257. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Chernenko to President Reagan1

Dear Mr. President:

I agree completely that the subject of our correspondence requires complete candor.

In the spirit of such frankness, I cannot but object categorically to the fact that the American side continues with its persistent attempts to distort the very essence of our proposal of June 29.2 This is evident from your letter, too.3

You write, for example, that we supposedly proposed that negotiations begin on questions of the “militarization of outer space.” We have, however, proposed and continue to propose that negotiations be conducted on the prevention of the militarization of outer space. These things are different in principle.

Further. An integral part of our proposal of June 29 is the establishment on a mutual basis, beginning from the date of the opening of the negotiations, of a moratorium on the testing and deployment of space weapons. It was also stated quite clearly in my letter to you of July 7.4

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Since in your reply of July 18 you wrote that you accepted our proposal without preconditions,5 we naturally were entitled to believe that you agreed to introduce a moratorium as well. Now, however, the American side refuses to include in the joint statement a provision regarding a moratorium. The question of a moratorium is also passed over in complete silence in your last letter. The conclusion from this is inescapable.

The case is exactly the same as regards the attitude of the American side toward another integral part of the proposal—to the effect that, within the framework of the negotiations, the issue of complete, mutual renunciation of antisatellite systems also be resolved.

Such is the actual state of affairs, Mr. President. The facts show that, stating its acceptance of our proposal without preconditions, the American side actually speaks about negotiations with the aim not of prohibiting but, in fact, of legalizing space weapons. And, in addition, it also drags into them weapons which have nothing at all to do with the subject of the negotiations we have proposed.

You are certainly free, Mr. President, to put forward any proposals of yours. But why should the public be misled by purporting that the U.S. accepts our proposal? Why should the impression be created that the Soviet Union were backing away from its own proposal?

As far as we are concerned, our proposal continues to remain in force, but it is precisely the proposal which was made public in the Statement of the Soviet government of June 29 and which was outlined in my letters to you. We did not put forward any other proposal which could be construed simply as an invitation “to go to Vienna.” Anyone who familiarizes himself with our correspondence can easily see that.

K. Chernenko
  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Head of State File, USSR: General Secretary Chernenko (8490847, 8491054). Secret; Sensitive. Sokolov delivered the letter to Dam on July 31. See Document 258. Printed from an unofficial translation. The text of the letter, translated from Russian, was provided by the Soviet Embassy. The oral statement is not attached to this copy of the letter in the Head of State File; however, it is attached to a copy in the Matlock Files. (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, US-USSR Summits, E.3, President/Chernenko Correspondence (1/2))
  2. See Document 233.
  3. See Document 256.
  4. See Document 240.
  5. See Document 247.