370. Information Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Abramowitz) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • CIA Report of Chernenko’s Retirement In Favor of Gorbachev

[less than 1 line not declassified] the Politburo has already selected Gorbachev to be the next party leader. Although plausible, the report cannot be confirmed.

This report and two others highlight Gorbachev’s interest in meeting the President (or visiting the US). [1½ lines not declassified]

Parallel To London Sunday Times Story

The report (Tab A)2 indirectly ascribes [1½ lines not declassified]—the statement that the Politburo has already decided that Gorbachev should succeed Chernenko even before he dies.3

—The report parallels the London press report of January 27 that Chernenko will soon retire in favor of Gorbachev because he could [Page 1367] never recover from his present illness. It would have been weightier corroboration had the information in the CIA report been dated before rather than after the newspaper story.

—[1 paragraph (3½ lines) not declassified]

Gorbachev’s Interest in a Summit

The report that Gorbachev will soon replace Chernenko is the latest in a series. It says that Gorbachev, once he has consolidated his new position, would like to meet the President, perhaps in Vienna. The President’s May trip to Europe would be too early, however.4

Two other reports (Tab B)5 detail continuing efforts by US businessmen to invite Gorbachev to visit the US. The more recent information continues to assert Gorbachev’s interest in a visit, but says that a May date is out because of Chernenko’s poor health.

It appears from these reports that the businessmen are continuing to pursue the idea of inviting Gorbachev to visit the US. The Soviets seem to be putting them off, but not discouraging the idea in principle.

We are, however, leery of taking all of the rhetoric in these reports literally. [2½ lines not declassified]

  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Box 13, Executive Secretariat Sensitive (02/01/1985–02/03/1985); NLR–775–13–7–6–4. Secret; Noforn; Nocontract; Orcon; Sensitive. Drafted by D. Graves on January 31. Abramowitz signed “Mort A” above his name in the “From” line. Abramowitz wrote Shultz a note on the last page: [text not declassified].
  2. Dated January 29; the report is attached but not printed.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 368.
  4. On May 1, Reagan, accompanied by Shultz, arrived in Bonn for the G–7 Economic Summit and a State visit. He attended V-E Day ceremonies, including a visit to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The trip was most notably remembered for the controversial visit to the Bitburg cemetery. Reagan then traveled to Madrid, Strasbourg, and Lisbon before returning to Washington on May 10.
  5. Dated January 29; the report is attached but not printed. For an earlier report, see Document 364.