64. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1

NSSM 121—Issues at the June, 1971 NATO Ministerial Meeting


The US will face three East-West political issues at the NAC Ministerial meeting at Lisbon:

—the current allied attitudes to issues relating to Germany and Berlin;

—allied conditions and preparations for a CES, and the question of using a CES to establish permanent East-West machinery; and

MBFR and its possible relation to CES.

(Questions to be addressed by the Defense Planning Committee, especially NATO force improvements, are not thoroughly treated in the study but will be handled through the DPRC. They are discussed briefly at the end of this summary.)

I. Germany and Berlin

Ministers can be expected to review progress and prospects in the Berlin negotiations and other East-West talks relating to Germany. However, given the current impasse on Berlin, and the linkage between a Berlin agreement and the ratification of FRG bilateral accords with the USSR and Poland, there is no real issue to be resolved at Lisbon. The study suggests that NATO communiqué formulations will likely be limited to a reaffirmation of allied support for Four Power rights and FRG objectives. State plans to seek allied support in reiterating that a “satisfactory conclusion” of the Berlin talks be obtained before the allies move toward multilateral East-West explorations.

After Lisbon it could become more difficult to maintain allied consensus on this subject:

—If the Berlin talks should fail, or appear to drag on without noticeable progress, some allies may wish to abandon the Berlin linkage, especially as regards a CES.

—Alternatively, a very modest accord on Berlin might not be accepted as sufficient progress to justify forward movement toward a CES (especially if the FRG government did not use the agreement to [Page 283] submit the Moscow Treaty2 to the Bundestag for ratification). The study suggests, however, that the majority of the allies will consider any Berlin agreement acceptable to the Three Western Powers as adequate for proceeding with multilateral CES preparations. A complicating facor is that a Berlin agreement might seem to warrant a CES, but would not lead to ratification of the Eastern treaties.

II. CES Issues

A. Allied conditions for a CES

The study points out that as yet no firm allied consensus exists on the specific aims of a CES, its venue and its timing. Nevertheless, many allies believe that a CES is inevitable, and that it can serve Western interests even if it does not lead to a new security system or “peace order” in Europe.

—A CES, it is felt, could increase East European freedom of action vis-à-vis the West and perhaps ameliorate living conditions in the East.

—Some believe a CES might result in the establishment of a mechanism for negotiating real security issues, such as MBFR.

—A CES would enhance (or at least appear to enhance) the role of the Europeans in East-West relations.

—Some allies contend that the mere atmospherics of a CES would contribute to détente and a reduction of tensions.

On the other hand, it is recognized by many allies that:

—Key European security issues (e.g., Germany and Berlin, SALT) will not be addressed at a CES.

—Moscow could easily use a CES to promote Soviet objectives (e.g., enhance the GDR’s status, sanction Soviet rule in Eastern Europe, divide the Western allies, inhibit West European integration, encourage Western Europe to relax its military effort and the US to reduce its military presence in Europe).

At Lisbon, the study contends, the main issue will be whether or not to go beyond the December, 1970, communiqué position which set two preconditions for allied multilateral explorations regarding a “conference, or a series of conferences, on security and cooperation in Europe”:3

1) Four-Power talks on Berlin must reach a “satisfactory conclusion;” and

2) other on-going East-West talks must be “proceeding favorably.”

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Most allies, it is asserted, would now prefer to drop the second precondition of progress in “other on-going talks, retaining only the Berlin precondition. Bonn believes this would focus greater attention on the importance of a Berlin settlement. The study recommends that the US support restatement of the December, 1970, communiqué position at Lisbon, but that we be prepared to join a consensus, should one develop, in favor of eliminating the second precondition of progress in “other on-going talks.” (No analysis is presented in support of this recommendation from the standpoint of US interests.)

B. Preparations for a CES—the Current Drift

The appendix to the paper outlines three basic concepts of a CES:

1) a CES with very limited objectives, in which the Europeans take the lead and the US plays a less active role, with the aim of convening an early one-time conference;

2) a CES involving active US participation with clearly defined, but still limited, objectives that might promote further East-West contacts in the security and cooperation areas; and

3) a CES as a serious policy objective, to be used to establish permanent machinery for the resolution of outstanding East-West issues in Europe.

By our support for specific CES agenda items in previous NATO communiqués, and the role we have recently played in the NATO East-West negotiations study, the US is currently pursuing the second of the above conceptual approaches to a CES. This will lead to a primarily hortatory conference with limited tangible results, as the study points out. According to this approach and current studies, the agenda of a CES would include the following:

a. Principles governing relations between states, including the renunciation of the use of force.

NATO communiqués have already stated that these principles should include “universal respect of the sovereign equality, political independence and territorial integrity of each European state, regardless of its political and social system.” The intent has been to oppose or limit the Brezhnev doctrine.

b. Issues of cooperation in Europe, including enhanced technical, economic, scientific and cultural exchanges and cooperation on the environment.

—The Study also notes the idea, informally discussed by the US and some allies, that these essentially non-military issues could be discussed at a Conference on European Cooperation (CEC) as an alternative to a CES, should there be no prospect that concrete security issues such as MBFR would be addressed at a CES.

c. Freer movement of people, ideas and information.

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—Already affirmed as an agenda item by NATO Ministers, the objective would be to elicit from communist governments actions or commitments which would facilitate an expansion of East-West contacts.

d. Other issues, including possible negotiations on MBFR in an appropriate forum, and possibly consideration of permanent machinery (although these issues have so far not been thoroughly addressed and analyzed).

