Summitry and President Nixon’s Legacy
President Nixon practiced a patient, yet powerful, form of diplomacy which aided him in his endeavor to create a lasting structure of peace
While attending the 1972 Moscow Summit, President Nixon returned Soviet hospitality by inviting General-Secretary Brezhnev to visit the White House. The following June, the second US-Soviet summit began in Washington D.C. and ended at the Western White House in San Clemente, California.
Click here to view a transcript of the conversation between President Nixon and General-Secretary Brezhnev in the Western White House on June 23, 1973.
Nixon and Brezhnev furthered the positive Soviet-American relationship they fostered at the previous summit by engaging in extensive discussions regarding bilateral relations, as well as important global affairs. The summit produced agreements promoting cooperation between the United States and Soviet Union in the research and development of science, agriculture, civil airspace, and ocean studies.
On June 22, 1973, President Nixon and General-Secretary Brezhnev signed the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War. The greatest fear, for American and Soviets alike, throughout the Cold War was the possibility that either of the superpowers would utilize a weapon of mass destruction against the other. Now, the treaty required both countries to consult with each other if if one confronted with a nuclear conflict anywhere in the world.
In 1974, Nixon traveled to the U.S.S.R. for his final Soviet-American summit, and his last trip abroad as president. Although concerns in Southeast Asia and the Middle East dominated the conversations at the third summit, Nixon and Brezhnev settled several key agreements regarding US-Soviet bilateral relations. During these talks, the two countries signed agreements strengthening collaboration in the fields of energy, housing, and heart health, as well as economic, industrial, and technical cooperation.
Click here to view a transcript of the conversation between U.S. and Soviet officials during the second Moscow Summit in June of 1974.
Nixon and Brezhnev also concluded and signed the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited nuclear weapons tests that exceed 150 kilotons. It was a complement to the earlier agreements such as the NPT and SALT I, and significant step towards comprehensive arms control.
In his 1969 inauguration speech, President Nixon declared “I know that peace does not come through wishing for it–that there is no substitute for days and even years of patient and prolonged diplomacy.” While little could top the excitement the world felt when Nixon became the first US President to visit the Soviet Union in 1972, each summit was vital to Soviet-American relations and to peacemaking in the Cold War. President Nixon practiced a patient, yet powerful, form of diplomacy aided him in his endeavor to create a lasting structure of peace. He showed a deeply divided world that alternatives to war and arms buildup existed, and that cooperation was possible, even with the United States’ greatest adversary.