29. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Nutter) to Secretary of Defense Laird 1


  • Discussion on MBFR Between Elliot Richardson and Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin

On 9 June Elliott Richardson lunched with Ambassador Dobrynin and discussed MBFR among other matters (Memcon at Tab B).2 Mr. Richardson gave Dobrynin a paper on MBFR objectives and guidelines (Tab C),3 which differ significantly from those agreed to in the 28 May NATO Ministerial Declaration on MBFR (Tab D).4 He also made substantive remarks concerning the participants in MBFR negotiations, the forces and weapons systems which might be included, and whether there are preconditions to a Conference on European Security and MBFR. Furthermore, he inferred that the definition of “strategic weapons” agreed to in SALT might ultimately exclude forward-based aircraft, IR/MRBMs and SLCMs, and that these subjects might be covered in MBFR talks.

Mr. Richardson’s presentation represents a significant departure from agreed U.S. policy and could harm our position with respect to our Allies and the Soviets on both MBFR and SALT. This presentation was not coordinated with DOD, and, despite our objections, the substance of the conversation was transmitted to USNATO and NATO capitals without any restriction on disclosure of the contents to our Allies (Tab E).5 (We did not have the full text of the memorandum of conversation when we argued with State against sending out the cable.) Additionally, ACDA and State plan to transmit the substance of the conversation to our Mission in Geneva for guidance or background.

Attached for your signature is a letter to Secretary Rogers (Tab A)6 registering the concern of DOD and suggesting that no useful purpose would be served by continuing along the lines laid down by Mr. Richardson.

G. Warren Nutter
  1. Source: Ford Library, Laird Papers, Box 2, NATO, Vol. IV. Secret.
  2. Document 26.
  3. Attached but not printed. Document 28 contains a list of the guidelines.
  4. See Document 24.
  5. See Document 28.
  6. Attached but not printed. Laird did not sign the letter. A note attached to the memorandum reads: “As you’ll note, attached is OBE…. Gen P’s [?] note states ‘Sec Def covered verbally’ … Return to ISA.”