355. Memorandum of Conversation1

Geneva, January 1985


  • U.S.

    • Secretary of State George P. Shultz
    • Robert C. McFarlane, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Ambassador Paul Nitze
    • Ambassador Arthur Hartman
    • Jack F. Matlock, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    • Dimitri Arensburger, Interpreter
  • USSR

    • Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko
    • Georgy M. Korniyenko, First Deputy Foreign Minister
    • Ambassador Viktor Karpov
    • Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin
    • Alexei Obukhov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    • Viktor Sukhodrev, Interpreter

Gromyko opened the meeting with the observation that he and the Secretary were well aware of the problems which require discussion, and that it was not clear whether time would remain toward the end of the discussions to touch on other questions. Accordingly, he proposed that they proceed to the business at hand with a presentation by each side of the way, in principle, the problem should be addressed. These presentations, which need not be long statements, could be followed by a give-and-take discussion to get at the heart of the matter. Would such a working approach be acceptable to the Secretary?

Secretary Shultz observed that the evolution of the meetings between the two of them had been good in the sense that they had taken on an increasingly conversational cast as time had gone by. He cited in particular the meetings in New York and Washington last September as embodying more back-and-forth interchange,2 and added that he believed that this method provided the best opportunity for developing individual subjects and therefore agreed with the proposal.

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Secretary Shultz then said that since he had material which had been discussed with and considered by the President in detail, he felt it was important to lay it out for Gromyko carefully and thoroughly. This would take some time, but he thought it would not be excessive under the circumstances, since it is easy to understand the importance of these questions.

With respect to Gromyko’s introductory comment about the questions to be discussed, the Secretary agreed that they had come to Geneva to concentrate on arms control questions. But, as the President had said in September, in a sense all questions between us are interrelated. If, toward the end of the discussions, time remained to discuss other questions, they could take a look at them. We continue to have major concerns in the human rights area and he would draw Gromyko’s attention to them here. Perhaps there would be a chance to develop these matters in greater detail, but he wanted to point out their importance to us at this time. Just as other major issues between us throughout the world, they have an impact on the overall relationship. In this connection, the Secretary continued, we had received word that the Soviets accepted the idea of discussions on the Middle East and this made us hopeful, since discussion of other matters would doubtless follow.

The Secretary then proposed that they get down to business with a discussion of arms control questions.

Gromyko responded that, except for the Secretary’s mention of a possible discussion of what he called human rights issues, they shared the same view. He had no intention of distracting the attention of participants in the talks with a discussion of human rights, and assumed that this would not surprise the Secretary. Other than that, their views coincided, and if the Secretary had no objection, he would present the introductory Soviet statement.

The Secretary agreed.

Gromyko then proceeded to make his opening presentation, which contained the following points:

—The world’s public has been anticipating these meetings with a lively interest. This is the case because people and nations throughout the world fully understand the importance of searching for ways to end the arms race, achieve disarmament and avert a nuclear war. The press does not indulge in exaggeration when it says that the eyes of the entire world are focussed on Geneva. People are hungry for news of a constructive nature.

—It is a truism that relations between the USSR and the U.S. are bad. The Secretary is familiar with the Soviet view of what had caused this situation and also with Soviet policy. He (Gromyko) had set these [Page 1287] forth on behalf of the Soviet Government in earlier meetings with the Secretary and also in his recent meeting with the President. He saw no need to repeat what he had said previously on this subject.

—He wished to stress most emphatically that if we do not find ways to halt the arms race and end the threat of nuclear war, it will be impossible to correct our relationship. If this is not done, our relationship will heat up and this will affect the situation in the entire world.

—The Soviet Union is in favor of a relationship free of vacillations and one based on equality, mutual regard for each other’s interests, and respect for and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. These thoughts were dominant in the messages from General Secretary Chernenko to the President and Gromyko had made every effort to emphasize them in his meeting with the President.

