284. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US

    • Secretary of State George P. Shultz
    • Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman
    • Assistant Secretary Richard Burt
    • Jack F. Matlock
    • Dimitry Zarechnak, Interpreter
  • USSR

    • Foreign Minister Andrey A. Gromyko
    • First Deputy Foreign Minister Georgiy M. Korniyenko
    • Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin
    • Aleksey A. Obukhov
    • Viktor Sukhodrev, Interpreter

After some preliminary greetings, Secretary Shultz began the substantive discussion by proposing to Gromyko to agree on an agenda for the meeting, as they had done in the past. He said that he would like to begin by mentioning the fact that when they had met in New York a few years ago they had tried to identify areas of mutual interest and constructive work.2 One such area was the area of non-proliferation. Gromyko had passed on instructions to the Soviet side and the Secretary had passed on instructions to the U.S. side, after which Ambassador Kennedy had met with his Soviet counterparts. The U.S. [Page 1002] side had felt that those meetings had proved very useful and the two sides cooperated on this issue in the IAEA.3 The result of this cooperation was a stronger posture within that agency. The Secretary added that in reviewing this issue, it was interesting to observe that fifteen years ago experts in the field said that by now there would be many states with nuclear weapons. But with all the difficulties and problems we have today, the number of states having such weapons has been well contained. Therefore, this effort was a very worthwhile one, and the Secretary wanted to use it as an example of the fact that the possibility exists for constructive cooperation on substantive matters, which would contribute to results beneficial to both sides and to other nations as well. The Secretary went on to say that this is the spirit in which he was approaching today’s talks, and he was sure that the President approached his upcoming meeting with Gromyko in the same spirit.

The Secretary indicated that he had reflected on the meeting with Gromyko in Stockholm, where Gromyko had said, and the Secretary had agreed, that the meeting was a useful one.4 The Secretary would now review what had happened since then and where the sides stood. While he could point to some progress, basically the situation between the countries has not changed. However, there have been good exchanges on many questions. A meeting on MBFR is now taking place. We have concluded an agreement to update the Hotline. The two sides are meeting within the CDE context, although, unfortunately, no progress has been made.5

The Secretary continued that on the whole there have been a number of meetings in a confidential and private atmosphere, and this has been good. In Washington, leaks sometimes occur, but the U.S. felt that it could keep the situation under control. Gromyko had had a number of meetings with Ambassador Hartman, and the Secretary had [Page 1003] met with Ambassador Dobrynin. Last July, before Dobrynin returned to Moscow, the Secretary had an in-depth review of U.S-Soviet relations with him, which the Secretary felt had been very useful.6 The two sides could review some questions here with the purpose of normalizing the relationship, that is, have more useful meetings and more constructive relations. This did not mean that there would be no competition between us, since our systems are different, and would continue to be so. But given that fact, we can channel this competition and find areas of constructive cooperation. The Secretary indicated that he would like to touch upon a few such areas, and then lay out the proposed agenda for the meeting.

The saddest aspect of our relationship was that we have made no progress and there seems to be no prospect of making progress in the area of offensive nuclear arms. This was the most important question.

Secondly, the U.S. had noted the Soviet proposal about demilitarization of outer space, and had tried to reply to this proposal. Nothing has come of this reply, but the U.S. agrees that this is an important area.

The Secretary continued that the U.S. had made proposals concerning conventional forces in Vienna and proposals concerning CBMs and non-use of force in Stockholm. The President, in his speech in Dublin, supported the concept of non-use of force.7 Since the Soviet side had spoken of this in Stockholm, he felt that he was responding to comments made by President Chernenko in his correspondence, and the U.S. side was disappointed that this had not brought any results.

On regional issues, there had been brief exchanges in Stockholm, specifically concerning South Africa and the Mideast, but there are no such exchanges taking place today. The U.S. has tried to lay down an appropriate basis for this, and has made corresponding proposals.

On the bilateral side of the relationship, there are a number of areas where progress has been achieved, for example, upgrading of the Hotline, some consular matters, discussions on the Pacific Ocean boundary.8 Although there has been no agreement on the latter, there [Page 1004] has been movement. The sides have also discussed search and rescue operations at sea, and naval contacts have been good.

In the economic field, we have extended our long-term agreement and we are moving towards convening a meeting of the Joint Commission, which would be the first such meeting in many years.

We have extended our fisheries agreement, have expanded our joint venture in this area, and the U.S. has given the USSR a specific allocation.9

The U.S. has facilitated the sale of grain to the Soviet Union,10 and the two countries have had discussions on improved safety for north Pacific air routes.11 The sides have extended some agreements in other areas, and have agreed to high-level meetings in some of them. One of these areas is the environmental agreement in which the head of the EPA, Ambassador Ruckelshaus, has met with Soviet counterparts.

