The Nixon White House Tapes Record the Soviet Summit
This week in 1973, Leonid Brezhnev visited Richard Nixon in the White House as part of a summit meeting between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Oval Office conversation between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and President Nixon is the only summit meeting ever recorded on an American Presidential taping system.
The recording of their meeting is part of the final installment of Nixon White House Tapes that were released. The tapes contain discussions of foreign policy issues including: implementation of the Vietnam peace settlement and the return of Prisoners of War (POWs); tensions over Most Favored Nation tariff status for the Soviet Union; and the historic 1972 “Soviet Summit” between the United States and the USSR.
Domestic conversations include presidential appointments and personnel management, energy policy, wage and price controls, campaign finance reform, Wounded Knee, and Watergate.
-from the Nixon Library
On this day, June 18, 1979, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT II strategic arms limitation treaty between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in Vienna.
The SALT II Treaty established clear rules and limits on nuclear weapons. Although SALT II did not end the arms race, the treaty and its protocol:
- Limited the number of strategic nuclear delivery systems (bombers and missile launchers) after January 1, 1981.
- Restricted the number of warheads that could be put on each ICBM and SLBM.
- Banned the deployment of mobile ICBMs or the flight testing of ICBMs from mobile launchers.
- Limited the range of land or sea-based cruise missiles, and
- Banned the testing or deployment of Air to Surface Ballistic Missiles.
Though the Treaty had been signed, it still had to be ratified by a 2/3 majority in the Senate. On June 22, the SALT II Treaty was submitted by the President to the Senate for debate. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved ratification of the Treaty, but the USSR invaded Afghanistan before it could be voted on by the full Senate.
In January 1980, President Carter asked the Senate to delay ratification until the US responded to the invasion. Although the treaty was never ratified, both sides agreed to honor its terms until it would have expired December 31, 1985.
Images: Presidents Carter and Brezhnev at the Vienna Summit. 6/15/79; Treaty Between the United States of American and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, page 1, 2.
Cold War Negotiations — Ronald Reagan writes to Leonid Brezhnev
The contents of this letter focus on Natan Sharansky, a former Jewish refusenik. The Soviet Union charged Sharansky with spying for the United States in 1977, and sentenced him to thirteen years of hard labor in Siberia.
President Reagan wrote this letter to General Secretary Brezhnev asking for the release of Sharansky. In 1986, he was released from the Gulag Soviet prison camp. Sharansky immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Knesset, and is currently a political analyst.
-from the Reagan Library
Today in History — Winston Churchill Delivers his “Iron Curtain” Speech
On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill spoke at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. President Harry S. Truman introduced the former British Prime Minister who then delivered one of the most memorable speeches of the twentieth century.
Reporters were given advance copies; however, deliberately omitted from those copies was the part of the address where Churchill used the term “iron curtain.”
Churchill warned that Joseph Stalin was intent on cutting off all of Eastern Europe from the West in order to establish communist domination through the region. Read More
-from the Truman Library
Sometimes sharing a good meal is the best way to resolve the differences you may have with another. For the United States and China, this strategy helped normalize relations during the Cold War.
During President Nixon’s trip to China, chefs prepared items familiar to the American palette like shrimp, roast pork, and roast duck with pineapple. Menus also included native cuisine like shark’s fin soup, black mushrooms with mustard greens, and bamboo shoots.
President Nixon skillfully used chopsticks to sample each dish served to him, maintaining proper Chinese etiquette.
The main beverages that were served were boiled water, orange juice, wine, and, of course, mao-tai. Photographs of Nixon and Chou En-lai toasting each other with this staple Chinese liquor quickly appeared on newspapers all across the world, symbolizing a new day in relations between the two countries.
Images: Menu and table settings from dinner given during President Nixon’s visit to Peking, China. 2/25/72.
President Nixon and Premier Chou En-lai toast in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square. 2/25/72.
Nixon in China
Today in history, Nixon became the first U.S. President to visit the People’s Republic of China.
When Air Force One touched down at the airport in Peking, it ended 25 years of isolation between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China. During the week of February 21-29, 1972, the President traveled to Beijing, Hangzhou, and Shanghai - thawing relations with a country that had long been closed to the West.
The historic trip was initially met with public opposition, but it yielded the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China in 1979. Read More
Photos: President and Mrs. Nixon’s arrival in Peking, China. Nixon reviews troops at the airport; Air Force One in Peking, 02/21/1972.
President and Mrs. Nixon visit the Great Wall of China and the Ming Tombs. 2/24/72.
-from the Nixon Library
This morning, the world learned of the passing of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger.
In March of 1961 Seeger was facing trial for contempt of Congress after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Pete Seeger wrote to President Kennedy:
"I would not take up your valuable time with my personal problem, except that I feel it is a very fundamental one which concerns all America these days. Do I, or does any citizen, have the right to hold unorthodox opinions, whether they are purely right or horribly wrong, and do I have the right to join with others who think similarly?"
Arlo Guthrie also wrote to JFK asking him to "please do what you can for Pete Seeger."
-from the Kennedy Library
The Ford Centennial display in “The Public Vaults” at the National Archives in Washington, DC has been extended. It will be on view through February 19, 2014.
This display features Presidential materials documenting space cooperation with the Soviet Union during the Ford administration. In spite of Cold War tensions the countries conducted the joint Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a dramatic in-orbit linking of two spacecraft, in July 1975.
Pictured: A model of the Apollo-Soyuz spacecraft is presented to President Ford on September 7, 1974. From left to right, Vladimir A. Shatalov, Commander of Cosmonaut training; Valeriy N. Kubasov, ASTP Soviet engineer; Aleksey A. Leonov, ASTP Soviet crew commander; Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador to the U.S.; President Gerald R. Ford; Thomas P. Stafford, ASTP American crew commander; Donald K. Slayton, American crew’s docking module pilot.
On August 5, 1963, after more than eight years of difficult negotiations, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The Limited Nuclear Test Ban treaty was signed in Moscow on August 5, 1963, by U.S. Secretary Dean Rusk, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and British Foreign Secretary Lord Home—one day short of the 18th anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Over the next two months, President Kennedy convinced a fearful public and a divided Senate to support the treaty. The Senate approved the treaty on September 23, 1963, by an 80-19 margin. Kennedy signed the ratified treaty on October 7, 1963.
- prohibited nuclear weapons tests or other nuclear explosions under water, in the atmosphere, or in outer space
- allowed underground nuclear tests as long as no radioactive debris falls outside the boundaries of the nation conducting the test
- pledged signatories to work towards complete disarmament, an end to the armaments race, and an end to the contamination of the environment by radioactive substances.
-from the JFK Library
President Ford signs the Final Act
In the summer of 1975, Gerald Ford traveled to Helsinki, Finland to join the leaders of 30 other nations to sign the Helsinki Accords. The accords, or “Final Act,” was the result of two years of negotiations.
While U.S. participation was heavily criticized at home from both the left and the right, Ford believed it was his most significant foreign policy achievement. The agreements reached at Helsinki are widely credited as the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union and their reach into Eastern Europe.
Photo: President Ford and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev raise their glasses in a toast after the Signing of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Accords) . Also present are Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko (left), possibly Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin (far left), and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (right). 8/1/75.