—It is important to take a principled approach—a correct approach in principle—in resolving problems in our relationship. He wished to outline in total candor how the Soviet side viewed such an approach.

—The upcoming negotiations, if they take place—and the Soviet side believes they must take place—must have as their ultimate objective the elimination of nuclear arms. In the final analysis this goal must be achieved if we are to have real security in the world as a whole and between our two countries in particular. The world today is not what it was 40–50 years ago. It has changed with the appearance of nuclear arms. Not everyone seems to understand this, because if it were understood, the question before us would be resolved. Those countries which possess nuclear arms are in the best position to understand. Therefore, we must make every effort to move toward this ultimate objective. Otherwise we will find ourselves in a situation whereby nuclear arms come to dominate people and people will find themselves caught in an irresistible current which drags them along. Where this would lead is clear. Science, and indeed, not just science, but all reasonable people in positions of authority recognize what might occur if nuclear arms remain in existence and if the nuclear arms race continues. No matter how strong the words are which are chosen to emphasize the importance of this problem, none are adequate to express the dangers of continuing the nuclear arms build-up. Only ignorant people—and there are fewer and fewer of these—and dishonest individuals could treat such statements as propaganda and not a true reflection of reality. Both the Soviet and U.S. Governments must know that this is the case. It is the first point of principle he wished to make.

—The second point regards how we should proceed, both here in Geneva and beyond—indeed how to conduct our relations in general. The principle of equality and equal security is of exceptional importance. It is absolutely essential at every phase in our consideration of the problem and at every stage in our discussion of it. Absolute equality [Page 1288] and equal security merit repetition a thousand times. All agreements connected with the resolution of the problem before us, a problem of vital importance to both our countries and to mankind in general, must be based on this principle. If we follow this principle, neither your security nor ours will be damaged; the security of both our countries and of the whole world will rather be stronger. We believe that if both sides act in an honest way, it will be possible to comply with this principle and find solutions to the nuclear arms problem and to other problems. It is within the realm of the possible to find mutually satisfactory solutions. There is no place here for fatalism. All problems in the world are created by human beings, and it is up to human beings to resolve them. All problems existing today can be solved if our two countries proceed along the same path. And if we do, others will follow. He emphasizes this point because one frequently hears statements almost to the effect that there is no opportunity for people, or even governments, to affect the process. All too often, when the modernization and development of arms are considered (and this is especially true of space arms), it is suggested that there is no possibility of intervening to block such developments, as if it is written in the stars that it must happen. It is suggested that there might be some discussion of limitations—as if militarization has to continue. But this is inconsistent with human logic and with human capacities and must be rejected. We must believe in the possibility of human beings resolving this problem.

—The third principle pertains to outer space. We must set the goal of preventing the militarization of space. Questions of strategic nuclear arms and medium-range nuclear arms must be considered in conjunction with the problem of preventing the militarization of space. In other words, questions of space arms, nuclear strategic arms and nuclear medium-range arms must be resolved in one single complex, that is, comprehensively, in their interrelationship. He wished to stress comprehensively, since this is dictated by objective circumstances, and especially the requirements of strategic stability.

—He noted statements by U.S. officials at various levels, including the highest, which emphasized the importance of strategic stability, and pointed out that the Soviets believe that strategic stability requires such an approach. If the forthcoming negotiations are to be put on a practical track from the outset, there must be a specific, joint understanding regarding their ultimate objectives.

—In the Soviet view, the first such goal must be the prevention of the militarization of space. That is, there must be a ban on the development, testing and deployment of space attack arms [space strike weapons], along with the destruction of those already in existence. Given such a radical approach, opportunities would emerge for far-reaching decisions in the other areas as well.

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—By “space attack arms” the Soviet Union meant space arms based on any physical principle [literally: “principle of action”], regardless of basing mode, which are designed to strike space objects, objects in space and targets on land, sea or in the air from space, that is, targets on earth. This includes anti-satellite systems and relevant [or “corresponding”—sootvetstvuyushie] anti-missile systems.

