168. Editorial Note

On May 9, 1982, President Ronald Reagan delivered the commencement address at his alma mater, Eureka College. In it, he spoke about his May 7 letter to Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev (see Document 166), and his direction that Secretary of State Alexander Haig pursue “the initiation of formal negotiations on the reduction of strategic nuclear arms, START, at the earliest opportunity. We hope negotiations will begin by the end of June.” (Public Papers: Reagan , 1982, volume 1, page 585) Over the span of a month, Reagan met three times with his National Security Council to establish U.S. negotiating positions on the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START): on April 21, in the Cabinet Room of the White House from 10:30 to 11:40 a.m. (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Meeting File: Records, 1981–88, NSC 00046 21 April 82); on May 3, in the Cabinet Room of the White House from 9:45 to 10:52 a.m. (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Meeting File: Records, 1981–88, NSC 00049 3 May 82); and on May 21, in the Cabinet Room of the White House from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Meeting File: Records, 1981–88, NSC 00049 21 May 82) On May 14, Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 33, which pronounced the START goal “to enhance deterrence and to achieve stability through significant reductions in the most destabilizing nuclear systems, ballistic missiles, and especially ICBMs, while maintaining an overall level of strategic nuclear capability sufficient to deter conflict, underwrite our national security, and meet our commitments to Allies and friends.” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC: National Security Decision Directives (NSDD): Records, 1981–1987, NSDD 33) Minutes from the NSC meetings of April 21, May 3, and May 21, as well as NSDD 33, are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume XI, START I, 1981–1991.