President Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon welcome Leonid Brezhnev to the White House, June 18, 1973.
On June 18, 1973 Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev landed at Andrews Air Force base to participate in the second Soviet Summit of the Nixon Presidency. In his memoirs, President Nixon recalled that the Soviet Union and the United States were nearing agreement on the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty and the President fought to obtain Most Favored Nation Status of the Soviet Union.
However, the President soon discovered that a coalition of conservatives and liberals opposed improved relations with the Soviet Union for different reasons. As the President wrote, his decision to grant MFN status to the Soviet Union “became the rallying point for both groups: the liberals wanted MFN legislation to be conditioned on eased emigration policies; the conservatives wanted MFN defeated on the principle that détente was bad by definition.”
Despite General Secretary Brezhnev’s disappointment at the lack of progress on MFN status, he and President Nixon discussed international security, the Paris Peace Accords, strengthening peaceful relations in Europe, and the conflict in the Middle East.
Watch footage of General Secretary Brezhnev’s first visit to the United States below:
President Nixon’s chief goal during Brezhnev’s visit was to secure a permanent SALT agreement. Progress was made on that front when both leaders signed treaties on scientific cooperation and negotiation on strategic offensive arms. Furthermore, on June 22, 1973, both sides signed the Agreement Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Prevention of Nuclear War:
Agreement Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Prevention of Nuclear War
The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, hereinafter referred to as the Parties,
Guided by the objectives of strengthening world peace and international security, Conscious that nuclear war would have devastating consequences for mankind, Proceeding from the desire to bring about conditions in which the danger of an outbreak of nuclear war anywhere in the world would be reduced and ultimately eliminated,
Proceeding from their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations regarding the maintenance of peace, refraining from the threat or use of force, and the avoidance of war, and in conformity with the agreements to which either Party has subscribed,
Proceeding from the Basic Principles of Relations between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signed in Moscow on May 29, 1972,
Reaffirming that the development of relations between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is not directed against other countries and their interests,
Have agreed as follows:
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 formulation of their foreign policies and in their actions in the field of international relations.
The Parties undertake to develop their relations with each other and with other countries in a way consistent with the purposes of this Agreement.
If at any time relations between the Parties or between either Party and other countries appear to involve the risk of a nuclear conflict, or if relations between countries not parties to this Agreement appear to involve the risk of nuclear war between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or between either Party and other countries, the United States and the Soviet Union, acting in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, shall immediately enter into urgent consultations with each other and make every effort to avert this risk.
Each Party shall be free to inform the Security Council of the United Nations, the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Governments of allied or other countries of the progress and outcome of consultations initiated in accordance with Article IV of this Agreement.
Nothing in this Agreement shall affect or impair:
(a) the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense as envisaged by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations,
(b) the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, including those relating to the maintenance or restoration of international peace and security, and
(c) the obligations undertaken by either Party towards its allies or other countries in treaties, agreements, and other appropriate documents.
This Agreement shall be of unlimited duration.
This Agreement shall enter into force upon signature.
President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev in discussion prior to one of the signing ceremonies.
The Summit’s Joint Communique described the importance of the agreement: “The President and the General Secretary, in appraising this Agreement, believe that it constitutes a historical landmark in Soviet-American relations and substantially strengthens the foundations of international security as a whole. The United States and the Soviet Union state their readiness to consider additional ways of strengthening peace and removing forever the danger of war, and particularly nuclear war.”