—The second goal relates to strategic arms. Given a complete ban on space attack arms, the Soviet Union would be prepared to agree to a radical reduction of strategic arms accompanied by a simultaneous and a complete ban, or severe limitation, of programs to develop and deploy new strategic systems, i.e., long-range cruise missiles, new types of ICBMs, new types of SLBMs and new types of heavy bombers. However, all these measures with regard to strategic arms would be possible only if they were coupled with a complete ban on space attack arms.

—Additionally, the problem of strategic arms cannot be resolved separately from the problem of medium-range nuclear systems, that is missiles and aircraft, because the U.S. systems deployed in Europe are strategic systems with respect to the Soviet Union. This was emphasized in the past, particularly during the negotiations where Ambassador Nitze headed the U.S. delegation. To the Soviet Union these are strategic arms, even though in the past, for convenience, they had been called medium-range systems, taking into account only their range.

—The third negotiation would deal with medium-range nuclear arms. Its main aim would be an agreement to end the further deployment of U.S. missiles in Western Europe coupled with a simultaneous cessation of Soviet countermeasures. This would be followed by a reduction of medium-range nuclear systems in Europe to levels to be agreed. Naturally, British and French medium-range missiles must be taken into account in these levels. He then repeated “they must be taken into account,” and observed that talk to the effect that the UK and France are separate states, that they should be disregarded and that their arms should not be counted in solving the question of medium-range systems in Europe, did not impress anyone. Such talk did not make the least impression on the Soviet Union. The UK and France and their nuclear systems were on one and the same side with the U.S. This is true in fact as well as in formal, legal terms, no matter how the problem is addressed. Thus, at least in discussions with the Soviet Union, the U.S. should steer clear of the thesis that UK and French systems ought not be taken into account. Any talk along these lines is a waste of time.

—In summarizing the last portion of his statement, Gromyko reiterated the following. The problem of strategic arms and the problem of medium-range nuclear arms cannot be considered separately or in [Page 1290] isolation from the problem of space arms, or more precisely, that of the non-militarization of space. The problem of strategic nuclear arms cannot be considered independently of the question of medium-range nuclear arms. All of this must be considered comprehensively [in one complex] if there is, in fact, a serious desire to reach agreement. The Soviet Union hoped that it could count on the U.S. Government’s understanding of the Soviet position.

—Perhaps he was repeating it for the thousandth time, but the Soviet leadership would like to see serious progress toward agreement in order to reach the objectives which he had described at the beginning of his statement. Agreements must be based on respect for the security interests of both the USSR and the U.S. The entire world would give a sigh of relief if this could indeed be achieved. Moreover, the Soviet Union has no negative aims with respect to the U.S. It wants a fair and objective agreement that meets the interests of both countries.

—The Soviet Union wants to live in peace with the U.S.. The USSR is aware that from time to time responsible officials in the U.S. make statements to the effect that the USSR poses a threat to the U.S. The Soviet Union tends to think that individuals who make such statements do not understand the situation. However, these statements are made so frequently that we cannot rule out the possibility that those who make them may come to believe in them. After all, some people still believe in the devil. But we believe that common sense and objective reasoning, if it is followed by U.S. policy makers, can make agreement possible.

—Could a country with hostile aims present proposals on eliminating nuclear arms, on no-first-use of nuclear arms, and insist that other nuclear powers follow the Soviet example? Could such a country present a proposal on the non-use of force in international relations? Could such a country make proposal after proposal aimed at curbing the arms race, disarmament and improving Soviet-U.S. relations? The Soviet Union has presented many such proposals. A country with hostile designs would not present these kinds of proposals. Could such a country harbor evil designs toward the United States? Surely it could not. He wished to stress that the Soviet leadership and the entire ruling party of the USSR, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, had no hostile designs against the legitimate interests or security of the United States. The USSR does not pursue such a goal. Judge our policies on the basis of our statements and our specific proposals.

