249. Memorandum From Robert Linhard, Ronald Lehman, Jack Matlock, and Sven Kraemer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1


  • Responding to Soviet Proposed “Agreed Statement”

Alternative Responses. Attached at Tab A is a draft response that NSC staff would recommend be used in responding to the Soviets.2 It does not use any of the alternative formulations suggested in the package that Secretary Shultz provided to the President this morning (provided at Tab B).3

NSC staff have problems with the State alternatives. None of the alternatives mention limits on offensive nuclear arms. All put us in the position of depending upon our ability to bring up reductions in offensive nuclear arms only as this is “related” to the subjects of the “militarization of space” or weapons in space. Given the Soviet actions, we don’t feel that we should try to finesse this issue any further. We are in the process of negotiating an agreed statement. We had best make our interests clear.

The NSC staff alternative simply states what we have asserted before—that we are ready to meet to discuss negotiating approaches to areas of concern without preconditions. The specific references make it clear that we are ready to deal with Soviet concerns. They also restate US intentions to pursue both ASAT negotiations and a resumption of negotiations on offensive nuclear arsenals.

The State package (Tab B) also suggests that we consider announcing our own version of an ASAT moratorium. NSC staff would strongly recommend against such a step without additional staffing and discussion. The NSC alternative (Tab A) handles the Soviet call for a moratorium by explicitly stating that we would be prepared to discuss this in Vienna.

Timing of the Response. State has proposed that we make a response to the Soviets this afternoon, and then consider making that response a matter of public record. NSC staff feel that it remains in our interest [Page 882] to keep the exchanges on preparations for Vienna private if possible. It shows to the Soviets and to the knowledgeable publics a seriousness of purpose on our part.

Once a decision is taken on how to respond to the Soviets, the NSC staff would recommend that we not rush to deliver it today. Tomorrow would certainly be early enough to meet our commitment to a prompt response.

Staff would also recommend that we not release the US response to the press in order to avoid giving the impression that we are simply reacting to Soviet public diplomacy tactics. It would also underscore our seriousness of purpose with the Soviets.

Talking Points. Attached at Tab I are a set of talking points which you might find useful in this afternoon’s meeting on this subject.4


That you recommend the response at Tab A as the preferred initial U.S. counter to the Soviet “agreed statement” proposal.5

That you recommend against too prompt (i.e., this afternoon) a formal response to the Soviets lest we look like we are reacting to their public diplomacy tactics.6

That we not make the U.S. response a matter of public record but maintain our efforts to keep the diplomatic exchanges private.7

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (07/03/84–07/07/84); NLR–748–25A–8–7–4. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Attached but not printed. The Soviet proposal for a joint communiqué was given to Burt on July 20. See Document 250.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Attached but not printed.
  5. McFarlane approved the recommendation and wrote “as mod.”
  6. McFarlane noted: “RR approved reply today.”
  7. McFarlane approved the recommendation.