194. Memorandum From Ronald Lehman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1


  • Casey Note on Arms Control

Casey’s Prognosis on Arms Control

On March 6, CIA Director Casey sent you the attached note (Tab A)2 on “Next Steps in Arms Control” as a follow-up to the March 2 meeting on East-West Relations.3 You will be meeting with him this Thursday,4 and he may bring it up.

Casey’s basic theme is that any quick arms control agreement with the Soviet Union will have to be simple in both substance and process. For that reason, and because he believes Chernenko will not be allowed [Page 695] too much leeway on central issues, Casey notes that progress in START and INF “is unlikely over the next few months.” Instead, the Director suggests that we look at some of the issues that Chernenko raised on March 2,5 noting his emphasis on chemical weapons and the Soviet offer of improved verification. Casey also suggests opportunities exist in talks on crisis communications, KAL prevention talks, consultations on regional issues, and issues in the SCC. The Director believes that progress on one or more of these issues could pave the way for a summit which could, in turn, pave the way for arms control progress next year.

Comments on Casey’s Paper

For the most part, we already have underway a program that meets Casey’s recommendations. The Shultz initiatives on the New York/Kiev consulates, the hotline discussions, bilateral reciprocity agreements, and the Bering Sea issues all move in the areas where he believes progress is most likely. It remains to be seen whether these will be sufficient for a summit. The same applies even more to CW and SCC discussions. Although we will table a CW treaty early this year, it is extremely doubtful that there will be progress sufficient to highlight a summit simply because of the magnitude of the task. The few areas in the SCC where we might reach agreement will be overshadowed by compliance issues which are not likely to be resolved this year.

Thus, we are left with the prospect that any summit will be either (1) justified on the merits of a face-to-face meeting and highlighted only by the conclusion of a number of little agreements, or else (2) highlighted by some certifiable progress on a central issue such as START or INF. The former is more likely than the latter which will require a decision by the Soviet Union that any concessions they make may give the President a major political victory. This, in turn, would undoubtedly lead the Soviet Union to demand significant concessions on our part. Indeed, that seems to be what the Soviet Union is signaling; namely that if we make sufficient concessions (ratification of TTBT—despite the compliance issue, enter into CW bilaterals—perhaps thereby also reducing the sting of accusations of non-compliance, enter into talks on space arms control—ASAT and SDI, or some similar gesture or combination of concessions) then they may be willing to return to the START talks and set the stage for a summit. They might also drop their demands that we remove our LRINF missiles before INF talks can begin again.

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In short, a summit may well be in the cards, but Director Casey is undoubtedly correct in that any new substantive agreements worth highlighting will have to be “simple agreements that do not require extensive preparation or get into great complexity.” We may ultimately find that time and political circumstances preclude the announcement of any arms control breakthrough at a summit.

Jack Matlock concurs.


That you thank Director Casey at your next Thursday meeting for his memo on arms control and ask him what the agency believes are the Soviet Union’s motivations for a summit.6

  1. 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.”
  2. Tab A is attached but not printed. In a covering memorandum to McFarlane, Casey wrote: “It is my view that the only way that what we talked about on Friday [the March 2 meeting on U.S.-Soviet relations] is likely to work is to focus on simple agreements that do not require extensive preparation or get into great complexity. The attached note makes this case.”
  3. See Document 188.
  4. March 15.
  5. See Document 187.
  6. There is no indication of approval or disapproval by McFarlane. No record of a meeting between Casey and McFarlane was found.