72. Draft Minutes of a Verification Panel Meeting1

Dr. Kissinger: I think we should go through the issues before us both for the Deputy Foreign Ministers Meeting and to develop guidance for the Explorer.

Mr. Irwin: Before we get into specific issues, I’d like to express a few thoughts. We have been partly motivated in talking about symmetrical reductions by two needs.

Dr. Kissinger: Who is “we”? The State Department?

Mr. Irwin: That’s right. We—the State Department—see first the matter of Congressional pressure and the need for some forward movement to withstand the next Mansfield attack. We have been inclined to make a domestic political judgment on this question. Now we may be wrong in that estimate, and if so, it may not be necessary to move so quickly. If our estimate of the importance of heading off Mansfield is wrong, that would put a different cast on the situation. The second [Page 201] need, we believe, is to show our NATO allies some leadership from our side. If we don’t do so, the NATO countries will drag their feet. The British are not enthusiastic about MBFR, nor are the French. The tempo of the scenario will come from our efforts. No, I don’t say that we must present a preferred position. But if we do go in with a preferred position, the pace will be up to us. If we want to move slower, we can go in with options. I see no problem in just going to the meeting and speaking to the issues before us, but I would like some guidance on the overall tenor I am to take. Without getting into specifics, what are our general views on the basic points?

Dr. Kissinger: When Gromyko met with the President yesterday,2 I don’t recall that he mentioned MBFR at all. I don’t think the Russians will be pushing MBFR hard, if at all. When I saw (Manlio) Brosio the other day,3 he told me that he did not feel that he needed a preferred position or that we needed one, but that he wanted some general guidance. Of course, you all have equal access to Brosio and you may have more to add to that. We are not under enormous pressure from Brosio. He doesn’t need a preferred U.S. position to validate our claim to leadership. I think the best way to lead NATO is to tell them what we think is right. They will have their own ideas, but we should tell them what we think and then ought to go as fast as our analysis permits.

Mr. Irwin: I agree with your interpretation of Brosio’s views. He does not feel that he needs a decision on the options, only on the specific issues that are outlined in the issues paper.4 It comes down to the question of where we want to go. Perhaps this comes back to a reading of the motivation of Congress, that we need a reduction of forces in Europe. If that pressure is not too great, perhaps we don’t have to move so fast.

Dr. Kissinger: My instinct is that the President has pretty well decided to do what he thinks is right and will do things as fast as he can. If Congress wants to take the responsibility for going faster, fine. Mansfield won’t be satisfied by a 10% reduction.

Mr. Nutter: We have known all along that we were going to face one thing after another from Mansfield, but Secretary Laird feels that we can fight Mansfield on this issue and are in a good position to beat it.

Dr. Kissinger: Why don’t we give NATO more of our studies and let them know what we are thinking?

[Page 202]

Mr. Irwin: We are way behind on the studies; we don’t have them to give to our allies.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, we have some information; can we give them an interim report? Why can’t we let them know as much as this panel knows? If it leaks to the Russians, it will take them years to understand it.

Mr. Irwin: My third point is a desire to clarify what we consider negotiable from our point of view. Some of the asymmetrical ideas that have been considered are not necessarily negative. Why don’t we discuss the specifics of some of these points?

Dr. Kissinger: We should be able to present some kind of paper to our allies. They will get nervous if we don’t give them anything.

Mr. Irwin: Well, we are held up because we haven’t been able to give them the papers we hoped to have ready. Shall we consider a symmetrical reduction of 10% as a starting point?

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t detect a consensus. People talk about 10% only because it is an easy figure to fasten on. We really don’t know what is in our best interests and we won’t know until the studies are complete. We did the same thing on SALT. We all sat in this room and agreed on NCA and I still don’t understand the rationale that led us to that decision.

Mr. Nutter: We asked Brosio if the Europeans were really itching to have a preferred position and he indicated that they were not.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Corr) Weren’t we going to have a paper completed in October?

Mr. Corr: We did hope to have a paper ready by mid-October, but I think we will need another two weeks. We should have something by early November.

Dr. Kissinger: Then what is it the allies want now?

Mr. Eagleburger: They would like a finished paper.

Mr. Irwin: I would like to have a list of everything we promised them with our best estimate of when each paper will be ready. Can I have that before I leave?

Mr. Eagleburger: Fine.

Dr. Kissinger: They want us to lead, whatever that means in their own minds, and at the same time they are concerned that we are moving toward unilateral disarmament in Europe. Can’t we reassure them that we are not going to withdraw unilaterally?

Mr. Irwin: I’m not at all sure that they really want us to “lead.”

Mr. Springsteen: We have to demonstrate some initiative. If we don’t lead, no one will. The Europeans are not going to take the initiative themselves.

[Page 203]

Dr. Kissinger: That’s the problem.

