99. Minutes of a Joint Senior Review Group and Verification Panel Meeting1


  • MBFR


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
    • John N. Irwin
    • George Springsteen
    • Edward Streator
    • Ray Garthoff
    • Seymour Weiss
  • Defense
    • Kenneth Rush
    • G. Warren Nutter
    • Lawrence Eagleburger
  • JCS
    • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
    • Vice Adm. John P. Weinel
  • CIA
    • Lt. Gen. Vernon A. Walters
    • Bruce Clarke
  • Treasury
    • John McGinnis
  • ACDA
    • James Leonard
    • David Linebaugh
  • NSC
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt
    • Philip Odeen
    • William Hyland
    • Col. Jack Merritt
    • James Hackett
    • Lt. Michael Power


It was agreed that:

  • —The JCS will war-game some of the proposals to be considered and the working group will do a systematic analysis of the options. The SRG will meet again no later than mid-August to review and refine the working group’s analysis.
  • —The reduction of tactical nuclear weapons will be included among the options to be considered.
  • —Only those countries in which forces are stationed should be involved in the MBFR negotiations.
  • —We will propose launching the talks through multiple bilateral contacts.
  • —The working group will do the preparatory work, but it will be phased out in favor of the negotiating team once the negotiations get underway. Backstopping will be handled here, as in the SALT talks.
  • —The SACEUR communications channel will be used to keep the other Allies informed of the progress of the talks.

Mr. Kissinger: Sorry I’m late, the President grabbed me for a press conference problem. What I want to do today is get ready for some preparatory MBFR work, since we may have some meetings on it this fall. I would like to discuss a few procedural questions first and then consider briefly the substance of our explorations. Procedurally, we must consider who should participate in the MBFR explorations. Our position is that only those countries in which forces are stationed should be involved. Is there any disagreement on that? (None was voiced). So the next question is how do we handle it? Should we just tell the Europeans that this is our position?

Mr. Irwin: We should take a strong position on this point. We don’t want to get bogged down with the Greeks and Italians, or get involved in a long argument about it.

Mr. Rush: I agree.

Mr. Kissinger: What about the location? Personally, I don’t give a damn where it is held. What do you think?

Mr. Rush: Geneva is preferable to Helsinki, and it’s also much more pleasant.

Mr. Irwin: The Allies prefer Helsinki. They feel strongly about it and we may have difficulty on this point.

Mr. Kissinger: This raises a problem. How do we keep it a more restrictive group if the countries without stationed troops already have their people there? I was indifferent before, but now I realize it will be hard to exclude the people we will want to. How do we launch the talks? There are three possibilities: 1. through our bilateral channels with the Soviets, 2. through coordinated multilateral contacts or, 3. by using a small Allied team. Do you have any preferences?

Mr. Irwin: I prefer the first, but the Allies won’t agree.

Mr. Rush: No, they’ll never agree to that.

Mr. Kissinger: So how do we handle it?

Mr. Springsteen: We have worked out a scenario that consists of multiple bilateral contacts with the prospective participants. We would send notes to all of the Allies on our side and all of the participants on their side, too.

Mr. Kissinger: What date are you thinking of?

[Page 307]

Mr. Springsteen: November 20th is the illustrative date we have been using in our planning for the CSCE.

Mr. Rush: Number two has the advantage of avoiding the German problem. If we make bilateral contacts, there will be pressure for us to deal with Pankow.

Gen. Walters: Would the French be included?

Mr. Kissinger: No, they’re not interested.

Mr. Springsteen: We all agree that the countries involved should only be those with troops, but there is no reason why we can’t keep the others informed about what is going on. That would take the edge off the complaints of the Italians and Greeks.

Mr. Irwin: The plan is that we would inform the others through the CSCE.

Mr. Kissinger: It’s important that we get organized fairly quickly within NATO. We have to be sure that we are approaching MBFR on the same level intellectually, or we can get badly disorganized. Are we satisfied with the NATO consultations?

Mr. Springsteen: Well, we agree that what the Allies do is directly related to our inputs. I assume that we will set up a work program and do the initial position papers, then consult with our Allies and try to get a position coordinated first for the explorations and then for the negotiations. We would like to phase out the MBFR working group once negotiations get underway and have the negotiating team handle things from that point on.

Mr. Kissinger: I agree. I’d like to handle these negotiations in the same manner as SALT, with the negotiating team the focal point and backstopping handled here.

Adm. Moorer: I would like to point out that we have an established channel of communication through SACEUR. We can use that channel to communicate with the military commanders of the NATO countries, to keep them informed about what’s going on and to gain their support for the negotiations.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Springsteen) How do you plan to handle this?

