185. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz1
- U.S.-Soviet Relations: Your Meeting with the President, March 2, 1984, 2:15 p.m.
Your meeting with the President is designed to set the framework for our policy towards the Soviet Union for the rest of this year.2 You will want to get the President’s blessing on moving forward with the Soviets in your next talk with Dobrynin and in Art Hartman’s next conversations with Gromyko. It is also important that Brent Scowcroft have substantive things to say during his meetings in Moscow in ten days if he is to have credibility as a channel on nuclear arms negotiations.3 At this point, content is the key to whether we can move forward.
The material you sent the President for the meeting was changed quite substantively by Jack Matlock and Ron Lehman before Bud [Page 648] McFarlane sent it on to the President.4 Some of the NSC’s updating of the first paper is quite good. However, they also saw fit to gut the substance on START,5 eliminating the Framework paper in toto, and introduced some dubious conceptual comments, e.g. Chernenko “needs you more than you need him, and he knows it.”
The paper now reflects the better tone we have been hearing from the Soviets since Chernenko took over and the slight widening of opportunities Chernenko may represent. In a nutshell, the Soviets are reticent about helping the President this year, but they are keeping their options open, and under Chernenko the signs are multiplying that they could well decide to get something serious going with us before the election. It argues we should recognize that major breakthroughs are not in the cards and keep public expectations—including expectations of a summit—low at the outset.
But the paper states that we should also begin to put serious content into the dialogue all along the line, and be willing to go to the summit if the Soviets are willing to respond with concrete steps that take our concerns into account. If they are not, the fault will demonstrably be theirs, and not ours. If they are, we may get some agreements this year, and should lay a solid basis for some serious forward movement beginning in 1985.
On substance, the paper divides the issues and sets forward proposals in the four normal agenda areas. It also talks about channels and timing, noting that we need to organize ourselves for confidential, leak-proof substantive dialogue, through Dobrynin and Hartman, through Brent Scowcroft (when he goes to Moscow with the Dartmouth Group beginning March 8) and possibly through a visit to Moscow by you. And we need the kind of bureaucratic streamlining here that will “pre-position” us for movement on a whole range of issues. Your task in [Page 649] the meeting will be to obtain agreement for movement forward in all areas.
The fundamental flaw in the rewrite is that it eliminates any real substance on START and drops the separate paper on the Framework. As it stands now, there is little left to talk with the Soviets on nuclear arms control issues other than the vague suggestions of tradeoffs that we have offered in the past. The Soviets will not take such an approach as a serious one. During the meeting tomorrow or following it in a separate meeting, it will be important to get the President’s blessing on a more substantive approach.
The problem will be a critical one for your dialogue with Dobrynin and Scowcroft’s talks in Moscow. If Brent is sent to Moscow with no more than what is proposed in this paper, the Soviets will be confirmed in their suspicion that our talk of dialogue is no more than an election-year ploy. What he has to say will be a test case of “U.S. seriousness” for the Soviets. If there is nothing new, Brent will be discredited; even worse, you and the President will be discredited and the possibility of getting something serious going with the Soviets this year—including a summit—will not be realized.
Specifically, we believe that Brent should be authorized to convey to the Soviets just what sort of trade-offs we envision and how they might come together in a START package. At the very least, he will have to be able to say explicitly that we are prepared to trade our agreement to limit missiles and bombers together, as the Soviet Union has suggested, in exchange for Soviet agreement to sufficient limits on the ballistic missile capabilities that are important to us. He should be able to describe how such an arrangement could involve two parallel networks of limits and sublimits, one on delivery vehicles (as emphasized by the Soviet side), the other on warheads (as emphasized by the U.S.); and explain how such an approach would not require that we build identical forces. His pitch would be keyed to the need to find agreement on the principles of such a reductions scheme, which could then allow the two delegations in Geneva to hammer out the actual numbers and other details.
