22. Memorandum From Secretary of State Haig to President Reagan 1


  • Brezhnev’s Speech

Brezhnev’s speech Monday2 contains no major changes in basic Soviet positions and little evidence of flexibility on key issues. But it includes elements which could cause us problems with the Allies. We will therefore want to discuss the speech thoroughly in NATO to steady the Allies and prevent uncoordinated responses. The speech’s most prominent points, and my plans for dealing with them, are as follows:

—US-Soviet Dialogue and Summitry: Given what we have said publicly on these issues it seems unlikely Moscow expected us to take them up on Brezhnev’s summit proposal. I believe we should make clear that a meeting would have to have a clear purpose, be well prepared, and hold promise of a successful outcome.

—Confidence Building Measures: Brezhnev accepted the French idea that confidence building measures (CBM’s) extend from the Atlantic to the Urals, but with the proviso that the West also extend the area “appropriately”. This presumably means applying CBM’s to parts of the US and Canada, which we and the Allies have agreed is unacceptable. Brezhnev did not deal with other Allied preconditions for a Conference on Disarmament in Europe (CDE). We will welcome the Soviet “concession” on the CBM area, but will hold the line on extensions beyond Western Europe. We will also point out that other criteria must be met if there is to be a CDE.

—Afghanistan: The Soviets restated their conditions for a troop withdrawal and for a political settlement of the dispute. But they offered to discuss Afghanistan as part of a conference on the security of the Persian Gulf region—an idea Brezhnev has been peddling for some time. We will reiterate our support for a political settlement based on complete Soviet withdrawal and point out that the Soviet proposal is [Page 54] not responsive to the UN resolutions or the views of the Islamic or key non-aligned states.

SALT and TNF: Brezhnev’s statement of readiness to continue “appropriate” talks with the US on limiting strategic arms—with no reference to ratifying SALT II—is a slightly more nuanced statement of the Soviet position than that previously articulated by Soviet spokesmen. He also reiterated his proposal for a moratorium on the deployment of long range TNF systems in Europe, which would freeze the current imbalance in Moscow’s favor.

On SALT, we will continue to comment positively on resuming strategic arms limitation efforts, without yielding on linkage or committing ourselves to a specific date. On TNF, we will continue to reaffirm our commitment to the two-track NATO approach to modernization of NATO LRTNF and negotiations for limiting LRTNF deployments.

—Security Council Member Summit: Brezhnev’s proposal for a summit-level Security Council meeting is a straw man. They put forward a similar idea last year, which died quietly for lack of international interest. Such proposals need not become problems for us if we let them sink quietly.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, European and Soviet Affairs Directorate, NSC: Records, 1983–89, Haig, Secretary of State (1). Confidential. Vest and Burt forwarded an earlier draft of this memorandum to Haig for signature under cover of a February 23 memorandum. (Department of State, S/S–I Records: Exdis Memoranda of the Secretariat, Lot 88D99, Exdis February 1981)
  2. On February 23, Brezhnev addressed the opening session the Twenty Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. An English translation of his remarks is in The Current Digest of the Soviet Press, vol. 33, no. 9, April 1, 1981, pp. 4–15.