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


  • MBFR and CES
[Page 185]

In addition to the MBFR issues in Wayne Smith’s briefing book for the Tuesday’s Verification Panel,2 you may wish to take up the relationship of MBFR to CES .

The State Department paper3 recommends that our position

  • —stress that Berlin agreement be completed before beginning multilateral CES discussion (no problem);
  • —indicate that eventual CES would include some reference to MBFR (ambiguous; a new departure);
  • —support “vigorous Allied pursuit of studies currently in progress looking toward common negotiating positions and possible forms of agreement” (i.e., not the issues, but the procedure).

The NAC study on MBFR 4 also includes some language on linkage:

  • —that MBFR negotiations, if they start before (CES) should be held in such a way as to allow the possibility of incorporation in the general framework of CES.
  • —If CES takes place first, the Alliance should support MBFR as an agenda item.

As you can see, this is more of linkage than we have ever established in any White House guidance. Heretofore, our position has been that MBFR should be separate from CES and should clearly come first—on the grounds that MBFR dealt with a real security concern, while CES would be most likely to deal in atmospherics.

The Soviets naturally have maintained the linkage, though more ambiguously in recent months. In the follow up to Brezhnev’s Tbilisi speech,5 which seemed to separate MBFR and CES, Gromyko confirmed to Beam that it should be taken up separately.6 More recently, however, especially in the wake of the Berlin agreement, the Soviets are back tracking.

  • Kosygin pushed for CES with Harold Wilson mentioning the start of active preparations after the first of the year.
  • Brezhnev also mentioned as his timetable a “vigorous” effort after December. The BrandtBrezhnev communiqué states that “the situation now shaping Europe facilitates the convocation of the all-European Conference. The Soviet and the Federal Republic intend to hold consultations shortly with each other, with their allies and with other European states in order to accelerate the holding of the conference.”7
  • —Moreover, according to Bahr’s briefing Brandt and Brezhnev agreed that the MBFR topic could be broached in the framework of a conference on European security, but should not be a substitute for the latter.
  • —Finally, the UK in NATO suggests that a “procedural” linkage be established between CES and MBFR. Their motive, however, is their concern over MBFR and the possibility of postponing it or submerging it in CES. In addition, if Wilson now pushes a CES, the Conservatives will have to show themselves more active.
  • —The French, of course, support CES.

In sum, we need to sort out the linkage problem, especially if we intend to oppose drawing the two problems together. If we do not, the current drift is such that the Soviets will be in a position to have their own program: a CES first, then a MBFR under the aegis of the CES.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–009, Verification Panel Meetings, Verification Panel Meeting MBFR 9/21/71. Confidential. Sent for information.
  2. Memorandum from Smith to Kissinger, September 21. (Ibid.)
  3. Memorandum from Acting Secretary Irwin to Kissinger, September 17. (Ibid.)
  4. Not found.
  5. See Document 49.
  6. See Document 66.
  7. See Document 68.