233. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • My Meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin on Friday, June 29, 1984

Ambassador Dobrynin called on me this morning at his request. We talked for about three-quarters of an hour covering three subjects.

1. Dobrynin delivered an additional proposal from the Soviet Union on negotiations about the “militarization of space” in which they add some specificity to the modalities of their proposal, particularly a date and place for negotiations. I said that we are not yet prepared to respond to their proposal but that there are no doubt a number of issues involved that need some discussion. For example, does “militarization” in space apply only to defensive systems or do they want to talk about offensive systems that go through space as well? Dobrynin did not respond to that suggestion, but I don’t think it went by him either. The text of the Soviet proposal and the oral statement accompanying it are attached.

2. Dobrynin asked for anything I might tell him of a philosophical nature on our approach to the management of the U.S.-Soviet relationship, raising as an example his problem in interpreting your recent speech in which there was a part that was “good” from their standpoint and another part that was “bad.”2 I said that the message from that [Page 846] speech and from the fact that you sent our negotiators back to Geneva at the height of the tension over the Korean airliner suggested an effort on a philosophic plane along the following lines:

We know that our systems are very different and the likelihood is that they will remain so. We know that our interests are often at variance and the likelihood is that they will remain so. It is, nevertheless, the case that our two countries have the preponderance of military power in the world and are at the moment the two largest economies, so the existence of a working relationship between us is of great importance to each of us and to the world more generally. Therefore, we have to seek a way of managing the relationship that will have important elements of continuity through the ups and downs of events that will trouble us greatly and that we will feel call for statements and actions on our part. That philosophy, I said, is what motivated the President to send our negotiators back to Geneva some months ago and, more recently, to identify a large number of significant—if not quite “the big”—problem areas where positive work can and is taking place. If such a philosophy can be implemented in practical terms, then we would consider that a positive achievement.

3. Dobrynin also raised questions about the personal and technical management of our relationship and used the Scowcroft mission as an example of how a good thing misfired because it wasn’t handled right. The elements of incorrect handling from his point of view were: (a) it came about too suddenly, (b) there was no back-and-forth discussion of something so important as sending a Presidential Emissary to their head of state, and (c) it seemed to be an effort to go to Chernenko through some part of their government other than the Foreign Ministry. Dobrynin said that if the Scowcroft mission and Presidential letter had been worked out through him and then on to Moscow with careful preparation, he could have “guaranteed 100 percent” that Scowcroft would have seen Chernenko.

I told him that we were prepared to work out with him the technical aspects of our relationship in a way that did everything possible to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. We recognize the importance of giving interpretations of statements and activities we undertake and wish that they would also take note of this point in terms of their own behavior and work with Art Hartman. We also agree that private and small and perhaps one-on-one discussions could make an important contribution to the development of the relationship.

He stated that he felt the START and INF talks might have gone in a more constructive way if, in the discussions I had with him about them some time ago, it had been possible to discuss them in broad terms in a one-on-one meeting as distinct from meetings “where Rowny or Nitze or someone else was always present.”

[Page 847]

Dobrynin said that he is looking forward to the opportunity for conversation with you at the Diplomatic Reception on Sunday.3


Proposal by the Soviet Government4


The Soviet Government most insistently draws attention to the necessity of urgent measures aimed at the prevention of the militarization of outer space.5

[Page 848]

The spreading of the arms race to outer space would sharply increase the risk of the military disaster, undermine the prospects of the limitation and the reduction of armaments in general. Everywhere the understanding of this is widening, the demands are growing to stop such development of events until it is too late. And it is necessary to do everything in order not to waste this opportunity, to close reliably all the channels without exception of the militarization of outer space.

In practical terms this means that weapons of any type—conventional, nuclear, laser, beam or any other should not be launched in space and deployed there, whether on piloted or pilotless systems. Space weapons of any basing mode should not be developed, tested or deployed either for antiballistic missile defense, or as antisatellite means, or for the use against targets on the ground or in the air. Means of such nature already created must be destroyed.

The use of force in space or from space against the earth, as well as from the earth against the objects in outer space should be banned forever.

Such approach, which would ban and eliminate the whole class of armaments—the attack space means including antisatellite and antiballistic missile space-based systems, as well as any other ground, air or sea-based means designed to destroy objects in space, allows to ensure a reliable control over the compliance by the sides with their obligations.

The Government of the Soviet Union proposes to the Government of the United States of America to begin Soviet-American negotiations on the prevention of the militarization of outer space at the level of specially appointed delegations. Within the framework of these negotiations the question of mutual comprehensive repudiation of antisatellite systems should be resolved too.

Such negotiations could be started this September in Vienna (Austria), if the Government of Austria agrees to this. The specific date of the beginning of the negotiations would be agreed upon through the diplomatic channels.

