31. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • Meeting with Dobrynin

My meeting with Dobrynin today covered four subjects: Andropov’s statements about your speech, our new INF proposal, the dialogue on the overall US-Soviet relationship, and the Soviet response to our proposal on the Threshold Test Ban.

[Page 106]

I began by pointing out that your speech last week was not polemical but descriptive2—setting forth the facts as we see them. The evidence that deployment of the SS–20s was not frozen is overwhelming. I said that Andropov’s claiming you had lied was troublesome and unnecessary, particularly when you had stayed away from invective.3 I reiterated that your statements on ballistic missile defense were consistent with the ABM Treaty and designed to enhance stability. I noted that the Soviet Union was doing work in this field and alone has a deployed ABM system.

Dobrynin responded that the Soviets believe the facts you set forth were not correct, that they should know better whether or not they are adding SS–20s, and that based on the language of the interview Dobrynin believed Andropov was “angry.” Dobrynin stressed that the word Andropov used was “untruth” not “lie,” and that there is a difference in Russian. He said your speech contradicts the spirit if not the letter of the ABM Treaty.

After once more reiterating the stabilizing objective of your remarks on ballistic missile defense, I turned to INF. I informed Dobrynin that today Paul Nitze had given Kvitsinskiy the approach you had authorized him to make, and I gave Dobrynin the essence of the approach. I stressed that this is consistent with the principles you set forth in the American Legion speech. I noted that we deliberately had not set it in highly explicit form with specific numbers as we regarded this as a matter of negotiation, wanted to invite a Soviet response, but will be ready to put in numbers when the time comes. I underlined that we continue to believe that zero-zero is the best outcome. However, we are not making agreement in principle to zero-zero a condition for agreement on our interim approach. I noted you would be mentioning your proposal in a speech later this week. And I suggested that it be useful for Dobrynin to get together with me and Ambassadors Nitze and Rowny to discuss INF and START respectively between rounds. I urged the Soviets to study our proposals carefully as they are made in the utmost seriousness.

Dobrynin responded in a “preliminary” and uninstructed way by stating that there is a difference in philosophy—the Soviet Union wants reductions, but the United States wants to increase for itself, while asking the Soviet Union to go down. The Soviet Union insists on “equal security” and that French and British systems must be counted. And in perhaps his most important point, Dobrynin said: “It is difficult to [Page 107] see that we will sign an agreement introducing American nuclear missiles into Europe.”

I reiterated the seriousness of our approach and said that it should be viewed in the context of our discussions on bilateral relations. I informed Dobrynin that I would be prepared later this week to resume our discussions on the broad agenda:4 arms control, including the Andropov message on MBFR; the Pentecostalists, Shcharanskiy and other such cases; regional issues; and bilateral issues.

Dobrynin then delivered an oral statement in response to our proposal for improvements in the verification provisions of the threshold test ban and peaceful nuclear explosions treaties. We are sending you the full text separately.5 The Soviets reject our proposals, claiming that the treaties as written have adequate verification provisions. They urge us to go ahead with ratification of the treaties.6 They also urge that we resume negotiations on a comprehensive test ban (CTB) in April or May, 1983. This is obviously a propaganda ploy, as they know we will not renew the CTB talks at this point. We will have further analysis and suggestions for you on this issue.7

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (03/24/83–03/25/83). Secret; Sensitive. According to another copy, the memorandum was drafted by Palmer and cleared by Blackwill. (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Memorandum of Conversations Pertaining to the United States and USSR Relations, 1981–1990, Lot 93D 188, Sec/Dobrynin 2/15/83) Clark forwarded the memorandum and summarized its main points in an undated memorandum to the President. (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Meetings with USSR Officials, US-Soviet Diplomatic Contacts (3/5)) Reagan initialed the memorandum from Shultz, indicating he saw it.
  2. See Document 23.
  3. See Document 30.
  4. In his personal notes of a White House meeting the following day on March 29, Dam reiterated Shultz’s points on engagement: “The principal meeting of the day occurred in the Situation Room and later in Judge Clark’s office. The Secretary, Allen Wallis and I met with Judge Clark and Bud McFarlane, as well as two junior staffers, to discuss the East-West studies. We also talked about how they fit into the discussion of East-West matters at the Williamsburg Summit.”

    Dam continued: “We then turned to a discussion of relations with the Soviets. The President has agreed in principle to putting in place a process which little by little will lead toward a much broader relationship with the Soviet Union and eventually to a well-prepared summit at which progress could be recorded, if not indeed made. However, it is clear to me that the NSC staff is none too happy about this game plan and tends to resist at each step of the way. How this will work itself out remains to be seen, but it is rather clear that the resolution will be extremely important, not only to U.S.-Soviet relations but also to the posture of the President going into the 1984 elections.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records, Deputy Secretary Dam’s Official Files: Lot 85D308, Personal Notes of Deputy Secretary—Kenneth W. Dam—Oct. 1982–Sept. 1983)

  5. The oral statement was not found.
  6. The Threshold Test Ban Treaty was signed in Moscow on July 3, 1974. The Treaty on Peaceful Nuclear Explosions was signed in Washington and Moscow on May 28, 1976. In a message to the Senate in 1976, President Ford stated: “The TTB Treaty and the PNE Treaty are closely interrelated and complement one another. The TTB Treaty places a limitation of 150 kilotons on all underground nuclear weapons tests carried out by the Parties. The PNE Treaty similarly provides for a limitation of 150 kilotons on all individual underground nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes.” (Department of State Bulletin, August 23, 1976, p. 269)
  7. Reagan highlighted the last five sentences in the margin.