283. Memorandum From the National Intelligence Officer for the Soviet Union (Ermarth) to the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (Gates)1
- Upbeat View On Gromyko’s Mission
1. Ray McGovern, who has been serving as A/NIO/USSR pro tem, has developed the attached interpretation of the Gromyko visit, which is decidely more optimistic than the mainline of the material we have been sending forward, and my own view. He makes a significant case that Chernenko is leading a contentious effort toward a new opening. As indicated by his remarks at the staff meeting, George Kolt is leaning a bit in this direction.
2. On the totality of evidence, I continue to believe that the best case is as we have made it. There may be an exploratory element in the Gromyko mission, but his main aim is to try to put the Administration on the defensive. The Soviets may still not appreciate how unlikely they are to be really successful at this.
3. Ray’s argument has merit, however. Thus I want to send it forward to you. At the same time, I’ll stick by the more pessimistic prognosis. Moreover, I still would not absolutely rule out some sort of negative surprise.
4. At this point, it seems fruitless to anticipate Gromyko’s performance over the next three days unless we get some truly dramatic reporting about his script. There are doubtless a variety of high-level US-Soviet interactions now taking place in preparation for the meetings with Gromyko that give the policymakers a better insight into the immediate future than we can. If Gromyko comes in more amiably than we have forecast, the President will have the instincts and time to pick up his cue, I would bet. What I’m afraid of is he’ll make some “sneaky”, unacceptable proposal which we’ve failed to warn about.
- Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 86M00886R: Subject Files (1984), Box 6, Folder 7: B–257, Hostile Intelligence Threat Analysis Committee. Secret. In a covering note forwarding this memorandum and its attachment to Casey, Jay Rixse wrote: “Bob Gates sent the attached memo up to John [McMahon] as a matter of interest. As it represents a different interpretation of the Gromyko visit, John thought you should see it also.” Gates wrote in the margin: “ADCI—FYI. RG.”↩
- See footnote 2, Document 273.↩
- Reports from the Embassy in Moscow on Chernenko’s remarks are in telegram 12312 from Moscow, September 25, and telegram 12375 from Moscow, September 26. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840609–0847 and D840613–0307)↩
- See footnote 7, Document 267.↩
- Soviet Defense Minister and Chief of the General Staff Ogarkov was replaced on September 6 by Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev. See Document 270.↩
- Paragraph 6 is crossed out. Rixse wrote in the margin: “not being done per DDI—JR.”↩