282. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Weinberger to President Reagan1


  • Your Meeting with Gromyko

In the NSPG meeting Tuesday,2 you said you intend, in your meeting with Gromyko, to deal with arms control in broad terms, not to advance specific proposals. As I mentioned at the meeting, I very much agree with this approach.

You might wish to use the meeting with Gromyko to propose broad discussions on a framework for specific arms control negotiations, so that we can proceed with an agreed road map.

In line with such an approach, you might find the following talking points useful:

• The time has come for our two countries to agree on a fresh approach to arms control. I trust, we can overcome the present difficulties that are holding up progress.

• We have made clear our serious desire to reach agreement and have shown a great deal of flexibility, but unfortunately your side has walked out of two negotiations.

• In the 1970’s, the United States placed great hope in the SALT process. But SALT has failed to stop increases in nuclear arms. As you know, we found it necessary to modernize our strategic defenses to respond to the increases and new systems in your nuclear expansion.

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• In addition, as we explained to your side, we have encountered serious problems regarding the compliance with existing agreements and the arrangements for verification. Arms control can prosper only in a climate that permits effective verification. We can agree, I am sure, that excessive, deliberate concealment practices will make progress in arms control impossible.

• We have to make a new start. We need a broader framework that will give our future negotiations and our specific proposals a sense of direction. We want to move together with you toward a safer peace at much lower levels of armaments. But we cannot take this long journey together unless we are both agreed on where we are going. As the Ancient Greeks said, if you don’t know where you are sailing, every wind will take you there.

• Thus, we need to map out a common approach to arms control. What can our two countries do together to reduce the risk of crises and accidents? What can we do together to reduce the danger of nuclear war and begin to eliminate nuclear weapons as we look ahead to the next century? Your side has expressed concern about our research program on ballistic missile defenses. But we are prepared to discuss the role of offensive and defensive nuclear forces and how they will fit into a program leading to reductions and to greater stability. We are concerned, as you know, about your chemical weapons programs and the danger of biological weapons, and have found that this is an area where concealment and secrecy exacerbates the danger. And how should we both cope with the risks of nuclear proliferation that may well increase over the next twenty years?

With these questions in mind, I want to propose that we agree to undertake a fundamental discussion between our two sides, to develop a larger consensus on arms reduction and to chart a course for our negotiators that will permit them constructively to work out specific measures that will reduce arms on both sides to achieve parity at much lower levels, and that will be fully verifiable. We should develop objectives that we want to reach, and a framework for specific issues on which we must follow-up.

• But the United States cannot accept negotiations with pre-conditions set by your side, any more than you would accept pre-conditions established by us. What we must do is to work together to create agreed objectives and procedures that will make success possible.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Meetings with USSR Officials, USSR: September Meeting President/Gromyko Meeting September 1984 (3). Secret. In a covering memorandum to McFarlane, Matlock wrote: “Secretary Weinberger has sent a memorandum to the President recommending certain talking points for his meeting with Gromyko. I believe the points he proposes are sound and deserve a place in the President’s presentation to Gromyko.” There is no evidence Matlock’s memorandum went forward to the President.
  2. September 18. See Document 277.