—The Soviet Union intends to pursue this course at the forthcoming negotiations. However, if common sense does not triumph at these negotiations—and he was not speaking of the Soviet side—then, of course, the USSR would be forced—he emphasized would be forced—to take appropriate steps to protect its security interests. However, it [Page 1291] is in our mutual interest not to follow such a path. It is in our interest to follow the path of striving for an objective agreement which, he was convinced, is possible provided both sides advance objective and justified positions. If this were not the Soviet desire, it would have been pointless to hold these meetings here. In that case, we would be simply rolling down to the abyss. But the Soviets believe that an objective possibility of agreement exists. He could not speak for the Secretary on these points, and invited him to speak for himself.

The Secretary thanked Gromyko for his comprehensive introductory comments, and promised to be equally brief in presenting his views.

First, he remarked that during Gromyko’s visit to the United States, especially during his conversation with the President, Gromyko had used the phrase “question of questions.” This had caught people’s attention. He had defined it as whether we would move toward peace or toward confrontation, and, especially, whether we would be able to resolve the overriding question of nuclear arms. Gromyko had said, and the President had agreed—in fact, the President had said several times—that our goal must be the elimination of nuclear arms. This was repeated in the letters exchanged between the two heads of state.

The Secretary noted that Gromyko, in his arrival statement, had spoken about advancing along a path of radical reduction of nuclear arms and the goal of eliminating them. We share that goal. If, as a result of these meetings, we can agree on a negotiating format, we should instruct our negotiators to work toward that aim.

The Secretary pointed out that the President views this meeting as a major opportunity to launch a new effort aimed at reaching arms control agreements that enhance the security of both our nations. Our principal task is to look to the future, to establish a more efficient process and more effective negotiating approaches for addressing critical arms control questions. He hoped the meetings today and tomorrow can lay the basis for progress toward that end.

The President had directed that careful and thorough preparations be made for the meeting, and he had personally taken an intensive role in them. Accordingly, the Secretary thought it important to set forth the President’s thinking carefully and in detail. He would go through the President’s views of the strategic situation as it had developed in the past and as he saw it developing in the future. He would then deal with the question of subjects and fora for the future negotiations, if we can agree on them.

The Secretary said that he would begin by setting forth our views on the future strategic environment, including the relationship between defensive and offensive forces. He then made the following points:

Gromyko would agree that, as the President had said, the U.S. has no territorial ambitions. It is inconceivable that the U.S. would [Page 1292] initiate military action against the USSR or the Warsaw Pact unless we or our allies were attacked. We hope that the USSR has no intention of initiating an attack on the U.S. or its Allies, and the Secretary had heard this in Gromyko’s statement.

—At the same time the U.S. is determined to maintain sufficient forces to deter attack against ourselves and our allies. This means forces of such size, effectiveness and survivability as to deny an opponent any possibility of gain from an attack. We expect that you wish to maintain similar capabilities.

—We will maintain a sufficient deterrent with or without arms control agreements. However, we believe, as Gromyko said this morning with regard to the USSR, that the strategic relationship can be made more stable and secure, and that stability and security can be maintained at significantly lower levels of armaments, if this relationship is regulated through effective arms control. We prefer that path.

—It is disturbing to us that the USSR has placed so much emphasis upon massive expansion and modernization of its nuclear forces, both offensive and defensive. In light of this, we are obliged to take some steps necessary to maintain our offensive and defensive capabilities.

—This interplay between us does create a dangerous situation. So it is one we must address. The political and military measures necessary to do so will be difficult for both sides. But we must tackle this problem; the danger must be defused.

—In preparing for this meeting and for renewed negotiations, the U.S. has conducted a review of our past arms control efforts. While some worthwhile agreements have been reached, our efforts in the area of strategic arms have not fulfilled their original promise in terms of constraining the arms competition and enhancing stability. We believe you would agree.