Therefore, the Secretary continued, in the bilateral relationship, some steps have been taken, but much still remains to be done.

The Secretary pointed out that the area of human rights was an important one, and that when Gromyko meets with the President, the President will want to talk to him about this, specifically, to explain why this issue is so important to the U.S. In discussing these matters, the U.S. prefers quiet diplomacy. It considers that the issue of the Pentecostalists was handled in a constructive way on the Soviet part, following discussions between Ambassador Dobrynin and the President.12 This was done privately, without public fanfare. But we now see the very harsh treatment of Sakharov and Bonner and we think that Shcharansky has been placed under a stricter regime.13 We do not see any prospects of increase of Jewish emigration, and there seems to be no regard for the constitutional rights of people in the Soviet Union. Any positive steps in this area would be a great help in improving our relations. These matters are questions which Gromyko should examine and perhaps Ambassador Hartman could hand Minister Korniyenko [Page 1005] appropriate materials subsequently. Such issues include binational marriages and a number of claims by Soviet citizens to American citizenship.

The Secretary indicated that this was the overall review of relations as the U.S. saw them, and now he would propose the agenda for this meeting.

The first question on the agenda should be the question of arms control, a very important one for the two sides. The second one could be regional issues, where the sides could discuss both substantive matters and procedural questions on arranging meetings. The third item on the agenda could be bilateral relations, to see what could be done to improve them.

Gromyko indicated that the questions which the Secretary had touched upon were questions which were on the Soviet agenda as well. There were, of course, some questions not mentioned by the Secretary which should also be discussed. He would touch upon some of these matters in the present discussion, and would save some for discussing with the President. The question of questions in our relations is the question of where the U.S. and the USSR are to go in their relationship. Will we take the path of increasing tension and preparation for war, or will we take the path of peace? Competition exists between us, and will continue to exist between the two socioeconomic systems. This cannot be denied.

The Secretary interjected that he agreed with Gromyko that we should move toward peace. The U.S. does not want to increase tension which would lead to war or create a psychology of war.

[Sukhodrev continued to interpret Gromyko’s initial remarks]:

Gromyko stated that history will have the final verdict. History is the best judge, better than any other judge, and self-appointed judges do not count. So the sides should talk about where they are to go in their relations.

The Secretary interjected that the President also wished to discuss this issue with Gromyko.

[Sukhodrev continued to interpret Gromyko’s initial remarks]:

Of course, in the exchange of opinions which we have, we have to evaluate, as time permits, present U.S. policy. This policy has existed now over a number of years.

Gromyko continued that the second question should be nuclear arms. This is also the question of questions. It does not occupy fifth, tenth, or twentieth place in importance. It is a question which occupies first place, and if one of the sides participating in these discussions were to forget this, it would need to be reminded that it has a bad memory. This issue should be discussed between the governments [Page 1006] and, of course, for reasons which were obvious, between the leaders of the U.S. and USSR.

The Secretary interjected that he agreed, and that he was sure Gromyko noticed that in his own review of the relationship he had said that matters of nuclear arms should get priority.

[Sukhodrev continued to interpret Gromyko’s initial remarks]:

Gromyko repeated that the question of nuclear arms and what to do with them and whether people will control them or they will control people, and whether people will control them in such a way that we would subsequently not find ourselves in a situation where we would not even be able to determine who was at fault, was a question which should be on the agenda as one of the first ones, or even the very first one. This was a very basic question. But Gromyko did not want the Secretary to think that the Soviet side wanted to continue negotiations or to begin negotiations about some variations of what had already been discussed sufficiently in fora such as Geneva. No. The principal question was how our leaders should approach the question of dealing with nuclear arms. There was a genius who lived in the United States, Einstein, who said a very intelligent thing. He said that after the creation of nuclear weapons, man changed, he was no longer the same, and he needed to find solutions to problems which would bring about a situation in which such weapons would no longer exist. Today, science has given us an even clearer answer to what nuclear war would mean and what would happen if mankind does not find solutions to these questions which concern his very existence.

