February 1984–June 1984
“Talking about each other rather than to each other”: Reagan, Chernenko, and U.S.-Soviet Stalemate


171. Memorandum From Jack Matlock of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (02/4/84–02/11/84). Secret. Sent for action.


172. Memorandum From John Lenczowski of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR-Andropov Funeral (February 1984). Confidential. Sent for action. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates McFarlane saw it.


173. Memorandum From William Stearman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (02/04/84–02/11/84). Confidential. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates McFarlane saw it.


174. Memorandum From Jack Matlock of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (02/04/84–02/11/84). Secret. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates McFarlane saw it, and he wrote in the margin: “Many thanks, Bud.”


175. Letter From President Reagan to Soviet General Secretary Chernenko

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat: NSC, Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8401238). In a covering memorandum to McFarlane, Hill wrote: “Attached is a draft letter from the President to be hand delivered by Vice President Bush to the new General Secretary of the CPSU.” Bush delivered the letter to Chernenko during their February 14 meeting in Moscow. See Documents 176 and 177. Chernenko was elected General Secretary by the Central Committee of the Communist Party on February 13.


176. Memorandum From the White House Situation Room to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (02/13/84–02/14/84). Secret. Reagan initialed the memorandum, indicating he saw it, and a stamped notation indicates McFarlane saw it.


177. Message From the Embassy in Italy to the White House

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (2/15/84–2/16/84); NLR–748–25–12–3–4. Secret; Via Privacy Channels; Niact Immediate. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Reagan initialed this cabled message, indicating he saw it. After leaving Moscow Bush traveled to Rome. He met with Foreign Minister Craxi at 8:50 p.m. on February 14. On February 15, the Vice President had a one-hour private audience with Pope John Paul II, and then departed for Paris. (Telegram 4367 from Rome, February 17, and telegram 3990 from Rome, February 13; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840107–0502 and D840096–0838, respectively.)


178. Message From the Embassy in France to the White House and the Department of State

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (02/15/84–02/16/84); NLR–748–25–12–1–6. Secret; Via Privacy Channels. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Reagan initialed the message, indicating he saw it. Bush traveled from Rome to Paris and met with President Mitterrand at 6:30 p.m. on February 15. (Telegram 6302 from Paris, February 14; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840100–0072)


179. Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Directorate of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency

Source: Reagan Library, System IV Intelligence Files, 1984, 400195. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. Prepared by [less than 1 line not declassified], Current Support Division, Office of Soviet Analysis. Poindexter noted on a routing slip: “Bud, This is the paper you asked CIA for. JP.” McFarlane wrote: “Many thanks.” On a separate routing slip, Kimmit wrote: “JP: Should this be shared with Matlock, Fortier and Lehman?” Poindexter replied “yes.”


180. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Chronological File, 1980–1986, Matlock Chron February 1984 [2 of 2]. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only Mr. McFarlane. Not for System. There is no drafting information on the memorandum of conversation. Brackets are in the original. This meeting took place in Zagladin’s office in the Central Committee Building. Matlock accompanied Bush to Moscow for Andropov’s funeral and the meeting with Chernenko. Matlock wrote of this meeting: “As I entered the forbidding gray Central Committee Building under KGB escort, I realized that I had been trying to establish some sort of contact with the Central Committee staff ever since my first tour in Moscow in 1961. Now, after twenty-three years of trying, I was entering the inner sanctum of the Communist system.” (Matlock, Reagan and Gorbachev , p. 94)


181. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz

Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Executive Secretariat Sensitive (02/16/1984–02/20/1984); NLR–775–11–17–2–9. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Dunkerley; cleared by Simons and Palmer. Simons initialed for Dunkerley. McKinley’s handwritten initials are at the top of the memorandum, indicating he saw it on February 16.


182. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane) to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (01/23/84). Confidential. Sent for information. Prepared by Matlock. Copies were sent to Bush, Meese, Baker, and Deaver. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.


183. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Chernenko to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, US-USSR Summits, President/Chernenko Correspondence (1/2). No classification marking. Printed from an unofficial translation. The text of the letter, translated from Russian, was provided by the Soviet Embassy. In a covering letter to Shultz, February 24, Dobrynin requested that the letter be brought to Reagan’s attention. In a February 24 covering memorandum to the President, McFarlane wrote: “This afternoon Ambassador Dobrynin delivered the attached letter to you from General Secretary Chernenko. Its tone is generally moderate. Standard rhetoric is included, but the commitment to a serious effort to solve problems lends to an improved climate for engaging the Soviets on a variety of subjects. Tomorrow morning I will send you a memorandum (see Document 185) which surveys the state of the relationship and proposes certain courses of action to get things moving. It reflects the thinking of George, Cap, the Vice President and several others. We would like to meet with you to discuss it next week and to receive your guidance as to which of several projects we should move out on. Separately, I am moving the bureaucracy ahead on certain START ideas which we would be prepared to exchange in the near future.” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8490236, 8490586)) In his diary on February 27, Reagan wrote: “N.S.C. briefing was on Chernenko’s letter. We’re agreed we are going to make our plans for response with George B., George S., Bud, Cap & me—no bureaucracy.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 322)


184. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State

Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Box 17, 1984 March 2, Meetings with the President. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis/Alpha; Stadis.


185. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz

Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, February 1984 Super Sensitive Documents. Secret; Sensitive. McKinley’s handwritten initials appear on the memorandum, indicating he saw it on February 28.


186. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane) to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, Robert McFarlane Files, Chronological File, Chron (Official) March 1984; NLR–362–6–22–2–7. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. A note in the margin written by an unknown hand reads: “Orig handcarried to Res. [Residence] for Pres 3/1/84 pm.” A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. In a March 1 memorandum to Matlock, returning a marked-up draft of this paper, McFarlane wrote: “Your paper is exactly what I was looking for. I have marked it up a little bit.” He continued: “In short, we should maintain our policy of firmness and of making no preemptive concessions but with evidence of good faith, ‘leaning forward’ to make clear our commitment to solving problems. Please try and get this back to me today. I would like to send it to the President tonight.” (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, US-USSR Summits, Briefing Material for President Reagan-Gorbachev Meeting 11/27/1985 (2/3))


187. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz

Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Executive Secretariat Sensitive (03/02/1984–03/04/1984); NLR–775–11–22–2–3. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Pascoe; cleared by Simons and Palmer. Hill’s handwritten initials appear on the memorandum, indicating he saw it on March 2.


188. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, USSR Subject File, 1981–1986, US-USSR Relations (March 1984) 1/2. Top Secret; Sensitive. Not for the System. There is no drafting information on the memorandum of conversation. Brackets are in the original. This private meeting took place in the Treaty Room in the Residence of the White House. In his diary entry for March 2, Reagan wrote: “into the Treaty Room for a top level & secret meeting with Ambas. Hartman (Moscow), Bill Casey, Bud McF., Geo. B., Mike & Jim & Gen. Vessey. Subject was a plan to move into communications with the Soviets. I’m convinced the time has come for me to meet with Chernenko along about July. We’re going to start with some ministerial level meetings on a number of substantive matters that have been on ice since the KAL 700 [007] shoot down.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 324) Shultz, Weinberger, and Matlock attended the meeting, although not noted by Reagan in his diary.


189. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane) to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8490236, 8490586). Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Prepared by Matlock. A copy was sent to the Vice President.


190. Letter From President Reagan to Soviet General Secretary Chernenko

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8490236, 8490283, 8490304). Top Secret. Drafted in the Department of State in accordance with the President’s instructions on March 2. See Document 188. In a March 3 note to Shultz, McKinley wrote: “Mr. Secretary, Rick Burt, Art Hartman, and Jack Matlock have all cleared off on this draft. Larry [Eagleburger] will receive a copy and may have some comments for you. Brunson.” (Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Executive Secretariat Super Sensitive (03/03/1984–03/05/1984)


191. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz

Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Executive Secretariat Sensitive Chronology (03/07/1984); NLR–775–11–27–2–8. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Tefft; cleared by Simons. Hill’s handwritten initials appear on the memorandum, indicating he saw it on March 7.


192. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Box 2c, 1984 Soviet Union Mar. Secret; Sensitive. This memorandum is unsigned. A handwritten note in the margin, however, reads: “Hand carried to the President by Secy 3/8.” According to the President’s Daily Diary, Shultz and Reagan met in the Oval Office on March 8 and March 9. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) The brief March 8 meeting was to discuss Scowcroft’s trip to Moscow. It seems more likely Shultz presented this memorandum to Reagan on March 9 during their weekly private meeting. Reagan wrote in his diary: “George & I talked Soviets. He had a good meeting with Dobrynin who is very interested in getting some talks going on Cultural exchange, consulates in N.Y. & Kiev etc.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 327)


194. Memorandum From Ronald Lehman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)

Source: Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, Chrons, March 1984 #1. Secret. Sent for action. Lehman signed “Ron” next to his name. In a covering note to Lehman on March 13, Kraemer wrote: “Ron, Thanks for a copy of the attached. Basically a sound memo but I disagree that ‘a summit may well be in the cards’ and am very concerned re possible implication (almost advocating) ‘simple agreements that do not require extensive preparation or get into great complexity.’ Even ‘simple’ agreements require extensive (NSC/SACPG)-controlled preparations. Watch for the end run! P.S. I and Ken deGraffenreid (who works for Casey/McF. meeting agenda) should have had concurrence opportunity/line. Sven.”


195. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: Reagan Library, Robert McFarlane Files, Subject File, Soviet Union—Sensitive File—1984 (03/09/1984–06/20/1984). Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only for Mr. McFarlane. Not for System. This meeting took place in Harry’s New York Bar in the Harley Hotel. Reagan initialed the memorandum of conversation, indicating he saw it. In a handwritten note to McFarlane dated March 15, Matlock reported: “As you can see from the attached, the meeting with Menshikov went very well—no new specifics, but clearly a decision to examine some modalities in ways that are not apparent in the formal dialogue. I was struck, once again, by the total lack of polemics. His desire to discuss INF concepts at some length seems to indicate that this is still the key issue for them—and they may be groping around for a way out. We should discuss the implication at your earliest convenience. I have heard nothing on Scowcroft’s conversation yet, but assume you’ll include me in any debrief.” (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Chronological Files, 1980–1986, Matlock Chron March 1984) Regarding Scowcroft’s mission, see Document 193.


196. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, USSR Subject File, US-USSR Relations (March 1984) 3/3. Secret; Sensitive. A Department of State copy of this memorandum indicates it was drafted by Burt on March 13. (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, March 1984 Super Sensitive Documents) Reagan’s handwritten initials appear on the memorandum, indicating he saw it.


197. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Chernenko to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat: NSC, Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8401238). No classification marking. Printed from an unofficial translation. The text of the letter, translated from Russian, was provided by the Soviet Embassy. In a covering letter to Shultz, March 20, Dobrynin requested that this letter be passed to President Reagan. (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, US-USSR Summits, E.3, President/Chernenko Correspondence (1/2)) Reagan initialed the March 19 letter and wrote in the margin: “I think this calls for a very well thought out reply & not just a routine acknowledgement that leaves the status quo as is. RR.”


198. Memorandum From Jack Matlock of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)

Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, USSR Subject File, US-USSR Relations (March 1984) 3/3. Top Secret; Sensitive. Not for System. Sent for information. The memorandum is unsigned.


199. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan

Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Box 18, 1984 Mar. 21 Mtgs. w/ the Pres. Secret; Sensitive. Printed from an uninitialed copy. In a memorandum forwarding the memorandum to Shultz on March 21, Burt suggested that the Secretary discuss how to respond to the Soviets—in particular, Chernenko’s letter—during his meeting with the President on March 21. According to marginalia on Burt’s memorandum, Shultz “didn’t sign 3/21 but took.” See footnote 4, below.