272. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Weinberger to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1


  • The Issue of Arms Control in the President’s UN Speech and in His Meeting with Gromyko (U)

(S) What needs to be done now at the UN and with Gromyko is quite different from the issue before us when we responded to the possibility of Vienna talks in September. At this time, we can and should take a broader, longer-term view, seeking to reshape US-Soviet relations on arms control in a more fundamental way.

(S) Given the present turmoil and uncertainty at the top of the Soviet government, and given the proximity of our elections, I believe it would be a mistake to use the forthcoming meeting with Gromyko or the UN speech to present specific, short-term arms proposals to the Soviets. Specific proposals aimed at the next six to twelve months of negotiations can be presented far more effectively after the elections.

(S) The theme of the “arms control” part of the President’s UN speech (and of his discussion with Gromyko) should be a broad one. We should stress the need to develop a long-term charter for US-Soviet relations in general and for arms control in particular. In other words, we first need a program for arms control before we need more arms control proposals.

(S) Specifically, the President’s speech at the United Nations should present the following themes:

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—The United States, the Soviet Union, and other major powers, must make a fresh effort to advance the prospects for peace and disarmament.

—The diplomacy of arms control has focussed a great deal on proposals and counter-proposals for various measures, and on the many differences of the proposed measures, without being able to develop common long-term objectives. To realize the potential promise of genuine arms control, the nations will have to take a long journey together. They must agree on a common road map. The ultimate, and only really important objective is to secure a real and a major reduction in arms of all kinds, down to levels of parity, and all agreements must be fully verifiable.

—The United States is ready to meet with the Soviet Union (and with other powers as appropriate) to develop a plan for disarmament and for strengthening the peace that will take us into the next century. This plan should guide us on the steps we must take the first few years, and beyond, and it will show the goals we should reach in five years, in ten years, and at the end of this century. We need to insure that the arms reduction measures we manage to agree on will have a cumulative effect, that they can survive moments of crisis and tension, and that they will truly lead to a safer world. In the last two decades, there were many prolonged arms control negotiations and quite a few agreements. But as we total up this whole effort, we find that progress fell far short of our hopes. None of them really reduced arms. Most provided for some attempts to limit the ratio of expansion, but along the lines desired by the Soviets. The necessary consensus on this broad objective was in fact lacking; and even some other agreements that we signed were violated.

—It is also essential for long-term progress on arms control to agree on a steady reduction in military secrecy. (Explain why movement to an “open world” is critical for arms control verification.) To make possible the progressive implementation of a long-term arms control program leading to a safer peace, the US proposes a comprehensive schedule to move towards an “open world.” This should include:

• An agreed calendar for specific reductions in secrecy measures for the next twenty years.

• A commitment to move ahead, far more vigorously than has been the case, with negotiations on military observers and exchange visits.

• An annual exchange of military five-year plans, subject to JCS and DCI review and approval.

—Thus, the arms control program “for the journey towards a safe peace at the beginning of the next century” will have three elements: [Page 968] (1) the series of cumulative arms reduction measures, (2) a schedule to reduce secrecy, and (3) full verifiability of everything agreed on.2

(U) If you feel that these above suggestions would serve the President’s objectives, you might want to task someone to see how they might be phrased as part of the UN speech.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, Chrons, September 1984 #2. Secret; Sensitive. Weinberger wrote “Bud” above McFarlane’s title. In a September 13 covering memorandum to Weinberger, Iklé wrote: “I had a good discussion with Tony Dolan who is quite enthusiastic about using these themes for the President’s UN speech. But he says it would be easier for him to work on it if Bud McFarlane requested him to do so. Hence, the last paragraph in the attached memo.” He continued: “I also discussed these ideas with Jeane Kirkpatrick. While she agrees with the general thrust I proposed, she feels more strongly about the economic aspects of the UN speech. I have talked to Ken Adelman also, and he is more or less moving in the same direction. At the NSPG, now scheduled for Tuesday [September 18] to discuss arms control, he intends to argue against making a specific proposal now and that we should instead urge general talk on an overall framework for arms control.” (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–86–0048, USSR 388.3 (Jul-) 1984)
  2. A September 17 memorandum to McFarlane from Kraemer, Lehman, Linhard, and Matlock noted: “NSC staff generally support the thrust of Weinberger’s recommendation; however, we would need to review the specifics such as the five-year plan exchange proposal. Weinberger’s suggestion is generally compatible with our own ‘Option 1½’ approach.” (Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, Chrons, September 1984 #2) In a September 18 memorandum to Reagan, McFarlane forwarded Weinberger’s memorandum noting: “Cap may well present this proposal at today’s NSPG meeting.” (Ibid.) See Document 277. Reagan initialed McFarlane’s memorandum, indicating he saw it.