For their part, the Soviets had for some time expressed the wish for an agreement on the limitation of ABM, which would allow them to implement their ongoing missile modernization programme. In December 1970, Moscow officially proposed to conclude an ABM agreement as a first step in salt, with offensive restrictions left at a later date. Some U.S. officials and outside experts have also called for offensive separation and defensive arms control at this stage and continued restrictions on ABM systems. They argued that once strict ABM restrictions were entrenched, both sides would no longer feel pressure to strengthen their offensive forces to overcome strategic defence. Other officials and external experts have argued for a total ban on testing and uses of MIRV, a proposal that Nixon and Kissinger had previously rejected. In a conversation on May 29, Nixon said Zus. Kissinger said the summit should include “an interim agreement on salt.” Kissinger said it was worth holding the summit without a SALT agreement, for domestic policy reasons, if at all. In Kissinger`s view, Nixon and Soviet leaders could use the summit to break a deadlock in formal SALT negotiations. Both men agreed that the United States could not accept a puren agreement at the summit (Interview 507-004, excerpt from PRDE A). The White House talks, from February to April 1971, give an idea of the relationship Nixon and Kissinger have between SALT and various critical foreign policy issues.

The most obvious diplomatic link was with the four-power talks underway in Berlin, which aimed to clarify the status of Berlin and the rights and responsibilities of the nations that took control of the city after World War II (the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France). Kissinger`s hypothesis was that Moscow`s fear of reaching an agreement on Berlin gave the Nixon administration influence over the Kremlin in arms control. Kissinger was prepared to halt the Berlin talks, even though U.S. blocking tactics could topple Chancellor Willy Brandt`s government or, at the very least, complicate Brandt`s domestic situation (Interview 489-017, excerpt from PRDE A). At a pre-signing dinner, Nixon said, “This is an extremely important agreement, but again, it is just an indication of what can happen in the future if we think we are for world peace. I have high hopes for that. Immediately after Nixon`s televised statement, Kissinger and press secretary Ronald L. Ziegler rated the president as very positive about the media`s response. Kissinger noticed that when he informed the Vietnam press, they were always fundamentally hostile, but on SALT, they tried to make it beautiful. Indeed, he said that he had to prevent them from writing that the Soviets had made all the concessions, because this could lead to counter-reactions from the Kremlin. Nixon was clearly skeptical of Kissinger`s success by insisting on the White House`s central message – that it was an initiative of the president and that the breakthrough was only possible because it was made “at the highest level.” Nixon was particularly upset by communication from CBS correspondent Marvin Kalb and others that the deal was actually reached by SALT negotiators Gerard C.

Smith and Vladimir Semenov. Kissinger defended his performance and told Nixon that he had been hampered by the inability to make concrete references to the return channel discussions with Dobrynin and by the need for Rogers and other senior U.S. officials who had not been initiated into the return channel negotiations (conversation 502-012). Even with the Soviets, it was never easy. Following the President`s announcement on May 20, Kissinger Nixon indicated that the Russian translation was different from the American text; he used the word “contract” and not “agreement.” Kissinger said he immediately defied Dobrynin, who agreed to issue a press release certifying the English text.