347. Editorial Note

At the Verification Panel meeting on March 14, 1974, the Panel agreed that the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) would prepare a paper listing outstanding issues in the mutual and balanced force reduction (MBFR) talks and recommend positions on those talks. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–107, Verification Panel Mtg. MBFR 3-14-74) ACDA Director Fred Ikle sent Kissinger the paper on March 16. Counselor Sonnenfeldt and Jan Lodal of the NSC staff forwarded the paper to Kissinger on March 19 along with their own analysis of its contents in a covering memorandum. (Ibid., Kissinger Office Files, Box 49, Kissinger Trip Files, March 25–28, 1974, Miscellaneous Papers)

Kissinger discussed the March 14 Verification Panel meeting in a telephone conversation with Secretary of Defense Schlesinger on March 23 at 3:40 p.m. The transcript of their conversation reads in part: “S[chlesinger]: Incidentally, Henry, I heard that the MBFR meeting was not a thing of joy and enlightenment. K[issinger]: No. S: I wanted to—K: It was a sorta disaster. S: I wanted to remind you that the discrepancy cut between US and Soviet Union forces is just based on 15% cut on both sides. K: Oh, no, that I did not object to. What I objected to was you know if you take out the Soviet tank army with equipment for 29,000 Americans without equipment it is a little hard to sell. S:Well, I think you are going to have to sweeten it up with tragment (?). K: Exactly. As long as that is understood. And what we may have to do is—S: See we have those 7,000 weapons in Europe some of which we don’t know what the hell we would do with. K: Another problem, Jim, we ought to consider is that when you begin analyzing these equipment ceilings you don’t really know whom they work for because if you take out their men, they probably have to take some of their equipment with them, and if you put a ceiling on theirs and a ceiling on ours you breed another disparity. S: I think the best. It sounds right, I’d have to look at it more closely. K: I don’t expect to get into that in any detail in Moscow. The only thing that may come up in Moscow, but this is simply a guess, I have no knowledge of this, is they may resurrect again the idea of a five to eight percent cut which would work out to about 12 for us and 29 for them. S: That’s all right. K: And in a way since we are not held to taking forces out. S: Listen, I think we can get that kind of stuff out of our headquarters and what not. K: Exactly. It might even be a better way of doing it. S: Yeah. We have positioned ourselves in negotiations far better than the Russians have in that regard, we’ve got more fat. K: Jim, one final thing. S: Maybe that’s a disadvantage, being so combat heavy.” (Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, http://foia.state.gov/documents/kissinger/0000C584.pdf)

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Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin had mentioned the possibility of a five to eight percent cut of U.S. and Soviet forces in MBFR in a meeting with Kissinger on February 1. Amemorandum of the conversation reads in part: “Dobrynin then asked whether it might be possible at the summit to agree to a percentage cut of Soviet and U.S. forces in MBFR. I said that I remembered that Brezhnev in June 1973 had recommended only five percent; we thought ten percent would be the minimum. Dobrynin said, ‘Well, maybe we’ll compromise on eight percent.’ I told him it seemed to us that ten percent was the genuine minimum, but in any event the problem was how to relate it to the position of our Allies. Dobrynin said we should both think further about that. I said it would help to do this if we could get a basic plan accepted in the MBFR negotiations as a goal, within which this first stage could be negotiated.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 69, Country Files, Europe, U.S.S.R., Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 22)