357. Memorandum of Conversation1



  • 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
    • Carolyn Smith, Interpreter
  • USSR

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

Secretary Shultz opened the meeting by saying that he would respond to the two questions Gromyko raised at the end of the morning session.2 The first question concerned when the U.S. expects to discuss how strategic defense-type systems could be integrated into force struc[Page 1303]tures. In one sense, there is nothing concrete on this subject to speak of at this point because we do not yet have an outcome from our research. When we get to something concrete, or reach a development with potential operational characteristics, when and if the research of both sides demonstrates that there can be a system which could usefully contribute to moving away from reliance on offensive weapons, then we could discuss the strategic defensive forces. In other words, the discussion would be triggered by the emergence in U.S. or Soviet research programs of something with that potential. The U.S. also would be prepared—even in advance of any such positive research development—to discuss the ways such systems, if they proved feasible, could contribute to the goal of eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons, which is important in and of itself. This was the first question Gromyko had raised.

Gromyko’s second question, the Secretary continued, concerned the subject matter of the third forum he had proposed, that of nuclear defensive systems. He expected this to be a forum in which both sides would feel free to raise whatever issues relating to defensive systems they wished to raise, including space-based or land-based systems, whether directed against weapons on the earth or in space. Nuclear offensive weapons in space are already banned by the Outer Space Treaty.3 Technical developments in recent years make it harder to draw certain distinctions between systems, for example, between ABM and air defense systems, between early warning, NTM, space track and ABM radars. Therefore, the U.S. believes there is much work to be done to reexamine, reevaluate and reinforce the fundamental ideas underlying the ABM treaty, as well as defensive systems in general. In addition, this would be an appropriate forum to discuss possible future arms, as he had mentioned earlier, and technical developments bearing on their future utility, to the ultimate objective of the total elimination of nuclear arms. The U.S. does not believe that research can be effectively or verifiably banned, nor does it believe that research which could, if successful, contribute positively to a reduction in the evils of war should be banned. This forum would be the appropriate one in which to raise questions relating to space arms, including the space systems Gromyko had discussed this morning. He thought there was a full house here to occupy both sides.

The Secretary then said he wished to explain the essence of the idea he was trying to put across, since it related to his answer to one [Page 1304] of Gromyko’s questions. Gromyko had said that the questions being discussed here are interrelated. Although for the purpose of the negotiations these questions cannot be discussed all at once, the sides must find “bundles” of questions to discuss. In the end, of course, all these issues are interrelated, and he recalled that in a recent letter Chernenko had referred to the “organic link” between offensive and defensive weapons.

Secretary Shultz then said that what we have in mind is a concept of deterrence in which the greatest degree of stability and equal security is inherent. He suggested looking at two steps. First, to try to attain the strategic environment envisaged in the early 1970s—that is, reduction of offensive arms down to the levels contemplated at that time—and then, in light of technical developments, to look at the defensive environment. In the meantime, research proceeds on strategic defensive weapons; both the U.S. and USSR have such research under way. On the basis of U.S. research, he did not know what the answer would be, but if the answers are positive, he would envisage that the two sides would together try to create a regime with relatively greater emphasis on defense. Of course, if we are able to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely (and he hoped we would be able to) there would be less to defend against. But if a side feels it has a secure defense, it has equal security and stability in a less dangerous and less destabilizing mode. This is the concept on which the U.S. approach is based. It is not a concept that is being implemented now, but would emerge as time goes on. The reductions in offensive arms to which Gromyko had referred must be consistent with this.

Gromyko said he would respond, taking into account the answers Secretary Shultz had given to his questions. He thought this would be useful so that the Secretary could more fully understand the Soviet attitude toward the American concept of a large-scale missile defense system. The U.S. calls this whole idea a defensive concept, but the Soviet Union does not share this view. The Soviet side sees it as part of a general offensive plan.

