21. National Security Study Memorandum 921


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • Director of Central Intelligence
  • Director, ACDA


  • Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Between NATO and the Warsaw Pact (MBFR)

The President has directed that a comprehensive study be prepared on the subject of mutual and balanced force reductions between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.2

The study should develop the analysis and supporting evidence related to all the major issues. In particular, alternative approaches to the problem should be examined, and an analysis made of such factors as the extent of reductions, forces and equipment involved, timing, geographic areas covered, verification aspects, problem of negotiability, [Page 60] Allied viewpoints, potential cost savings for the US, and any other factors deemed pertinent. On the basis of the foregoing analysis various Options should be developed to illustrate the differing concepts and variations for each Option. There should also be an assessment of the strategic effect on NATO defense, as well as on Warsaw Pact capabilities.

The study should take into account the work already completed or underway in NATO but should not be bound by it. The overall responsibility for the study is assigned to the Verification Panel established for SALT; the Verification Panel Working Group will undertake the basic work, in the same manner as the SALT studies.3

In view of the work proceeding in NATO, it is desirable that the study be completed on July 15, 1970.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 259, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. VIII. Secret. Copies were sent to the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  2. In an attached covering memorandum to the same addressees, April 14, Kissinger wrote: “The President has requested the study called for in the enclosed NSSM in light of his conversation with Chancellor Brandt.” Kissinger was apparently referring to a one-on-one conversation between Nixon and Brandt on April 10, in which they discussed MBFR. No U.S. record of the conversation has been found. For a German record, see Akten zur Auswärtigen Politik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1970, Vol. 1, pp. 591–595. For discussion of European security and balanced force reductions arising from Brandt’s visit to the United States April 10–11, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XL, Germany and Berlin, 1969–1972, Documents 78 and 79.
  3. In a telephone conversation with Nixon on April 9 at 8:05 p.m., Kissinger mentioned that one of the topics Brandt was planning to raise during his visit was mutual balanced force reductions. Nixon replied, “Handle like SALT with careful preparation.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, Henry A. Kissinger Telephone Transcripts (Telcons), Box 4, Chronological File)