362. 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
[Page 1338]

Secretary Shultz began the meeting by saying that the two sides had reviewed each other’s proposed press communiques.2 He had some comments to make about the Soviet draft, but as Minister Gromyko was the guest, he should have the floor first.

Gromyko responded that, frankly speaking, it would be hard for the Soviet side to accept the U.S. text. For one thing the U.S. referred to a new complex of negotiations whereas the Soviet side felt the need to discuss the problems in a complex—or comprehensive—fashion. The two concepts are not identical. The U.S. draft then speaks of the three groups meeting in Geneva on March 5 to begin work, although the sides had not yet agreed to begin negotiations. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the possibility of holding negotiations. He had always taken care to say that if the sides can agree on the subject and objectives of the negotiations, then they could talk about the date and site of the talks. He always began his remarks with the words “if we agree on the subject and objectives of the negotiations.”

The U.S. draft, Gromyko continued, then goes on to mention defensive arms. Perhaps this is good for the U.S., but it is unacceptable to the Soviet side, as he had already stated many times. The USSR has a wholly different evaluation of the arms the U.S. calls defensive. The only way to proceed here is to find mutually acceptable language, and this is a matter of principle. U.S. and Soviet assessments of the U.S. plans are diametrically opposed to each other, and this is why the sides must look in a different direction to find acceptable wording.

Gromyko then asked for the Secretary’s reaction to the Soviet draft statement.

Secretary Shultz said that as far as a date and place for negotiations are concerned, he of course recognizes that this would come only after reaching an agreement on the substance of the negotiations. If agreement is reached on the substance, it would be worthwhile to set a time and place so as to be specific and leave nothing vague that could be clearly specified.

As for Gromyko’s remarks about defense, the Secretary had carefully listened to everything Gromyko said yesterday and today, and he believed he completely understood what Gromyko meant. He hoped that with time he and Gromyko would have an opportunity to continue exchanges on this subject because it represents a very deep issue.

The U.S. had identified one of the three fora agreed upon as “nuclear defensive and space arms,” the Secretary continued. He recognized that Soviet attention is very much focused on space arms, as signalled by statements made here and elsewhere by Gromyko and also [Page 1339] by Chairman Chernenko. The U.S. understands this and is prepared to discuss space arms. But, as he had mentioned this morning, the U.S. sees this issue as essentially a broader one. There should be clarity about the defensive arrangements the Soviet Union now has underway (the U.S. at least would call them defensive). In the U.S. view this Soviet program is a massive one and should be discussed. The USSR has research programs in particle beams, directed energy and lasers, and has as well a deployed ABM system that is being upgraded. It also has a massive air defense infrastructure. The United States, for its part, has done very little in defense. So it is incorrect to discuss U.S. plans and research programs without looking at the large Soviet defense program. For this reason the U.S. believes that this negotiating forum should address the question of defense broadly speaking.

The structure of the Soviet draft statement, the Secretary continued, provides a basis with which to work, and so the U.S. side has made an effort to integrate its ideas into its two drafts. The U.S. draft adopts the first and second paragraphs of the Soviet draft without change. The third paragraph of the Soviet draft was slightly changed, and the last two paragraphs dropped in favor of a U.S. text. Shultz handed over to Gromyko a copy of the following statement:

As previously agreed, a meeting between Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, and George P. Shultz, Secretary of State of the USA, took place on January 7 and 8, 1985 in Geneva.

The question regarding the subject and objectives of the forthcoming Soviet-US negotiations on nuclear and space arms was discussed during the meeting.

The sides agree that the subject of the talks will be those interrelated questions pertaining to nuclear and space arms with these questions to be discussed and resolved in a complex of negotiations.

To this end, the negotiating groups will be convened in Geneva, beginning on March 5, 1985, to begin the process of negotiating agreements on nuclear defensive and space arms, strategic offensive nuclear arms and intermediate-range nuclear arms.

The objective of these negotiations shall be the reduction of nuclear arms and the enhancement of strategic stability, with the ultimate goal of the complete elimination of nuclear arms.

Gromyko observed that the U.S. had added the phrase “defensive arms” and this was unacceptable. He did not want to get into polemics, but all the credit ascribed by the Secretary to Soviet activity in the field of defense is not true to fact. This is not acceptable wording, and any wording that is not acceptable to both sides must be dropped.

Secretary Shultz asked whether the main problem involved the word “defensive”, or was it something else?

