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Thus on the critical aspect of this agreement we have succeeded in moving from a strictly bilateral non-aggression formula to a broad restraint on Soviet policy, which fully protects third countries. This is spelled out in more explicit terms in Article II, which is linked to the first Article, in that any use of force or threat of use would violate the agreement and make the nuclear aspects inoperative.
Thus, there is no way that the Soviets can use force or provoke confrontation without throwing over this agreement.
-Article IV also produced a major debate. This calls for consultations between the US and USSR, if our relations or if relations between either country and third states risk a nuclear conflict. Originally this article also included a consultation provision that would have applied should relations between other states risk a nuclear war, for example, between India and China. We felt this was another attempt at a US-Soviet condominium, and a possible basis for Soviet intervention in such third country conflicts. Thus we pressed hard to limit the commitment to consult only in those instances where there would be a risk of war between the US and USSR arising out of a third country conflict or crisis or between one of the parties and a third country.
Again your instructions turned Brezhnev around, though he thoroughly understood that in doing so he abandoned any claim to use consultation as the basis for intervention in a crisis that did not threaten the US or the USSR.
-Finally, in the last article we had a bitter dispute over the last clause which states that the agreement does not affect or impair the obligation undertaken by the US towards its allies or other countries, "in treaties, agreements and other appropriate instruments." The Soviets wanted to limit this statement to treaties and agreements, thus excluding any unilateral obligation the US might undertake, for example, a moral commitment to Israel or the Monroe Doctrine. After adamantly rejecting the addition of "appropriate instruments," Brezhnev finally yielded on this point as well.
All of these concessions, which he accepted after I read your instructions, led him to blow up. Dobrynin claimed Brezhnev was infuriated, but nevertheless he has accepted our essential demands.
We have now succeeded in building up clear provisions against Soviet use of nuclear weapons against third countries. I believe we have also succeeded in creating a web of conditions in the first three articles in which the Soviets cannot turn on NATO or China, without violating this agreement. In addition, the agreement is so drawn that none of our NATO commitments, including the use of nuclear weapons in case of overwhelming attack, is impaired. Of course, none of this would ultimately deter the Soviets but the increasingly complex relationship
we are developing-in this agreement and in economics, in SALT, etc. will have to be a critical calculation in Brezhnev's decision-making.
In sum, your instructions to stand firm on the substance of this agreement enabled us to nail down broader inhibitions on Soviet policy. China will remain the unknown, and it is clear from his conversation that Brezhnev is obsessed with his China problem. Whether he decides to use force is the major question, but this current nuclear project with him could divert him from that course.
Brezhnev's eagerness for the nuclear project was of some value as a lever in pressing him to deal more concretely with SALT. Shortly before my departure for Moscow, the Soviets gave us some very general, but disadvantageous Basic Principles of a permanent SALT agreement.5 Article IV of their draft was a sweeping proposal to include all of our aircraft stationed abroad, and Article X was a strict prohibition against transferring any offensive weapons or technical assistance to third countries (e.g., the UK). Otherwise, the draft was non-substantive, and failed to deal with numerical levels or MIRVS.
Our counter draft introduced more substance. We proposed that ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers would be subject to equitable limits and that other nuclear delivery systems would be handled by a joint pledge not to circumvent the agreement. We dropped out the question of non-transfer entirely, and added a specific reference to limiting multiple reentry vehicles.
The Soviets returned another draft' that accepted much of our paper, and considerably softened their original position on our overseas bases and aircraft and softened the non-transfer clause though the latter is still unacceptable. I pressed Brezhnev to deal with specific substance particularly on MIRVs. I argued that after more than 3 years of negotiation any principles would have to be more than platitudes. I outlined three approaches stemming from Verification Panel studies:8 (1) to deal with both numerical levels of major intercontinental systems and with MIRVS by freezing the status quo, in which the Soviets could not test or deploy MIRVS on land-based ICBMs and we would stop at our current deployment of around 350 Minuteman III; (2) we could deal with MIRVs separately along the same lines; (3) we could ban the
5 The Soviet draft of the Basic Principles of the SALT agreement was transmitted in backchannel message WH 30981 from Johnson in Geneva to Kissinger, May 2, 2349Z. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 427, Backchannel Messages, 1973, SALT, Geneva)
6 The U.S. counter draft is in the second section of backchannel message WH 30981. 7 See footnote 7, Document 109.
8 See footnote 5, Document 110.
USSR from putting MIRVS on their very heavy ICBMs (the SS-9 type), and in turn we might ban ballistic missiles from our bombers.
Brezhnev, in effect, ruled out MIRV limits for now, though he claimed he had not had time to study our proposals. He argued that we could easily violate a MIRV freeze, by continuing our deployments and the USSR could not monitor our compliance. He also claimed a MIRV freeze on land-based ICBMs would be unequal. He described a new MIRV system with 4-8 independently-guided reentry vehicles, each with its own computer. This sounds plausible but we have not picked this up in any Soviet tests.
