive support to the UK/FRG position on maneuvers repeat maneuvers.
Meanwhile, reassure the Soviets privately that our higher profile in Geneva on this issue is the indispensable prerequisite to persuading [Page 629] the British and Germans to lower their sights somewhat on the specific points of contention.
Reiterate to the Soviets, at the same time, that they too must make concessions if the CBM issue is to be resolved.
If you approve the foregoing scenario, we would propose to make the following points to Dobrynin here (alternatively, Stoessel could make them to Korniyenko in Moscow or Sherer to Kovalyev in Geneva).
Following your discussion with Gromyko in Geneva, we approached the British and suggested they should be more flexible and realistic with respect to the criteria governing preannouncement of maneuvers.
Our impression, however, is that the British are reviewing their position, but are unlikely to make significant concessions until they are persuaded that the Soviets will meet them part way.
We believe our other Allies will continue to support the British on this: specifically, the FRG is opposed to limiting the area for preannouncement to narrow bands along frontiers and also believes preannouncement should be made to all CSCE participants.
Ambassador Mendelevich’s firm reiteration of the minimalist Soviet position in Geneva on May 15 has probably stiffened the Allied attitudes.
Meanwhile, our major Allies are urging us to be more outspoken in Geneva in support of the UK proposal on preannouncement of maneuvers.
We, therefore, will instruct our delegation to make a statement in Geneva giving general support to the UK proposal on preannouncement of maneuvers, a step we believe is indispensable if we are ultimately to persuade the British, Germans and others to move toward compromise.
After our delegation has spoken in Geneva, we will continue our attempts to bring our Allies to accept reasonable compromises on the outstanding issues. However, we are not confident of success unless the Soviets also show willingness to compromise.
If asked for our views about the shape of a possible compromise we would propose to tell Soviets that we think the following criteria for preannouncement of maneuvers would be ultimately acceptable: thirty days advance notice, given to all CSCE participants, of maneuvers at level of reinforced division or higher on territory of all European participants in CSCE, including USSR, though announcements of maneuvers in USSR would cover only those taking place within, say, 700 kilometers of the western frontier of the USSR.
You will also have seen Geneva 3226,6 which we just received. It reflects the deep pessimism among the delegations of the Nine at Geneva, who may recommend a joint démarche by the Nine to the Soviets indicating that unless progress can be made soon on Basket 3 and CBMs the Nine would be prepared to adjourn CSCE phase II, possibly in July, either sine die or until some specified time (no date given) in the future. This kind of sentiment, which doubtless is widely shared in Western European capitals, will incline the Allies to further dig in, unless the Soviets shortly take some forthcoming steps with regard to Basket 3 and CBMs. While we have made our concern clear to the Soviets about the likely result of their continued foot dragging, we believe it would be timely for us to reiterate to the Soviets that Western and neutral dissatisfaction with their recent behavior at CSCE could result in a serious setback at CSCE, which is likely to be portrayed, particularly by the Western European press, as a major failure of East-West diplomacy. If you agree, we would plan to inform Dobrynin of our concern soonest, reporting to him the current mood of the Nine as reflected in Geneva 3226.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 69, Country Files, Soviet Union, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 21. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Streator, cleared by Hartman and Deputy Executive Secretary Dudley W. Miller, and approved by Sonnenfeldt.
  2. Tosec 224, March 1, deals with an unrelated matter. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files.) No record of the conversation with Ramsbotham has been found. For the record of Kissinger’s meeting with Gromyko in Geneva, see Document 201.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 202.
  4. Telegram 107909 to Vienna for the Delegation to MBFR, May 24, contains a record of Von Staden’s conversation with Sonnenfeldt and Hartman, along with the complete text of the FRG’s paper. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files.)
  5. Telegram 3060 from Geneva, May 16, which reported on Mendelevich’s statement and the Western delegations’ reaction, is ibid.
  6. Telegram 3226 from Geneva, May 22, reported: “EC-Nine delegation heads here are in process of drafting report to political directors, for consideration at EC-Nine political committee meeting in Bonn May 27–28. Soviet intransigence over past weeks has led Nine delegations to a deeply pessimistic appraisal of the current state of CSCE negotiations. We now understand Nine delegation heads may recommend to political directors that they be authorized to make joint démarche to Soviets, indicating that unless progress can be made soon on Basket III and military subjects, the Nine would be prepared simply to adjourn CSCE phase two, possibly in July. This adjournment could be either sine die, or until some unspecified time in the future. While the Nine delegation heads have not yet put their ideas on paper and are still considering a broad spectrum of ideas on presentation and emphasis, they appear to be unanimous in favoring a strong démarche of some kind.” (Ibid.)