128. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Haig’s Aircraft and the Embassy in Moscow1

6652/TOSEC 010003. Subject: Demarche to Soviets on Soviet Provision of Advanced MIG Aircraft to Cuba.

1. S—Entire text

2. Acting Secretary Stoessel called in Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin on Sunday, January 10 to make demarche on Soviet delivery of additional advanced MIG aircraft to Cuba. In upcoming meeting with Korniyenko, Ambassador Hartman should reiterate points in demarche in context of larger presentation on Cuba/Central America contained in existing instructions.

3. Begin text of demarche:

—My government wishes to register its deep concern about recent Soviet actions with respect to Cuba.

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—U.S. intelligence has detected the arrival in Cuba of additional numbers of advanced Soviet fighter aircraft which, based on our present information, are of either the MIG–23 or MIG–27 type.

—Soviet provision of these aircraft is part of a pattern of Soviet arms transfers to Cuba involving increasingly sophisticated military capabilities which far exceed the requirements of Cuban defense.

—The latest deliveries of advanced MIG interceptors and ground-attack aircraft, moreover, are occurring in the context of a continuing escalation in Soviet arms transfers to the region as a whole—including a massive and unjustified build-up of Nicaragua’s military potential—that we view as affecting our security interests.

—The presence in Cuba of additional advanced MIG aircraft is of particular concern in view of the fact that aircraft of these types can be equipped for nuclear weapons, and because the conversion of non-nuclear variants of these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons can be accomplished rapidly.

—This pattern of Soviet arms transfer activity, in our view, raises questions with regard to the US-Soviet understandings on Cuba.

—As Secretary Haig emphasized to Foreign Minister Gromyko in New York,2 the current pattern of Soviet arms transfers to this hemisphere represents a major obstacle to an improvement in the US-Soviet relationship.

End text of demarche

4. Following presentation of demarche, the Acting Secretary said that the U.S. would be raising this issue at the highest levels of the Soviet Government—specifically, during Secretary Haig’s January meetings with Gromyko. He added that, while the U.S. had no intention of publicizing the matter, it was possible that the story could leak. If so, our public position would be that we view the problem with great concern and have raised it with the Soviet Government. We would not comment publicly on any of the specifics of our demarche.

5. By way of a preliminary response, Dobrynin said that the Soviet Government would consider the demarche solely within the context of the US-Soviet understandings. As far as arms deliveries to Cuba were concerned, the USSR had proposed many times that the two sides hold talks on conventional arms transfers. In fact, negotiations had been initiated—which were to have considered all regions, including Latin America—but they had been broken off by the U.S. side (a reference to the 1978 CAT talks).

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6. Dobrynin said that he was not in a position to comment on whether the aircraft cited by the U.S. had actually been delivered to Cuba, or whether they could in fact be converted to carry nuclear weapons. But the USSR was free to sell arms to Cuba, just as the U.S. sold arms all over the world. There was no US-Soviet agreement limiting any conventional arms transfers. So there were no grounds for the U.S. to ask anything of the Soviet Union in this respect.

7. As far as the US-Soviet understandings on Cuba were concerned, Dobrynin said he would convey the U.S. concerns to Moscow. The Acting Secretary interjected to repeat that the U.S. demarche said that the pattern of Soviet activity “raises questions” with respect to the understandings. Dobrynin said that the Soviet military would have to look at this question.

8. In leaving Dobrynin asked the Acting Secretary what was the U.S. thinking thus far with regard to the agenda for the Haig-Gromyko meetings, apart from the Cuba issue. In particular, would there be a discussion of strategic arms negotiations, leading to some sort of announcement on negotiations. The Acting Secretary said that START would certainly be discussed, as well as Poland and the other issues discussed at the September meetings. As far as any announcements were concerned, the Acting Secretary added, he could not say.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent Immediate for information to Secretary of State Haig’s Delegation and the Special Interests Section in Havana. Drafted by Vershbow; cleared by Matthews, Bremer; approved by Stoessel, who was Acting Secretary of State. Haig departed for Brussels on January 10 for a special NATO Ministerial meeting on the situation in Poland, and returned on January 12. He wrote “Yuck!” on the copy of the telegram that he received on the plane. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Haig Papers, Department of State, Day File, Box 64, January 10, 1982)
  2. See Document 90.