237. National Security Decision Directive 1421


The Official Response to the Soviet Proposal of May 29.2 I have authorized the following response to the Soviet proposal made on May 29, 1984. (U)

“The United States Government has taken note of the statement by the Soviet government proposing a meeting of delegations in September to begin negotiations on preventing the “militarization of outer space.” The militarization of space began when the ballistic missiles were tested and when such missiles and other weapons systems using outer space began to be deployed. The United States Government, therefore, draws attention to the pressing need for the resumption of negotiations aimed at a radical reduction of nuclear arsenals on a balanced and verified basis.” (U)

“Therefore, the United States Government has informed the government of the Soviet Union that it is prepared to meet the Soviet Union in September at any location agreeable to the Soviet Union and to the government of the country where the meeting is held for the following purposes:

(1) to discuss and define mutually agreeable arrangements under which negotiations on the reduction of strategic and intermediate-range nuclear weapons can be resumed; and

(2) to discuss and seek agreement on feasible negotiating approaches, which could lead to verifiable and effective limitations on anti-satellite weapons.

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We will also be prepared to discuss any other arms control concerns or other matters of interest to both sides.” (U)

“We will continue contacts with the Soviet Union through diplomatic channels on arrangements for these September talks.” (U)

Implementation. The U.S. will be prepared to begin discussions in Vienna on September 18, 1984. However, the date and location is of less importance than our agreement to begin well prepared and serious discussions. The U.S. agrees to the discussions proposed without preconditions, but based on a commitment by both sides to find mutually acceptable negotiating approaches to the important questions before both the United States and the Soviet Union. (C)

We should attempt to shift the continuing discussion between the U.S. and the Soviet Union concerning these talks out of the public arena and into private diplomatic channels. To do this, we should seek Soviet agreement to join us in refraining from further public comment. (C)

Preparations for Discussions. No matter what the initial Soviet response, the United States will be prepared to begin the discussions as outlined above on the dates initially proposed by the Soviet Union.

—Initial priority must be given to completing those papers which have been already tasked as a part of the ongoing program of work in the ASAT, START and INF areas. The prompt completion of this work is essential to providing the detailed, substantive foundation needed to support the final development of a U.S. approach to the discussions in September. This work program should be completed and its results delivered for my consideration no later than August 1. (C)

—Based upon this work, the Senior Arms Control Policy Group will develop and coordinate the necessary strategy and position papers needed to support the generation of instructions for the team representing the United States at the discussions beginning in mid-September. These papers will be provided for my review and approval no later than August 31. At that time, the Senior Arms Control Policy Group will also recommend a plan for timely consultations with the Congress and our Allies as appropriate. (C)

—Within the next few weeks, the National Security Advisor will provide the Senior Arms Control Policy Group with additional guidance as needed to sequence, develop, and coordinate other aspects of U.S. preparations. (C)

Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC National Security Decision Directives (NSDD), NSDD 142 [Arms Limitation Talks, September 1984]. Confidential. In a July 2 memorandum to McFarlane forwarding the NSDD, Linhard and Rye wrote: “At this juncture, we are in a very strong position. We should take every step to keep the pressure on the Soviet Union. To do this, we should: —We should not characterize the U.S. intent to discuss our full agenda as a precondition to meeting in September. But, we should also not agree that we will only discuss the Soviet agenda. Rather, we should continue to make it clear that we agree to meet in September in Vienna, and at that meeting, we intend to discuss all items in these areas. —We should not accept a Soviet no. No matter what the initial Soviet response, we should visibly press on with our internal preparations for the September talks and press the Soviets for a positive response without preconditions on the agenda. The attached NSDD should help us in this regard.” Matlock initialed his concurrence. They attached a memorandum for McFarlane to forward the NSDD to Reagan for signature, which McFarlane sent and Reagan signed on July 5.
  2. This NSDD incorrectly dates the Soviet proposal to meet in Vienna for negotiations on preventing the “militarization of outer space.” The Soviet proposal was made on June 29. See Document 233.