Gromyko replied that “outer space” is absent from the U.S. draft as an objective of the negotiations.

[Page 1340]

The Secretary pointed out that the U.S. draft reads “negotiations on nuclear and space arms.”

Gromyko said that the concept of outer space must not get lost here. It must be put in first place.

The Secretary replied that the U.S. does not want to lose it, but wants to discuss outer space. He read out the following alternative to the last paragraph:

The objective of the negotiations will be to work out effective agreements aimed at preventing an arms race, limiting and reducing nuclear arms, and strengthening strategic stability on earth and in space.

Gromyko objected that this means relegating space to the backyard. The U.S. could call its strategic defense plan a plan to strengthen strategic stability if it wished.

Secretary Shultz said that, just as in baseball the number four hitter is the “clean-up hitter,” he was saving the best for last. The phrase “strengthening strategic stability on earth and in space” could be interpreted in the Soviet way or in the U.S. way.

Gromyko said there should be no room for ambiguity here. He suggested taking a 15-minute break so that both sides could look over the drafts.

Secretary Shultz agreed, and the U.S. delegation left the room at 3:05 p.m.

At 3:25 p.m. the U.S. delegation returned and the meeting resumed.

Gromyko presented the following draft of a joint statement:

As previously agreed, a meeting was held on January 7 and 8, 1985, in Geneva between Andrei A. Gromyko, Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, and George P. Shultz, the U.S. Secretary of State.

In accordance with the arrangement previously reached in principle between the USSR and the USA to enter into new negotiations on nuclear and space arms, the two sides focused their attention, as had been agreed, on discussing the question of the subject and specific objectives of these negotiations. The discussions were useful.

Both sides agreed that the ultimate objective of these negotiations, in the course of which all questions will be considered and resolved in their interrelationship as generally the two sides’ efforts in the field of arms limitation and reduction, should be the gradual exclusion of nuclear weapons from the military arsenals of states until they are completely eliminated.

The exchange of views will be continued and the sides will seek to elaborate as early as possible an agreed approach to resolving the questions under question at this meeting.

Andrei A. Gromyko and George P. Shultz agreed to continue the exchange of views, for which purpose they will meet again in early March. The date and venue of the meeting will be agreed additionally.

[Page 1341]

Secretary Shultz remarked that there was one place in the third paragraph that was unclear linguistically, but he did not disagree with the meaning of the sentence.

Gromyko explained that the Soviet side was referring to the ultimate goal of the negotiations and all actions taken to achieve that goal.

The Secretary said he wished to discuss this, but first he had a few questions. At this morning’s meeting the two of them had discussed at length the Soviet proposal for structuring the negotiations in three groups. He thought they had made quite a bit of headway in discussing it. Essentially they were struggling with the description of one of the three fora, but now it seemed that the Soviet side was withdrawing this idea. He did not object, and in fact looked forward to another meeting with Gromyko, but why did Gromyko not now want to go ahead with this idea? The Soviet side had proposed and the U.S. had accepted the basic notion of a related complex of three negotiations.

Gromyko complained that he now had to repeat himself once again. He did not understand why the Secretary was not paying attention to him. He had stated the Soviet views on how to structure the negotiations, provided agreement was reached to hold them. Every time he mentions this, he makes this reservation because the two sides have not yet agreed on this. If we agreed when to meet next time to discuss the subject and objectives of the talks, he said, then everything he said about the structure would still be valid. He was not taking back a single word of what he had said.

The Secretary observed that there is a difference of view in how the sides interpret research on defensive measures. He doubted there would be any change in these views by early March, and he doubted it could be resolved by then. It was more likely to be resolved through the process of negotiations.

Gromyko said he did not wish to single out any one question. He would suggest just continuing these talks and see what the outcome would be. They had come to no final result here yet, and he would suggest continuing these conversations, if the Secretary found this acceptable.

Secretary Shultz suggested that the two delegations separate for a few minutes in order to caucus and look at the direction in which they were going.

The U.S. delegation left the room at 3:42 p.m.

At 4:28 p.m. the U.S. delegation returned.

Gromyko joked that he hadn’t expected to see the Secretary again until the second crow of the rooster.