The Secretary interjected and asked if Gromyko was proposing that in the end there should be total elimination of nuclear weapons. Gromyko replied that this was indeed the ideal solution. The Secretary remarked that he hoped that Gromyko would clearly indicate this to the President. Gromyko replied that he would do his best. The Secretary said that Gromyko would be interested in the President’s views on this, which the President had voiced in Tokyo, in Dublin, and elsewhere, that his dream was the total elimination of all nuclear weapons. The Secretary said that if Gromyko considered this to be the key question of principle, and that today we need negotiations to show how we can get there, then the President would be very responsive. Gromyko said that he would remind the President of this, and that since the Secretary had now interjected this thought, he had to say that there were different paths to achieving this end. The American approach was to amass nuclear weapons, which was not compatible with such an aim. The Soviet approach, on the other hand, was to reduce these weapons, with a view to finally eliminating them. These were different approaches.

[Sukhodrev continued to interpret Gromyko’s initial remarks]:

This question should be on our agenda. If we have closed our eyes to this, then we should ask someone from the outside, and they would [Page 1007] say that we cannot close our eyes to this. Of course, many other questions exist. All of the questions mentioned by the Secretary were on the Soviet agenda as well.

At this point in his initial remarks, Gromyko indicated that he should let Sukhodrev interpret, and the Secretary joked that he felt bad that he would not be able to correlate Sukhodrev’s words with the facial expressions of Gromyko that he had been observing.

Gromyko continued that in examining specific questions of Soviet-American relations, it does not hurt to talk about such matters of principle, and how we are to proceed in our relations. The present U.S. administration has rolled up its sleeves and is working yearly, monthly, daily to bury, tear apart and overturn all the good that has been so far in Soviet-American relations. The result is that relations are at their lowest point since they were normalized in 1933.14 This is what the U.S. side has brought about. That is why the Soviet side wants the U.S. to clarify the question of where we are to go in our relations. Should we bury them even farther, or does the U.S. side think that we should seek better and more constructive relations? The Soviet side does not see very much of the latter desire.

Gromyko indicated that he had already said that there should be an exchange of views about the questions which the Secretary had mentioned. But before getting a clearer idea of what we should talk about, Gromyko wished to indicate what he did not plan to talk about. The Secretary interjected that he did not think that needed to be translated. Gromyko, continuing, said that the Secretary would not be surprised that Gromyko was not planning to talk about Sakharov, Shcharanskiy and other questions of the same nature which the U.S. side perhaps had in reserve. The Secretary was familiar with Gromyko’s views on these points from the Madrid meeting and other meetings. Gromyko said that the Secretary wished to discuss questions of human rights without taking into account differences between social systems, and by naming names of individuals. The question of human rights was a very broad one, and the Soviet side was not afraid to discuss it. It could discuss how human rights are not respected in the U.S. But, frankly, there were more important questions to discuss, such as those which Gromyko had mentioned, and others as well. So there was no need, even in principle, to discuss this matter, and, anyway, the time was limited. The question of weapons in outer space was an important one.

[Page 1008]

The Secretary said that before leaving the subject of human rights, he wanted to ask Gromyko to listen to the President when he explains why this question is so important to the U.S. and has such an impact on our relations. Just now Gromyko had talked about how our relations were to proceed, and this issue has a bearing on that, as do Soviet arms increases and Soviet behavior in general. The Secretary indicated that the President would speak of these issues, and the Secretary was sure that Gromyko would listen.

Gromyko said that he would, of course, listen. He then went over the items proposed by the Secretary for the agenda, i.e., space weapons, the Middle East, South Africa, and nonproliferation. He agreed with these items, but thought that they could be discussed in a different order. He also agreed to include bilateral economic relations.

Gromyko also indicated that he wished to touch upon other subjects, i.e., the Far East, the Caribbean and, if time permits, terrorism—certain aspects of that problem. In addition, the sides should also discuss the conferences now taking place in Stockholm and Vienna, as well as the present situation in Europe. Then the sides would see how they should proceed after that. Obviously, the sides would not be able to cover all these matters in the detail that they should.

The Secretary indicated that the list Gromyko had proposed was a good one and compatible with the U.S. list. He felt that it would be best to group the questions in the categories he had mentioned, i.e., arms control, regional issues and bilateral questions.

Gromyko thought that the sides should not take a bureaucratic approach, but rather a political one. The sides probably would not be able to cover all aspects of all the questions.

The Secretary agreed and thought that he and Gromyko should go through the basic aspects, and the fact that there would be no time to go into as much detail as they would like meant that the sides should look at procedures for discussing this in greater detail than such meetings during the UN General Assembly permit. He believed that Gromyko had referred to talks on the political level rather than the technical level. Should the sides now begin talking about space weapons?