—At any rate, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s we negotiated measures that we hoped would be helpful to the security of each of us. Those constraints, as we reviewed the record, were based on three assumptions:

(1) with defensive systems severely limited, it would be possible to place comparable limits on strategic offensive forces, and to establish a reliable deterrent balance at reduced levels;

(2) the constraints on ballistic missile defenses would prevent break-out or circumvention; and

(3) both sides would adhere to the letter and spirit of the agreements.

—These premises, as we examined the record, have come increasingly into question over the past decade.

—Both sides today have substantially greater offensive capabilities than in 1972. Not only have the numbers of offensive weapons reached [Page 1293] exceedingly high levels; of even greater concern, systems have been deployed on the Soviet side, in significant numbers, which have the capability for a devastating attack on missile silos and command and control facilities.

—On the defensive side, the Soviet Union has taken full advantage of the ABM Treaty—this was not criticism, just an observation—it has exploited technical ambiguities, and has also taken steps which we believe are almost certainly not consistent with the ABM Treaty.3

—The viability of the ABM Treaty was based on several key assumptions:

First, that large phased-array radars would be constrained so as to limit potential breakout or circumvention to provide the base for a territorial ABM defense. Allowance was made for early warning radars, but they were to be on the periphery and outward facing.

Second, that ABM interceptors, launchers and radars would be neither mobile nor transportable.

Third, that the line between anti-aircraft and antiballistic missile defenses would be unambiguous.

Fourth, that the ABM Treaty would soon be accompanied by a comprehensive treaty, of indefinite duration, on offensive nuclear forces.

—Unfortunately, today those assumptions no longer appear valid.

—The Krasnoyarsk radar appears to be identical to radars for detecting and tracking ballistic missiles, and could serve as part of a base for a nationwide ABM defense.

—The inconsistency of the location and orientation of this radar with the letter and spirit of the ABM Treaty is a serious concern, for it causes us to question the Soviet Union’s long-term intentions in the ABM area.

—We are also concerned about other Soviet ABM activities that, taken together, give rise to legitimate questions on our part as to whether the Soviet Union intends to deploy a wide-spread ABM system. The SA–X–12 anti-air missile is one element of our concern; it seems to have some capabilities against strategic ballistic missiles, and thereby blurs the distinction between anti-aircraft missile systems and anti-ballistic missile systems.

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—The Soviet Union is pursuing active research programs on more advanced technologies, which have a direct application to future ballistic missile defense capabilities.

—Most importantly, as to offensive nuclear forces, it has not proven possible to work out mutually acceptable agreements that would bring about meaningful reductions in such arms, particularly in the most destabilizing categories of such forces.

—So, in our view, as we look back at that period when the strategic environment that we were hoping for was designed, we must say that the strategic environment has since deteriorated. But it is important to look today at the future. He therefore would offer some comments which would help Gromyko understand the conceptual and political framework in which we approach renewed negotiations.

—For the immediate future we wish to work with you to restore and make more effective the regime for reliable mutual deterrence which, in 1972, was thought by both sides to be our common objective.

—We must negotiate “effective measures toward reductions in strategic arms, nuclear disarmament, and general and complete disarmament” called for when we signed the ABM Agreement in 1972. We are prepared to negotiate constructively toward this end.

—We must reverse the erosion which has taken place of the premises assumed when we entered into the ABM Treaty.

—The research, development and deployment programs of both sides must be consistent with the ABM Treaty.

—You may argue that it is the U.S., and not the Soviet Union, that has decided to embark on the creation of a nationwide ABM system, including the deployment of defensive systems in space. Certainly, your comments imply this. Therefore, I wish to explain the U.S. position.