Secretary Shultz replied that if today had been Sunday, the U.S. delegation would have been busy watching football in the other room. [Page 1342] He said he was puzzled and could not figure out what was causing Gromyko to draw back from what had already been agreed upon. Certainly the two sides disagree on how to characterize what seem to the U.S. to be defensive systems, and which the Soviet Union feels are offensive. He expected that if we met six months or a year from now they might well still disagree, although there would be time for reflection. Although they disagree on what to call these arms, they do not disagree that it is important to discuss them. The U.S. is prepared to discuss them and Gromyko has indicated the same. The Secretary had developed in one of his presentations the sense in which technology is making certain distinctions in the ABM Treaty difficult to establish, and therefore there is a need to examine a variety of technologies.

The Secretary noted that he had already pointed out that the deployed Soviet ABM system depends on nuclear explosions in the upper atmosphere or space. And so the U.S. had tried to define the subject matter of the first working group or forum so as to include what the Soviets want to talk about in space as well as things on the ground that seem relevant or important to the U.S. If we do not agree on the content, that is one problem. But if we do agree on the content—and the U.S. has excluded nothing—then we should be able to find the words to express this. If Gromyko’s problem concerns the word “defensive,” the Secretary could suggest some alternative wording. But perhaps this is not the problem. The Secretary thought that if they could capitalize on the extensive discussions that have taken place here, they certainly should. He had other language to suggest, but observed that perhaps Gromyko was not interested and had already decided to back away from the direction in which he had been going.

“Don’t try to pretend that you don’t understand us,” Gromyko rejoined. He categorically rejected the reproach that he had retreated from his position. Each word he had spoken was valid. “Have we reached agreement on the subject and aims of the negotiations?” he asked rhetorically. Each time he had spoken of the structure of the possible negotiations, he had said, “when and if we agree on the subject and objectives of the negotiations, this is the structure we envision.” He had spoken of one delegation divided into three groups. Of course, the negotiations would deal with the subjects for discussion in each group. These three groups would take stock of their progress and present reports on their work. This is how the Soviet side sees this issue. Let us talk seriously now. There would be one single negotiation made up of three groups working in three directions. Unfortunately, agreement has not yet been reached on this. Tell us, Gromyko asked the Secretary, if this proposal is unacceptable.

Gromyko said that the Secretary had again raised the subject of Soviet ABM systems and certain other issues. If the Secretary insisted [Page 1343] on this, Gromyko would have to repeat all that he had already said. Is it really necessary to do so? If we could reach agreement on these questions, we could name the date for the negotiations to begin, i.e., March 1 or April 1, although the latter was not a very good date. But we are not in a position to do that now.

Secretary Shultz inquired what precisely was the essence of their disagreement. He thought it boiled down to the subject or way of describing the first group. If this is the problem, he had a proposal, but perhaps this is not the problem.

Gromyko responded that this is indeed the main issue. “You don’t want to accept our proposal to deal with the militarization of space,” he added. Whenever he had raised this question, the Secretary began to speak of research, U.S. plans and so forth. The Soviet side does not share the U.S. view that it is essential to carry out this research. This is the first stage of implementing the U.S. plan. The Soviet side proposes to continue discussing this important question, but here there is absolutely no agreement on it. They had touched on other important questions as well, but this is the main one. If they had reached agreement on questions related to space, they could now set the time and place of the new negotiations, but they have no such agreement now. If you think we cannot exist without a new round of talks, then your idea is far from the truth. Such an exchange is in the interest of both sides. If this does not suit you, Gromyko said, tell us and we will not speak of it again. This was his short reply to the Secretary’s remarks. He noted that time was running out and the sides should be brief.

The Secretary said he wanted to make sure he understood. Was Gromyko saying that they would establish these negotiating fora whenever the U.S. says that it will cease its research program on strategic defense?

Gromyko replied that he would not discuss that now. He proposed it for subsequent discussion. He wanted to discuss a whole series of questions by way of continuing the conversation here, but this would take several days. The Secretary certainly must understand, said Gromyko, that the Soviet side cannot accept the U.S. concept, point of view or policy on outer space. The U.S. must clearly understand the Soviet position on this. However, the Soviets are prepared to continue discussing all these issues. If a continued exchange does not suit you, Gromyko said, tell us. This is a proposal, not a request.

The Secretary replied that the U.S. would not stop its research program.

Gromyko commented that the Secretary had already said this. Secretary Shultz had said that if the essence is that the Soviet Union is waiting for the U.S. to stop its research program, this was useless because the U.S. would not stop. Gromyko repeated that the Secretary [Page 1344] had already said this. He said that the Soviet assessment of the U.S. concept on space would not change, but the Soviet side is nonetheless prepared to continue the discussion.