I took a strong position with Brezhnev on Vietnam. He seemed to understand the gravity of the situation, and claims that the Soviets are exercising and urging restraint.
I think that he recognizes that we may be forced to take some strong steps; with the summit in view, he will probably use whatever influence he wields in Hanoi to dampen down the situation.
We discussed this only in a very private meeting," but Brezhnev went quite far in denouncing the Chinese and warning us of their perfidy. His remarks also had some ominous overtones, suggesting that he has been turning over in his mind the possibilities of a confrontation or even an attack. He claimed China was the only threat to the USSR and in effect, probed the possibility of taking joint action against Chinese nuclear facilities, or at least having the US remain passive while the Soviets did so. Indeed, Dobrynin asked me for the first time whether we had any agreement with China; I told him we did not, but that we had clear national interests. Our discussions could leave no illusion in Brezhnev's mind that we would simply give him a free hand.
China thus remains a major variable in Soviet policy; it could lead to a major crisis in the next 12-18 months. But it is also a point of critical leverage for us.
It may be that sometime late in the summer we would want to arrange with the Chinese for a visit by Chou En-lai to the UN in the fall and a meeting with you in Washington. In any event, we must look at our contingency planning for the event of Soviet military action against China.
9 No record of this conversation was found. See Document 115.
There was not much to discuss on Europe, since most of the issues are tactical, and Brezhnev left them to Gromyko. Their main interest is that the European Security Conference start in late June. On MBFR they offered to begin some discreet bilateral talks during the summer. They seemed unprepared to discuss the substance of MBFR and frankly, I think they are quite unsure of how to proceed.
Brezhnev's economic position is our second point of leverage. He outlined an economic relationship involving a long term grain agreement and credits for purchasing consumer goods and equipment of about $2 billion. He wants to consummate this at the summit, at least in general terms. There are some technical problems in granting credits of this size, but it is clear that if we are interested, a much broader economic arrangement with the USSR, one that would tie the USSR to the US as much as any factor, is possible. This explains Brezhnev's fears about the fate of MFN in the Congress, and explains why he was willing to make some concession on Jewish emigration.
Other Bilateral Questions
The Soviets and we have been reviewing areas of bilateral cooperation beyond those agreed at the Moscow summit. We have had a detailed NSSM study done10 and the agencies are now under instruction to move rapidly with the Soviets in such fields as cultural exchange, transportation, agricultural research, oceanography and, possibly peaceful uses of atomic energy.11 Brezhnev agreed to issue similar instructions to the Soviet side.
On the basis of Brezhnev's mood and the contents of the talks, it is likely that you will hold the high cards at the summit. Judged against the background of recent changes in the Soviet leadership, and the strong public commitment Brezhnev has made to a conciliatory relationship with you, he must succeed in Washington. Your China policy and Soviet economic difficulties are your strong points.
At the same time, the probable results can mark a further advance in our relations. By the time he departs the US on June 26, he should be deeply committed to a more positive relationship with the US. He will, of course, try to exploit it, especially against the Chinese and also in Europe. But your trip to Europe this fall, and the careful efforts we have
For NSSM 176 and its response, see Documents 83 and 93. 11 See Document 103.
made to keep the British, Germans and French informed on the key Soviet-American issues should enable you to offset whatever tactical moves Brezhnev makes in the wake of the summit.
117. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Nixon1
Moscow, May 13, 1973.
Dear Mr. President,
You have already been informed, of course, by Dr. Kissinger of the talks we had with him in Moscow. On my part, I feel that the exchange of opinion which took place, was useful, from the point of view of moving ahead in the questions that will be the subject of our discussions during my visit to the US next June.
It is good, first of all, that we have agreed on the main issue-regarding the agreement between the USSR and the US on the prevention of nuclear war, which will be signed by you and me.
I would like to tell you, Mr. President, that the present finally agreed text allows us to say that we will do a great thing of real historical importance. And we have no doubts that this agreement corresponds to the interests of not only our two countries, but of the peoples of the whole world as well.
I regard as useful also the exchange of views on the limitation of strategic arms. True, we were not able yet to finally agree on the document regarding the principles of further talks on that matter because of the shortness of time. But we have in mind, as it was agreed with Dr. Kissinger, to proceed with this work in the confidential channel. We continue to believe that the adoption of such a document at the meeting would give a necessary impetus to those talks.
I would like to emphasize, Mr. President, that we are for continued active talks on that problem, for search of mutually acceptable solutions in the field of the limitation of strategic arms with the use for that purpose of both the confidential channel and the negotiations in Geneva.
1 Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 68, Country Files-Europe-USSR, Dobrynin/Kissinger, Vol. 17 [May 1973- June 7, 1973]. No classification marking. A handwritten note at the top of the letter reads, "Handed to HAK by D 1:00 pm 5/15/73."