Gromyko then invited the Secretary to climb to the top of an imaginary tower and look at the entire situation through Soviet eyes. The Soviet line of reasoning is simple. Assuming the U.S. succeeds in developing this large-scale anti-missile defense, it will have created a shield against hypothetical Soviet missiles. U.S. assumptions of this threat are pure fiction and fantasy, but Gromyko would leave this aside for the moment. If the U.S. did have such a defensive system in place, it would have the capability to inflict a first nuclear strike against the USSR with impunity. One needs no special gift of perspicacity to understand this; it is clear almost to the point of being primitive. If the Secretary were to view this situation from atop the tower, he would reach the same conclusion.

[Page 1305]

The United States, Gromyko continued, reasons that the Soviet Union can also develop its own strategic defense. Then there would be two such systems, a Soviet and a U.S. one, and then both sides could consider how to reconcile and adjust them to each other and integrate them into the relative defensive complexes of both sides. But Gromyko wished to ask: why have these systems at all? After all, one side has nuclear arms and the other side has them too, so although it is possible to paralyze or neutralize these weapons, why create a system to do so? Isn’t it simpler to eliminate nuclear weapons themselves? Why should our two countries spend their material and intellectual resources developing such a system? Surely the reasonable solution would be to eliminate the weapons themselves. This is nothing more than the centuries-old question of the shield and the sword: Why have a shield to protect yourself from the sword if it is simpler to eliminate the sword? In speaking now of shields and swords, no one should be thinking of the weapons people used in olden times; the weapons now are terrible ones that threaten all humankind.

This, Gromyko stated, is the logic behind the Soviet reasoning. For this reason, the fact that the U.S. side calls its concept a defensive one makes no impression on the Soviet side. The U.S. must understand clearly that the USSR cannot be party, either directly or indirectly, to the development of such a system, either U.S. or Soviet. If the U.S. dismisses this reasoning and takes measures to develop such a system, the Soviet Union would decide on the counter-measures necessary to protect its own security. Gromyko wanted the U.S. administration to understand the Soviet position correctly. He was inclined to believe that Secretary Shultz understood this position.

Gromyko continued by stating that the U.S. seems to believe—indeed he would go further and say it does believe—that it would be able to create such a system and the Soviet Union would not, so the U.S. would be ahead. The U.S. thinks it would be in the dominant position and this tempts it. This is how the Soviet side sees the situation. The U.S. wants to gain advantage over the Soviet Union, and the defensive system if developed would be used to bring pressure on the Soviet Union. Let us not mince words, Gromyko said, even if they are harsh ones: the system would be used to blackmail the USSR.

To be blunt, Gromyko added, this is not the right approach to take in relations between our two countries. It is not the path dictated by the interests of our countries and the whole world. If the U.S. does not change its line, the Soviet Union will reveal the full truth to its own people and to the whole world. He thought the U.S. government had surely noticed the restraint shown by the Soviet side in its official pronouncements on this issue, particularly with regard to these meetings in Geneva. However, if the situation makes it necessary for the [Page 1306] Soviet side to comment in full on the U.S. line, it will do so. This is not the path that will lead to a peaceful solution on the basis of an accord between our two countries. As sure as we know that after the Geneva meetings both sides will return home and as sure as we know that tomorrow will be a new day, the Soviet side is convinced that the two countries will protect what they consider to be just and fair. Gromyko urged that the U.S. reappraise this concept which it has christened “defensive”. There is nothing defensive in this concept, he added.

Gromyko continued that this would not mean that the U.S. would have to give in to the Soviet position. It would simply mean a change of U.S. policy in favor of peace. It would be in the interests of the U.S. as much as the Soviet Union. The U.S. has mobilized formidable official and propaganda resources in support of its policy. Practically every day one hears pronouncements by U.S. officials at all levels, as well as by members of the press, in defense of this concept. But all the U.S. is doing is taking some half-dozen arguments and juggling them around. One day, argument number one becomes argument number six, the next day argument number two becomes argument number three, and so on. The U.S. changes the periods and commas, but the set of arguments is the same as it tries to prove that the concept is a defensive one. This is a non-viable concept and non-viable position.

