312. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • Response to Chernenko

I met today with Rick Burt and Jack Chain to discuss our response to the proposal in Chernenko’s latest letter.2 We think the way to proceed now is for either me or Rick to call in Dobrynin or Sokolov on Monday3 to propose that we agree on a joint statement which would announce the two sides’ willingness to begin negotiations and name a date in January and a place in which we would meet. Below is our proposed draft statement.

The United States and the Soviet Union have agreed to enter into new negotiations with the objective of reaching mutually acceptable agreements on the whole range of questions concerning nuclear arms and outer space. To that end, Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko will meet in _______________ on January _______________.4

There are several things to note about this proposed statement. First of all, the first sentence draws heavily on the language of the Soviets own proposal contained in Chernenko’s most recent message. However, rather than use the Soviet phrase “nuclear and space weap[Page 1122]ons,” as Chernenko does, our draft statement talks about “nuclear arms and and outer space” so as to protect SDI.

Despite this small change, we do think it important to stick to language in Chernenko’s letter to avoid a long drawn out discussion of a joint statement. And this means it seems to me, that we would in our statement talk about entering “negotiations” and not just “discussions.”

As for the venue of my meeting with Gromyko, I would propose Geneva. It is possible that the Soviets will not agree because this was the locus for START and INF. Thus if this becomes a problem, I propose to fall back to Vienna. I will need to check my own calendar for a date; the Soviets have proposed the first half of January. I will propose something like on or about January 10.

The Soviets may not, at this stage, want to agree to a joint statement that we have agreed to enter into negotiations. In that event I believe that we should just announce that the two foreign ministers have agreed to meet to cover the whole range of nuclear and space arms control issues in order to initiate negotiations.

Art will be meeting with Gromyko tomorrow morning Moscow time.5 And we should thus have his report first thing tomorrow morning and can factor any results into our thinking. I would hope, however, we could work out a joint statement with the Soviets by Monday or Tuesday to pre-empt any leaks. I have asked Rick and Jack Chain to keep only a minimum number of people involved in this process to guard against leaks. It will be vital as we begin putting together our thoughts for the meeting in January that the President’s options not be circumscribed by untimely leaks. So we need to give thought to how to organize efforts to insure confidentiality.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, November 1984 Super Sensitive Documents. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Burt. Although Shultz did not sign it, a typed note on the upper left-hand corner of the memorandum reads: “Sent by special courier 11/18/84 1735 SWO.” In a covering memorandum to Shultz, Burt reported: “Following our discussion at your residence earlier this afternoon, I have prepared the attached memorandum to the President. (I originally prepared it as a memorandum to Bud McFarlane, as you instructed, but changed it to a memo to the President at Jock Covey’s request.) Jack Chain has read it and concurs fully with it. With your approval it will be sent to Bud McFarlane in Santa Barbara this evening. Separately, we have instructed Art Hartman along the lines we discussed earlier today.” According to handwritten notations on the covering memorandum, it was “pouched to Secretary 1650 11/18”; “Approved by Sec and sent to WH (McFarlane and Kimmit) 1730 11/18)”; and “McFarlane (in California) has this document.”
  2. See attachment to Document 310.
  3. Sokolov and Burt met on November 19. See Document 315.
  4. Blanks are in the original. In a November 19 PROFs note to Poindexter, McFarlane wrote: “The President has approved the draft text as proposed. He wants us to seek Geneva or another third country site as our going in position but is willing to accept Moscow if considered necessary. Launch.” (Reagan Library, Robert McFarlane Files, Subject File, Geneva Arms Control Talks I (01/05/1985–01/07/1985))
  5. Hartman met Gromyko in Moscow on November 19. See Document 313.