109. Memorandum From Richard Levine and Peter Sommer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark)1


  • Secretary Shultz’s Meeting with the President

The primary purpose of tomorrow’s meeting is for Secretary Shultz to give the President and you a personal debrief on his bilateral meeting with Gromyko and to report on his efforts to galvanize international reaction to the KAL massacre.2

We think it important that you try to steer the discussion to some specificity, particularly with regard to additional pressure we should put on our Allies and friends to take stronger action.

There follows some points you may wish to make:

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—The proposed NATO response of a two-week suspension of their interaction with Aeroflot is not enough.

—The USG has extended tougher sanctions against Aeroflot.

—We, with State in the lead, should continue to apply pressure to our Allies and friends to extend the suspension of interaction with Aeroflot to sixty days.

—The USG still has the unilateral capability to stop foreign airlines operating in the US from booking flights to or from the US that involve Aeroflot. State opposes this option because of its extra-territoriality implications. While it is not the preferred option, you may wish to resurface it. Mention of it may be useful in getting State to take a tougher line (i.e., hardline letters and contacts) with our Allies.

—The Airline Pilots boycott of flights to the USSR will just switch air travelers to Aeroflot if foreign countries still accept Aeroflot flights. Thus, it is very important that the Allied severance of relations with Aeroflot be extended for as long a period of time as the Airline Pilot boycott (i.e., 60 days).


That you raise these points with the President and Secretary Shultz.3

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Robert Lilac Files, Arms Transfer, Subject File/1981–84, AT (Arms Transfers): [Korean Airlines] KAL [09/09/1983]; NLR–332–14–33–4–3. Confidential. Sent for action. Cleared by Lilac and Robinson. Sommer initialed for Levine, Lilac, and Robinson.
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, on Saturday, September 10, Reagan and Clark met with Shultz in the Oval Office at 10:29 a.m. Kelly and Sommer were present in the meeting as well. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) Reagan wrote in his diary on September 10: “Met with George S. 10:30 A.M. Nancy had left for Phoenix—back Sun. Nite. George reported in full on meeting with Gromyko. No doubt Gromyko was on the defensive & ‘discombobulated.’ I think it was our round. We’ve learned by continuing to electronically process the tapes to bring out the few unintelligible lines that a Soviet pilot did report firing his canon. We don’t know if that was at the KAL or as a signal—‘tracers.’ The Japanese tapes of the Korean transmissions give no hint that the pilot was aware of the Soviet planes even being in the air. We made this new information public.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. 1, January 1981–October 1985, pp. 261–262)
  3. Although no recommendation was checked, Poindexter wrote in the margin: “Judge noted.”