Gromyko said he wished to return to the first question which he had raised, i.e., where is the United States heading? The Soviet side feels that the U.S. is doing everything to prepare for war. It has a program for manufacturing nuclear weapons, and various doctrines for using nuclear weapons. It has refused to take upon itself the obligation of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. It has not agreed to Soviet proposals which would establish parity between the U.S. and USSR in nuclear weapons and in the military strategic area. What should the USSR then think of U.S. policy? The USSR has thoroughly analyzed the statements of policy which the U.S. President and others have [Page 1009] announced, as well as the practical steps which the U.S. has taken in international fora with regard to the Soviet Union and other countries. This was not the first time that the Soviet side had made these observations. This had been mentioned by Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko, so the U.S. was familiar with Soviet views. But since the U.S. was continuing these policies, the Soviet side had to again call its attention to this, and the Soviet leadership had to make the appropriate conclusions regarding U.S. policy. Soviet policy was made in reply to U.S. policy. If the U.S. were to change its policies with regard to the Soviet Union, the USSR would, of course, change its policy as well, including its policy on nuclear arms. The USSR has clearly indicated this, and Gromyko was saying it today, and indicated that he would repeat it to the President in Washington. The Soviet side would be prepared to listen to U.S. comments about this if the U.S. was ready to make them.

The Secretary said he thought Gromyko had presented a gross misreading of U.S. intentions. The U.S. is not a warlike country. In no way is the U.S. preparing for a major war. The United States is fully aware of the possible horrors and the catastrophe of a nuclear exchange. So Gromyko’s notion that the U.S. is preparing for a war is not correct. Gromyko had spoken of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, and the U.S. has indicated that it does believe in no-first-use of force. With regard to the U.S. posture in NATO, the U.S. believes in having a flexible potential response to the Soviet Union, but NATO has never had an aggressive posture. It is only a defensive alliance. The U.S. does not reject proposals if they lead to a decrease in arms. Historically, the U.S. has always proposed to decrease arms, and this is especially true for the Reagan administration. There is no area of arms (nuclear, conventional, chemical, CBMs, etc.) where the U.S. has not wanted discussions. We are looking for results.

The Secretary continued that the U.S. looks for ways to reduce arms which would leave deterrence intact, but it has no warlike intentions or hostility toward the Soviet Union or other countries. He hoped that Gromyko would raise this question with the President, because the President is likely to point out how the U.S. views the Soviet Union.

The Secretary noted that the U.S. sees a great arms increase in the Soviet Union, and is taking steps in response to this. The U.S. sees very aggressive behavior in various areas of the world by the Soviet Union, and this makes us say to ourselves that the Soviet Union is increasing its arms in order to use them. So the Soviet concern about the U.S. (which the U.S. feels is unjustified) is mirrored in U.S. views of Soviet intentions.

The Secretary indicated that Gromyko had said that the question of where Soviet-American relations were going was one of first priority, [Page 1010] and the Secretary agreed with this. If this was Gromyko’s view, he should invest some time in discussing it with the President. The U.S. does not have any aggressive intentions, but does intend to protect its interests and values. We do not intend to get into a situation which would endanger those values.

Gromyko asked how the USSR should view U.S. willingness to use nuclear weapons first, which the U.S. sometimes says with regard to Europe, sometimes not, in response to a mythical aggression by Warsaw Pact countries. The U.S. knows that the Warsaw Pact is not planning any aggression, and will not carry out any aggression, either against NATO or against the U.S. Such concepts are purely theoretical exercises on NATO’s part.

Gromyko said that the U.S. was aware of the actions that Hitler’s Germany took on the eve of the Second World War to create the impression that military activity was being carried out against it. The present situation should not be equated, of course, with that one. But the USSR has noticed that the NATO countries, especially the U.S. administration, allow for the possible first use of nuclear weapons. And this is the basis for U.S. policy with regard to various proposals made by the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries. This was the first thing that Gromyko wished to say. The second was that for some reason the U.S. and the others who talked of this matter have glided over the indisputable fact that even without the additional U.S. arms in Europe, the NATO countries already had one and a half times more nuclear weapons there.

Gromyko continued that the Soviet Union has spoken of approximate parity. The word “approximate” was not used accidentally, since there was no real equality—NATO had superiority. Of course, the Soviet Union was counting the nuclear weapons of all the NATO countries, as well as all the delivery vehicles, including aircraft. But the U.S. keeps saying over and over again that the USSR poses a great threat with its buildup of weapons. Even today the West has superiority, although the Soviet Union still speaks of approximate equality. This is done in order to lay a better foundation for a possible agreement, but strictly speaking, the Soviet side could propose to first eliminate such superiority, and then to negotiate about subsequent reductions.

Gromyko indicated that he had noted the Secretary’s words that the U.S. has no bad intentions with regard to the Soviet Union. However, there is a difference between words and actions, and U.S. actions say that it is preparing for war. If the U.S. could objectively look at the situation through Soviet eyes, it would see things in the same light, but this is difficult to do.

