60. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1
- NSC Meeting on Mutual Force Reductions in Europe (MBFR)
A NSC meeting on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Europe is scheduled for 3:30 pm, June 17, 1971.
The issues for discussion are:
- —What substantive position should the United States take on the basic framework of an MBFR? We need to resolve such questions as [Page 157] the area for reductions, the size of reductions, whether to reduce “stationed” forces only (mainly U.S. and Soviet) or both “indigenous” and “stationed” forces, and the related verification questions.
- —How should the United States proceed in coming months to explore and eventually negotiate with the Soviet Union on MBFR? A related question for consultations with our allies to develop an alliance consensus on the substance and procedure of negotiations?
The Verification Panel has reviewed the substantive work performed over the past year and agrees that we are now ready to establish the basic framework of a U.S. position on MBFR.2
The Substantive U.S. Position
The principal issues to be resolved involve:
- —The geographic area to serve as a base for reductions. While we should not rule out wider areas, the principal area for MBFR is Central Europe. Our work indicates that either the NATO Guidelines or Rapacki areas3 should be used initially for consultations.
- —The size of reductions. All symmetrical reductions of ground forces slightly enhance NATO’s position before mobilization, and thus reduce the Pact’s capability to launch a successful attack if they do not have time to mobilize. However, MBFR degrades NATO’s relative position following a short period of mobilization. Thus, the risk of a Pact attack after a fast, full mobilization may be somewhat larger after MBFR.
- —The nationality of forces to be reduced. In the past, we have supported the inclusion of both stationed and indigenous forces in a reduction program. However, the reduction of stationed forces would probably be to NATO’s military advantage as well as presenting fewer problems of negotiation and verification than reduction of indigenous forces. On the other hand, our allies, particularly the FRG, might be unwilling to accept this position since they want to reduce their forces for domestic reasons.
- —The verification provisions to be included. We cannot verify reductions of less than 10 percent in stationed forces or reductions taken in units of less than regimental size even in East Germany. The issue is whether we want to consider reductions which cannot be verified by national means and, if so, what provisions for on-site inspection we wish to make.
In general, the agencies seem to be converging on a U.S. approach toward MBFR involving fairly substantial (say 20 percent) reduction in the stationed and indigenous ground forces of the NATO Guidelines Area with heavier weight given, if possible, to stationed forces. Nevertheless, there are significant differences among the agencies that should be discussed at the NSC meeting.
We are now approaching our own internal evaluation of MBFR with a sound two-phased approach:
- —First, consideration of the basic framework of possible MBFR agreements. This corresponds to the “building block” stage we went through for SALT.
- —Second, development of a range of specific options within this basic framework. Based on past guidance, detailed MBFR options have now been formulated and are being assessed. They will be revised on the basis of your decisions on our basic position for MBFR.
In principle, our approach toward consultations with our NATO allies and eventual negotiations with the Warsaw Pact should be designed to follow the same general approach as our internal preparations. This would involve:
- —In NATO , an immediate effort this summer to focus on substantive discussions with our allies to determine the basic elements to be considered as part of MBFR. With a large infusion of U.S. substantive help, this process could hopefully lead to an allied consensus on an MBFR framework by late summer. At the moment, we are light years ahead of our allies.
- —With the Soviets, we should continuously explore their understanding about what MBFR involves. Neither we nor our allies should, however, get very deep into substantive exploration with the Pact until a NATO position has emerged. The problem is how to hold back on substantive discussions without appearing to be less than serious about MBFR.
The Conduct of the Meeting
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss:
- —The issues involved in formulating a basic substantive framework for the U.S. position on MBFR.
- —The substantive and procedural issues that will arise in consultation with our allies and negotiations with the Soviet Union.
Mr. Helms has prepared a brief on the Soviet proposals and the present comparative force postures of the Warsaw Pact and NATO.
I am prepared then to present the principal issues and alternatives involved in the substantive U.S. position on MBFR.[Page 159]
Your Red Book Contains
- —Talking points;4
- —A summary of the issues and alternatives.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–031, NSC Meeting Folders, NSC Meeting on MBFR, 6/17/71. Top Secret. The memorandum was drafted by K. Wayne Smith of the NSC staff and forwarded to Kissinger on June 15.↩
- See Document 58.↩
- The “Rapacki Plan” refers to the 1957 proposal of the Polish Foreign Minister, Adam Rapacki, to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Europe embracing Poland, East Germany, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia.↩
- Attached but not printed.↩
- No classification marking.↩
- All brackets are in the original.↩
- Two tables, “Total and National Indigenous Ground Forces Presently on Active Duty in Various Geographical Areas Considered for MBFR” and “The Warsaw Pact/NATO Force Balance,” are attached but not printed.↩