129. Note From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz1

Mr. Secretary:

Attached is a “point paper” for use during your lunch with Dobrynin today.2 It gives you a brief background on the likely topics that could arise in your discussion—Grenada, Lebanon, INF, etc.—and suggests some points you might make.

As you know, Larry has suggested an “unbuttoned” approach to the lunch, with you beginning by simply noting that in difficult periods it is important to talk and then letting the conversation proceed in an unstructured manner. Art, on the other hand, favors a more formal probing approach in which you would initiate the conversation by saying that we are genuinely perplexed by recent Soviet behavior—KAL, reneging on human rights commitments, etc.—and wonder whether Dobrynin can shed some light on Moscow’s thinking.

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I tend to favor Larry’s approach, although I do not believe the conversation should be a completely unstructured bull session. I think that if you adopt Art’s approach it would invite Dobrynin to launch into a diatribe against the Reagan Administration. In this case, it could be hard for you to get a word in edgewise.

My recommendation is that you begin the lunch with a very simple statement along the following lines:

In the last two years, we have not made a great deal of progress and have been quite critical of one another. At the same time, we have not been involved in any grave confrontations. In fact, in some areas we have accomplished a few things. Unfortunately, the trend now appears to be running in such a way that we could be moving into a dangerous period. From our point of view, we are concerned about your lack of military restraint, your actions in Syria, and your threats to respond to the deployment of INF in Europe. Furthermore, there are regional conflicts such as Iran-Iraq war which pose great dangers. In times such as these, it is critically important that we talk to one another and exercise restraint.

This kind of presentation is designed to avoid an extended Dobrynin diatribe. We can, of course, expect him to be quite critical of our policies. He will blast us on Grenada,3 the President’s discussion of the Soviet role behind events in the Caribbean and the Middle East, and—his favorite theme—on the Reagan Administration’s supposed lack of interest in “real communication” with the Soviets.

You should respond calmly to these criticisms, reminding Dobrynin of their performance during the KAL episode, the discovery of huge amounts of Soviet/Cuban arms in Grenada, their dangerous actions with Syria, their threatening behavior on INF, and the problems their lack of compliance on arms control issues causes for ongoing negotiations. The point to emphasize is that although we may not be able to make great progress at present—though, of course, the U.S. stands ready for progress—the United States and the Soviet Union have an overwhelming responsibility to ensure that things do not get out of control.

The atmosphere you should try to create is one that encourages an informal, candid exchange about real concerns, not one in which the exchange will be set-piece restatements of current policies. In such an atmosphere, you will want to see whether Dobrynin provides any real openings worth exploring. If he engages in his familiar tactic of filibustering, you might tell him bluntly that time is short, that you want to engage in a real dialogue not speeches, and then ask directly [Page 441] what message he has from the Soviet leadership that he wants to convey to the United States.



Point Paper Prepared in the Department of State for Secretary of State Shultz5


Grenada: The Soviets have taken an extremely critical public line of U.S. protective actions in Grenada and formally protested our action. However, the Soviets have been fairly perfunctory in their private criticism—suggesting a tendency to view this episode in “spheres of influence” realpolitik terms—concentrating instead on the safety of their personnel.

—Our objectives in Grenada are clear—protection of U.S. lives, restoration of peace, stability and democratic process on island. U.S. troops will be out as soon as objectives accomplished.

—We have made quite clear we will take every effort to ensure safety of Soviet personnel. We remain prepared to assist their safe evacuation.

Korean Airliner: While continuing their basic line, the Soviets have invited the ICAO Secretary General to visit Moscow in early November and outside representatives to “observe” their investigation. We have protested maneuvers by Soviet vessels that endanger our search efforts. We are considering ending our naval search effort shortly.

—Must understand the intense and understandable feelings generated within the U.S. by the shooting down of unarmed civilian airliner. Soviet handling of the issue only intensified the adverse reaction.

—Want positive Soviet action on claims and a full and honest explanation of the shootdown. Important step in this direction would be positive Soviet cooperation with ICAO investigation. Hope Soviet invitation to ICAO Secretary General is in this vein. Noted Soviet invitation for U.S., Japan and South Korea to observe Soviet investigation and are considering our reply.

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—Both nations share interest in avoiding frictions during naval search operations in Sea of Japan. We have instructed our commanders to exercise great care; Soviet side must do the same.

INF: After dismissing all three of our new proposals, the Soviets launched their own new initiative on October 26.6 New Soviet position offers some forward movement on geographic scope and aircraft, but still provides no basis for agreement on the questions of non-deployment of U.S. missiles and compensation for UK/French forces. Making a strong pitch for deferral of the U.S. deployment dates, Andropov on October 26 flatly ruled out continuation of INF negotiations after the NATO deployments.

