295. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • Soviet Embassy Views on US-Soviet Relations

Soviet Embassy Minister-Counselor Isakov invited Mark to a working lunch today. Isakov’s main point seemed to be a desire to explore our thinking on the general direction of the relationship after the elections. In preparing for your meeting with Dobrynin tomorrow, I thought it might be useful for you to know the points Isakov made today.

Isakov said that Gromyko had concluded after his talks here that there is now a bridge to the future, an opening for progress. He said that Moscow wants to move ahead. As one indication, he provided the dates for our next round of non-proliferation talks in Moscow (November 28–30, which are acceptable to Ambassador Kennedy).

Isakov said that Moscow was not clear what we had in mind with the umbrella talks. For example, he asked “on a personal basis”, could there be umbrella space talks, while offensive arms and other matters were being addressed in diplomatic channels. Mark responded that our concept of umbrella talks was broader than just space, but that we were in general flexible about how to proceed and in particular that you would be prepared to discuss with Dobrynin how we could use diplomatic channels to move ahead with more concrete discussions on arms control.

Isakov drew particular attention to the recent Pravda editorial which noted that our INF deployments are a barrier to INF negotiations.2 He said that this is a problem for them, how could we get started when they have stated publicly for so long that the deployments make negotiations [Page 1070] impossible. For that reason, Chernenko had proposed that we get started first on some lesser, easier matters. Moscow could not understand why it was so difficult for the United States to state it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. Obviously, in an actual war, regardless of what it had said, each side would use the weapons necessary if it found itself losing. In response, Mark said that this was a nonstarter but of the items Chernenko mentioned, TTBT was possible if the Soviets were prepared to show some flexibility.

Finally, Isakov noted that the United States had said a number of times that we have ideas on offensive arms but we never say what they are. He noted that it is difficult to move ahead on the basis of the previous US positions as set forth in Geneva because they are so unacceptable. If the US side has ideas, it should give the details to the Soviets and this would make a major difference. Palmer explained that it was not reasonable for the Soviet side to ask us to show our cards before it was clear that the Soviet side was ready for serious detailed talks. Isakov then asked what would be the Secretary’s response if Dobrynin asked for our specific ideas. Mark said that he did not know, but that it would be better if Dobrynin said that Gromyko and the rest of the Soviet leadership were prepared for serious talks and wanted to know our specific ideas.

Mark asked whether we might begin to see some progress on such human rights concerns as Shcharanskiy and Sakharov. Isakov noted that he is not in the KGB and therefore did not know anything about these matters. He indicated that it would be better for us to pursue this through our channels to the KGB like Vogel in Berlin.3 Max Kampelman was also told recently in Moscow that it would be better not to work through Dobrynin and the Soviet Foreign Ministry but rather through special channels.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, October 1984 Super Sensitive Documents. Secret; Sensitive. A more complete account of this meeting is in telegram 325166 to Moscow, November 1. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840700–0675)
  2. In telegram 13761 from Moscow, October 25, the Embassy reported: “An authoritative unsigned article in Pravda October 25 justifies Soviet refusal to resume nuclear arms talks. It claims that Western leaders are talking about negotiation in order to deceive the public but are doing nothing to ‘clear away the obstructions’ to those talks. It stops short of calling directly for withdrawal of NATO LRINF missiles, but maintains that changes in Western policies are needed before negotiations can resume.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840682–0817)
  3. Reference is to Wolfgang Vogel. See footnote 5, Document 219.
  4. Kampelman met with human rights activists, dissidents, and refuseniks in Moscow from September 15 to 19. While no record of this message regarding Dobrynin and a private channel was found, it seems likely that a message could have been conveyed during this September visit to Moscow. (Telegram 12028 from Moscow, September 20; Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840600–0727) During September, October, and November 1984, Kampelman visited European capitals to discuss Soviet human rights violations. See Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XLI, Global Issues II, Document 74.