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two countries, and obligations undertaken by each of them unimpaired.

Thus, while the agreement contains a number of limiting clauses, it is nevertheless a major achievement in the development of peaceful relations between our two countries and a very significant step toward the creation of a stable peace in the world as a whole. We have demonstrated that the basic principles on which we agreed last year as well as all the other agreements that were concluded at that time and since did indeed mark a turning point in our relations. We can take satisfaction that with this new agreement we have given further substance to our developing relations and that the course upon which we are embarked has become even more firmly set toward a future of progress and peace.

The effect of our prospective agreement would undoubtedly be further enhanced by our ability to record, during your visit, additional progress toward the limitation of strategic armaments. I had hoped that we might be able to agree on some specific measures, but the joint statement which we have been discussing should give our negotiators a new impetus so that the talks can be accelerated, just as was the case when we agreed on a joint statement in May 1971. I look forward to reviewing the status of the strategic arms limitation talks in detail with you so that we might be able to give fresh instructions to our representatives looking to concrete progress this year.

On European affairs there have been many favorable developments and we will have the opportunity to review the two important current projects—the conference on security and cooperation and the negotiations on mutual reduction of forces and armaments in Central Europe.

We will also want to review the situation in Indochina as well as in the Middle East. I share your concern that the situation in the Middle East is potentially explosive, and I appreciate that we are both working toward the same objective of a solution that is just for all the parties and at the same time a durable one. I will be prepared to go into this matter in more detail during our discussions, and Dr. Kissinger and Ambassador Dobrynin can pursue their consultations on it in the period before our meeting.

As regards our bilateral cooperation, it now is clear that there will be several new areas in which agreements can be concluded during your visit. On some matters we could also provide guidance for further negotiation to be conducted after our meeting.


4 A reference to the United States-Soviet communiqué, May 28, 1971, which was issued in Vienna at the end of the fourth session of the SALT I talks. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972, Document 162.

We will of course want to go into the question of expanding our economic ties. I have reviewed your discussion with Dr. Kissinger on the long term relationship that might develop between our two countries. I agree substantially with the directions you indicated. These are

51 highly complex matters, requiring much detailed and technical work. But in this area we should signal a positive direction, as well as develop some of the specific ideas to be taken up by the Commission we set up last October

Altogether, the agreements which will be concluded during your visit due to the serious and constructive preparatory work that has been done under direction by our representatives, will add new momentum to our relations. They will ensure that your visit will have both symbolic importance and real substantive significance.

I believe the practical arrangements for your visit are progressing well. It will be a pleasure to conduct our discussions here in Washington as well as in Camp David, and then to continue our talks in San Clemente in a more informal and relaxed atmosphere. If there are any wishes that you have in regard to the schedule or itinerary, do not hesitate to raise them in our channel.

We all look forward to repaying the splendid hospitality shown to us in the Soviet Union last year.


Richard Nixon

5 See Document 111.

6 Presumably a reference to the U.S.-USSR Joint Commercial Commission who first met July 20-August 1, 1972, in Moscow; see Documents 19–22. The second session was held October 12–18, 1972, in Washington, at the end of which the Trade Agreement and the Lend-Lease Agreement were signed; see Document 65.

121. Memorandum From the President's Assistant for National

Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon

Washington, undated.


Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War

1. The Background

Brezhnev first broached this idea in April 1972 before the last summit and gave you an initial draft.? His original concept was a pure bilateral nuclear non-aggression treaty, and the first few Soviet drafts made this clear. He also had in mind that we would act jointly against any third country that threatened nuclear war. Finally, he foresaw that on the basis of this agreement, even if a war started in Europe, the territories of the US and USSR would be excluded.

Thus, the original Soviet proposal, in the form of a treaty, contained the following key points:

“Article I

"The Soviet Union and the United States undertake the obligation not to use nuclear weapons against each other.

"Article II

“The Soviet Union and the United States shall prevent such a situation when, as a result of actions by third States, they would find themselves involved in a collision with the use of nuclear weapons.

“Article III

“Both parties, in case of military conflict between other States, shall apply all efforts to prevent a nuclear war from being unleashed.”