Gromyko noted that if the sides were to discuss this question in detail today, there would be no time for other questions, so he proposed [Page 1011] to switch to the question of space weapons, and then see how to proceed from there.

The Secretary replied that before doing that, he would like to respond to what Gromyko had said. He wished to repeat again that the U.S. has no warlike intentions regarding the Soviet Union. Competition between our countries and our systems will continue. We think our system is better and you think your system is better. History will judge. But this is different from the development and use of weapons. The U.S. has no aggressive intentions regarding the Soviet Union in that area.

The Secretary pointed out that the number of nuclear weapons in Western Europe has been diminishing. He could not give the exact decrease in weapons over the past five years; Rick Burt could, but he would stress only that there was a program for further decreases.

The Secretary said that the Soviet Union had first spoken of rough equality under Brezhnev, and since that time a great number of SS–20s had been deployed, whereas the number of weapons in the West had been decreased, so such a statement is not logical. But what is needed is a reduction of forces to agreed levels, and not arguments concerning previous levels of forces. For example, the MBFR negotiations have been going on for so long that not only have people made careers in MBFR, but their children and grandchildren were beginning to do the same. There have been difficulties about data, and so forth. The U.S. feeling is that it is time to come to grips with the problem and to reduce forces to agreed levels. At this point the Secretary proposed that the question of space weapons be discussed, and Gromyko agreed.

The Secretary stated that, recognizing the importance of Gromyko’s point that discussions of particular items should take place within a general framework of relations, we should aim for establishing broad discussions of issues at the highest political levels.

Gromyko said that he would touch on this question in Washington, of course, and that this would be one of the main questions.

He went on to say that he had listened carefully to what the Secretary had said, but wished to stress that it was not words that the Soviet Union feared so much as U.S. actions in Europe and in other areas. There did not exist an area where U.S. actions were not directed against the Soviet Union. It was the Soviet Union’s opinion that even when it was clear to the U.S. that the Soviet Union was not involved in something, this was boring and the U.S. looked to find Soviet involvement even if there was none. So all U.S. activity is focused against the USSR.

The Secretary interjected that this was an exaggeration, but that the U.S. did see evidence of Soviet aggression in many places around the world. The U.S. did see the Soviet Union as the other superpower, and treated it as such.

[Page 1012]

[Sukhodrev continued to interpret Gromyko’s previous remarks]:

Gromyko said that such an attitude was one of the things that explained the U.S. military buildup. The U.S. was determined to be the dominant force in both the military and political sphere worldwide. Gromyko said that he did not know how to express how appalled the Soviet Union was when it heard certain people (without naming names) say that any means were justified if they were aimed at extending the American model of society and way of life throughout the world. And in the military area, the U.S. always said that it wanted to be number one, whereas the Soviet Union felt that there should be equality between it and the U.S. For this reason it supported the principle of equality and equal security. Such a principle should apply both in the military area with regard to nuclear and conventional arms, and in the political area as well. There should be no interference in the internal affairs of other nations, and there should be no policy which states that everything is permitted in order to impose the American model of life on others.

The Secretary said that he wished to dwell on the word “impose”. There were no examples of the United States imposing its system on others. There is competition between our systems, as the sides have agreed. This is legitimate and will continue. But it should not be by military means. This is different from imposition. There is no history of imposition by the United States.

Gromyko asked whether what was going on in Nicaragua was peaceful competition. The U.S. was indirectly and officially saying that Nicaragua had to have the same social structure as the United States. He could give other examples, but then the sides would never get to the other questions. But what he had said is part of the question about whose acts constitute a source of danger.

The Secretary indicated that he wished to say a few things about Nicaragua, but he agreed that the sides might not get to the other questions. The U.S. viewed Nicaragua as a country which for years has been engaged in aggressive acts with respect to its neighbors, specifically El Salvador. The U.S. has seen military supplies shipped from Nicaragua and its allies directly or through Cuba. The U.S. has seen these arms used by guerrillas in El Salvador to blow up bridges and plants—in a country that is waging a heroic struggle for its political and economic development. Thus, Nicaragua by so building up its arms, has an extraordinary level of them for a Central American nation, and has become a threat to the region. He wanted to reaffirm that the emergence of jet fighters in Nicaragua simply would not be acceptable to the United States.

Gromyko said that the U.S. could not really believe that the arms in Nicaragua were a threat to the region and to the U.S. Nicaragua [Page 1013] could not pose a danger for anyone. It is a small country. The U.S. could not say it was a danger to its neighbors. The U.S. was demanding that Nicaragua change its internal structure, and Nicaragua is not the first country to which the U.S. has said this. But perhaps he and the Secretary could get to this item later in the agenda. Now it would be better to talk about space weapons.

