325. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) and the Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs (Chain) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • NSPG Meeting on Preparations for Geneva, Wednesday December 5, 1:00 pm, Situation Room

Setting and Objectives

The NSPG will convene to continue discussion of our strategy for the Geneva meeting.2 The focus of meeting will be the attached SACG paper,3 which is the first of a series of papers designed to lay the basis for Presidential decisions on your position at Geneva. The contents of the paper are summarized below. Your goals for the meeting should be:

—to indicate that we are satisfied with the paper, and believe it provides useful preliminary background to inform decisions later this month on our strategy for Geneva;

—to stress the importance of expediting work on the more important papers setting forth concrete options that you could present at Geneva; and

—to reiterate our view on the critical importance of substance to the success of the Geneva meeting, and to challenge the prevalent view that making a proposal would represent a U.S. concession.

SACG paper: “Strategy for Geneva”

The interagency paper (tab 1), produced in a week of marathon drafting sessions chaired by Jack Chain, was reviewed by the SACG on Monday.4 It has five sections:

I. An OSD-drafted opening section describes our arms control objectives over the next ten years. Following our comments, this section has been revised to reflect the fact that, while we hope to deploy strategic [Page 1163] defenses in the 1990s, it is too early to determine whether such a shift in the basis of deterrence will be possible. Thus, our near-term objective should be to protect long-term SDI options, engage the Soviets in a conceptual discussion of the potential role of strategic defenses, while pursuing further reductions in offensive arms. The concluding part of this section (“Where we want to be three years hence”) is generally consistent with our option (see page I–3 and 4).

II. A CIA-drafted section describes the Soviet approach to Geneva. The paper makes the point that the Soviets will be looking for substance from us before engaging in serious talks. It notes that while they have cast space arms control as the most urgent task, they continue to see nuclear arms reductions as the most important question.

III. Section III is a brief rendition of consensus objectives for Geneva (engaging the Soviets in serious talks, follow-on Ministerial meetings as necessary) and general U.S. arms control goals.

IV. Section IV is a straightforward catalogue of the “elements of U.S. arms control policy.” This section reviews our current positions on strategic forces, INF, ASAT, SDI, nuclear testing, CW, CDE/MBFR, ostensibly to set forth the “building blocks” for Presidential decisions. Issues where we might reconsider our current position are identified at the end of each sub-section, but no agency views are indicated.

Despite our amendments, the section comes down fairly hard against the possibility of devising concrete ASAT limitations that would be in the U.S. interest (a view we do not share). It also does not consider combined options, such as our own offensive arms/ASAT package.

V. Section V describes in preliminary terms how you would structure the Geneva meeting. The discussion here is fairly rudimentary. We will be providing you our detailed thinking on this in an internal memorandum.5

Work Program

Attached at tab 2 is the timetable for further interagency work presented by Bud McFarlane at Monday’s SACG.6 The goal is to complete substantive work by December 21, with a paper on substantive options ready for the President at that time.

The big question mark is whether there will be adequate opportunity to develop concrete options within the interagency process. Most of the upcoming series of papers to be drafted seem to side-step this task, focusing on the separate building blocks that will go into our [Page 1164] position, but without tying them together into a coherent negotiating position for you to take to Geneva. As a matter of interest, the attached SACG paper included a section on options in its first draft; however, Bud directed that this section be expurgated.

Thus, we recommend that you emphasize that need to assign higher priority to drafting an options paper well in advance of the December 22 deadline for completing substantive work. You will also, of course, need to meet privately with the President and Bud McFarlane to make the case for our recommended approach.

Talking points are attached, which cover four areas:7

SACG paper: good first step, but real options paper needed.

SDI/Offense-Defense Relationship: should explain to Soviets our view that defenses could be beneficial in future, but not expect to “sell” Moscow on SDI now.

ASAT arms control: State believes there are limited approaches which are in our interest, and which could provide leverage for offensive arms reductions.

Overall Objectives for Geneva: Without substantive ideas, won’t be able to engage Soviets in serious bargaining, and could lose public-diplomacy offensive.

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Sensitive and Super Sensitive Documents, Lot 92D52, December 1984 Super Sensitive Documents. Secret; Sensitive; King. Drafted by Vershbow; cleared by Simons, Palmer, Markoff, and J. Gordon (PM). Forwarded through Armacost. A stamped notation reading “GPS” appears on this packet, indicating Shultz saw it. McKinley’s handwritten initials are on the top of the memorandum, indicating he saw it on December 4.
  2. See Document 326. The NSPG met on November 30 to begin these discussions; see Document 323.
  3. The paper is attached but not printed. It is summarized in this briefing memorandum as well as during the December 5 NSPG meeting.
  4. November 26. See footnote 8, Document 324.
  5. An undated memorandum from Burt to Shultz noted: “Gromyko is coming to the Geneva meeting with his tactics and goals fairly well thought out. Having decided to reverse their failed ‘no-negotiations’ approach, the Soviets now presumably feel they are positioned to profit in Geneva regardless of the U.S. position. In fact, the decision to come back via the ‘new negotiations’ route was probably sold to the skeptical in Moscow precisely on that basis. At the same time, they are emphasizing a desire to return to ‘détente,’ and probably recognize that reaching arms agreements could facilitate this and perhaps slow US and NATO defense programs.” (Department of State, EUR Records, Arthur Hartman Files, Lot 03D314, US-Soviet Relations 1985)
  6. The timetable is attached but not printed.
  7. The talking points are attached but not printed.