Gromyko made bold to state that it gives rise to concern and alarm in Western Europe and in other countries, even those on remote continents. People today are not like they were 40 or 50 years ago, he said. Today they take to heart everything that bears on war and peace. Had the Secretary not noticed the mood of the world on matters relating to outer space? People want outer space to be a peaceful environment; they do not want the sword of war hanging over mankind’s head and threatening space. Gromyko thought the U.S. should be aware of this and therefore he hoped the U.S. administration would take another look at the entire question of outer space.

Gromyko then stated that when he returned to Moscow after his last visit to Washington, he had reported in detail on his talks with the Secretary and with President Reagan in the White House. He informed his colleagues in the leadership, including Chernenko, what the President had said in their private conversation. He had, in fact, quoted verbatim from the President’s words. Gromyko had told the President in response that he had spoken very good words but he wondered why the U.S. government made no changes at all in its practical plans for an arms race and in preparing for war. The President had not answered this question and Gromyko reported this also. All his colleagues liked the good words the President had spoken, but were disappointed that nothing positive was either done or promised to substantiate the words. This was the “political photograph” that he had brought back with him from his visit to Washington.

[Page 1307]

Since then, that is since September 1984, Gromyko continued, the situation had not changed, or had changed for the worse. Take, for example, outer space, which is of immense importance. The situation is also worse as regards medium-range nuclear weapons and in the arms race in general. The situation now is worse than it was in September, and in September it was worse than the year before. As the situation worsens, we sit at the table in Geneva and talk. People everywhere, even if they are not involved with politics, are aware that the problems under discussion here concern the fate of peace in the world. Let there be no false modesty—that is precisely what is at stake here. We are charged by our leaders to meet and exchange ideas on these questions. If there is a chance even to begin to turn this situation around, let us make use of this chance, because the situation today is worse than yesterday, yesterday was worse than the day before, and tomorrow will be worse than today. Perhaps the day would come when some political leaders will throw up their hands in despair, but we, the Soviets, will not be party to defeatism. We will continue to struggle to strengthen and preserve peace on earth.

Gromyko then asserted that it would be incorrect for the U.S. to construe his words as prompted by tactical or propaganda considerations. There is no room for propaganda here. We are talking here about high politics and questions of war and peace. Let us agree to discuss questions of outer space, the prevention of the militarization of outer space, strategic nuclear weapons and intermediate-range nuclear weapons (the Soviet side calls them medium-range weapons, but the name is not important). Let us agree upon the structure of negotiations and how to understand the interrelationship of the three elements, or triad. Let us decide how to breathe life into the negotiations.

As for the structure of the negotiations, Gromyko wished to address that separately. He had something more to add to his comments on what the Secretary had mentioned in justification of the so-called defensive concept. The Secretary had said that the Soviet Union almost has such systems now and is certainly working toward them. Secretary Shultz had stated that Soviet air defense systems are almost the same as the systems the U.S. plans to develop. While he did not choose to call this a distortion, it certainly is a mistake. Perhaps the Secretary’s information is not correct; in any case there is nothing of the sort in the Soviet Union. Air defense systems carry out air defense functions and no others.

Gromyko continued, saying that Secretary Shultz often speaks of verification. Whenever there is talk of an agreement, understanding, or accord between the two sides, the U.S. always speaks of verification and monitoring. Gromyko supposed the U.S. did this in order to bring pressure to bear on the Soviet side, but there is no need to waste time [Page 1308] in pressuring. The Soviet Union is in favor of verification, but it wants the degree and level of verification to correspond to the degree and level of the disarmament measure being considered. In the past, the U.S. has recognized this principle and on this basis the two sides have found a common language. Why is this principle unacceptable now? Gromyko called on all those present to consider this. He had the impression that the U.S. is afraid of verification since it always harps at length on verification, verification, verification.

