63. Notes of a National Security Council Meeting1

RN [Richard Nixon]: Subj. today old but timely. Have been dis. tangentially with Brandt.2 Purpose is to get position understood on basis of interagency group work. Not agree on position to take but see how we should move in conversations within alliance + with SU. Should know where we want to come out.

Helms: Briefing.3 BR [balanced reductions] prog. has both milit. and polit. implications.

Forces: 52 Sov divs. 29 EE [Eastern Europe]. (Text from CIA.)

Verification: Tasks: (1) assessment of forces before red. (2) reduction. (3) reduction adhered to … Problems; limitations. Collection means.

Soviet position. Get initiative. Avoid concessions in Berlin stalemate. Increase NATO strains; underscore temporary nature of U.S. presence and permanency Sov. Enhance GDR.

Military advantage. Bulk of forces for def. ag. NATO; hence, if NATO reduces, so can Sovs. Redeploy to China; economic strains.

Put NATO on defensive with simple proposals, say 30% cut. But will keep options open till they see what happens. May just manipulate.

NATO reactions.

Mansfield caught them off balance.
Want initiative.
But cautious; Germany worried about Berlin; also worried might become bilateral like SALT.
Pleased by Lisbon formula.
France still cautious and did not join in Lisbon communiqué.
Awaiting further U.S. work.

Rogers: Briefing reflects views of individuals but not of Fonmins. Scheel quite willing to have negots as long as not in ESC.

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Schumann had little to say. Wanted to be helpful to us. U.S. had done more than it should. The others should do more; but not opposition to us. Pompidou pointed this out. Meeting generally most successful. Canadians proposed immediate negs. But we wanted to wait. We left everything flexible, including on timing. Emissary “when appropriate.” We have positive communiqué but very flexible + can wait as long as we want. Brandt satisfied.

RN: What is effect of reductions of Sov forces on EG [East Germans], Poles, Czechs, Hungarians; realize talking about 10%–20%. To what extent do present forces maintain regimes in power?

RH [Richard Helms]: All want Sovs [illegible] down occupation forces. Question about reliability of EE. But would want [illegible] own forces down to get Sovs down. Accept, except in GDR. Situation here very foggy.

RN: Sov forces drain on GDR economy?

RH: Yes.

HAK: Sev. mtgs of VP [Verification Panel] to lay out positions prior to Allied decisions + our own.

Following issues: p. 2 talking pts.4

(1) Size. (p. 3 TP’s [talking points]).5

Table passed out. Explains figures (Tab A).6 My M+60 effects erased because of replenishments.

M-Day: more favorable for NATO; decrease chance of surprise attack.

No MBFR improves NATO sit. after mobilization. Page 4 of TP’s.7 pp. 5–6.

On asymmetry: Shouldn’t encumber negotiations since no effect.

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Tentative conclusion: Between 10–30% (see p. 6).8

(2) Geographic Area. Table handed out. Tab B.9

p 6, Talking points.

p. 7.

p. 8.10

If area too wide, verification very poor + Sovs would ask for UK, France + perhaps parts of U.S.

If cuts exceed 30%, should include Sov. territ + we should have inspection dec. of reinforcement. Two Germany’s alone politically unacceptable.

(3) Nationality + Type (p. 9)

Reduction of indigenous forces extremely complex.

Concentrate on stationed forces.


reduce Sov forces.
meet Cong. press.
improve proportionate share of allies.

WR [William Rogers]: NATO ministers did not feel indigenous forces necess., but want to talk about so won’t be left out.


First step of U.S. withdrawal (the best of circumstances).
Enhance German weight.

RN: How many US in Europe?

ML [Melvin Laird]: 304,000.

RN: Sov?

Adm. Moorer: 370,000.

RN: We talking about Sov-Amer. reductions?

HAK: In our interest: our Germans better than their Poles + Czechs.

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RN: Recalls Polish troops, honor guard in 1959,11 cheering at RN. Wouldn’t rely on Poles.

WR: 30–90,000 US.

RN: We may talk about NATO, WP, but we mean US–SU. Reduction of Sov forces much greater blow to Sovs. Indigenous forces unreliable. They must know this; hence negots will be tough.

WR: Only France would be against bec. of fear of Germany.

RN: That’s too bad.

HAK: Could do stationed first; indigenous later; or different magnitudes. But primary principle is that cut in stationed forces is in our interest.

4. Verification (p. 12, T.P.).12

Smith has pointed out Sov’s have been less rigid re inspection in Europe.

Study of verif. has driven us to recommend cuts of at least 10%; less not monitorable + turn into unilateral cuts.

Defers discussion of models.

Trying to get answers to composition of various cuts (see p. 15).

Preparations with Allies (see pp. 15 16).13

RN: Deputy For Ministers in Sept?

WR: Or October.

RN: We stay where we are as far as talking to Sovs concerned. Quiet in Public.

WR: No problem. Saw Dob. yesterday.14 He wanted to get into substance. WR talked about procedure. Forum, participants, etc. He said he would get answers.

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ML: Problem with Allies. Found with Def Mins. they don’t know what to do with Def. Planning. They face budget cuts. Should discuss proposals with military + Def Ministers since it won’t mean reduction for them in contrib to defense of Europe. Never had to hold hands, so much before. Russians shot rug out from under them.

RN: Only involves US–Sov. They won’t be able to cut.

Irwin: Would involve UK + France, if phrased as “stationed.”

RN: 10% not much.

HAK: French would only withdraw across Rhine.

WR: Didn’t find what M.L. found. Fonmins very encouraged.

Moorer: Found Brits + Germans discouraged. AD–7015 being discouraged by MBFR. Real problem of losing momentum.