—The President has set as a major objective for the coming decade the determination of whether new defensive technologies could make it feasible for our two countries to move away from a situation in which the security of both our countries is based almost exclusively on the threat of devastating offensive nuclear retaliation.

—We believe both sides have an interest in determining the answer to this question. Indeed, your country has historically shown a greater interest in strategic defenses than the United States, and deploys the world’s only operational ABM system.

—A situation in which both of our countries could shift their deterrent posture toward greater reliance on effective defenses could be more stable than the current situation.

—It could provide a basis for achieving the radical solution both our leaders seek—eliminating nuclear weapons entirely on a global basis.

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—Our effort to see whether this is possible is embodied in the Strategic Defense Initiative. This SDI is strictly a research effort and is being conducted in full conformity with the ABM Treaty.

—No decisions on moving beyond the stage of research have been taken, nor could they be for several years. Such research is necessary to see if it would be possible to move toward a world in which the threat of nuclear war is eliminated.

—Whenever research validates that a defensive technology would make a contribution to strengthening deterrence, the United States would expect to discuss with the Soviet Union the basis on which it would be integrated into force structures. If either side ever wishes to amend the ABM treaty, then there are provisions for discussing that. In the U.S. view, such discussions should precede action by sufficient time so that stability is guaranteed. The Secretary repeated: whenever research validates that a defensive technology would make a contribution to strengthening deterrence, the United States would expect to discuss with the Soviet Union the basis on which it would be integrated into force structures.

—The Soviet Union has been actively engaged for years in the sort of research being pursued under SDI.

—The Secretary doubts that either side is prepared to abandon its research efforts now, before we know whether there are defensive systems that could enhance rather than diminish the security of both sides. We doubt an effective and verifiable ban on research, as such, could be designed in any event.

—In the longer run, it appears that new technologies may open possibilities of assuring the security of both sides through a substantial improvement in our respective defenses. To the U.S., high-confidence defenses would appear to be a sounder approach to peace and security than the current situation, and could produce a more stable environment.

—The United States recognizes that arms control and other forms of cooperation would play an important role in creating and sustaining such a less threatening environment. We believe that the security interests of both sides could be served by such an evolution and obviously we would have to move in stages.

—But we are prepared to initiate a continuing discussion with you now on the whole question of strategic defense (both existing and possible future systems), a discussion of reductions in offensive arms, and a discussion of the nature of the offense-defense relationship that we should be seeking to establish and maintain in the future. This was by way of saying that we fully agree about the relationship between offense and defense.

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—In the context of negotiations on offensive and defensive arms, we are also prepared to address space arms issues.

—So we believe our negotiating efforts today and tomorrow should focus on the most urgent question before us: namely, how to begin the process of reducing offensive nuclear arms and enhancing the stability of the strategic environment.

The Secretary then turned to the way in which these comments lead us to suggestions regarding the subject and objectives of the future negotiations. Accordingly, he wished to offer comments on fora, subjects and objectives of the negotiations, as well as on their location and timing.

—With respect to offensive nuclear systems, he proposed that we begin where we broke off and capture the progress made in the START and INF negotiations. We believe that much good work was done in both sets of talks, even though many issues remained unresolved.

—Moreover, while the issues involved are clearly related, we continue to believe it would be most practical to address strategic and intermediate-range nuclear forces in separate fora.

—Thus, we propose that we begin new negotiations on strategic arms reductions, and a second set of new negotiations on reductions in intermediate-range nuclear forces.

—The subject of the first, strategic offensive arms—or, more precisely, intercontinental-range offensive nuclear forces—is fairly well established.

—We are prepared in step-by-step fashion to reduce radically, to use Gromyko’s word, the numbers and destructive power of strategic offensive arms, with the immediate goal of enhancing the reliability and stability of deterrence, and with the ultimate goal of their eventual elimination.

—Thus, the subject of these negotiations would be reductions, radical reductions, in strategic offensive nuclear arms.