You rejected this approach out of hand. Over the next several months our strategy was to use the idea of doing something in this field as a means to regulate Soviet conduct, especially with regard to Vietnam.

By last fall, however, it was apparent to Brezhnev that his crude approach stood no chance of an agreement. In my conversations in

Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 75, Country Files-Europe-USSR, [Discussions with Brezhnev]. Secret; Sensitive.

2 See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XIV, Soviet Union, October 1971-May 1972, Documents 159 and 221.

Moscow in September,' I emphasized your point that he was asking for a revolutionary change in post-war military relationships, and that in this light the reaction of third countries would be of utmost importance. If we did not respect their rights, we risked bringing about a world crisis.

These were the points I made to the Soviets as your position:

"—We believe it important to avoid any formulation that carried an implication of a condominium by our two countries;

"-We believe it important that an agreement between our two countries should not carry any implication that we were ruling out nuclear war between ourselves but were leaving open the option of nuclear war against third countries;

"—We think it important that in concentrating on the prevention of nuclear war we should not at the same time appear to be legitimizing the initiation of war by conventional means;

"—We think it important that past agreements, whether alliances or other types of obligations, designed to safeguard peace and security should be enhanced by any additional agreement between ourselves relating specifically to the prevention of nuclear warfare.4

"-Within this framework the President is prepared to continue the exchanges in the confidential channel with the objective of developing a mutually satisfactory text. Negotiations in this channel are always conducted with a view to reaching some agreement.”

I believe that after this presentation, Brezhnev began to realize that if he wanted an agreement, he would have to take our major points seriously, and that the summit would depend on his moving toward our position. Recent Developments

Subsequently, the Soviets presented new drafts that began to take into account our position. At that time, we also involved the UK in our drafting, and used some of their points to good advantage."

The major points at issue in the period before the Zavidovo meeting were:

– The Soviets still wanted to state categorically that we would not use nuclear weapons against each other. The Soviets wanted to be free to use nuclear war against China and we obviously could not permit this. We wanted to formulate a general objective, applying to all countries, of preventing nuclear war. (Article I)



See Document 42.
Nixon underlined most of the preceding four points.
5 See footnote 3, Document 25; Document 85; and footnote 4, Document 95.

-Second, the Soviets wanted to decouple the nuclear aspects from refraining from the threat of force (Article II), while for us it was essential to weave a tight connection between excluding the danger of nuclear war, and refraining from all use of force as a prerequisite. This was particularly important in regard to NATO where our defense posture rests on our potential use of nuclear weapons in case of overwhelming Soviet conventional attack.

-Third, the Soviets wanted to consult in case of a conflict between two third countries that raised the threat of nuclear war; this could only apply to China, France or the UK (The Chinese were very sensitive on this point). We took the position that there could be no right of intervention by either the US or USSR in such a case (Article IV).

-Finally, the Soviets wanted to limit the obligations that remained unaffected to formal agreements and treaties while we had to cover other US obligations that might come from Presidential directives, moral commitments or doctrines (Article VI).

In each of these issues, we prevailed in Zavidovo after I read out to Brezhnev your instructions. II. The Agreement

The heart of the Agreement is in the first three Articles:


The United States and the Soviet Union agree that an objective of their policies is to remove the danger of nuclear war and of the use of nuclear weapons.

Accordingly, the Parties agree that they will act in such a manner as to prevent the development of situations capable of causing a dangerous exacerbation of their relations, as to avoid military confrontations, and as to exclude the outbreak of nuclear war between them and between either of the Parties and other countries.


The Parties agree, in accordance with Article I and to realize the objective stated in that Article, to proceed from the premise that each Party will refrain from the threat or use of force against the other Party, against the allies of the other Party and against other countries, in circumstances which may endanger international peace and security. The Parties agree that they will be guided by these considerations in the for


Documents 104, 105, 107, 108, and 109 are the records of Kissinger's discussions about the agreement on the prevention of nuclear war with Brezhnev and Gromyko in Zavidovo, May 5–8. For Nixon's instructions, see Document 107.

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