The Secretary responded that he did not want his failure to respond to what Gromyko had said to be taken as agreement, but he thought it would be good to proceed to the topic of space weapons.

Gromyko noted that the Soviet government thought that the U.S. was making a big mistake in aiming to put nuclear weapons in space. The Soviet Union thought that space should be free of weapons, nuclear or otherwise. For many years, the U.S. had also thought this along with the Soviet Union. Statements to this effect were made in the United Nations. But now the U.S. has drastically changed its position and wishes to militarize space, so the arms race will be extended to space. If this happens, the chance of nuclear war will increase manifold. Within the U.S. administration, and not only there, you are engaged in elaboration and building-up of a large-scale ABM system. This would in fact lead to the militarizing of outer space. It is a serious step directed against the Soviet Union and its allies, as well as a serious step against peace. It is a step that increases the threat of nuclear war. The Soviet Union would like to believe that the U.S. administration will think seriously about this and will change its mind and agree to keep weapons out of space.

Gromyko continued that the Soviet Union had made specific proposals to meet in Vienna to discuss the prevention of the militarization of space. When the USSR made these proposals, it had certain doubts, since it was aware of U.S. plans, which the U.S. had made no secret of for some time. But the Soviet Union hoped that the voice of reason would prevail and that the U.S. would agree to discuss the issue. Unfortunately, the U.S. administration gave a negative reply to the Soviet proposal. The situation is made no different by the fact that for public consumption the U.S. says that it has accepted the Soviet proposal. In reality, it has refused it. The U.S. says that it is ready to negotiate, but it links this issue with other questions about nuclear arms, such as those which were discussed in Geneva, concerning strategic arms, medium-range nuclear arms, etc. What is this? The Soviet Union wishes to talk about how to prevent the placement of nuclear arms in space, and not about how to militarize space. It very much regrets the U.S. response. What the U.S. is saying is for the consumption of the public which does not understand the issues. The U.S. says that it hopes the Soviet Union will change its position by the end of the year and agree to the U.S. approach. Obviously, there is no chance of [Page 1014] this. The USSR cannot change its position on the prevention of the militarization of space. Our position will be the same in September, October, November and December. The Soviet Union believes that it is in the mutual interest of the two countries to free space of nuclear strike weapons. Gromyko indicated that he wished to say this so that the Secretary and the President would clearly understand it before the meeting in Washington.

Expanding on the same question, Gromyko said that it was enough to look only at the economic aspect of the matter. It would cost an enormous amount of money to create a large-scale ABM system. Has the U.S. considered that it would be merely increasing tensions and throwing away hundreds of billions of dollars? If the U.S. did not change its approach, the USSR would have to take it into account as it does in other areas, and do everything necessary to provide for its security and the security of its allies. But this would not be done by Soviet choice. It would be caused by U.S. actions. So the Soviet Union hopes that a lot of thought will be given to this in Washington and that this path will not be taken.

Gromyko stressed that the Soviet Union is very much in favor of an agreement on space weapons, and such an agreement might open the way for better relations and for agreements in other areas as well.

The Secretary noted that the difficulty of saying that we do not want the militarization of space was that space was already militarized, since ballistic missiles fly through space and since both sides have and will continue to have satellites in space for surveillance purposes. Moreover, the USSR has already tested and deployed an ASAT system. Therefore, space has already been militarized, and the question is one of finding ways of not increasing this militarization and coping with the already existing militarization.

With regard to what Gromyko had spoken of first, the Secretary wished to say that he did not know where Gromyko had gotten his information. Perhaps he had better knowledge of U.S. plans than the U.S. did. The U.S. has no plans to deploy nuclear weapons in space. The U.S. has a research program, but as far as it knows, is behind the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union already has a system in place, and the U.S. does not. As an old engineering and construction specialist, the Secretary was impressed by how the Soviet Union learned by doing, and considered that the U.S. should do the same. It would be foolhardy for the U.S. not to do anything in the ABM area when the USSR already has such a system. The U.S. has no desire to spend resources on this that could be used for other things. But as he had already said, the U.S. would not let itself get into a situation where it was not able to defend its interests and values.

The Secretary continued that the U.S. was very disappointed in the results of the exchanges concerning the Soviet proposal about nego[Page 1015]tiations in Vienna. The U.S. had felt that it had replied favorably to that proposal, and was prepared to go to Vienna or some other place to discuss questions of the militarization of space without any preconditions. The President had spoken of this in his speech at the UN and will speak of this in Washington. It is an important question and has many ramifications. Difficulties exist from the point of view of verification. There are many questions which need to be explored. But it has been difficult to engage the Soviet Union on this. In any case, the sides should not go into this without a clear recognition that space is already being used for military purposes.

