55. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Guidance for Lisbon Meeting and Follow-On Work on MBFR

State has sent two documents: (1) a memorandum from Secretary Rogers to the President, laying out the Secretary’s position at the NATO meeting (Tab B);2 and (2) a telegram for clearance, giving instructions [Page 146] for follow-on work on MBFR, also cleared by Secretary Rogers and by Defense (Tab C).3


Secretary Rogers’ Position Paper

This follows fairly closely the guidance in NSDM 108,4 and presents no major problems.

  • —On MBFR it does state, however, that the Lisbon communiqué should indicate (a) Allied intention to move as soon as practical to negotiations, (b) Allied readiness to consult promptly with the Warsaw Pact on substantive and procedural approaches to negotiations, and (c) to convene NATO Deputy Foreign Ministers to review the “results of discussions” (this last point takes care of Secretary Laird’s problems).5
  • —The Secretary’s talking points call for him to note that “early and visible” movement toward MBFR will assist the US in maintaining force levels.
  • —The “proposal” for prompt discussion, followed by Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting, would retain NATO’s initiative and leave time for further consultation.
  • —Allies are urged to accelerate substantive preparations, to which we will contribute.

(On other issues, CES, Berlin, the paper is orthodox and presents no problems.)

This seems to move roughly in the direction indicated in NSDM 108, but emphasizes more the “promptness” of explorations on “substance.” Since there is no agreement on substance beyond the criteria agreed in Rome last year, it is difficult to understand how these explorations will proceed. Some of these problems are taken care of, however, in the telegram (see below).


Further Guidance on Follow-On Work on MBFR

This instructs the NATO delegation to indicate the nature of the follow-on work and our contributions.

[Page 147]

Guidelines for Exploratory Work

Allies can immediately intensify bilateral explorations on the basis of the Rome declaration;6 but, if desired by the Allies, the US will participate in revision of the Rome criteria.


Approach to Negotiations

The telegram supports the SALT approach to the first phase of negotiations: that is, exploration of “building blocks.” To this end the US will support drafting by NATO of a building blocks paper, which could be used in discussions with the Pact. The paper would be a vehicle for seeking Pact agreement on such issues as alternative areas of reduction, types of forces, relationship between stationed and indigenous, etc.


Negotiating Fora

NATO should turn “as soon as possible” after Lisbon to an examination of possible fora for ultimate negotiations with the Pact. Allied views are to be solicited in view of special problems for the Germans.


Development of Substantive Positions

The US anticipates tabling in the next few weeks a further paper drawing on US analysis of MBFR. Later we will table papers to help in developing an agreed NATO position.


In view of the time problem, and the need for the real work at Lisbon to proceed in the corridors before the meeting, you should:

Authorize clearance of the telegram (I will clear it by COB today if you have no specific problems.) (Tab C)7
Sign the memo to State indicating that the paper submitted by Secretary Rogers on his position has been approved (Tab A).8 (I see no virtue in sending this to the President since it is all tactics and agrees with the previous guidance.)

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 261, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. X, Part 2. Secret. Sent for action. Sonnenfeldt did not initial the memorandum.
  2. Tab B is attached but not printed.
  3. Tab C is attached but not printed.
  4. Document 53.
  5. On May 30, Laird wrote to Rogers about an earlier draft of the instructions at Tab C: “A careful reading of the US proposed language on MBFR procedure which has been circulated to our Allies for inclusion in the Lisbon Communiqué (State 092077) could indicate that we expect the special meeting of the Deputy Foreign Ministers to determine NATO’s negotiating procedure at an early date. This proposed language would build up expectation for the specifics of negotiations, such as the time, place and proposed agenda.” Laird continued: “If we allow ourselves to be forced into announcing specific negotiating parameters this early, I fear that we will find ourselves ill prepared and prematurely committed to positions that could work to the disadvantage of the US and NATO.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 6 NATO)
  6. See Document 41.
  7. Kissinger initialed his approval, but added a handwritten notation: “but let’s take out some of the more urgent language.”
  8. Kissinger signed the attached undated memorandum, addressed to the Acting Secretary of State, but its text was crossed out, and the memorandum was apparently not sent. The text reads: “Secretary Rogers’ memorandum to the President of May 29, 1971, concerning the Lisbon Ministerial Meeting has been approved. With regard to MBFR, however, it should be made clear that negotiations are dependent on (1) the results of further bilateral explorations and (2) the completion of comprehensive substantive preparations by the Alliance.”