Mr. Springsteen: We can do it in a number of ways. We could use the two tier approach through NATO, we could use a completely separate channel or we could go through SACEUR.

Mr. Kissinger: Can you work that out?

Mr. Springsteen: There is no problem. We have worked through SACEUR before.

Mr. Kissinger: What we want to do now is to develop some reasonable asymmetrical options. The Soviets proposed a token cut at the [Page 308] Summit and we rejected the bilateral approach they favored. We want to be sure to consider NATO security as the principal criterion of these discussions. As I recall, all of the asymmetrical proposals I have seen are not plausible. One of these would have us reduce 24 F–4’s for 500 Soviet tanks. How you do compare an F–4 to a tank? For one thing, we would run out of F–4’s before they ran out of tanks. That type of asymmetrical reduction is ridiculous. They would laugh at us if we proposed something like that.

Mr. Irwin: We must be realistic.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s right, we must be realistic and avoid these ridiculous proposals. What we need now is a systematic analysis, as we did in SALT, of the various options open to us, of their verifiability, of how quickly we can react and how these reductions would affect our mobilization schedules. We should have this analysis done now and have a meeting in early August to review and refine it.

Mr. Irwin: We have to work quickly to get prepared for the meetings this fall. There will be a Foreign Ministers meeting in early October.

Mr. Kissinger: Tom (Moorer), can you get to work quickly and war-game some of these possibilities?

Adm. Moorer: Sure, we can set up some models right away.

Adm. Weinel: The models for most of these ideas can be set up quickly, except for the ones on planes versus tanks. They will be difficult.

Mr. Kissinger: That’s not a realistic option, anyway. We want to set up some common ceiling models, but can we do that without a clear definition of the mobilization base of NATO? Do we know what the NATO mobilization is? Have we ever solved those sticky questions of European stock levels? There must be a way of reducing them to a common denominator. A lot of models have been rejected in the past because they didn’t consider these factors fully.

Adm. Moorer: U.S. figures are based on the assumption that it will take ninety days to replace equipment, not on a ninety day war.

Mr. Kissinger: But if we are figuring stocks for M plus 90 while other data shows that we will be out of the war in M plus 45, we will have to refigure the M plus 90 assumption.

Adm. Moorer: The NATO countries use a high rate of expenditure in their estimates, but in a real combat situation the commander who thinks he is going to run out of supplies will limit his rate of expenditure, so I think the NATO figures are too high. There is also a pretty wide variation. You will have good estimates for the UK and Germany, and not very good ones for Italy, for example.

Mr. Kissinger: If we want to improve our position in Europe and not worsen it by these negotiations we must get some meaningful figures to work from.

[Page 309]

Mr. Leonard: Another option that hasn’t been mentioned is the possibility of including tactical nukes in the discussions. For example, we might consider an option of reduction of tanks versus nukes.

Mr. Kissinger: Nukes are not in any of these options, but I would like to know why we need 7,000 tactical nukes in Europe. I have never seen any explanation of why we need so many.

Adm. Moorer: You can’t just consider the total number of weapons without breaking them down as to function. You have to consider how many are for use in AAA, tactical artillery, rockets, tactical air, etc. The problem is that we must have the right kinds of warheads in the places where they will be needed. You can’t just reduce them without looking at the overall placement of the different types.

Mr. Kissinger: What about doing a model that shows some nuke cuts on our side for similar cuts on theirs?

Adm. Moorer: As I say, we would have to study the mix carefully.

Mr. Kissinger: Why don’t we have the working group look at this? We can have plenty of inputs from JCS and SACEUR.

Mr. Rush: I agree that 7,000 is probably too many. The most important factor, though, is the psychological feeling of safety that the tactical nukes give the Europeans. they’re going to get awfully uneasy if we start talking about reducing them.

Mr. Kissinger: Of course, that would have to be considered.

Mr. Nutter: This question was considered last fall.

Adm. Moorer: It will be important that we get SACEUR’s input for any new consideration of this.

Mr. Kissinger: Well, that about covers it. Shall we plan for a meeting of this group no later than the middle of August? (There was no objection)

Adm. Moorer: We have to keep in mind that the Soviets would like to drive a wedge between us and the Europeans. That will probably be their main goal.

Mr. Kissinger: For that very reason, the more concrete and technical we can make these discussions, the better it will be for us.

Mr. Hackett: Sir, the President would like to see you right now.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–113, SRG Meetings Minutes, Originals, 1972–73. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.