The Secretary repeated that the U.S. has no plans for putting nuclear weapons other than ballistic missiles into space. As he had indicated, the U.S. feels that offensive weapons are the principal threat to the future of the world, and that the sides should deal with them.

The Secretary noted that whether we were discussing space weapons or other issues, it would be good to have a forum for such discussions, and the U.S. had made some procedural suggestions on how this could be done. We thought the Soviets’ Vienna proposal provided a good way to proceed, but we were open to Soviet proposals. So if the Soviet Union was ready for talks on this, the U.S. was also ready.

Gromyko stated that he had described the Soviet position, and there was nothing he could add. If the U.S. would spread information to the effect that the Soviet Union is ready to come to such negotiations by the end of the year, the Soviet Union would have to deny it, and would indicate that the U.S. administration had given a false impression.

The Secretary interjected that he had not said such things. He had indicated that he spoke for the United States, and he had indicated that the Soviet Union would indicate what it would do. He had not predicted what the Soviet position would be, so the Soviet Union should listen to what he and the President were saying. Gromyko replied that he had referred to what others had said about the matter.

[Sukhodrev continued to interpret Gromyko’s preceding remarks]:

Gromyko noted that the Secretary’s statement about the fact that space was already militarized was a recent thing, although ballistic missiles have existed for many years. The U.S. has to make up arguments, since it has no real ones. The argument about the fact that space is militarized because ballistic missiles travel through space is sophistry, and the U.S. knows it. The USSR could logically show that such statements are absurd. Arguing along such lines, it could be said that before going into space, missiles must be deployed on earth, and that before they are deployed they must be manufactured, and that before they are manufactured, the equipment and plants which produce them must be built, and so forth. That would bring you to the point that, in order to prevent the militarization of space, you would need [Page 1016] to destroy all the links on earth. It is absurd to say that space is already militarized. The U.S. knows that this is not so. This is a very serious issue. If space becomes militarized, the situation will become much more dangerous. Americans, Soviets and people throughout the world will feel much less comfortable, since a nuclear sword will be hanging over their heads. So the Soviet Union hopes that the U.S. administration will give this question very serious thought.

Since time was running out, Gromyko wanted to take five minutes to “headline” some issues:

Non-proliferation. Gromyko indicated that an agreement on this had been in force for many years. The Soviet Union was in favor of implementing the non-proliferation treaty, and against an increase in the number of nuclear states. The Secretary replied that the U.S. agreed with this and that bilateral cooperation and consultations should continue. Gromyko agreed and Korniyenko noted that the next such consultations were scheduled for December. Gromyko agreed they should be held in December or brought forward.

CDE. Gromyko noted that work could proceed in a constructive fashion only if there was movement on Warsaw Pact proposals and not just those raised by the West. If there was no movement on Warsaw Pact proposals, then, frankly speaking, it would be a deadlock. There could not be a program of legalized espionage. The Secretary replied that the U.S. was ready for constructive results in Stockholm, and that the President felt that he was replying directly to Chernenko in his letter when he proposed non-use of force, looking to combine that with Western CBM proposals. The agreement to have U.S. and USSR representatives meet in Stockholm had formed a good basis for contacts, and the U.S. is urging the Soviet Union to use it to achieve satisfactory results.

Middle East. Gromyko stated that the Soviet Union wishes only for peace. It is protecting the Arab position since it considers it to be a just one. However, the Soviet Union supports the existence of an independent Israel, and Gromyko had confirmed this to Foreign Minister Shamir in his meeting with him. Why should there not be an international conference on this issue? The U.S. has not been enthusiastic about this, but such a conference would not hurt the U.S. or Israel, since it could not force them to do anything which was not acceptable to them. Decisions could be reached only by agreement of all countries involved. Perhaps the U.S. would give more thought to agreeing to such a conference, and perhaps the two sides would learn to talk on other issues at such a conference as well.

Southern Africa. Gromyko stated that the Soviet Union was aware of what was happening with regard to contacts between nations in the region, but did not believe in the purity of South Africa’s intentions. [Page 1017] The U.S. was in fact an ally of South Africa on the basis of U.S. actions. The Soviet Union did not believe that South Africa would act as aggressively against its neighbors if the U.S. were not supporting it. The Soviet Union was for peace in the area, but on the basis of non-aggression against Angola and on the basis that Namibia receive its independence in accordance with the relevant UN resolution.