Procedural approaches: So far the US has expressed a preference for “careful exploratory and preparatory phases,” aimed at reaching maximum East-West consensus prior to a formal CES. Believing that the Pact will not be prepared to reach a preliminary consensus on issues prior to a CES, the French have suggested an early conference of Ministers following multilateral explorations, in order to discuss positions, refine them through subcommittees, and later debate them further in later phases of the conference.

—The paper points out that the French approach would probably focus undue attention on the initial Ministerial gathering, without any assurance that the Soviets would deal meaningfully with issues proposed by NATO in subsequent phases.

Assuming as it does the continuation of the present approach, aimed at hortatory and limited tangible results, the study asserts that no definitive new positions need be taken at Lisbon.

—It is suggested that Ministers will note the work done to date and request further studies. State recommends forceful language in rebuttal of the Brezhnev doctrine (while asserting that we may wish to weaken in a trade-off later), and an endorsement of early NATO attention to East-West environmental cooperation if Italy proposes an initiative in this area. Suggesting that Ministers will give only cursory attention to possible permanent machinery beyond asking for further study, the paper offers no US position in this area.

(Comment: The study presents no solid discussion of US interests or objectives in a CES or whether we are adopting the approach which is in our best interest. However, if we are interested in another approach it would necessarily have implications for our posture at the Lisbon meeting. For example, if we were to decide to adopt the third conceptual approach listed above [i.e., to give our full support to a CES provided that it address real security issues, such as MBFR, and establish permanent East-West monitoring and enforcement machinery]4 the US would presumably want at Lisbon to emphasize steps toward permanent machinery as an essential element of a CES. Alternatively, if we see no US interests served by a CES, we should retreat from our recent active role in NATO CES studies.)

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Recalling positions of recent NATO communiqués in favor of exploratory talks with interested Warsaw Pact states on MBFR, and noting the recent statement of the US position in the President’s Foreign Policy Report,5 the study points out that the allies have yet to reach an agreed position on whether MBFR is feasible or advantageous to the Alliance, or how to approach MBFR negotiations.

—The UK maintains that NATO’s public position is ahead of its preparedness to actually engage the East in MBFR talks.

—The FRG has recently proposed a phased process of MBFR negotiations, beginning first with principles in the pattern of SALT, then discussing constraints and possible freezes, before addressing the shape of actual reductions. Though precluding multilateral MBFR explorations before a satisfactory Berlin agreement, the Germans argue that their new approach would enhance NATO’s détente image and militate against unilateral troop cuts.

—While remaining aloof from NATO deliberations on MBFR, the French are now giving the subject more serious consideration.

At Lisbon, the study suggests, attention will focus on whether the communiqué should signal greater interest in MBFR and the program for further NATO MBFR studies. There are two specific issues:

1) Our response to recent statements by Brezhnev and Kosygin expressing Soviet interest in MBFR.

—Several allies are expected to support a statement in the communiqué of allied interest in the recent Soviet position. The paper proposes that the US agree to noting the Soviet statements on the assumption that they contrast with previous Soviet reticence on the subject and may reflect genuine Soviet interest.

2) Linkage of MBFR and CES.

—The FRG supports some connection in the communiqué between CES and MBFR, including a linkage in exploratory discussions prior to a CES. The German contention is that this would ensure that real military security issues be the focus of any eventual CES.

—Some, but not all, other allies are expected to support the FRG approach.

State proposes to refer in the NATO communiqué to the relationship of MBFR to issues of European security and to discussions related to a CES, but to keep separate from a CES detailed explorations and negotiations on MBFR. Under this formula, MBFR negotiations could go forward before, during or after a CES in a separate forum. Multilateral MBFR talks would not be contingent on a Berlin settlement.

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(Comment: The analysis in the study of the pros and cons of MBFR–CES linkage is skimpy and not satisfactory. The linkage issue is not cast against a discussion of what kind of CES might best serve US interests.)

Noting that further NATO MBFR studies will be needed after the Lisbon meeting to seek an allied consensus on US substantive and procedural approaches, the paper also suggests that the issue of GDR participation in MBFR, as well as in CES, will require further attention. GDR participation on the basis of full equality could have adverse consequences for our position in the Berlin talks.

IV. Defense Issues

The paper suggests in summary fashion that NATO force improvements will be reviewed at the meeting of the Defense Planning Committee (DPC), especially:

—progress in implementing the recommendations of the AD–70 study adopted last December; and

—progress of the European Defense Improvement Program (EDIP).

(Data on actual progress in these programs is not analyzed in the study.)

It is suggested that the DPC meeting will provide an opportunity for the US to:

—support the implementation of AD–70 and EDIP in close consultation among the allies, with initial priority to West European aircraft shelter construction;

—urge that EDIP be considered only the first step toward even greater European force improvement efforts;

—reaffirm our intention to maintain and improve US forces in Europe, if the Europeans do their share in improving their forces;

—encourage improvements in Allied defenses in the Mediterranean.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–182, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 121. Secret. This paper is a summary of the 29-page NSSM 121 Response. NSSM 121 is Document 60.
  2. The Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Moscow on August 12, 1970. The treaty included an exchange of notes between Germany and the Western Allies on Quadripartite rights and a German letter to the Soviet Government on reunification.
  3. See Document 55 and footnote 2 thereto.
  4. Brackets are in the original.
  5. The President’s Second Annual Report to Congress on U.S. Foreign Policy, February 25, 1971, is printed in Public Papers: Nixon, 1971, pp. 219–345.