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Kissinger: I think we could find it, but as you know, an aircraft is tested for many years before it becomes operational.
Brezhnev: That is quite true. But every new test brings closer the time when it is part of the armament.
Kissinger: That is true.
Brezhnev: It usually takes five-six years, but the end result is that a new plane is born.
Kissinger: That is true.
Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, all that from a purely human standpoint is aimed at lessening the temptation to increase nuclear weapons on both sides.
(Gromyko gives Brezhnev a paper]
It turns out, on the one hand, that we write and sign very good papers and proclaim very good objectives, and on the other hand we listen to our staffs and you build the Trident and B-1 long-range bombers, and we on our side build the 160 bomber with long-range nuclear missiles. When the people get to the bottom of what is happening, they will start criticizing us.
Kissinger: Let me turn to the 1000 missiles that the General Secretary mentioned. There are a number of problems in connection with this.
One, the fact that you have more warheads on each of your missiles than we do. Or will have. And each of the warheads is of greater weight.
Secondly, you do not yet have multiple warheads for submarines. So if you put all your permitted warheads on land-based missiles, then by the end of this period, you will be free to put multiple warheads on all
your submarines. And since there is only a certain amount you can do anyway, this only means that we are only endorsing your existing program. The end result would be that on land-based missiles you would have many more warheads than we do.
Brezhnev: Dr. Kissinger, I listen to you and I hear the exact words of our general staff when they report to me. But vice versa. Our people say the Americans have more than we do.
Brezhnev: They say the Americans are putting multiple warheads on their older missiles. So in your place I keep seeing our chief of the general staff reporting on developments in the United States. What is a warhead? One block with a capacity of a million tons. When you divide
it into six warheads, the capacity will no longer be a million tons. The whole thing becomes weaker by half.
Then there are those in the military who believe it is better to have one warhead but a bigger one, and there is another school of thought who think the more the better. But what is the difference between one kiloton and 50 kilotons? Both mean death and destruction. In World War II, you dropped two and wiped out populations.
I read the American press quite attentively and I don't think anybody in the United States is so critical of the agreement. What they are proposing has nothing to do with the agreement.
Kissinger: No, there is increasing criticism-but we should not debate it. Most of it is by dishonest people, I must say.
Kissinger: We gave you our ideas in the note to your Ambassador on Thursday. (The note is at Tab C]
We don't exclude a limit on the number of missiles that can be MIRVed, and we would have to make some calculations to see whether 1000 or 900—that clearly is not unacceptable. And you would certainly listen to a counter proposal on this.
Brezhnev: I am waiting for it.
Kissinger: I have just heard your idea for the first time. Let me think about the number for a while. Our basic problem is that it would have to be based on an agreement on how many would have to be land-based.
Brezhnev: This is not something—MIRVing—that can be done in just one year, so it is hard to predetermine at once the number of land-based missiles.
Kissinger: Since we may have completed 80% of our MIRVing, while you haven't even started, the practical result is that we would have to stop for five years while you were given time to catch up. That is how it would be seen in America.
Gromyko: But you will have advantages in that situation. You have got it in your pocket already.
Kissinger: Yes, but then why is it in our interest to tie ourselves to figures we have already?
Gromyko: Otherwise, the whole question of limitations will simply soar. It will be an unlimited race.
Kissinger: If the Soviet side could accept some of the principles in the paper we gave to the Ambassador, then we could consider an upper ceiling. Then we could consider numbers.
Brezhnev: Although within the limits of the agreement you have already in fact violated the balance of forces.
Gromyko: Of this proposed agreement. Now we have agreed not to build any new missiles until 1977. But improvement is permitted, and you want to deprive us of any chance to improve it.
Kissinger: I think, Mr. General Secretary, we are arguing semantically about new missiles and improvements. My briefers tell me about your new systems. We do not have any change of that same magnitude. We are not saying it is a violation of the agreement, Mr. Brezhnev. I can only answer in the same vein.
Brezhnev: You have built an entirely new type of missile. Instead of one warhead, now each carries five. Kissinger: Mr. General Secretary, your information is wrong
We don't have a missile with five or with 12. That is not the basic point. Mr. Gromyko thinks it is three. That is because he takes trips. Whenever I think he is at Las Vegas he is at missile bases.
Gromyko: I haven't yet been allowed into a single missile base.
. Our Ambassador asked for so many appointments, I am surprised he hasn't asked to see a missile base.
So that-since your Foreign Minister is as usual correct-we have three on our land-based and you have six on yours, we think the equivalence ought to be established on the basis of warheads.
On submarines, we have more warheads.
Another way of doing it is to set an upper limit on MIRV'd missiles, with a sublimit for ICBM's for each side, and the sublimit could generally be established on a differential basis.
Gromyko: You mean a sublimit for submarine-based missiles and another sublimit for land-based missiles?
Kissinger: Yes. Automatically.
Kissinger: We have to consider 1000, 1100, 900. 1100 would be easier for us. We could accept 1100 now.
My various colleagues are having heart attacks along the table because I am accepting things so quickly. [Both sides confer].
Dobrynin: Do we want to take a lunch break?
Kissinger: We could certainly—without going back to Washington—we could accept 1100 if there was a subceiling below that.
Dobrynin: What is the number?
Kissinger: That we would have to discuss. I agree to an interval, because I have a slight insurrection on my staff.
Gromyko: We will issue a communiqué to the press about our meetings at the end of the day.
Kissinger: Good. We won't report back to Washington yet.
Kissinger: When we come back, what will we talk about? Because I have to know whom to bring.
Brezhnev: We should continue with this, then we have to talk about the Middle East.
Kissinger: I will bring these people, then the Middle East people will be told to stand by.
[The meeting then ended.]
166. Memorandum of Conversation
Moscow, March 25, 1974, 5:45–10:32 p.m.
Leonid I. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
Chief, USA Department
Chief, Near East Department
SALT; Other Arms Control; CSCE
General Secretary Brezhnev: I received a group of Japanese economists and businessmen here today.
How are your children??
Secretary Kissinger: They are getting on beautifully. And we appreciate very much the arrangements you have made.
Foreign Minister Gromyko: I interviewed them today. Before they go I will tell them who you really are.
Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 76, Country Files—Europe USSR, Secretary Kissinger's Pre-Summit Trip to Moscow, Memcons & Reports, March 24–28, 1974. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in Brezhnev's office in the Council of Ministers building at the Kremlin. Brackets are in the original.
2 See footnote 2, Document 165.