317. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Weinberger to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1

I found the attached [less than 1 line not declassified] interesting because it highlights the extent to which the Soviets will go to defeat our Strategic Defense Initiative. I believe defeat of SDI has become their fundamental arms control objective. You will also note in the penultimate paragraph their desire to see the replacement of certain U.S. officials—including, obviously, yours truly—as another way of gaining their objective. While this goal seems to be denied to them, I imagine they will continue to try on all fronts to block our strategic defense plan.

I would appreciate it very much if you would send the attached paper to the President.




Paper Prepared in the Defense Intelligence Agency2

1. SOVIETS TRY TO PRESSURE US INTO SPACE TALKS (S/[handlingrestriction not declassified]

REF: (S/[handling restriction not declassified] CIA [number not declassified], 15 Nov 84.3

After his return from Moscow in late October, First Secretary Rogov of the Soviet Embassy in Washington discussed several issues [less than 1 line not declassified]. The question of space talks dominated his comments, which he probably expected to be relayed to the US Government.

[Page 1134]

The Soviet diplomat contended Foreign Minister Gromyko’s impression was “negative” about his September meeting with President Reagan.4 Gromyko believed Reagan was interested in holding space talks but not on substantive issues. Moscow insists, according to Rogov, that unless space talks materialize, nothing else is important enough to negotiate. Space talks could “pull along” other negotiations that were halted. He also said Moscow will watch national security appointments in Reagan’s second term; unless the US makes personnel changes, the Soviets have little hope of “doing business.”

Rogov threatened that Soviet policy toward the US could get worse. He thinks, however, that US hostility toward the USSR has reached rock bottom and Washington is moving into a more pragmatic, less ideological stance. Thus, Moscow still sees the possibility of fruitful space negotiations. Rogov admitted that space tests and R&D already underway could not simply be abandoned; but a range of space weapon issues, in which only limited R&D had occurred, could. The USSR was ready to negotiate on this range without demanding the elimination of concepts and research.

COMMENT: The Soviet campaign against a US space program, including a strategic defense, is intensifying. Rogov’s comments reflect some aspects of this multifaceted effort.

The Soviets are trying to entice the US with hints that discussions on START and INF-related forces can eventually be held, if the US agrees to space talks on their terms. Although Rogov does not refer to these terms, other Soviet statements indicate they expect a US moratorium so long as the talks go on. Thus, they can hold hostage the development of US strategic defenses and ASATs. Rogov’s threats that superpower relations will deteriorate further are aimed at putting the US on the defensive, so that Washington will make concessions to Moscow.

Rogov’s remarks also reflect Moscow’s demand for the appointment of US officials whom it views as more ready to compromise than incumbents in key positions dealing with arms control. This point has been made by other Soviets, notably by members of Moscow’s Institute of the USA and Canada to prominent American visitors. The Soviets clearly have their own candidates. They are frustrated that their successful techniques of the 1970s are failing with the current US administration.

The defeat of a US strategic defense in whatever mode—traditional ABM or as part of SDI—has overwhelming priority for the Soviets. They are concerned that such a US capability would undercut their [Page 1135] strategy based on a preemptive first-strike potential. Moscow’s obsession with SDI stems from its fear that decades of investments in its strategic offensive forces would be jeopardized. [1 line not declassified]

  1. Source: Reagan Library, System IV Intelligence Files, 1984, 4001158. Secret. Weinberger wrote “Bud” next to McFarlane’s name on the memorandum. In a note on a covering memorandum, Kimmit wrote: “Per RCM, Weinberger memo only put in 11/30 PDB. RMK 11/30.” Reagan initialed another copy of the memorandum on December 2, indicating he saw it. (Ibid.)
  2. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified].
  3. Not found.
  4. See Documents 286 and 287.