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This text, the English language version of which is attached, is subject to review solely as to legal form, style and conformity of the Russian and English language versions, but not as to substance.
Henry A. Kissinger
Attached but not printed.
Conversation Between President Nixon and his Assistant for
Washington, May 11, 1973.
[Omitted here is discussion related to Kissinger's trip to the Soviet Union.)
Kissinger: On China, I'm getting worried. I'm beginning to think that they (the Soviet Union) want to attack China. (unclear, Brezhnev?] took me hunting. Heyou hunt there from a tower. You sit in a tower and shoot these poor bastards as they come by to feed. They put out the food. Well, when night fell, and he had killed about three boars and God knows what else--and that's when it was dark-he unpacked a picnic dinner and said: “Look, I want to talk to you privately–nobody else, no notes."2 And he said: "Look, you will be our partners, you and we are going to run the world" —
Nixon: Who'd he use as translator on that?
Kissinger: Sukhodrev. And he said: “The President and I are the only ones who can handle things.” He said: “We have to prevent the Chinese from having a nuclear program at all costs." I've got to get that information to the Chinese, and we've got to play a mean game here
Nixon: I know.
Kissinger:--because I don't think we can let the Russians jump the Chinese.
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Tapes, Oval Office, Conversation No. 916–14. No classification marking. The editor transcribed the portion of the conversation printed here specifically for this volume. This is part of a conversation that took place from 10:15 a.m. to 12:03 p.m.
2 No record of this conversation was found.
Kissinger: I think the change in the world balance of power would be
Kissinger: And, uh—so he [unclear] on politics, he said: “Anything you want,” he said, “the Republicans have to be back in in ‘76." He said: “Anything we—"
Nixon: He didn't give you the crap on Watergate (unclear] been exposed to here?
Kissinger: The only thing on Watergate that Dobrynin said-
Kissinger: No. And, now, Dobrynin, the basic—the only thing Dobrynin is complaining about is the amateurishness of the guys who did it. He said: "Why did you do it out of the White House?"
Kissinger: -the only concern the Russians have is they hate the Democrats. I mean, you should hear Brezhnev on Jackson. It's not to be believed.
Nixon: Oh-did they get into the business of—of the—that doggone exit visa, and that other thing?
Kissinger: -promised it wouldn't be re-introduced. I gave them a list of those 42 people who are being kept.
Nixon: And if we look at all we can do (unclear] "Just don't let it"—I keep threatening the Senators that if they continue to insist on Jackson, it'll blow the whole thing. Now, you know it won't, but my point is
Kissinger: Oh, it will. Who knows?
Nixon: What I meant is, it won't because we're going to get Jackson modified.
Nixon: Jackson's got to be modified in a way that they could be given (unclear). I have threatened the hell out of the Senators.
Nixon: But, did he mention—is there anything they know about that?
Kissinger: Well, he said that if the Jackson Amendment goes through, no Jew is going to leave the Soviet Union again.
Nixon: That's right.
Kissinger: Well, you can't repeat this, but he said-he took me aside privately, he said: “Do you know what your people are doing?" He said: “The Jews are already the privileged group-in a way, a privileged group. They live in cities, they're the only group that can have an exit visa. No one else receives an exit visa, and you people keep humiliating us you're going to create worst anti-Semitism ever in the Soviet Union." And I believe that it's true.
Nixon: We can—we're going to work on the Jackson Amendment. I'm working my tail on it, Henry, but ...
(Omitted here is discussion of the Middle East.)
116. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National
Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon
Washington, May 11, 1973.
Reports on Meetings with Brezhnev Atmosphere and Mood
Brezhnev's hospitality was effusive, if unpredictable. The meetings with him were frequently delayed and his invitations to go boating and hunting came at literally the last minute. He took pleasure in showing off his apartment, where all our regular sessions took place.
1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files-Europe—USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 17, May-June 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for information.
