40. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Johnson to President Nixon 1


  • Positions to be Taken at December Ministerial Meetings

We were informed in NSDM 95 of November 252 that you wish to review positions to be taken by the United States at the December 1970 [Page 106] NATO Ministerial meetings with respect to US strategy and forces for NATO, and mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR).

By separate memorandum (copy enclosed),3 the Secretary has sent to you for approval a personal message from you to the NATO Allies for use during the forthcoming Ministerial meeting in stating the US position on future US force levels in Europe and on the Alliance’s study on defense problems for the 1970’s.

Concerning MBFR, the Secretary plans to take the following approach, looking toward further probes by the Allies of Soviet interest in moving toward meaningful relaxation of tensions by again urging the Warsaw Pact in the Ministerial Communiqué to join early East-West exploration of possibilities for MBFR:

  • —note that the Warsaw Pact has finally responded to NATO MBFR Proposals by saying they were prepared to discuss the reduction of “foreign armed forces” on the territories of the European states, but that they are insisting such talks come only after a CES.
  • —affirm US concern that CES would prove an unwieldy forum for any eventual negotiations on MBFR, which is why we have preferred to envisage discussions prior to CES in a more limited framework, while not ruling out eventual broader discussions.
  • —call for rejection by the Allies of the idea of discussing MBFR only after a European Security Conference and state that we should again urge Pact members to agree to engage in exploratory MBFR talks next year.
  • —if others favor this, concur that in the MBFR exploratory talks NATO members should indicate a willingness for MBFR negotiations initially to cover stationed forces, and later embrace indigenous forces.4

U. Alexis Johnson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Executive Secretariat, Conference Files: Lot 70 D 387, Box 522, Volume II, NATO Ministerial, Dec. 2–4. Secret.
  2. NSDM 95, “U.S. Strategy and Forces for NATO,” November 25, stated with regard to MBFR: “The President also has decided that the United States should continue to give general support to the concept of Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Europe. Further studies of MBFR, both within the U.S. Government and in NATO, will be necessary to provide a realistic evaluation of approaches (particularly asymmetrical force package approaches) to MBFR which would operate to maintain or enhance NATO’s military security relative to the Warsaw Pact. Until these studies have been completed by the Verification Panel and reviewed by the President, the U.S. shall assume no commitments as to specific elements of a formal MBFR proposals or agreement.” The full text of NSDM 95 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. On November 30, Kissinger responded in a memorandum to Johnson: “The positions set forth in your memorandum of November 27 relating to MBFR and CES have been reviewed in accordance with NSDM 95, and have been approved for use at the Ministerial meeting.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 260, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. IX)