The USSR has submitted a proposal that is now on the table in the U.S., West Germany, France, Britain and Italy, Gromyko added. This is the proposal for complete and general disarmament, coupled with a proposal for complete and general verification. The U.S. is prepared to discuss not verification of disarmament and the elimination of arms, but verification of arms. The U.S. seems to think it is all right to produce ten times more weapons so long as there is verification. The USSR advocates disarmament and the elimination of nuclear and other weapons with complete verification. Once and for all, Gromyko stated, let it be known that verification does not frighten us in the least. Since we are speaking of various agreements, verification should be discussed for each one of them in a businesslike manner, without ascribing blame where blame is not due and without accusing a party were there are no grounds for accusation.

Gromyko then stated that a document had been submitted to the U.S. Congress (and the document came from the State Department) which alleges that the Soviet Union has violated some of its agreements.4 The Soviet Union has not violated any agreements. He added that he had taken note of the language in which the document was couched, that is, that there were “apparent” violations or “doubts” about compliance. But this is not enough to accuse the Soviet Union of violations. The Soviet Union implements its agreements and does not violate them. If the sides conclude an agreement, the Soviet Union will adhere to it strictly. The U.S. should not charge the Soviet Union with something of which it is not guilty. He was discussing questions of principle here. He wished to touch on how the Soviet side envisages the structure of negotiations, assuming the sides can agree on holding them, but first he wished to give the Secretary a chance to respond.

Secretary Shultz said that he appreciated Gromyko’s comments on the importance of verification and for his expressed readiness to provide measures for verification and make them consistent with the means and goals to be achieved. The questions he raised in regard to [Page 1309] what is seen as violations or misunderstandings highlight the complexity of these questions. This shows how important it is to discuss these developments, not only from the standpoint of violations but from the standpoint of what the sides can do to make the treaty regime clear and unequivocal. He raised this point now because this issue is so important. It is important because, if people have questions about compliance with obligations, they are likely to question the value of agreements in general. Therefore it is very important to answer these questions clearly so that the atmosphere of future relations is not poisoned.

The Secretary then returned to the beginning of Gromyko’s comments about the central conceptual issues, since they are so important. Even if this meeting results in agreement on a set of negotiations, we must continue to work on the conceptual issues because they are of central importance. He would comment on the concepts and then would ask Mr. McFarlane to say a few words. After that, he would have a question to ask of Gromyko.

The Secretary continued by saying that perhaps his comment could be worded as follows: “Neither blackmailed nor a blackmailer be.” He then invited Gromyko to climb to the top of the same tower Gromyko had imagined, and to look at the view before them. The two of them are men from Mars. When they look to the left, they see an impressive program of development of strategic and other nuclear programs. The drive, production capacity and destructive potential are most impressive. The two Martians cannot fail to notice that alongside this considerable effort in offensive arms, a comparable effort in defensive arms is underway—some of it legitimate in accordance with the ABM treaty, and some of it questioned in that regard. Taking into account the invasions of the Soviet Union in the past, it is not surprising that the USSR is preoccupied with its ability to defend itself, but it still is an impressive display.

If the two Martians look to the right, the Secretary continued, they would also see an impressive offensive capability, as well as signs of renewed modernization of weapons. They could not fail to note that little attention is devoted to defense. And if they took a movie rather than a still photograph of this scene, they would remark that in the last three or four years someone had turned a light on this area, because now stirrings are visible. Although they are far behind what is seen on the left, they now understand that defense is important. The two Martians up on the tower would also observe on the left a certain amount of concern over the defensive activities starting on the right. They would not find this concern surprising because those on the left have much more experience with defense than those on the right. Having heard Gromyko’s statement that a strong defense has offensive [Page 1310] significance, the two Martians would observe together that the lower the offensive systems of each side, the less force there is to this argument. If the systems are reduced to zero, the argument loses its force entirely. The two Martians are struck by the fact that both sides are talking about drastic reductions. In this sense, the concept of a gradual evolution from offensive deterrence to defensive deterrence seems to create a less threatening rather than more threatening situation.