—I propose that the objective of renewed talks be an equitable agreement providing for effectively verifiable and radical reductions in the numbers and destructive power of strategic offensive arms.

—The second negotiation we envisage is on intermediate-range nuclear forces.

—Here, too, I think our previous efforts revealed a common emphasis on reducing longer-range INF missiles, with the ultimate goal of their total elimination.

—Moreover, we seem to agree that while systems in or in the range of Europe should be of central concern, any agreement must take account of the global aspects of the INF problem.

—Both sides have proposed that certain INF aircraft and shorter-range missile systems be dealt with in some fashion.

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—We propose that the subject of the new talks be reductions in intermediate-range offensive arms.

—The objective of such talks should be an equitable agreement providing for effectively verifiable and radical reductions in intermediate-range offensive nuclear arms.

The Secretary then turned to our ideas for addressing the other aspects of “nuclear and space arms” on which we agreed in November to begin negotiations.

—In the early days of SALT I both sides agreed that a treaty limiting defensive arms should be paralleled by a treaty limiting offensive arms and vice-versa. For reasons including those the Secretary advanced earlier, we continue to believe there is merit in such an approach.

—We understand that the Soviet Union believes that controlling weapons in space should be a priority matter. Gromyko had emphasized this in his presentation. We believe, however, that a forum permitting negotiation of defensive nuclear arms would be a more appropriate complement to new negotiations on offensive nuclear systems.

—In such a forum, we would be prepared to address the question of space-based defensive systems in a serious and constructive manner. Space arms questions could also be taken up in the offensive arms negotiations as well, as this might be appropriate.

—But we believe that it is important to address questions relating to existing defensive systems based on earth, as well as potential future space-based systems, and to restore and revalidate the assumptions on which the ABM Treaty was based.

—We therefore propose that we establish a third negotiating forum, in which each side could address aspects of the offense-defense relationship not dealt with in the two offensive nuclear arms fora.

—In making this proposal, we have taken careful note of the concern you expressed in our September meetings about the possibility of nuclear arms in outer space. Gromyko had referred to this subject several times.

—Given our shared objective of eliminating all nuclear weapons and the concerns you expressed, we believe that the negotiations should focus on defensive nuclear arms, including nuclear systems that would be based in space or detonated in space, as well as defensive nuclear systems based on the earth.

—Thus we propose that the subject of this third negotiation be defensive nuclear arms. The objective would be agreement on measures to enhance the reliability and stability of deterrence, and on steps toward the eventual elimination of all nuclear-armed defensive systems.

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—As to the formalities, the Secretary suggested that the location of all three talks be Geneva and that, as a matter of urgency, the negotiations should preferably open in the first half of March.

—The most pressing task is to reach agreement on formal negotiations to address offensive and defensive forces. But the Secretary believed that it would also be useful to establish a senior-level process to complement the formal negotiations and to provide a channel for talking about broader problems. In these talks we might perhaps be able to provide the integrating process that Gromyko had referred to.

—What we have in mind is to have more unstructured, conceptual exchanges on the maintenance of strategic stability and the relationship between offensive and defensive forces.

—Continuing exchanges on these subjects between the foreign ministers should be part of this process. As the President has suggested, this might give some stimulation and act as an energizer to the negotiations. As he has further suggested, it might also be useful to have special representatives meet to address both conceptual and concrete ideas.

—Senior representatives could also play an important role in clarifying each side’s conceptual approach to the negotiations, as well as in exploring the details of specific proposals.

—Moreover, as formal negotiations proceed in individual areas, senior representatives could meet periodically to help break logjams and coordinate our joint efforts in the various fora.

—We believe that the problem of getting control of the growing nuclear forces is of fundamental concern. Those countries with nuclear arms must take the leadership. Certainly, he would hope that we can make progress to prevent these systems from overwhelming our two countries. As Gromyko had suggested, if our two countries take the lead in this regard, others would follow. Gromyko had also said that the ultimate goal would be to eliminate nuclear arms. We had no reservations in this regard, though we recognized the difficulties involved.