—Time has come for serious negotiation, not political posturing or intimidation. In September, we made major new U.S. moves responsive to Soviet concerns, which Soviet Union has chosen to dismiss out of hand.7

—Latest Andropov proposal holds out promise of some movement forward which we hope will be seriously followed up with specifics at negotiating table. It does not, however, address central U.S. concerns.

—It also sets unacceptable deadline for Soviet walk-out from negotiations. Soviet responsibility for such an interruption of talks would be clearcut. As for any postponement of deployment, would note U.S. has been negotiating for two years while Soviets continue to deploy.

—If Soviet Union really wants agreement, must drop insistence on direct compensation for British and French forces which ignores fundamental difference in role of U.S. and UK/French forces. This is issue of principle for Western alliance.

START: The situation in START is colored by impending showdown over INF. Soviets remain unwilling to acknowledge the flexibility we have displayed in response to their concerns, criticizing the “build-down” concept both publicly and in Geneva. [Dobrynin has complained [Page 443] that our public release of build-down before giving them a “heads up” demonstrated our “lack of seriousness.”] The Soviets continue to see U.S. position as attempt to gut their existing ICBM force structure.

—As in INF, U.S. has made substantial modifications to its position that respond to expressed Soviet concerns.

—We will continue to seek an agreement for real reductions in the most destabilizing categories of ballistic missile systems, as measured by their warheads, and in the overall destructive power of strategic forces.

—We do not, however, insist on identical force structures and are willing limit forces where U.S. has advantage. If Soviets agree to meaningful reductions in ballistic missile destructive power, U.S. is prepared to accept more stringent limits on heavy bombers and ALCMs. Build-down proposal should be seen in this light.

—If USSR is seriously interested in such a trade-off, we can be flexible in developing common framework to carry out reductions.

Compliance: The McFarlane Group is still developing a gameplan for handling the cases of possible Soviet non-compliance with SALT II, the ABM Treaty, and other agreements. We have raised both the new Soviet radar and the SS–X–25 [a.k.a. PL–5] ICBM in the current SCC round, but have received little satisfaction from Soviets.

—Soviets should not underestimate the gravity of our concerns over possible Soviet non-compliance with the ABM/SALT II.

—More is at stake than whether SCC has competency to consider non-ratified agreement. Failure to resolve uncertainties created by ambiguous Soviet actions will have corrosive effect on efforts to negotiate new agreements.

—Detailed diplomatic exchanges on the subject of the ICBM first flight tested on February 8 and initial exchanges on the new radar near Krasnoyarsk have not in any way alleviated our concerns.

—Our ability to assess information you provided on the new missile is severely impeded by your expanding practice of encrypting telemetry on missile test flights.

—Hope you will be more forthcoming in the current session of the SCC. Not encouraged by initial weeks’ discussions.

CBMs: We held constructive exchanges in Moscow in August, but the Soviets have yet to agree to discuss anything other than Hotline upgrade.8 We are now preparing for a second round of talks in Washington in December. The White House has yet to approve the details of our initiative for a multilateral convention on nuclear terrorism.

—August discussions in Moscow on ways to enhance communications were useful. Pleased we will be working together to improve [Page 444] “Hotline.” Urge Soviet government to reconsider position on our other ideas for improved and expanded communications.

—We are considering another round of such bilateral discussions of communications measures in Washington this early December. Would hope to see broader participation on Soviet side than just technical experts.

CDE: The CDE opens in Stockholm on January 17; preparatory conference is underway in Helsinki. We are now coordinating a Western position and have little to say to the Soviets on substance.

—U.S. attaches great significance to businesslike CDE. We hope early progress can be reached on meaningful measures.

MBFR: No recent progress on our verification probe; the Soviets have said they would be prepared to continue the bilateral exploratory talks if we agreed to discuss all issues and not just verification.

—We are seriously interested in making progress toward an agreement to achieve more stable conventional balance in Central Europe at reduced levels.

Non-Proliferation: We have had two rounds of productive exchanges with the Soviets; in general, this has been a fruitful area of dialogue, insulated from the broader strains in the relationship.

—We value highly exchanges we have had on nuclear non-proliferation and hope for continued cooperation. Will soon propose next round of exchanges in Washington in mid-December.

Soviet Arms Control Proposals: The Soviets may press us to provide a more considered response to their Outer Space Treaty proposal and laundry list of propagandistic proposals presented at the UNGA. They may also complain about our unwillingness to reestablish negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban [CTB].

—Still studying your Outer Space Treaty proposal. We remain concerned about serious problems in verifying any meaningful limits on military activities in space. Would welcome specific Soviet ideas—as opposed to general assertions—on outer space verification.

—Have your other various proposals presented at the UNGA under review. Generally believe it is far preferable to concentrate on the specifics of arms reduction in the Geneva and Vienna talks, rather than wasting time on essentially declaratory approaches.

—On nuclear testing, regret your repeated refusal to engage in discussions on ways to improve verification provisions of TTBT/PNET that would have permitted us to ratify the treaties.