On at least two occasions he was apparently infuriated by our position on the Middle East and the nuclear agreement, but preferred to postpone our meetings until he had calmed himself, rather than launching into a tirade directly at me as he had done last year.? Brezhnev's grasp of substance this time seemed less impressive than previously; he was uninterested in details, except on the nuclear agreement, and his attention span was short. He also seemed pre-occupied, frequently getting up to make phone calls or leaving the meetings for short intervals. At the same time, he took some 25 hours of his time during the four days to spend with us. The entire time was spent at his country place, where no westerners have ever been invited. Indeed, some of the Russians had never seen it. It has several large houses and a big indoor swimming pool. A lake for boating and a huge hunting preserve are adjacent.
Even though it becomes stifling after a day or two, Brezhnev undoubtedly intended his reception to be one extreme cordiality and, as such, a symbol of his respect for you and of his obvious conviction that his relationship with you enhances his own authority and prestige. This is one reason Brezhnev is looking forward to his visit and his meetings with you with considerable eagerness. He sees a trip to the United States and its political results as perhaps the crowning achievement of his political career. He has the greatest personal respect for you and considers you a man he can deal with forthrightly.
At the same time, he is apprehensive. He is nervous about possible incidents, particularly since he plans to bring his family. He is quite upset with what he believes is domestic opposition in the U.S. to improved Soviet-American relations. Though partly tactical, his obsession with Senator Jackson was a recurrent theme in our conversations. Probably, he does fear that a ground swell of Anti-Sovietism on the Jewish question might poison the atmosphere of the visit. The Nuclear Agreement
The agreement on the prevention of nuclear war is obviously the key to the visit in Brezhnev's eyes. He has probably staked his position on the outcome of this project. It was the one thing that occupied his undivided attention. In the drafting sessions he almost outsmarted himself in an effort to insure that it was essentially completed before I departed.
You will recall that your initial strategy was to dangle the prospect of this agreement as a sort of regulator on Soviet conduct this past year. And this has been effective. At the same time, given the agreement's sensitive nature and its psychological overtones, it is difficult for this agreement to stand alone. It was envisaged that we might have to use it as a device to offset a tougher stand on Indochina if events led in that direction. Since the Soviets seem to be acting with restraint as far as the North Vietnamese are concerned, we have in the last three months turned to the substance of the nuclear agreement with effective results.
2 A reference to the meeting between Kissinger and Brezhnev on April 24 when they discussed Vietnam. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971-May 1972, Document 163.
As regards the substance of the agreement, you will recall that originally the Soviets proposed in effect a straightforward bilateral non-aggression treaty, including a ban on use of nuclear weapons between the US and the USSR. When we countered with a broad declaration without commitments, the Soviets offered a text with overtones of US-Soviet condominium and with a free hand for themselves vis-à-vis China.
In the meetings with Brezhnev the issues centered around the first two articles which contain the key provisions on nuclear use and the use of force. The first provision of Article I is a general statement of objectives only: to remove the danger of nuclear war and of the use of nuclear weapons. This was our basic approach, and the Soviets reluctantly accepted it. It involves no commitment not to use nuclear weapons. The second half of this article, however, makes attainment of the objective dependent on additional obligations, taken from the Basic Principles of May 29, 1972, that both sides would avoid exacerbating their relations, avoid military confrontations and exclude the outbreak of nuclear war between themselves and between either party and third countries.
There were three major disputes.
- First, the Soviets wanted to limit the non-use clause to the US and USSR, thus giving themselves a free hand to use nuclear weapons against third parties (China or NATO) while binding the US not to use nuclear weapons against the USSR. The second aspect was the exact operational language in describing the obligations. We preferred to say that both sides would "act in such a manner as” to exclude the outbreak of nuclear war, while the Soviets preferred to say do their utmost or do everything in their power. This phraseology plus their interpretation of the freedom against third countries was obviously out of the question.
At the first negotiating session Brezhnev wanted to drop out obligations to third countries or build them up to the point that US and USSR would seem to be settling all international conflicts. This was left unresolved, but when we resumed on Sunday evening,' I read your in
31 structions and Brezhnev yielded to our version.
3 See Documents 105 and 110.