The Secretary then asked Mr. McFarlane to comment further on the President’s concept of the role defensive systems could play in preserving strategic stability.

Mr. McFarlane stated that President Reagan had a number of influences and motives for proposing a research effort to determine whether defensive systems might be developed which hold a promise of enabling us to move away from our historical reliance on offensive weapons to ensure deterrence. One of these came from his view of how the balance could become unstable by the turn of the century as a result of the nature of the offensive systems now being developed. Specifically, the emergence of offensive mobile and transportable systems, as well as cruise missiles, could lead us into a situation in which we are less certain of the characteristics and composition of systems on both sides. This would make a stable balance less stable.

Secondly, Mr. McFarlane continued, the President wished to find an alternative to offensive deterrence because of the Soviet Union’s advantages in key areas, specifically ICBM warheads, which give the Soviet Union the capability to destroy the corresponding forces on the U.S. side which are essential for deterrence. The same asymmetry promises, through defensive systems on the Soviet side, to neutralize any retaliation the U.S. might undertake. The sum of Soviet programs in offensive and defensive arms undermines the traditional basis of deterrence that has existed for the past fifteen years.

Mr. McFarlane then pointed out that the psychological element was perhaps just as important in the President’s mind as the military factor. Why should peace and deterrence depend on our ability to threaten someone else? Why not rely for peace and deterrence on weapons that do not threaten anyone? Since we are conducting research on essentially non-nuclear systems, this psychological factor is particularly relevant. Therefore the President decided to determine whether new technology could promise this. However, he made this decision with Soviet concerns about the appearance of a first-strike capability very much in mind. Surely, the development of defensive systems and their deployment while concurrently maintaining offensive systems could present the appearance of an intention to develop a first-strike capability. This is not the plan of the United States. This is why the Secretary made clear at the beginning of this meeting that if the day [Page 1311] arrives when any or all these technologies show that they can contribute to deterrence, the integration of these concepts into the force structure would be a subject for discussion with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union must agree that defensive systems play a role. Its own investment and success in developing defensive weapons are far advanced.

In sum, Mr. McFarlane pointed out, the President’s view is that it is time for us to integrate defensive systems into the concept of deterrence in order to turn us to lesser reliance on offensive systems and greater reliance on defensive systems.5

Secretary Shultz then remarked that there was plenty of room to explore this deep and difficult question further, but he wished to ask some questions concerning something Gromyko had stressed in his remarks. In his comments in Washington and in his airport arrival statement in Geneva, Gromyko eloquently stated again and again that the Soviet Union is in favor of the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and of radical steps toward that goal. The Secretary’s questions concerned the program Gromyko had in mind to achieve this goal. If such a program is to be implemented, there must be a concrete expression of it. He therefore posed a series of questions:

—What kind of timing did Gromyko have in mind for the deep and radical reductions of which he had spoken?

—How far did he propose we go before the other must be engaged in order to move to zero?

—What if any changes must be made in the non-proliferation regime?

—How would we treat the variety of nuclear weapons that are not strategic?

The Secretary then observed that if the goal of this meeting is to move toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as Gromyko had stated upon his arrival in Geneva, they must put an explicit program behind that objective. They must define a clear and concise program to reach this goal and they must establish at the negotiations a [Page 1312] means to achieve it. What does Gromyko have in mind that lies behind this general objective?

Gromyko replied that the Soviet Union had submitted a proposal on complete and general disarmament to the United Nations. It had submitted a detailed proposal for a program of nuclear disarmament and it had also advanced a proposal on nuclear arms in the relevant forum in Geneva. However, the U.S. and its NATO allies had refused to consider these proposals. It cannot be said that the Soviet Union did not make these proposals; they are well known and they are known to all the governments concerned. This program requires no changes or alterations. What is needed is the desire to discuss this question.

