89. National Security Decision Memorandum 1621


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • Presidential Guidance on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions and a Conference on Cooperation and Security in Europe

The following guidance has been approved by the President.

The contents of NSDM 1422 remain valid, except as affected by the directives in this memorandum.

Conference on Cooperation and Security in Europe (CSCE)

The United States’ position should be to proceed in preparing an Allied position for CSCE that reflects a maximum consensus. It would be preferable, however, that the East-West multilateral preparatory phase not begin until after the US Presidential elections. The possibility of a high level Allied meeting prior to the beginning of the multilateral preparatory talks should be kept open, though such a meeting is not a condition for US participation in CSCE.

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In dealing with both CSCE issues and procedures, Allied unity should take precedence. US policy is that a careful multilateral exploration should precede the opening of a Conference. These preparatory explorations should be substantive rather than purely procedural. Allied interest in curtailing the multilateral preparatory phase may be taken into account, provided there is an understanding in the Alliance that during this phase some substantive discussions will be conducted on each of the agenda items proposed by the Alliance.

As noted above the US would not object to a general discussion on Military Security Issues in CSCE, but it would not be acceptable to aim for agreements that limited or reduced forces in Europe. Rather, the US would prefer to limit discussion to some general measures of constraint that might be suitable for adoption by European states. Such constraints might be related, in CSCE, to a declaration of principles governing relations between states.


The US continues to support separate and distinct negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Central Europe; an exploratory discussion as the first step toward such negotiations continues to be US policy. In the period between now and the NATO Ministerial meeting on May 30–31, the US will continue to support the Allied proposal for an exploratory mission led by Mr. Brosio. After the President’s meetings in the USSR, the US would be willing to consider a review of alternatives to the Brosio mission.


Concerning the relationship between MBFR and CSCE, the US position is that the former is not an issue that should be negotiated by the CSCE. Should the preparatory discussions of CSCE begin before any exploration of MBFR with the USSR or other Warsaw Pact countries, the US objective in these circumstances would be to use the fact of CSCE preparations to establish contacts for the simultaneous exploration of MBFR. The establishment of a special group of states directly involved in MBFR in Central Europe would be an acceptable procedure for exchanging views on MBFR. Alternatively, or in addition, the US would be willing to consider a general discussion in CSCE of Military Security Issues, including some general aspects of MBFR; in this context, however, the main objective would be to reach an understanding that MBFR negotiations will be initiated in a separate forum by a specified date.

In general, the relationship between MBFR and CSCE should be minimal. No authority should be established by CSCE over the course or content of MBFR negotiations. The overall objective of the US is to obtain a commitment from the USSR to begin discussion of MBFR before the CSCE has concluded its work.

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Allied Consultations

The reaction of the NATO Allies to this approach should be sought promptly. The goal of consultations should be to develop a consensus in advance of the NATO Ministerial meeting.

An interagency paper on collateral constraints that might be appropriate for discussion at a CSCE should be developed and forwarded to NATO as soon as possible. A separate paper on constraints suitable to MBFR should also be prepared for submission to NATO.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 482, President’s Trip Files, MBFR-CSCE Backup Book, Part 1. Top Secret. Copies were sent to the Director of Central Intelligence and the Acting Director of the Arms Control and Disclaimer Agency.
  2. Document 81.