256. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

222775. Subject: President’s 7/27 Letter to Chernenko.2

1. S—Entire text.

2. Ambassador should deliver the letter beginning para 3 from the President to Chernenko along with the draft statement at highest available level of the MFA on Saturday.3 In delivering the letter and draft statement, the Ambassador should stress the seriousness of the President in approaching the meeting in Vienna. He should also make the following two points.

A) On the Soviet moratorium proposal: We would consider language in the statement which states that both sides will consider what mutual restraints on activities would be appropriate during the course of the negotiations.

B) We offer the proposed joint statement on the understanding that, if questioned about the meaning of the phrase “militarization of outer space,” the United States will make clear that it refers to proposals which either side may make relevant to this matter.

3. Begin text of letter: Dear Mr. Chairman:

—Candor should be an essential feature of our dialogue given the responsibilities of our two offices. Thus, I must be frank in informing you that I am surprised by your letter of July 26, 1984,4 since it draws [Page 897] conclusions which are not warranted by the explanations I have given you.

—Mr. Chairman, since receiving your proposal to begin negotiations on the “militarization of outer space” on June 29,5 I have believed that our two countries have an important opportunity to make progress in arms control in an area of fundamental importance. This is why I immediately accepted your proposal and in subsequent letters and diplomatic exchanges suggested that our representatives get down to work on developing an agreed formulation for the Vienna meeting, so that negotiations there could lead to meaningful results.

—Thus, I am disturbed that in your most recent letter, you misrepresent our position. Let me once again make the US position absolutely clear. As I stated in my letter to you of July 2,6 your proposal for a conference on the “militarization of outer space” remains “an excellent idea.” The concept of the “militarization of outer space” is a broad one, and as I have indicated previously, in my view accommodates offensive as well as defensive systems. Your side may have a different concept, but the important thing at this stage is for our negotiators to meet in Vienna and work out whatever differences may exist.

—So, Mr. Chairman, contrary to your assertion in your latest letter, the United States is prepared for talks on the “militarization of outer space” without preconditions. I must remind you that it is the Soviet Union, not the United States, that seems unwilling to reach negotiated solutions to important military problems. It was, after all, the Soviet Union and not the United States that left the negotiations on intermediate range nuclear forces in Geneva, and it is the Soviet Union and not the United States that continues to refuse to cooperate on the important task of reducing strategic arms. Thus, Mr. Chairman, your latest letter raises a question in my mind about whether, having made a proposal to go to Vienna, you are now backing away from it. I hope this is not the case.

—If, as you say in your latest letter, your proposal still stands, I think it is time now for our representatives to work out the preparations for the meeting in Vienna, including, if possible, a joint statement. I have instructed Secretary of State Shultz to continue this effort. If your side approaches this task with the good will and serious intent which is the basis of my approach, I am confident that we can serve the interests of both our countries. Ronald Reagan. End text of letter.

4. Begin text of draft statement: Joint Soviet-American Statement. As a result of exchanges through diplomatic channels between the USA [Page 898] and the USSR, agreement has been reached to open talks with the aim of working out and concluding agreements concerning the militarization of outer space, including anti-satellite systems and other aspects of this issue. The talks will begin in Vienna on September 18, 1984, at the level of specially appointed delegations.

End text.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8490829). Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis.
  2. In a July 27 note to Bush, McFarlane noted that the letter was staffed “with Cap, Jack Vessey and George and hope to take it to the President later today.” Two drafts were found with Matlock’s handwritten suggestions and edits. (Ibid.) According to an attached NSC routing slip: “Pres approved msg” on July 27. No formal, signed copy of the letter was found.
  3. July 28.
  4. See Document 252.
  5. See Document 233.
  6. See Document 234.