Human Rights: The human rights situation continues to worsen. Since Madrid, Soviets have put on trial three prominent dissidents and peace activists; virtual cut-off of Jewish and Armenian emigration continues. Moreover, the Soviets have reinforced unequivocal “nyet” [Page 445] Gromyko gave on Shcharanskiy, insisting that there was never any deal. On a trade involving Shcharanskiy, Vogel told us last week that the Soviet response was “not yet.”

—Human rights will remain central issue in 1980 as it was in 1970s. Need to find a way to take practical steps.

Gromyko said in Madrid we had no deal on Shcharanskiy. We cannot accept this, as both Kampelman and Kondrashev are responsible men, who had done business on a number of cases.

—You must understand our concerns and feeling that question of good faith involved. Not asking you to contradict yourselves, but to explore other ways this issue can be resolved.

Third World Regional Tensions: Although the Soviets have expressed support for the cease-fire in Lebanon, their overall policy, particularly unqualified support for the Syrians, promotes continued instability in the Middle East. The Iran-Iraq conflict may be moving into dangerous stage. In a period of extreme turbulence in Asia—including the KAL massacre and the Rangoon bombing—the Soviets have thus far been unhelpful.

—On the Middle East, we remain convinced that the reconciliation process is the only alternative to a dangerous and unpredictable escalation of tensions. Recent Beirut tragedy has not diminished our determination to support such a solution.9

—We note your statement of support for the ceasefire. You must urge Syria to exercise greater restraint. Return to direct Israeli-Syrian confrontation is in neither of our interests.

—On Iran-Iraq, you understand the West’s interests in continued flow of oil. We will protect those interests if necessary, but far prefer a peaceful solution of this dispute. We do not want a conflict in the Gulf and are working to avoid it. We trust Soviet Union will take no actions to exacerbate situation.

—Are particularly concerned that you understand the need for restraint on the Korean peninsula after the Rangoon assassination attempt.

Bilateral Issues: In the wake of the KAL shoot-down, most elements of our “small steps” strategy [consulates, exchanges agreement] are now on hold. Dobrynin has stressed the need for more high-level dialogue. Gromyko told Hartman that key problem is U.S. insertion of ideology into our statements, raising questions about whether we accept legitimacy of Soviet Union.10

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—Soviet actions, not American words, are responsible for the downturn in relations and our inability to pursue at this time some of the steps initiated earlier this year.

—Soviet leaders, including Andropov, always have stressed that ideological competition is essential and consistent with peaceful coexistence. Soviets can’t have it both ways.

—This Administration has not injected ideology into our diplomatic discussions. We are prepared to deal with the Soviet Union as a major power and to strive for agreements based on equality and mutual interest.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Box 1, Executive Secretariat Super Sensitive Chronology (10/28/1983–11/14/1983); NLR–775–1–58–3–4. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Pascoe on October 25. McKinley’s handwritten initials are in the upper-right corner, indicating he saw it on October 29.
  2. See Document 130. Attached with the point paper, but not printed, are talking points on the “Soviets in Grenada” and a memorandum drafted by Pascoe on “Dobrynin’s Comments to FRG Ambassador Hermes.”
  3. See Document 128.
  4. Burt initialed “RB” above his typed signature.
  5. Secret; Sensitive. Brackets are in the original.
  6. On October 26, Andropov gave an interview in Pravda and discussed new INF initiatives. In telegram 9901 from the Mission in Geneva, October 27, the Mission reported on Nitze’s dinner conversation on October 26 with Kvitsinskiy: “Kvitsinskiy asked Nitze whether he had heard the reports of Secretary General Andropov’s press interview. Nitze said he had not and asked Kvitsinskiy what Andropov had said. Kvitsinskiy said that Andropov had said the Soviet side was prepared to talk about aircraft limits, was prepared to reduce its SS–20s in Europe to 140, was prepared to freeze its SS–20 deployments in the eastern Soviet Union as of the time that an agreement might go into effect. He further said that Andropov had said that the Soviet side would break off the talks if U.S. deployed.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D830626–0553) The INF delegation in Geneva reported further on the proposal and the statement by the Soviet delegation in telegram 9922 from the Mission in Geneva, October 27. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D830627–0272) For the text of Andropov’s interview, which was published in the October 27 edition of Pravda, see Documents on Disarmament, 1983, pp. 910–914.
  7. NSDD 104, “U.S. Approach to INF Negotiations—II, was issued on September 21 and provided instruction to the INF negotiating team. It is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. V, European Security, 1977–1983.
  8. Discussions were held in Moscow on the Hotline and other confidence-building measures on August 9 and 10.
  9. On October 23, a vehicle loaded with explosives destroyed the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing over 200 Marines. For documentation on the barracks bombing, see Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XVIII, Part 2, Lebanon, September 1982–March 1984.
  10. See Document 127.