Gromyko proposed to end the meeting at this point since time had run out, and remaining questions could still be discussed in Washington.

The Secretary indicated that he wanted to touch upon two areas which Gromyko had mentioned, as well as one additional one.

The Secretary welcomed Gromyko’s meeting with Foreign Minister Shamir, calling the fact that it had occurred constructive. However, the U.S. did not think that an international conference on the Mideast at this time would be constructive. On the other hand, the U.S. side had again stated, as the President noted in his UN speech, that it was ready to discuss these issues on a bilateral basis with the Soviet side. The Soviet side had not yet responded to this proposal.

Gromyko interjected—on a bilateral basis? The Secretary responded, yes, and on other regional subjects as well, including southern Africa. The U.S. is observing South Africa, and it does not like its apartheid policy, but to get a more stable situation in southern Africa, you have to work with South Africa. It interacts in important ways with other countries in the region, and its economy has a central significance to the region. The U.S. would like to see Namibia independent, but considers that the obstacle to this is the presence of the Cuban forces in Angola. As long as these forces are present, the U.S. believes it will be difficult to persuade South Africa to go along.

The additional area which the Secretary wished to raise was the area of the Pakistan border. The U.S. supports Pakistan. The recent crossborder raids into that country were unwarranted and could lead to trouble.

The Secretary concluded by saying that he was sorry that time had run out, and they had not touched on issues in the detail which they deserved. That is why the President felt that some of their discussions should be devoted to developing procedures so we would have a chance to deal with these issues, and he would speak of this himself.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Memorandum of Conversations Pertaining to the United States and USSR Relations, 1981–1990, Lot 93D188, Reagan/Bush/Shultz/Gromyko/Dobrynin in New York and Washington September 1984. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Zarechnak; cleared by Palmer, Butler, and McKinley. An unknown hand initialed for the clearing officials. The meeting took place in the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. Brackets are in the original. In preparation for this meeting with Gromyko, Burt provided Shultz with a 36-page briefing packet on September 22, prepared by Simons and cleared by Palmer. (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, March 1984 Super Sensitive Documents Super Sensitive July 1–Dec 31, 1984)
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. III, Soviet Union, January 1981–January 1983, Document 217.
  3. For summaries of some meetings between Kennedy and his Soviet counterparts see the following telegrams: Telegram 55033 to Mexico City, March 19, 1982, Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D820112–0524; telegram 7317 to Moscow and all NATO capitals and various posts, January 11, 1983, Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D830016–0316; telegram 7652 from Moscow, June 16, 1983, Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D830343–0176; and telegram 7676 from Vienna, June 7, 1984, Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840371–0965.
  4. See Document 159.
  5. After several sets of discussions, the U.S. and Soviet delegations reached an agreement to upgrade the “hotline” (formally known as the Direct Communication Link or DCL) on July 13. “The delegations agreed on the text of an exchange of notes to add a facsimile transmission capability to the Direct Communication Link (DCL). After the Soviet delegation received Moscow’s approval of the texts, Acting Secretary Dam and Soviet Charge D’Affairs Isakov initialed the notes on July 17 in the presence of the two delegations.” (Telegram 236476 to Moscow, August 10; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840512–0983)
  6. See Document 73.
  7. See footnote 4, Document 266.
  8. In telegram 213951 to Moscow, July 20, the Department reported: “Since 1981, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. have held three rounds of discussions on our maritime boundary off Alaska, in November 1981, May 1983 and January 1984. A fourth round of talks will be held on July 23–24 in Moscow. These discussions have focused on differences between the two countries over the manner in which the line established by the 1867 convention ceding Alaska should be depicted. Our differences result in the existence of an area in the Bering Sea which each country considers to be under its exclusive maritime resource jurisdiction.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840467–0125)
  9. In telegram 226966 to Moscow, August 2, the Department reported: “On July 31, Soviet Minister-Counselor Sokolov informed DAS Mark Palmer that the USSR had completed its internal review and accepted the extension of the Governing International Fisheries Agreement until December 31, 1985. In response to Department’s note of July 20, Sokolov gave Palmer a diplomatic note stating that the extension was effective immediately.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840491–0737)
  10. See Document 76.
  11. Discussion of the Pacific Air routes was directly related to the downing of the KAL 007 in August 1983. The talks were ongoing at the ICAO in Montreal. See footnote 8, Document 185.
  12. See Document 10.
  13. See Document 213 and footnotes 2 and 4, Document 219.
  14. The United States broke diplomatic relations with Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. After a period of non-recognition, diplomatic relations were established with the Soviet Union in November 1933.