Gromyko continued, saying that the Secretary had made a half-dozen references today to the complete elimination of nuclear arms. If the Secretary believes that the U.S., USSR, and other countries should strive to achieve this goal, this is good and the Soviet side welcomes such a statement. They are in sympathy with it and are impressed by it. Practical steps, however, must be taken to implement this goal.

Part of the problem is the question of non-proliferation, as the Secretary had mentioned. Secretary Shultz had asked what we could do jointly to reinforce the non-proliferation regime. This question must be considered within the context of the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union believes that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, whether horizontally or vertically, must be prevented. If we lead matters to the step-by-step elimination of nuclear weapons, this could lead to acceptance by all states of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.6 If the U.S. and USSR can do that, he is sure that all countries would support it, including those that did not sign the NPT.

Both sides agree, Gromyko continued, that the question of non-proliferation is an important one. Non-proliferation must be ensured with no exceptions. He was gratified to note that the U.S. and USSR have almost always held the same view on this. Our two countries had created the treaty, and Gromyko recalled how he and then Secretary of State Rusk hung a map on the wall and referred to it when discussing specific areas. The Non-Proliferation Treaty was developed step-by-step through joint efforts. And so the policy of the U.S. and the Soviet Union coincides on this issue. However fast or however slow we work toward eliminating nuclear arms, the task of ensuring non-proliferation will remain an important one.

Gromyko then asserted that the Secretary had tried to substantiate his position that the new U.S. system is defensive. As Gromyko had [Page 1313] already said, the Soviets are convinced that it does not pursue defensive aims, but rather is part of a broad offensive plan. He would not repeat this again because he had already said it. Mr. McFarlane had said that he, Gromyko, had talked about the threat of a first strike from the United States, but that the U.S. had no such intent. It would be going too far to ask the USSR to rely on one person’s word and conscience. In any case this thesis works both ways. This was his reply to Mr. McFarlane’s remark. Mr. McFarlane had also said that nuclear technology is not connected with this concept. We know your side is talking more and more about non-nuclear technology. But the fact is that nuclear arms would be used whether or not some of the technology used is nuclear or non-nuclear. It makes no difference whether the technology is nuclear, or particle beams, or something else—this does not change the character of the system. It is important for you to understand our assessment of this.

Gromyko then turned to the structure of possible negotiations. He could not say more than possible negotiations because they are not yet in our pocket. He wished to speak of the objectives the sides should pursue in the negotiations. He had tried to explain this morning how all the issues are interrelated, that is, the issues of space weapons, strategic weapons and medium-range nuclear weapons. This would justify the establishment of three bilateral groups. Their work as a whole would embrace all three of these areas. Of course each group would have one area: one would deal with the non-militarization of outer space, one with strategic nuclear arms and one with medium-range nuclear arms.

Since the problems must be considered in their interrelationship, the three groups should meet jointly periodically to take stock of progress and to sum up the results of their work. Of course, it is difficult at this point to set up a precise calendar or schedule, but periodic joint meetings are necessary. The final result must also be a joint result.

There should therefore be a superstructure over all three groups, Gromyko continued. Each side would have a single delegation or big group composed of three issue groups. They would look at where they stand, come to a conclusion, and then give recommendations to both governments. Each group would begin deliberations when the main content of its work is defined. All three groups together could begin work when agreement is reached on the main content of all three and on the aim of all three: space arms, strategic arms, and medium-range arms.

Gromyko then said that there must be an understanding on this point. If we begin work with our eyes closed we will get nowhere. We can reach agreement only when everything is acceptable to both sides. If this looks more complicated than previous negotiations have been, [Page 1314] then perhaps that is true, but your policies on the space issue make it necessary.

