366. Memorandum From William Stearman of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane)1

SUBJECT

  • Soviet Positions Post Geneva

Gromyko’s remarkable candid January 13 TV interview2 and post Geneva Soviet commentaries provide us with a somewhat clearer, but not surprising, view of Soviet arms control and foreign policy positions:

Arms Control Negotiations

Space: Agreement (or even real progress) on START and INF will definitely be held hostage to reaching “an accord on preventing the militarization of outer space.” Thwarting U.S. military space programs will continue to be the prime Soviet arms control objective, with START and INF remaining of second priority. As Gromyko stated: “If accords in this area (space) become clear, then it would be possible to move forward also on questions of strategic armaments.” He also noted that the “single delegation” (with 3 “sub-groups”) format should ensure that “a situation does not arise here in which an accord begins to take shape in one group independently of the second and of the third.”

START/INF: Probably after considerable internal debate, the Soviets seemed to have finally opted for a merging of START and INF. As Gromyko put it: “These two problems of strategic armaments and medium-range weapons can only be examined jointly.” As he previously noted: “for the Soviet Union, medium-range weapons are also strategic weapons.”

Not surprisingly, he insisted that British and French INF systems “must be taken into account,” but he also stated that in INF discussions the Soviets will raise all 15 U.S. carriers instead of just 6 as before. It looks as if the Soviets will push hard for a freeze in U.S. INF deploy[Page 1359]ments and will try to convince the West Europeans (and us) that continued deployments will jeopardize the upcoming negotiations.

As to be expected, the Soviets will do little in START talks to alter their present strategic force structure—especially in regard to heavy missiles—because this would run counter to the principle of “equality and equal security.” Gromyko implied that we can keep our bombers and they will keep their heavy missiles.

Test Bans, Nuclear Freeze, No First Use: These, according to Gromyko, are all issues which could be negotiated and resolved independent of the three main fields of discussion. As the main talks stall, we could well see a Soviet push for talks on a comprehensive test ban and for putting into effect signed U.S.-Soviet agreements on threshold tests and peaceful use. “Freezing nuclear arsenals” will probably be a continuing proposal for propaganda purposes.

I suspect that, in reply to our continued insistence on adequate verification, we will hear more of Gromyko’s “universal and total monitoring.” The Soviets no doubt have in mind something akin to the 1973–1975 International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) for Vietnam or the old 1954–1973 International Control Commissions (ICC) for Indochina which were both hamstrung and rendered totally ineffective by virtue of being “international” (i.e., having Communist members with a veto).

General Foreign Policy

U.S. Soviet Bilateral Negotiations: Gromyko made clear that the Soviets would like to resuscitate past (“more than ten”) agreements which have been cancelled by us or allowed to languish. We will certainly see increased Soviet efforts to promote bilateral agreements both for practical reasons (they have, says Gromyko, been of “benefit to both countries”) and to recreate a spirit of detente in promotion of larger objectives—especially in arms control.

Nicaragua and Cuba: In devoting some time to condemning U.S. policy towards these two countries, Gromyko sought to state that the USSR will continue to maintain a considerable interest in this region, whether we like it or not.

Current Situation: When asked if the world was moving towards peace or war, Gromyko replied: “The situation now is very complicated, and at times dangerous.” This statement is in stark contrast with the past Cassandra-like statements from Moscow which for nearly four years sought to conjure up an ever present danger of war.

Public Diplomacy”: The Soviets have certainly not given up on the peace movement in Western Europe and here. Governments and legislative bodies will be prime targets of a growing propaganda campaign designed to freeze INF deployments, reduce defense expendi[Page 1360]tures and force levels and to pressure us into making concessions in the arms control negotiations. As the negotiations get underway, we will hear a great deal about how our resistance to an accord on space is sabotaging the negotiations. Of course, as Gromyko indicated, the Soviets will also continue to fully exploit the UN General Assembly to promote their peaceable image and to attack our positions.

BMD Blackmail Potential: In a mirror image approach to ballistic missile defense, Gromyko stated: “If it (the U.S.) had a protective shield . . . would this really not be used for pressure, for blackmail? Of course it would.” Since we have never used strategic systems to blackmail the Soviets (even during the Cuban missile crisis), while, on the other hand, the Soviets have done so several times, this statement gives us a good idea of how the Soviets intend to exploit their nationwide BMD when it is finally deployed.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, Meetings with USSR Officials, Geneva Meeting: Shultz/Gromyko 01/07/1985–01/08/1985 (2). Confidential. Sent for information. Copies were sent to Lehman, Matlock, Kraemer, Linhard, and Steiner.
  2. In telegram 567 from Moscow, January 14, the Embassy reported that on January 13 Gromyko appeared in a 2-hour long television interview, answering questions from four Soviet journalists: “in his January 13 interview Gromyko used a Soviet-style ‘Meet the Press’ format to respond forcefully to administration statements on the Geneva outcome and prospects for arms control.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D850028–0149) For the transcript of the interview, see Documents on Disarmament, 1985, pp. 11–26.