He said Soviet diplomats warned Washington of Moscow’s plans “to wipe out the Chinese threat and get rid of this modern adventurer,” with a nuclear strike, asking the US to remain neutral.

But, he says, Washington told Moscow the United States would not stand idly by but launch its own nuclear attack against the Soviet Union if it attacked China, loosing nuclear missiles at 130 Soviet cities. The threat worked, he added, and made Moscow think twice, while forcing the two countries to regulate their border dispute at the negotiating table…

The historian claims that Washington saw the USSR as a greater threat than China and wanted a strong China to counter-balance Soviet power. Then US President Richard Nixon was also apparently fearful of the effect of a nuclear war on 250,000 US troops stationed in the Asia-Pacific region and still smarting from a Soviet refusal five years earlier to stage a joint attack on China’s nascent nuclear programme.