The Secretary said he thought Gromyko had proposed that such a discussion take place in the first working group. This was implied by the draft joint statement Gromyko had presented at the morning meeting. This negotiating group would discuss the questions the two sides agree upon, but the U.S. wants it to discuss other questions too. This is what the sides should work toward, but this may not be acceptable to the Soviet side.

Gromyko replied that this problem would be discussed in one of the three groups.

Secretary Shultz said he agreed.

However, Gromyko continued, we have not yet cleared the way for the beginning of negotiations. If, for example, we agree now that this working group would meet on March 1, it would have the same problems at its first meeting that we are having here. What kind of negotiations would those be? At least one working group, or perhaps the whole delegation, would have to discuss this problem, and he thought it was better to discuss it at the ministerial level. It is not a question for a working group, but for a higher, more fundamental, level.

The Secretary remarked that he had given Gromyko a list of what he considered to be appropriate subject matter for this group, and it was a meaty set of material. Gromyko could see this in his notes. The Secretary thought this area is important to both sides and is negotiable.

Gromyko said it is not possible to begin discussing the work program of the working groups now. First they must agree on the objectives of the working group and when the negotiations would begin.

The Secretary asked whether Gromyko felt that further discussion of this question now would be fruitless.

Gromyko replied that he was not saying that; there was plenty of time left before tomorrow morning and of course they could sit here until then, but he thought it was hardly necessary to repeat what had already been said. There was no one but himself and the Secretary to discuss these questions. Their leaders had charged them with discussing them. Did he understand the Secretary to say that the idea of the two of them continuing their discussions was unsuitable? If so, one mode of action was indicated, but if not so, another mode of action was indicated.

The Secretary replied, “No, it is not unsuitable.” But it is also suitable to get the negotiations going as soon as possible. As he had said, he thought that the negotiations, once begun, should be closely followed and discussed at a high political level. The two sides have much to [Page 1345] discuss. He was striving to understand the reason Gromyko did not wish to begin the negotiating process. Gromyko had handed him a proposed communique announcing the beginning of negotiations. Although no date was set, the objective of the talks was stated. And now, apparently Gromyko did not want this to happen.

[At this point, Korniyenko remarked to Gromyko in Russian, “Then they should take our text.”]

Gromyko said that they want the negotiations to begin. But, he said, it is impossible to agree on the timing because there is as yet no agreed understanding on the subject and objectives of the negotiations. We are speaking of a common objective: both sides agree to the goal of completely eliminating nuclear arms. But this is the only thing we agree on, and therefore it is too early now to talk about a date for beginning the negotiations. He did not know whether at the next meeting they would be able to agree upon these questions and so he proposed to meet again in order to continue this discussion.

He said that the Secretary tried to interpret the fact that he would not agree to set a date for negotiations to mean that the Soviet side had changed its position and did not want to have negotiations. But Gromyko had said all along that they could not agree upon the date if they had not agreed on the subject and objectives of the negotiations. Don’t try to pressure us, Gromyko warned, first of all, because we don’t like it, and second, because it is hardly in either of our interests for our delegations to meet at the talks and immediately find themselves at an impasse so that the negotiations fall apart. This would be advantageous to neither side. Would it not be better to hold negotiations on a more reliable basis?

The Secretary noted that questions may arise over what is meant in the final sentence of the Soviet draft statement, which reads as follows: “The date of the beginning of the negotiations and the site of these negotiations will be agreed through diplomatic channels within one month.”

Gromyko replied that he considered this normal. The sides could specify the month in which the talks would begin if the U.S. side feels this is important. They would not name a date, but would specify a month, or the 15th of a certain month. Gromyko had no desire to create any vagueness or uncertainty.

Korniyenko asked whether the U.S. accepts the subject and definition of the negotiations.

The Secretary replied that the U.S. could not accept the Soviet draft but could use it as a basis for discussion.

Gromyko suggested that instead of a date we could say that a meeting and exchange of views would take place in March. If it is so [Page 1346] important we could specify the first half of March. February would not be convenient for him for several reasons and March would be better.

The Secretary replied that he was trying to find a sense of direction, not to pin down a date. The Soviet draft implies that we agree there will be negotiations and that perhaps Hartman and Korniyenko or Dobrynin and he would discuss the time and place.