In passing, Gromyko noted that some people in the U.S. have been saying, “We told you the Russians would come back to the negotiations and they did.” He said he would not hesitate to call this propaganda. He did not wish to put the U.S. in an awkward position, but if need be the Soviet Union would speak its mind on this issue. What is being discussed here is not a resumption of previous negotiations. The negotiating table is a different one and the problems are not the same. Space has now appeared as a problem, and U.S. nuclear missiles deployed in Western Europe have created a new situation. So what we are speaking of here is the possibility of new negotiations, not resumption of the old ones. It is a cheap ploy to say: “You see, the Russians came back,” and he would advise the U.S. side not to resort to such cheap ploys.

What he had said about the structure of possible negotiations, Gromyko continued, did not rule out agreements on separate elements of any of the three areas. For example, he had in mind such things as a moratorium on testing space arms or certain confidence-building measures for strategic arms. Whenever such agreements deal with issues which are not organically linked to unsolved problems, they could enter into force without waiting for the final outcome of the negotiations. Otherwise implementation of agreements on separate issues would be postponed until an aggregate solution is found and negotiated. A comprehensive solution will be indispensable in that case. This relates to the possibility of reaching agreement on separate questions within each forum.

For the sake of clarity, Gromyko repeated: The Soviet side does not rule out the possibility of reaching separate agreements on some issues which go beyond the limits of these three areas. An example would be a commitment by all nuclear powers not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. Another example would be a freeze of all nuclear arsenals. Here separate agreement is possible. A third example would be the entry into force of agreements previously signed, such as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on Peaceful Nuclear Explosions.7 A fourth example would be the cessation of all nuclear testing, that is, a comprehensive test ban. At present the ban on testing extends only to three environments. At one time we were near agreement on a comprehensive test ban. He recalled that when the SALT II Treaty was signed by Carter and Brezhnev in Vienna, Carter hosted a dinner during which he told Gromyko that he felt the CTB could be signed soon. These were trilateral negotiations involving the U.S., USSR and [Page 1315] UK. Several points divided us, such as a question about monitoring tests in the UK, but Carter said we could reach agreement.8 Ask Carter, Gromyko said, he can confirm this. But afterwards the U.S. administration forgot about this conversation and no agreement was reached. Such an agreement if signed could be most promising.

Gromyko said he would now return to the issues at hand. Tomorrow they must take a look at where they stand, looking either from the tower or not, and reflect on what results would come from this meeting.

Secretary Shultz noted that time was running out and that people were waiting for them at a reception. But he had a question and a comment to make before ending. The question was whether he should consider what Gromyko had said about the structure of the negotiations to be a proposal.

Gromyko replied in the affirmative.

Secretary Shultz stated that his group would study this proposal carefully and would be prepared to discuss it tomorrow. He called Gromyko’s attention to the fact that he had made a proposal this morning at the end of his presentation. He hoped Gromyko would study it carefully because it contains points similar to those in the Soviet proposal, although the Soviet proposal is more developed with regard to structure and relationship.

Gromyko replied that he had developed his proposal taking account of the Secretary’s ideas. However, one point which they could not accept was the proposal to have meetings of special representatives or “wise men.” In the past the U.S. called this an “umbrella” proposal. As Gromyko had already remarked to Hartman, umbrellas are very good against the rain.

Shultz interjected, “They also provide shade if the weather is hot.”

Gromyko continued that if the Soviet proposal for three groups were adopted, each side could appoint anyone it wanted to guide their work. He could be a virtual dictator if a side wished. Each side could appoint its wisest men for its own internal workings. Gromyko thought it most probable that on the Soviet side the head of one of the groups would be head of the whole delegation. This was the most probable solution, although a final decision had not been made. The normal mechanism that operates within any government would work as usual and, of course, the sides could always use diplomatic channels. Shultz and Gromyko would each have their advisers and right-hand men, and each would be free to designate his own wise man. This is an internal affair. Gromyko’s preliminary thinking was that the man who [Page 1316] would head the big delegation would participate in the negotiations. If the two sides set up a situation in which two, four, or six wise men worked in parallel, they might create the impression on the outside that the situation in the negotiations was unsatisfactory. The two, four or six wise men would be meeting confidentially, but this could be misleading in terms of public opinion and might be seen as a screen concealing the true state of affairs. This is unnecessary and would add an undesirable element because it would look as if work were proceeding on two different planes—the delegation on one hand and the wise men on the other. As for internal organization, this is a matter for each side to decide for itself. Gromyko was sure that both sides could find wise men, but from the point of view of principle, this was undesirable.