—In this connection, the Secretary highlighted the importance of the non-proliferation regime and noted that their discussion in September 1982 had led to consultations on non-proliferation questions.4 From our standpoint, these discussions have been fruitful. However, further efforts are needed if we are to control nuclear arms, as we must—if we are to reduce them drastically and ultimately eliminate them.

The Secretary concluded by saying that he had described how we see future developments and had outlined our ideas for structuring the [Page 1299] future negotiations. The Secretary remarked that earlier he promised to take as much time as Gromyko had. He had not quite fulfilled that promise, but considering the time devoted to interpretation, he thought that they had ended up about equal. The Secretary cited Gromyko’s phrase about the need for respecting the security interests of both parties. He found this to be a very good phrase and intended to proceed on this basis. He also expressed appreciation for Gromyko’s attempt to present his comments with as much precision as possible.

Gromyko, who had earlier waived translation from English to Russian, observed that the Secretary had just delivered a very important statement and asked for a translation so that it could be given careful consideration. The Secretary’s statement was thereupon translated in its entirety.

When the translation was completed, Gromyko observed that the statement was an important one dealing with fundamental principles, and said that he had two questions which arose from the Secretary’s comment that at some stage the parties could enter into a discussion of the research the U.S. is doing and of ways it could be integrated into a system of strategic stability. His questions were: first, at what stage would this be discussed, and second, what specifically should be dealt with in the third forum, that is, the forum dealing with space matters, a forum to which we have not yet attached a label, because it is too early to do so.

Gromyko added that the Secretary’s remarks on this subject had not been clear. The lack of clarity did not seem to be a linguistic problem but one rather in the U.S. position itself. What should be discussed in this third forum? Is this forum to discuss programs for large-scale space defense systems or not? And if this topic is discussed, what will be the angle of view applied? If your position is that space research programs are to be continued and sometime later can be discussed, then this is not acceptable. U.S. intentions to pursue such efforts were unacceptable, even though mention had been made that the U.S. might share some of the results. The Soviet position is that the topic should be discussed with the view of preventing the militarization of outer space. If this approach is taken, what is the point of such a large-scale program to develop ballistic missile defenses? What would happen if these two concepts collided? What would be discussed in this forum in that case? Perhaps this forum might hold only one meeting. What sort of negotiation would that be? Where would that lead us? Since all three fora are interrelated, if the third forum bursts like a soap bubble, the other two would go down with it. It would be a different matter if the subject of the negotiations in that forum were to be the prevention of militarization of space. In that case, he could see the sense of that third forum.

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Gromyko asked the Secretary to respond to his questions either then or after lunch, as he preferred. When the Secretary had done so, Gromyko would comment on other aspects of the U.S. position.

The Secretary promised to answer Gromyko’s questions, but suggested that this be done after lunch since they were already running about an hour behind schedule. He also suggested, since time between meetings was useful to consider carefully and assess each other’s comments, to move the afternoon meeting to 3:30 instead of 2:30, and put off the reception planned for the evening by one hour as well.

Gromyko agreed with this procedure.

Before departing, the Secretary said that he intended to say nothing to the press regarding the meeting and Gromyko stated that he, too, would follow a “no comment” policy.

The meeting adjourned at 1:00 P.M.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Chronological File, 1980–1986, Matlock Chron March 1985 (2/4)). Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Matlock and Arensburger. The meeting took place in the Soviet Mission. Brackets are in the original.
  2. See Documents 284, 286, 287, and 288.
  3. The United States believed the Soviet Krasnoyarsk early warning radar system was a violation of the ABM Treaty, which allowed for a limited number of defensive systems in each country. Documents on these potential violations are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XLIV, Part 1, National Security Policy, 1985–1988.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. III, Soviet Union, January 1981–January 1983, Document 217.