Mr. Irwin: Brosio told me he thought that all of the allies would agree to the reduction of stationed forces while retaining their indigenous forces.

Mr. Eagleburger: That’s not exactly the way he stated it to us. Brosio told us the Europeans would want to reduce stationed forces first but that they would not rule out the subsequent reduction of indigenous forces.

Mr. Springsteen: Yes, that’s the way we understood it. (Helmut) Schmidt told us recently that he would like to cut some of his own forces.

Dr. Kissinger: I am sure that Schmidt would like to cut his own forces. Germany is not noted for its foresight in such matters.

Mr. Irwin: We should avoid that if we can.

Dr. Kissinger: We should stop fooling around and tell the Europeans that the force improvement package is as important as any cuts we can arrange through MBFR.

Mr. Nutter: It would be terribly naive if the Germans were to cut their national forces, using MBFR reductions as an excuse.

Dr. Kissinger: It would not be the first time the Germans have taken shortsighted actions.

Mr. Irwin: We should move ahead with our studies as rapidly as possible and show our good faith to our allies. We ought to demonstrate to them that we are not backing away from MBFR. Now I know that there is one voice in State that disagrees with this position. Sy (Weiss) feels that any cut at all would be damaging to us—(to Weiss) would you like to explain your views?

Mr. Weiss: Well, in the first place, we have been talking about reductions of 20%, not 10%, and 20% would resound like a bombshell in Europe. It would be hard for us to justify a reduction of that level on either political or military grounds. If we don’t press an emphasis on stationed troops, the Europeans could buy a slow approach to MBFR.

Gen. Westmoreland: I share that view.

Dr. Kissinger: I have six points here that we should consider. 1. the geographic area of reductions, 2. the type of forces to be cut, 3. nationality of forces, stationed versus indigenous, 4. the type of reduction, symmetrical or asymmetrical, 5. verification, with or without inspection, and 6. phasing, a sequential approach such as that favored by the Germans, or not.

Now on the geographic area, I understand that State prefers the Rapacki plan area while the Joint Chiefs of Staff prefer the NATO guidelines area. Is that right?

[Page 204]

Gen. Westmoreland: That’s right, we prefer the guidelines area as a starting position.

Dr. Kissinger: State would prefer the addition of Hungary to the guidelines area.

Mr. Irwin: I have no strong preference for the Rapacki area but I think the Germans would not agree to it and that it may not be a negotiable position for us to adopt.

Dr. Kissinger: Can’t we agree among ourselves on what is intellectually best from our point of view, regardless of whether or not it is negotiable? Let’s leave the question of negotiability aside for the moment. Why is the guidelines area preferable to the Rapacki plan area?

Mr. Irwin: I think what is negotiable is very important.

Dr. Kissinger: Exactly what does the guidelines area include?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: The two Germanys, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Benelux. It is the Rapacki area plus Benelux.

Mr. Nutter: The Rapacki area provides a better ratio of their forces to ours, but if you ask for too much they (the Russians) may lose interest right at the beginning of the discussions.

Dr. Kissinger: I am surprised that the JCS did not ask for the Rapacki area and the three western provinces of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Irwin: The Explorer is not to go into specifics such as these.

Dr. Kissinger: Why do the Belgians want Hungary included?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: I don’t know that the Belgians are pressing for it. It is just that the inclusion of Hungary would balance the numbers of forces. It would be a better trade-off.

Dr. Kissinger: Is there a consensus that we can live with either the guidelines and Hungary or with just the guidelines?

Mr. Irwin: We can live with any of them.

Dr. Kissinger: Isn’t this a good position for us to be in? We think the Rapacki plan provides the best ratio, but we can live with any of them. I don’t think Brosio would go to the Russians and talk about the three western provinces of the USSR. What do the Europeans think?

Mr. Weiss: The Netherlands favors the Rapacki area, all the others favor the guidelines.

Dr. Kissinger: Isn’t it better for us to take the position that we consider best? Then if the allies protest we can go to the guidelines. I don’t understand what the Germans get out of the guidelines that would make them prefer it to the Rapacki area.

Mr. Nutter: They don’t want to be the only Western country to have reductions take place on their soil. Our reading is that several countries favor the Rapacki area, including Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal, in addition to us. Benelux and the British favor the guidelines.

[Page 205]

Mr. Irwin: If we go outside the guidelines area, we may open the door to other countries being added.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: Well, if Brosio tosses out Italy as a talking point and the Russians say O.K. to Italy, he doesn’t have to agree to it.

Dr. Kissinger: Now on the type of forces, as I understand it the question is whether naval forces are to be included.

Mr. Irwin: I don’t think the navy represents much of a problem. The big question is nuclear. As I understand our positions, there is not much difference between State and Defense on this point. We (State) would like to go to the meeting and say that nuclear items are not excluded from consideration. The Department of Defense would be more negative and say nothing at all about them, but then what do you say if the question is raised?

