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

SUBJECT

  • Secretary Laird’s Memorandum to the President on MBFR, CES (Tab B)2
  • (Urgent: he is leaving this weekend.)

Secretary Laird has expressed his fear that MBFR may become subsumed in a CES, as many Europeans prefer. If so, he believes the entire MBFR project will become wholly unmanageable. Therefore he asks the President to approve his intended statement to the NATO Nuclear Planning Group next week, that “under present and foreseeable circumstances the US will not agree to negotiate MBFR at a CES.”

This memorandum presents some problems. It is an obvious effort to freeze positions, without reference to State, even though the President has publicly given Secretary Rogers the mandate for CES consultations. Moreover, it ignores the fact that we have asked for a NSSM on CES;3 including the very issue of linkage between MBFR and CES. Finally, it advocates a rigid position, which, in fact, we may want to change in light of the summit and whatever comes out of private discussions.

Therefore, I have prepared a memorandum from Mr. Kissinger 4 to Secretary Laird approving his proposed position, but asking him not to make any statement that would preclude some MBFRCES linkage if that should become unavoidable.

(Frankly, I am inclined to think that by putting MBFR into a CES context we might, if we want to, be able to postpone a negotiation that is going to be extremely difficult and dangerous, and I will send Mr. Kissinger a memo on this issue.)

Recommendation

That you sign the memorandum to the President at Tab A.5

[Page 212]

(Note: Laird’s memo did not go to Rogers. State people will be on Laird’s delegation and they may see our response. Hence you should get Laird to send a copy of his memo to Rogers and also send our response to the latter.)6

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 17, Chronological File. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for urgent action.
  2. Laird’s October 19 memorandum to the President is attached but not printed.
  3. Document 73.
  4. Sonnenfeldt wrote in by hand the phrase, “or you.”
  5. Attached but not printed. Haig did not sign the draft memorandum to the President, but checked the approval line and wrote, “Done—Defense told to send copy of summary to State.”
  6. On October 22, Haig sent Laird a memorandum, copied to Rogers: “The President has reviewed your memorandum on these subjects, and the position you propose to take at the Nuclear Planning Group meeting. He approves the points you intend to make, but wishes that you not make any statements that would deny us the option of having some linkage between MBFR and a European Conference, should this be unavoidable or desirable later. These issues will be considered further in connection with the NSC study requested in NSSM 138.” (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 17, Chronological File)