290. Telegram From Secretary of State Shultz to the White House1

Secto 11088. Subject: Memorandum for the President: Follow-up to Gromyko Meetings—Letter to Chernenko (Super Sensitive—S/S 8427391).


FROM: George P. Shultz

SUBJECT: Follow-up to the Gromyko Meetings

As I told you in my report on Saturday’s meeting,2 our exchanges with Gromyko were the most lively and genuine dialogue we have had with the Soviets for many years, and may have opened the door a little wider to progress on the major issues over the next four years. At the same time, Gromyko broke no new ground, and did not indicate whether the Soviet leadership will, in fact, be capable or willing to make [Page 1058] the decisions needed to move forward. While their internal leadership situation will be the decisive factor in this regard, their response will turn in part on whether we are able to continue conveying the message you successfully delivered to Gromyko last week, and to put some specific substance into our arms control positions, particularly on nuclear arms.

Therefore, I believe we should be thinking about steps we could take before the end of the year to stress the continuity of our approach and our readiness to back up words with deeds. The most important would be a letter to Chernenko providing a comprehensive restatement of our approach to the relationship, together with suggestions for some concrete steps both sides could take in arms control and bilateral relations. Another step we might also want to consider would be for you to give a speech toward the end of the year putting our basic approach to US-Soviet relations on the public record. You will recall that Lord Carrington suggested that such a reaffirmation of our interest in improved relations would also have a positive impact in Western Europe.3 We will be giving further thought to the contents of such a letter and speech, and I will be prepared to discuss our recommendations with you when we are further along.

In the near term, I believe it would be useful for you to send a shorter letter to Chernenko that gives your personal assessment of the results of the Gromyko meetings, and reaffirms your desire to move forward in all areas of our relations—above all on the priority question of nuclear arms reductions. In this connection, the letter could also reiterate your expressed readiness to talk about outer space weapons, and your proposal concerning an interim agreement that would both restrict ASATs and begin the process of reducing nuclear arms.

Sending such a letter now would ensure that your basic message got through to Chernenko, and lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive letter later. It would also set the stage for the meeting I plan to have with Dobrynin in about ten days’ time to review where we stand and where we go from here (and for Art Hartman’s next exchange with Gromyko in Moscow).

A proposed draft of a letter to Chernenko is attached.4 You will note that the language on the interim agreement indicates that we envisage limits on ASAT and offensive arms as a single package, but without defining the linkage too explicitly.

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[Omitted here is the text of the draft letter to Chernenko.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, N840011–0446. Secret; Nodis; Immediate. Sent for information to the Department of State. An October 3 State Department draft of this memorandum indicates it was drafted by Vershbow on October 3; cleared by Simons, Palmer, Dobbins, and Kanter. In a covering note to Shultz, Armacost wrote: “Mr. Secretary: My only reservation is to the formation of an interim restraint agreement. The linkage proposed is ambiguous. We could agree that ‘being the process of reducing . . .’ means some actual reductions. But another interpretation is possible. In the initial bargaining stage I would think a more straight-forward linkage is desirable bureaucratically, politically, and for negotiating purposes. I recognize the President’s words impose some constraint, but if we want to establish a tougher linkage—as I think we should—this letter offers an opportunity.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, October 1984 Super Sensitive Documents) A typed note in the margin of the draft reads: “memo revised by S and dispatched from NY 10/5. bdf.”
  2. See footnotes 1 and 9, Document 288.
  3. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Reagan met with Lord Carrington in Washington on September 11, shortly after Carrington’s election as Secretary General of NATO. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary)
  4. The draft letter was not sent to Chernenko.