The attached suggested talking points (Tab A)6 are designed to allow you to shape the conversation to get the President’s blessing on putting substance, particularly on START, into the dialogue with the Soviets, obtaining a consensus on the bilateral, regional, and human rights steps discussed in the paper, and securing agreement on the ideas on timing and channels included in it. They include both the ideas of sending Brent to Moscow and a discussion of the framework. [Page 650] I leave it you whether you want to do this with others present or only with the President. A copy of the paper as it was sent to the President is also attached. (Tab B)
- 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.↩
- On February 9, in a memorandum to Shultz, Burt wrote: “Attached is the paper commissioned at the last session of the Saturday morning Soviet group for possible discussion with the President. I put it together with Jack Matlock and Jeremy Azrael, and with substantial help from Mark Palmer. It will probably need to be revised somewhat before going to the President. But I would like your guidance on whether it is generally on the right track.” (Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Executive Secretariat Sensitive Chronology, 02/09/1984–02/10/1984) The attached paper was the first draft of “U.S.-Soviet Relations: A Framework for the Future,” jointly written by State and NSC Staff. In a February 22 memorandum to Reagan, Shultz wrote: “The more positive line coming out of Moscow since Andropov’s death and the Vice President’s meeting with Chernenko underline the need to look once again at the U.S.-Soviet relationship. We have thus taken stock of where things now stand between us and what steps might be pursued in various areas if we want to see things move forward this year. Attached is a package worked out jointly with my people and the NSC staff for your review.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, February 1984 Super Sensitive Documents) Included in this package were the Framework paper, a summary of START options, and a checklist of U.S.-Soviet issues.↩
- Scowcroft and the Dartmouth Group delegation made an official visit to Moscow in March. See Document 193.↩
In a February 24 memorandum to the President, McFarlane explained: “A paper suggesting a framework for U.S.-Soviet relations in 1984, written on the basis of discussions by the small group organized by George Shultz, is attached at Tab A. It provides a background for the meeting we have scheduled next week (see Document 188) to discuss where we go from here in dealing with the Soviets.
“The second attachment reviews the major issues now current in U.S.-Soviet relations and describes in a nutshell where they stand.” (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, USSR Subject File, 1981–1986, US-USSR Relations (February 1984) 2/2) As noted by Burt, some revisions were made by the NSC Staff in the final version that was sent to the President.↩
- In a memorandum to Shultz on February 24, McFarlane informed him that the START paper would be discussed in the Senior Arms Control Policy Group the following week, and therefore was not included in the package to the President. (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, February 1984 Super Sensitive Documents)↩
- The talking points are attached but not printed.↩
- Secret; Sensitive. Not for the System. First drafted by Burt, Matlock, Azrael, and Palmer according to Burt’s February 9 memorandum and revised in the State Department and NSC Staff (see footnotes 2 and 4, above).↩
- U.S., Soviet, and Japanese negotiators began meeting in Washington on February 26. See footnote 9, Document 372. For the issues under discussion, see point two, “KAL Safety Measures,” in Section IV of the attached Checklist. Discussion of safety in the North Pacific air routes also continued at the ICAO in Montreal.↩
- See Document 175.↩
- Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Pascoe and Simons; cleared by Burt, Palmer, and Howe according to a draft in the file.↩
- See footnote 11, Document 159.↩
- The Tsongas Amendment to the 1984 Defense Department Authorization Act, which “unanimously passed” in the Senate, “prohibited the expenditure of funds for tests of explosive or inert ASAT weapons (i.e., exempting directed-energy weapons) against objects in space, unless the President determined and certified to Congress that: 1) the United States was endeavoring in good faith to negotiate a treaty with the Soviet Union for a mutual, verifiable, and comprehensive ban on ASATs; and 2) that pending such an agreement, such tests were necessary for national security.” (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Anti-Satellite Weapons, Countermeasures, and Arms Control, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, September 1985, pp. 99–100)↩
- See Document 165.↩
- See footnote 8, Document 284.↩