243. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

Kissinger: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] On CSCE—we never wanted it but we went along with the Europeans. It includes some basic principles, something on human contacts, no change of frontiers, and what they call “confidence-building measures.”

The Soviet Union wants it as a substitute for a peace treaty. They more or less have that. The big hang-up is on freedom of movement. It is meaningless—it is just a grandstand play to the left. We are going along with it.

What you will face is whether to conclude it at the summit level or foreign minister level. My guess is the Europeans will decide on a summit. We have positioned with the Soviet Union, so we look like we are ahead of the Europeans.

The President: What is the timetable?

Kissinger: Maybe next March. The Soviet Union wants it this year, but that is not possible. If you meet Brezhnev in December, they won’t want it before that.

There are no decisions to make now.

When you meet Gromyko the end of September you should give him the impression we are trying to be helpful.

There is no implementation in the treaty.

On MBFR—we made an absurd proposal which couldn’t fly. Now we are modifying it. The Soviets should cut more than us, but not so much. Then we should add the nuclear package—32 Pershings, 54 F–4, 1,000 nuclear warheads. It is strategically insignificant, but it does have the consequence of establishing some ceiling on our nuclear forces.

[1 paragraph (1 line) not declassified]

[1 line not declassified] If we could get the Soviets to do it in MBFR, it would satisfy our allies and give the Soviet Union a facesaving way out.

[Page 714]

Your coming into office will give a big boost. They will be looking for a success, especially if you make a meeting in December conditional.

The President: I have told Brent MBFR is more popular here than SALT.

Kissinger: At the VFW, you might give a tough Defense-oriented speech. It would be good for the Soviets.

The President: I have been doing that, and with no apologies.

Kissinger: We can probably get a 15–20,000 cut in MBFR. Maybe in December. We will have to manage with the allies so it doesn’t look like bilateralism.

I will focus with Dobrynin on SALT and MBFR.

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 5. Top Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.