354. 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: On the NSC meeting on MBFR, the only issue is when to play the nuclear option—all at once or piddling it out.

The President: Timewise, when should we move?

Kissinger: I wouldn’t decide it at the meeting—just to preserve some flexibility. I would tell Resor he could give it to NATO in February and present it at Geneva in March.

The President: Is there a chance we could have something by the summit?

Kissinger: If there is, it won’t happen at Geneva. If we were willing to agree to equal cuts, we could get one.

The President: It would help with the Congress.

Kissinger: Our original proposal was ridiculous. The problem with cuts is that it indirectly introduces a ceiling. That is significant to the Soviets.

If we get serious about MBFR, we should do it like SALT—give them proposals through your channel before surfacing them.

The President: Schlesinger isn’t a problem on this, is he?

Kissinger: Not at all. [2 lines not declassified]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 8. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Oval Office.