Dr. Kissinger: If we want to keep open the possibility of asymmetrical reductions, we must keep open a number of options that we have not seriously considered. Tactical nukes for example. [1½ lines not declassified] so if the possibility of including them in an asymmetrical reduction arises, we should be prepared to keep it open.

Mr. Nutter: [1½ lines not declassified]

Dr. Kissinger: We should tell the allies that we don’t rule out other options.

Mr. Irwin: I would rather say that they would not necessarily be excluded.

Dr. Kissinger: I am not interested in the semantics, say it any way you wish.

Gen. Westmoreland: If nuclear weapons are discussed, I consider it essential that we also discuss the western districts of the USSR.

Dr. Kissinger: Yes, if we get into tactical nukes we should discuss the western districts of Russia. Didn’t we have an SRG meeting that considered nuclear reductions?5

Mr. Corr: Yes, the question was discussed at an SRG meeting.

Dr. Kissinger: What happened to that study?

Mr. Corr: It’s one of the options in our paper.

Mr. Weiss: If we get into tactical nukes we have to differentiate between weapons in the theater and those which may be brought in with outside units.

Mr. Irwin: I’m sorry, but I have to go up to Congress in a few minutes to talk about my trip.

[Page 206]

Dr. Kissinger: We’ll move along. On the question of the size and type of reductions to be considered, we are not going to be specific and must inform the Europeans that we are not negotiating under pressure from Senator Mansfield. We don’t need a specific position. We have seen enough changes of Russian positions to know that they are flexible. Now what about phasing?

Mr. Irwin: I think we want to begin in a phased manner.

Mr. Nutter: We are studying this point but are not ready to discuss it yet.

Dr. Kissinger: Can we agree that we are not to exclude inspection? Do we all agree that inspection by national means is acceptable?

Gen. Cushman: We should try to get on-site inspection.

Mr. Irwin: I agree it is somthing we should try to get.

Gen. Cushman: It may be extremely hard to verify force reductions by national means. I would urge a major effort to get on-site inspection.

Dr. Kissinger: Let’s discuss a possible link between MBFR and CES. We will be issuing a NSSM shortly for a study of CES. The President is very uneager to get involved in discussions about a European security agreement until we have carefully studied the whole question and know where we are going. He does not want MBFR and CES linked. He is concerned about the disproportion between Soviet eagerness to push a European security agreement and what they talk about wanting to get out of it. There must be something else they want and until we have a clearer idea what it is, the President wants to avoid it. (to Mr. Irwin) The President has already presented his thoughts on this to the Secretary (of State). Gromyko raised this yesterday at his meeting with the President and the President said he wanted to keep CES and MBFR separate.

Mr. Irwin: OSD wants to keep them on separate tracks, but for how long, forever?

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t know about forever, but we want to keep them separate for now. I don’t care if it is for all time or not, so long as they are not linked now.

Mr. Irwin: So if CES is raised I should pass?

Dr. Kissinger: It is better to keep aloof on this matter. For one thing, the German treaties have to be concluded before we can get into this.

Mr. Springsteen: Are we to avoid multi-lateral discussions on this subject too?

Mr. Sonnenfeldt: At least until the Berlin agreement.

Dr. Kissinger: Gromyko was so interested in CES that we want a NSSM on it. Multi-lateral talks are not necessarily excluded but the President does not want to push forward on a European Security Treaty. [Page 207] (to Mr. Sonnenfeldt) We ought to get moving on that NSSM. (to Mr. Irwin) Jack, we want to have our options paper ready for the ministerial meeting, when is it to be held?

Mr. Springsteen: It will be in Brussels on December 8, 9 and 10. What about the elements paper, when can we expect it?

Mr. Eagleburger: That’s already done. You have the elements paper.6

Dr. Kissinger: We need something on the nuclear options as well as a paper to cover general questions. We should have an NSC meeting on it before December.

Gen. Westmoreland: If we take a reduction as small as 10% it will be disadvantageous to us. That would, in effect, wipe out our reserves. The Warsaw Pact countries can move their reserves on line in 16 days, with a 10% reduction it will take us 60 to 90 days, and will hurt our position. I would like to see us get a fixed numerical reduction and avoid the percentages.

Dr. Kissinger: There is no dispute that any reduction will reduce our military effectiveness, but I agree that we don’t necessarily have to go along with a percentage reduction.

Mr. Irwin: Well, this is something we can explore. A firm position isn’t necessary at this point.

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Meeting Minutes (Originals), Verification Panel, 1971–75. No classification marking. Drafted by Commander Jonathan T. Howe, USN, of the NSC staff. Handwritten corrections have been incorporated into the text printed here.
  2. See Document 71.
  3. No memorandum of Kissinger’s conversation with Brosio has been found.
  4. Not found.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. See Document 47 and footnote 4, Document 65.