For the purposes of creating the favorable conditions for achieving an agreement and of undertaking practical measures on the prevention of the arms race in outer space already now the Soviet Union proposes also to establish on mutual basis beginning from the date of opening the negotiations a moratorium on testing and deploying such weapons. It goes without saying that the joining of other states to such moratorium will be welcomed.

As the leading powers in the area of exploration of outer space, the USSR and the USA are called upon to do everything in their power to provide peace in space for the mankind and to show an example to [Page 849] other states in resolving this task common to all the humanity, creating the basis for multilateral agreement on this matter.

In view of the urgency and importance of this question the Soviet Government expects a prompt and positive reply of the US Government to this appeal.


Soviet Oral Statement6

I am instructed to deliver to you a text of the statement of the Soviet Government on the question of preventing the militarization of outer space.

We would like to draw your attention to the fact, that the Soviet Union suggests a radical solution—to ban and to eliminate the whole class of attack space weapons and to close once and for ever all channels of possible militarization of outer space. It is exactly the attack space means that would be banned. While the means used for the purposes of control, navigation, communication, etc. would not be covered.

We deem it necessary to emphasize the importance and the urgency of the solution of the question of preventing the militarization of outer space, the special responsibility which rests upon the USSR and the USA as the leading space powers, and the necessity in this regard to show an example to all other states engaged in research and exploration of outer space.

The beginning of the negotiations on outer space between the USSR and the USA would be a practical proof of the readiness of the sides to wage a businesslike and concrete dialogue on one of the major questions of ensuring security and peace.

The Soviet side is ready to begin such negotiations in Vienna on September 18, 1984, for example, if there is a consent of the Austrian Government, and to send a special delegation for this purposes.7

We would like to express hope that the American side will consider the Soviet proposal with all due attention and give a positive reply to it.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (05/24/84–06/01/84); NLR–748–25A–3–5–1. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Shultz. A typed note on another copy of the document filed without the attachments reads: “Original carried by GPS to the President on June 29.” (George Shultz Papers, Box 5, Secretary’s Meetings with the President, 06/29/1984–07/23/1984) According to the President’s Daily Diary, Reagan met with Shultz in the Oval Office from 1:55 to 2:25 p.m. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) Reagan wrote in his diary for June 29: “Met with George Shultz & Bud & came to an agreement on our statement to the Soviets.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 363)
  2. Dobrynin was referring to Reagan’s speech in Dublin. See footnote 3, Document 224.
  3. On Sunday, July 1, the Reagans hosted a BBQ at the White House for Chiefs of Mission and their spouses. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) Reagan wrote in his diary: “Anatoly Dobrynin (Soviet Ambas.) was at my table along with Geo. Shultz. Anatoly wanted to talk about our situation—the Russians wanting us to meet in Sept. to talk about weapons in space & our reply that we’d like to discuss this and nuclear weapons etc. which they have refused to do. We didn’t settle anything but I got a few things off my chest.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 364) On Monday, July 2, Reagan wrote: “We had the usual staff times but this one attended by Geo. Shultz—our 1st chance to compare notes about Anatoly. We’re telling the Soviets we’ll be in Vienna in Sept. waiting for them—our terms.” (Ibid.)
  4. No classification marking.
  5. TASS released the Soviet statement on June 29. The next day the White House issued the U.S. response, approved by McFarlane. Excerpts of both were printed in the New York Times. (“Soviet and U.S. Statements on Space-Weapons Negotiations,” New York Times, June 30, 1984, p. 4) Matlock later recalled the reaction to the Soviet proposal and the development of the U.S. response: “The proposal was obviously directed at Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, even though it defined the subject of negotiation in terms so broad that it was hard to determine just what specifically it was intended to cover. There had been no previous discussion of the proposal in diplomatic channels, so the announcement seemed designed for the public rather than policy makers.” Matlock continued: “By late afternoon [on June 29], the Senior Arms Control Policy Group, with representatives from all relevant U.S. agencies, gathered in the Situation Room. At first, the sentiment was almost universal: ‘It’s directed straight at SDI. We can’t do it. Besides, it’s nothing but propaganda.’ But as we went around the table, opinion began to shift, aided by McFarlane’s deft mention, from time to time, of arguments in favor of acceptance. In less than an hour, it was unanimous: the United States would accept, but say that it would also discuss ways to resume negotiations on INF and START. The Soviet Union would not have to agree to reopen those negotiations, but would be placed on notice that the U.S. considered ballistic missiles that travel through space a part of the ‘militarization of outer space.’ The statement I had prepared in advance was revised to stress this before McFarlane took it to the president for his approval. Reagan approved it without change and it was issued in time for the evening news on television, and for the following day’s papers, which carried both U.S. and Soviet statements. It was probably the most rapid decision ever made by a committee in the U.S. government dealing with arms control.” (Matlock, Reagan and Gorbachev, pp. 99–100)
  6. No classification marking.
  7. An unknown hand inserted “in Vienna” following the word “negotiations.”