Gromyko asked whether this would be later on.

The Secretary said yes. If the date were to be in March, this would be settled by discussion between them. This was his understanding.

Gromyko rejoined that it would not be hard to agree to meet in March. It would, in any case, be easier than climbing Mont Blanc.

The Secretary concurred that it would be no problem to find a time and place. The problem was to work together and come up with a joint text of a statement.

Gromyko replied that they had drafted their text taking account of the U.S. position and the views the Secretary had expressed here. If the two of them are to work out an agreed text, everything in it must be acceptable to both sides since it will be made public.

The Secretary said that if the statement is made public, it would imply that the date and place of the negotiations would be agreed upon through diplomatic channels. The two delegations would then meet and, having the benefit of our discussions, divide into three groups and get down to work. This is how Shultz understood the statement.

Gromyko said that if at the next meeting they reached a degree of mutual understanding that warranted beginning negotiations, they could agree on the date. They could name the month if this suits the Secretary more. If they agree to another meeting, it makes no sense to draw things out.

The Secretary said that Gromyko was in effect changing the Soviet text to read as follows: “The date of the beginning of the negotiations and the site of these negotiations will be agreed at the next meeting of foreign ministers in early March.”

Gromyko replied that it is one thing to begin the negotiations and another thing to mention the date of another ministerial meeting. Either version would be all right with him. One version concerns the next meeting between himself and Secretary Shultz, and the other concerns the date on which negotiations would begin, although a month is not specified. Perhaps after the next meeting they would be in a position to specify the date and place of the negotiations. Alternatively they could set the date through diplomatic channels. He saw no big problem here, especially with the next ministerial meeting. This should be a simple matter and he asked Shultz to believe him that he had no tricks [Page 1347] up his sleeve. He assumed that the most recent Soviet draft is acceptable to the U.S. side. It mentions the negotiations and the date of the next ministerial meeting, though no date is set for the negotiations. To state things more simply, two versions are on the table. Which is more acceptable to the U.S. side?

The Secretary answered that both versions are acceptable in the sense that it is important to get the negotiations underway if we can structure them properly. It is also important for the two of them to continue to talk, not only directly as during these two days, but also in March or whenever. They could be in touch through diplomatic channels in the meantime. The question now was whether to announce the beginning of negotiations or to announce another ministerial meeting. In response to Gromyko’s question of which he prefers, he would answer in typical Washington fashion that he prefers both. He wished to point out that for the U.S. the beginning of negotiations involves many complications. The U.S. must decide upon a leader of the delegation. Under the structure proposed by the Soviets, who would be the leader of the leaders? The U.S. choice would be affected by what is intended for the negotiations. On the question of intermediate-range forces, Ambassador Nitze, who led similar negotiations in the past, prefers not to continue in this duty, although he had promised to stay on as the Secretary’s left or right-hand man [Ambassador Nitze was sitting to the Secretary’s left]. So another person must be found to take his place. The U.S. must prepare itself for the negotiations because they are new and embody changes. This cannot be done instantly because a position must be developed in order to be ready for the talks. The Secretary thought that early March might be a little too early. All this must be taken into account if the talks are to begin, and it is best to say so now. This merely emphasizes the importance of further discussions at the ministerial level.

Gromyko said that a clear statement is needed to resolve these questions, yet the Secretary had not yet made such a statement. Does he accept that the date of negotiations will be settled through diplomatic channels? This afternoon the Secretary had remarked that he was puzzled by the Soviet draft. What in it was puzzling?

The Secretary replied that he was perplexed by the second Soviet draft, not the first. He was prepared to take the first draft as a framework and work through it. He was prepared to say that the time and place of negotiations will be agreed by diplomatic channels, although if we can set it ourselves, this would be preferable. He thought a few things in the draft could be changed or added to. At the same time, he thought the statement could say that he and Gromyko had agreed to another meeting in March.

Gromyko said that Shultz had still not expressed himself clearly. The Soviet draft was drawn up taking account of the U.S. position, [Page 1348] and if it is accepted, the question of a ministerial meeting is no longer urgent. The Soviet side had put a reference to another ministerial meeting in the second text because the U.S. had not agreed to their morning text. Reference to the ministerial meeting could be pigeon-holed. Gromyko understood that the Secretary was hesitating between the two texts. In one text the idea is clearly stated that negotiations will begin. If another meeting between them should be necessary, there would be no problem—they can meet. World public opinion would be favorable to such a meeting. In fact, if such a meeting were announced, the U.S. delegation would probably be met with flags at the airport when it returned home.

