The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. Under the direction of the General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, the staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 USC 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the series will be historically objective and accurate; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded, a requirement that the Office of the Historian is striving to meet. The editors are convinced that this volume meets all regulatory, statutory, and scholarly standards of selection and editing.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important foreign policy issues and major decisions of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, 1969–1972. When all volumes are published, the sub-series will contain 41 print volumes and 16 electronic-only volumes. These 57 volumes will document all aspects of foreign policy during [Page IV] the 8-year period. More volumes are allocated to the first Nixon administration than the Nixon-Ford administration, with the issue that is covered determining the beginning and ending dates of the volume. For example, the volume on Chile culminates with the overthrow of President Salvador Allende in September 1973, and the first volume on energy covers 1969–1974, ending with the post-oil embargo Washington Energy Conference. Two volumes cover the 1969–1976 period, South Africa and European Security. This volume, Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XII, documents U.S. policy towards the Soviet Union during the first 22 months of the Nixon administration. This is a short time span, but a period of burgeoning conflicts and major initiatives. The volume culminates with the resolution of the crisis over the Soviet construction of a nuclear submarine base at Cienfuegos in Cuba.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume XII

The scope of this volume is different from previous volumes on the Soviet Union and reflects a reexamination of how the Office of the Historian should present documentation on U.S. relations with its major opponent in the Cold War, the Soviet Union. In the past, volumes on the Soviet Union primarily documented U.S.-Soviet bilateral relations, and much of the documentation on U.S.-Soviet global confrontation and/or cooperation was found in other Foreign Relations volumes. On the advice of the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, the Office of the Historian revised its approach. In Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, Vol. V, Soviet Union, the editors made a concerted effort to use editorial notes to highlight key instances of U.S.-Soviet conflict or collaboration in other volumes in the subseries. The publication of an additional volume, VI, on Kennedy-Khrushchev exchanges also sought to broaden the coverage of U.S.-Soviet relations. This volume continues the trend and is the first of three volumes documenting the first Nixon administration’s global confrontation, competition, and cooperation with the Soviet Union.

The Nixon administration presented a pressing argument to look at the U.S.-Soviet relationship in its broadest, global context. President Nixon created a secret, private channel of dialogue and negotiation between the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Henry A. Kissinger, and the Soviet Ambassador in Washington, Anatoly F. Dobrynin. The documentary record of the establishment and early use of that channel is presented in its entirety in this volume. In his relations with Moscow, President Nixon insisted on linkage of other issues with improvements in U.S.-Soviet relations. This volume highlights U.S.-Soviet interaction in the negotiations for a Middle East settlement, the role that the United States expected the Soviet Union to play in [Page V] ending the Vietnam war, challenges to the U.S.-Soviet relationship in light of the Sino-Soviet border dispute, and the concern over Soviet strategic nuclear developments, such as the SS–9, in beginning Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. This expanded interaction between the two superpowers required a redesign of Foreign Relations coverage of the Soviet Union. The number of documents printed and the scope of their content were greatly expanded. There are five volumes for the Soviet Union within the Nixon-Ford subseries, 1969–1976, three of which document the crucial first Nixon administration. These volumes document U.S.-Soviet relations worldwide and more accurately reflect the global nature of the Cold War.

These changes do not mean that documentation on U.S.-Soviet competition and cooperation is not in other Foreign Relations volumes of the subseries. The Soviet Union volumes are the core documentary account of U.S.-Soviet conflict and cooperation during this period of the Cold War. They are the volumes to consult first, but with the exception of providing a complete documentary record of the Kissinger-Dobrynin backchannel, this volume in many ways serves as a guidepost to fuller coverage of topics where U.S.-Soviet interests intersect. In the end, of course, the Foreign Relations series must be viewed and used as an integrated publication of many volumes. The Soviet Union volumes—with their extensive use of extracts and editorial notes highlighting and summarizing relevant related material in other volumes in the subseries that impact on U.S-Soviet relations—emphasize the core issues of the Cold War, as seen through the prism of U.S.-Soviet global relations. This volume on the Soviet Union provides a summary account of U.S.-Soviet worldwide confrontation, competition, and cooperation during the 22 months it covers, and directs the reader to Foreign Relations volumes in which other aspects of U.S.-Soviet relations are covered, such as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, U.S.-Soviet negotiations for a Middle East peace settlement, U.S.-Soviet discussions on a negotiated settlement in Southeast Asia, U.S-Soviet negotiations over Germany and Berlin, U.S. monitoring of the Sino-Soviet border dispute, and U.S.-Soviet interaction in South Asia. The preponderance of memoranda generated by Henry Kissinger and his NSC staff also reflects the central role that the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs played in the formulation of policy toward the Soviet Union.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the date and time of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted. Documents chosen for printing are authoritative or signed copies, unless otherwise noted.

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Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. The editors have supplied a heading for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed with headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets and ellipses that appear in the original text are so identified in footnotes.

The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provides the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of, and citations to, public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used when appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

The numbers in the index refer to document numbers rather than to page numbers.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does [Page VII] not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 USC 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which they were a participant or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Staff are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA. Of the five U.S.-Soviet volumes in the Nixon-Ford subseries, this is the only volume that does not contain transcripts of the Nixon presidential recordings because the audio system used by President Nixon did not begin until February 1971.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and other applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security, as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review [Page VIII] of this volume, which began in 2001 and was completed in 2003, resulted in the decision to withhold no documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in 3 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 14 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume, and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and editorial notes presented here provide an accurate and comprehensive—given limitations of space—account of the Nixon administration’s complex policy towards the Soviet Union, 1969–October 1970.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. Special thanks are due to John Haynes of the Library of Congress who facilitated access to the Kissinger Papers. The editors were able to use the Kissinger Papers with the permission of Henry Kissinger. The Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Defense provided full access to their records.

Erin R. Mahan collected the documentation for this volume, made the selections, and annotated the documents under the supervision of the General Editor, Edward C. Keefer. Susan C. Weetman coordinated the declassification review. Vicki E. Futscher and Aaron Marrs did the copy and technical editing. Do Mi Stauber prepared the index.

Marc J. Susser
The Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs

November 2006