53. National Security Decision Memorandum 1081


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defene


  • Guidance on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions

After studying the proposed “game plan” for MBFR submitted by the Secretary of Defense,2 the President has directed that the following guidance will be used for dealing with issues related to Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions.

We should urge the Allies to accelerate substantive preparations with particular attention at this stage to the full range of possible elements of a Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction proposal or proposals. The United States will contribute to this work and will provide the Allies shortly with the detailed results of our own analysis.

The United States is prepared to enter into formal negotiations with the USSR or the Warsaw Pact only after comprehensive consultations with the Allies and the development of an Allied consensus on the major substantive issues and the procedures to be used in the negotiations. The Department of State will submit a scenario for this consultative process by June 1.

We should clearly distinguish between (1) diplomatic explorations, which can be pursued at this time; and (2) the first phase of formal negotiations, which we will not begin until further preparations are accomplished.

Our position concerning the content and purpose of diplomatic explorations is that they should be concerned with a clearer identification of Soviet objectives and positions, and the modalities for eventual formal negotiations. The Department of State will submit a proposal for these exploratory talks by June 1.

Our position concerning the first phase of actual negotiations is that they should concentrate, as in SALT, on examining broad issues Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XXXIX [Page 143] to discover whether a substantive foundation for concrete proposals could be developed. In both respects, we will consult fully with the Allies and ensure that all of them, including France, will participate in the Alliance effort on MBFR.

The United States position is that the MBFR negotiations should remain separated from negotiations and contacts, exploratory or otherwise, related to a Conference on European Security. A precondition to a Conference on European Security continues to be a satisfactory outcome of the current Four Power negotiations on Berlin. On the other aspects of a European Security Conference, current instructions issued to USNATO by the Secretary of State remain in force.

In preparation for further Presidential consideration of the U.S. position on MBFR, the Verification Panel shall prepare an evaluation of the substantive and procedural issues involved for consideration by the National Security Council. Drawing upon earlier interagency preparations, the paper should address the elements of MBFR which could form the basis of any U.S. position in consultation with our allies, giving the major alternatives and the pros and cons. The paper should also propose plans for further consultations with our allies. This paper should be completed and received by the Verification Panel no later than June 15, 1971.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDMs), Nos. 97–144. Secret; Sensitive. Copies were sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
  2. Summarized in Document 52, to which the paper is attached as Tab B.