The Secretary replied that first we must accomplish this between us and then the world could learn about it. He said he liked the implication in the first text that we have agreed to begin negotiations. While the structure of the Soviet text is acceptable to the U.S., there are a few aspects we wish to change. Although he could not accept the text in its present form, it deserves discussion. At the same time, with or without this text, a further meeting between the ministers would be useful because there is much to discuss, and not only questions related to arms.

Gromyko said he was alarmed by the Secretary’s statement that he wished to make some changes.

The Secretary asked if Gromyko really expected him to accept the Soviet text without comment.

Gromyko replied that the text had been drafted after yesterday’s meeting, taking into account the remarks Secretary Shultz had made.

The Secretary said that his delegation had also drafted its text taking into account what Gromyko had said both yesterday and during his trip to Washington. They had tried to reflect in its text the views Gromyko had expressed.

Gromyko stated that everything he had said is based on the text the Soviet side had drawn up. He did not know what the Secretary might suggest now; perhaps the Secretary would make him want to hang the whole thing up.

The Secretary asked whether Gromyko was interested in discussing this or not. He would assume that he was. He suggested going through the text to determine what could be done to make it acceptable to the U.S.

Gromyko suggested that the two delegations part for a few minutes to review the text.

The Secretary agreed and the U.S. delegation left the room at 5:50 p.m.

At 6:25 p.m. the U.S. delegation returned.

[Page 1349]

The Secretary explained that the first and second paragraphs of the Soviet text are acceptable as they stand. In the third paragraph the U.S. wishes to drop the reference to strategic and medium-range arms. It proposes a paragraph reading as follows: “The sides agree that the subject of the negotiations will be a complex of questions concerning nuclear and space arms, with all these questions considered and resolved in their interrelationship.”

Secretary Shultz proposed several additions to the fourth paragraph, which would read as follows: “The objective of the negotiations will be to work out effective agreements by a delegation divided into three negotiating groups, aimed at preventing an arms race on earth and in space, limiting and reducing nuclear arms, and strengthening strategic stability.” He explained that here he had added a reference to the three groups, and clarified that the arms race meant on earth as well as in space.

Secretary Shultz said that the fifth paragraph of the Soviet draft would remain unchanged, although linguistically speaking, it did not read smoothly. He thought this was not worth arguing over. The final paragraph was acceptable as written. He thought if the sides could agree to fix the time and place of the negotiations, this would be desirable, but he would not insist on it.

Gromyko requested another break in order to examine the proposed U.S. changes.

The U.S. delegation left the room at 6:35 p.m.

At 7:00 p.m. the U.S. delegation returned.

Gromyko remarked that some of the suggested changes were acceptable and some were not. The first paragraph was as solid as granite, and the second paragraph was also unchanged. He proposed that the third paragraph read as follows: “The sides agree that the subject of the negotiations will be a complex of questions concerning space and nuclear arms—both strategic and medium-range—with all these questions considered and resolved in their interrelationship.”

Gromyko also proposed an amended version of the fourth paragraph: “The objective of the negotiations will be to work out effective agreements aimed at preventing an arms race in space and terminating it on earth, at limiting and reducing nuclear arms, and at strengthening strategic stability. The negotiations will be conducted by a delegation from each side divided into three groups.”

By way of explanation, Gromyko said that we could not prevent an arms race on earth because there already is one, and therefore we must say that we will try to terminate it. Since there is as yet no arms race in space, we can say we will try to prevent one there. He said the Soviet side accepts the U.S. idea of referring to a delegation made up [Page 1350] of three groups, but it prefers to say this in another sentence. The last two paragraphs of the statement stand unchanged.

The Secretary said this version of the text sounds reasonable, but he would like to caucus once again to look it over.

The U.S. delegation left the room at 7:10 p.m. On his way out, Mr. McFarlane had a brief exchange with Ambassador Karpov about the meaning of space arms (reported below).

The U.S. delegation returned at 7:22 p.m.

The Secretary asked Mr. McFarlane to repeat the exchange he had had with Karpov so that he could make sure it represented the Soviet view.

