65. National Security Decision Memorandum 1161


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Attorney General
  • The Director, Central Intelligence Agency
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


  • The U.S. Policy on Mutual Force Reductions in Europe (MBFR)

Following the June 17 NSC meeting2 the President has decided that U.S. explorations with the Soviet Union and consultations with our Allies in NATO on the subject of mutual force reductions shall be based on the following approach.

In general, the U.S. objective is to develop a consensus within the NATO Alliance governing the substantive elements of its position on mutual reductions of forces in Europe. Regarding specific elements, the Verification Panel will prepare a formulation and assessment of alternative options for MBFR for consideration by the National Security Council based on the following policy:

  • —Reductions should cover both stationed and indigenous forces, either simultaneously or in succeeding phases. The primary U.S. objective, however, is to maximize the reduction of Soviet forces, and, for this reason, proportionately large Soviet and American (or stationed force) reductions should be emphasized rather than balanced stationed and indigenous reductions. A reduction of indigenous forces only should be excluded.
  • —Another important U.S. objective in reductions should be to establish constraints on the reintroduction of stationed (Soviet) forces or equipment into the zone of reductions. Such constraints should be correspondingly comprehensive, possibly to include Soviet territory, as the size of reductions is increased. On the other hand, it is not essential that the area for reductions include the territory of the USSR.
  • —The area of reductions should not be confined to the Germanies alone; it is preferable that the area include Czechoslovakia and Poland, especially insofar as Soviet ground forces are concerned. While not desirable, [Page 178] the inclusion of the Benelux countries is acceptable. The inclusion of other NATO countries could be considered with an appropriate expansion of the area for Warsaw Pact reductions.
  • —A full range of symmetrical and asymmetrical reductions should be considered based on various degrees of severity, the requirements for adequate verification and their effects upon the conventional balance.

In developing a consensus within the NATO Alliance on this policy, the U.S. shall prepare for future transmission to the NAC:

  • —The “sanitized” April 12 Evaluation Report3 with an appropriate covering memorandum indicating that its conclusions are still tentative. This study should be completed no later than July 2, 1971.4
  • —Arevised version of the June 1971 Elements of MBFR study,5 modified to indicate the decisions in this memorandum. This study should be completed by July 6, 1971.
  • —Arange of specific MBFR options and a thorough assessment of their implications. These options should range from limited symmetrical reductions to more comprehensive reductions possibly involving a wider area and a variety of reductions as well as verification provisions and collateral constraints. This study should be completed by August 1, 1971.

These preparations for consultations should be made by the agencies responsible under the overall direction of the Verification Panel. Prior to the development and consideration by the President of specific mutual force reduction options, it is understood that the substance of our consultations with our NATO allies shall not go beyond existing Presidential guidance. In no instance will reductions figures be discussed with our allies. Regarding the procedure, forum, and timing of exploratory or preparatory talks with the Warsaw Pact, the U.S. should give full weight to the views of the allies.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDMs), Nos. 97–144. Top Secret.
  2. See Document 63.
  3. See Document 47.
  4. Telegram 130817 to USNATO, July 20, instructed the Mission “to circulate the sanitized version of the April 12 MBFR evaluation report, entitled ‘MBFR—Some Assumptions, Models, and Implications’ in the NAC and other NATO fora you deem advisable at the earliest appropriate time following receipt. The paper should be covered by an appropriate memorandum indicating that its conclusions are still tentative.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 261, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. X) On July 12, Wayne Smith reported in a memorandum to Kissinger that transmission of the sanitized report had been delayed owing to objections from Goodpaster. Smith’s memorandum is scheduled for publication in see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972.
  5. Not found.