WR: Fonmins said they had to keep up improvements.

Moorer: Fouquet said Europeans would not improve.

ML: Have to keep pressure on Europeans. Bring Goodpaster in to make sure he keeps pressure.

WR: Fonmins feel that MBFR will prevent US from making unilateral cuts, especially if successful.

RN: Excellent preparations. Sovs not prepared (as WR said).

ML: Brits have done good work.

[Gerard] Smith: (1) Need better focus on main purpose:

Some say improve NATO position
Some say détente
Some think just ag. Mansfield.

Need clarity.

Relationship betw. European focus cuts + overall force cuts. Soviets would just redeploy, we would demobilize. Case for resuming 1964 USSov dialogue on mutual cuts.
Should not go too far in saying we can do with unilateral verification. Should have a good deal of o-s [onsite] inspection. Sovs have made proposals on this since 1957.

ML: Sovs might throw in other issues: aircraft, navies. We need to do additional work.

HAK: FBS may be drawn in. Nuclear issue.

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ML: The longer talks last, the worse we are off. Bargaining chip gets lost.

HAK: If nuclear MBFR, we may need different geographic area bec. Sov threat is in W SU.

WR: Should start with simple, conventional cuts.

Lincoln: People will say we will cut 10–30% anyway even if we say MBFR. Hard to hold line if negots last; long time, as Sov negot history shows.

RN: Very useful exercise. We have to press forward; despite victory over Mansfield, support in country declining. We have to give American people hope.

[Omitted here is discussion of leaks of classified material to the press.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–110, NSC Meeting Minutes, Originals, 1971 through 6/20/74. No classification marking. The notes were handwritten by Wayne Smith. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the following attended the meeting: the President, Rogers, Laird, Connally, Lincoln, Mitchell, Packard, Helms, Moorer, Gerard Smith, Farley, Irwin, Hillenbrand, Kissinger, Wayne Smith, and Sonnenfeldt. The time of the meeting is also from the President’s Daily Diary. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary)
  2. See Document 59.
  3. The notes for Helms’s briefing are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–031, NSC Meeting, MBFR, 6/17/71.
  4. Kissinger’s talking points for the meeting, drafted by Wayne Smith and forwarded to Kissinger on June 15, are in National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–031, NSC Meeting on MBFR, 6/17/71.
  5. Kissinger’s talking points discussed possible sizes for an MBFR reduction: a freeze, a common ceiling, a small mutual reduction of about 10 percent, or a large mutual reduction of about 30 percent. Page 3 reads in part: “At this point, while it is neither necessary nor desirable to determine the size reduction we should aim for, it is useful to consider the effects on the military balance of each size reduction and determine the range of reductions we should actively consider in the future.”
  6. Reference is to a chart attached to Kissinger’s talking points: “The Warsaw Pact/NATO Force Balance: Illustrative MBFR of Stationed and Indigenous Forces in the NATO Guidelines Area.”
  7. Kissinger’s talking points reads in part: “Following full mobilization and reinforcement by both sides, it is clear that MBFR has little or no effect on the conventional balance since all the withdrawn forces on each side can be returned.”
  8. Page 6 of Kissinger’s talking points reads in part: “For this reason, I would suggest that we consider an overall symmetrical reduction of 30% the outer limit for NATO until we have a better grasp of ways in which the mobilization/reinforcement disadvantage can be overcome. Conversely, we must bear in mind the effect on our support in Congress if we appeared to be stalling reductions or considering only marginal reductions, such as 10% or less.”
  9. Kissinger’s talking points contained a second table, “Total National and Indigenous Ground Forces Presently on Active Duty in Various Geographic Regions Considered for MBFR.”
  10. Kissinger’s talking points discussed the various advantages and disadvantages of carrying out MBFR reductions in the NATO guidelines area, the Rapacki Plan area, East and West Germany, or the NATO guidelines area plus the three western military districts of the Soviet Union.
  11. Regarding Nixon’s 1959 visit to Poland as Vice President, see Foreign Relations, 1958–1960, volume X, Part 2, Eastern Europe Region; Poland; Greece; Turkey; Yugoslavia, pp. 190 225.
  12. The discussion of verification in Kissinger’s talking points reads in part as follows: “The issue here is whether we want to consider agreements that cannot be verified by unilateral U.S. means, and if so, the degree of on-site inspection we would insist upon, if any.” The points continued: “We cannot verify manpower reductions by national means unless the reductions are taken in identifiable units, with their equipment.”
  13. Pages 15 16 of Kissinger’s talking points reads in part: “We have organized our ongoing work in the Verification Panel so that we will be prepared for intensive consultations with our allies on the substance of an MBFR position or positions which can form the basis for the initial stage of negotiations with the Soviet Union. We will send a ‘sanitized’ version of a thorough evaluation of MBFR approaches to NATO before the end of the month for presentation to the North Atlantic Council. By July 1, we should give our allies our position on the elements which form the basic framework of our MBFR position, with detailed rationales drawn from the Evaluation Report and other previous work submitted to NATO.” The points continued: “In the coming weeks, we will review the ongoing interagency work on MBFR options in the light of decisions which emerge from this meeting, and speed up the assessment of options.”
  14. See Document 61.
  15. see footnote 2, Document 34. The NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels in December 1970 approved an annex to the main communiqué on AD–70; it noted that ten of the European members of NATO had agreed to adopt a European Defense Improvement Program (EDIP), providing for additional European outlays for NATO’s defense. EDIP became an ongoing topic of discussion within NATO. See North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO Final Communiqués, 1949–1974, pp. 249–252.