Secretary Shultz replied that his delegation would study these remarks and present its considered opinion tomorrow. By way of a preliminary comment he wished to say that he was not prepared to spin this question off into inner space where it would be conducted by itself and then return for review at some stage. Something so important and loosely defined must have constant interaction at high political levels in the two governments. He would want to keep close track of the negotiations and would want a direct way to compare notes with Gromyko as to how they both assess developments. The effort to consider the relationship between these different sets of talks is a high political matter, not a technical one.

The Secretary pointed out that the phrase “non-militarization of space” is a difficult one for the U.S. First of all, outer space is already militarized. Secondly, neither side would want to dispense with some of the respects in which space is militarized, such as communications or NTM satellites. For this reason, this phrase causes a problem for the U.S. This does not mean that it would be difficult to include this subject in the forum. As he had stated this morning, it would be appropriate to discuss space arms, but there are other things to discuss too, in particular, land-based defensive weapons which have the potential of operating in space.

Secretary Shultz then said it would be necessary to give careful study to the way in which Gromyko put together these three sets of questions, which are in some ways separate and in some ways interconnected. He recognized that with or without a formal structure either side can pace the negotiations in one sector by what it wants in another. But he found it puzzling to establish in advance a ban on reaching agreement on something important that both sides might see as in their interest. He did not see why they would want to tie their hands in this manner. He would study this question carefully and respond to it and other questions tomorrow. He again drew Gromyko’s attention to the proposal he had submitted today.

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In conclusion, Secretary Shultz recalled that during World War II he had fought in the Pacific as a U.S. Marine. McFarlane was too young to have fought in that war but he fought as a Marine in another war. There was a saying that was common when they reached this stage and cocktails were waiting: “Stack arms and let’s get the hell out of here.”

Thereupon, the meeting adjourned at 6:55 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 Carolyn Smith. The meeting took place in the U.S. Mission.
  2. See Document 355.
  3. The Treaty on the Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and the Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies was signed in Washington, London, and Moscow on January 27, 1967, and entered into force on October 10, 1967.
  4. Presumably the October 10, 1984, report on Soviet noncompliance with arms control agreements. See footnote 11, Document 159.
  5. In his memoir, McFarlane recalled: “On January 7, George Shultz and I traveled with a small party to Geneva, Switzerland. I was anxious and expectant. We had reached a point where I felt our leverage was as great as it would ever be. I was confident that, after four years of increases, defense appropriations were going to start declining again. It was vital that we take full advantage of this optimal moment.” He continued: “Shultz had carried most of the talks, which had been fairly routine with no surprises. But on this sticking point of the meaning of ‘space arms,’ I intervened. The Soviets were essentially attempting to exclude a huge category of their weapons systems—nuclear systems—from negotiations, while insisting on the inclusion of SDI, which was almost entirely non-nuclear. ‘Let us be clear,’ I said. ‘Are you willing to accept that the issue is what weapons are designed to defeat offensive systems, regardless of how they’re based?’ Gromyko’s answer, in a nutshell, was ‘no.’ ‘Well, then, we don’t have a deal,’ I said. ‘That’s out of the question.’” (McFarlane, Special Trust, p. 304)
  6. The Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed in London, Washington, and Moscow on July 1, 1968, and entered into force on March 5, 1970.
  7. See footnote 6, Document 31.
  8. For discussions between Carter and Gromyko on the CTB, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Documents 115 and 150.