Mr. McFarlane quoted paragraph three of the proposed Soviet text, which states that “the sides agree that the subject of the negotiations will be a complex of questions concerning space and nuclear arms.” When referring to space arms, McFarlane inquired, does the Soviet side include land-based systems that attack targets in space, as well as space-based systems that attack targets on earth?

Gromyko said that he had stated this clearly yesterday. When referring to space strike arms, the Soviet side means space weapons of any mode of action or basing mode that are designed to attack space objects or attack from outer space objects in the air, land or sea. In the text at hand, this is what is meant, although it is expressed more economically. Gromyko added that this of course extends to ASAT systems and corresponding ABM systems.

McFarlane said that land-based systems that attack space objects include weapons which attack ballistic missile systems. Do the “corresponding ABM systems” to which Gromyko had referred include those ABM systems covered by the ABM Treaty?

Gromyko replied that this applies not only to the systems permitted by the ABM Treaty.

McFarlane asked whether Gromyko calls space arms those weapons which are within this meaning.

Gromyko answered: “It is exactly as I said—I cannot add or subtract anything else.”

McFarlane said in that case the ABM system around Moscow is a space weapon.

The Secretary thanked Gromyko for this clarification. He then made a suggestion for the third paragraph that would stress this concept. He proposed to add to the phrase “space arms” a clarifying phrase, “wherever based or targeted.” The rest of the paragraph would read as it stands.

Gromyko objected to this, saying that this would lead them into a jungle. Why mention targeting and why complicate the issue? What is unclear about this sentence? Why complicate an already clear sentence?

[Page 1351]

The Secretary wished to clarify another point. This paragraph also contains a reference to medium-range arms. As he understood it, the Soviet draft would say “medium-range arms” and the U.S. draft would say “intermediate-range arms.”

Gromyko confirmed this, saying it was fine with him. Both the U.S. and Soviet sides are accustomed to certain specific parameters agreed on long ago. These parameters define those arms that are considered strategic, as well as where tactical arms end and medium-range arms begin. Everything here is mathematically precise.

The Secretary repeated that the U.S. would say “intermediate-range” and the Soviet side would say “medium-range.” He had one more point to bring up. The U.S. side suggests that the fourth paragraph of the text be amended to read “agreements aimed at preventing an arms race in space and terminating it on earth by limiting and reducing nuclear arms.” The word “by” is the change suggested here.

Gromyko objected that this would worsen the paragraph and change its meaning. Neither side needed this change.

The Secretary replied that it was not a big point, but it did explain how the sides would end the arms race—by limiting and reducing nuclear arms.

Gromyko again objected that this was a worse solution, and Secretary Shultz agreed to drop it. Although he believed his wording made the point more powerful, he would agree to leave the paragraph as it stands.

Gromyko wondered if the Secretary had found any other “heresy” in the Soviet draft.

The Secretary replied that he had found no heresy he was willing to disclose to Gromyko. He would now have a clean copy of the text typed up in English.

While the text was being typed, there was discussion of the time the joint statement would be released.

Gromyko asked that it be released at midnight Geneva time because of the time difference between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The announcement would not get into Soviet media until tomorrow, but it would make the news in the U.S. today. Gromyko said that Shultz would have something to announce even if he did not read the statement—he could announce that a statement had been agreed upon.

Secretary Shultz said that he would appear at a press conference this evening, and that he would be too sleepy to answer questions if he waited until midnight. He thought even 10:00 P.M. was late. It is possible to embargo the announcement, but on such a big story he doubted the embargo would be observed.

Gromyko pressed Shultz repeatedly not to make the announcement before midnight.

[Page 1352]

Secretary Shultz suggested a compromise of 11 p.m. Gromyko accepted, saying that the U.S. side wants the Soviet side to meet it more than half way. Shultz replied that Gromyko drives a very hard bargain.

When the clean copy of the joint statement arrived, the Secretary gave it to Gromyko.

Before departing, Gromyko expressed his satisfaction with the frank and business-like atmosphere that had prevailed at these discussions.

Secretary Shultz, in his turn, thanked Gromyko for his kind words and said he appreciated the cordial discussions that had taken place. Gromyko had used the word “useful” in earlier remarks, and Shultz thought this word could be applied here too.

The meeting ended at 7:55 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 Smith. This meeting took place in the U.S. Mission in Geneva. The memorandum of conversation mistakenly identified the end time of the meeting as 6:55 p.m. Brackets are in the original.
  2. See Document 360.