375. Notes of a National Security Council Meeting1

NSC MTG Mar 4 85


A lot to cover, result of a year of analysis today put it all in one presentation, so you can ponder in next few days instructions to delegation which leaves on Friday

3 areas

Space & Defense—advisors consensus re relationship, not to propose limitation at this point

Face a military problem represented in Sov [Soviet] adv [advantage] in most every measure of mil [military] power AC [arms control] may be one means of infl [influence], or may not be e.g. ICBM warheads—have 3:1 adv & disadv [disadvantage] in crisis situations may be worse as intel [intelligence] exercises have effect

—try arms control to get them to reduce

US increases—MX, Midg [Midget] M [Man], D–5, B–1

may be more diff[icult] to increase our ICM

—look at US compensate imbalance via SDI

Today see after 5 rounds START & INF see whether can get closer

I. Space & Def [Defense]

No one proposes tabling new line now bec [because]:

—need look at 10 yr period to reduce

[Page 1388]

—transition period to inten [intensify] def & further red [reduce] in off [offense]

Devote session to explain

—11 generic areas2

—Strat [strategic] Sit [situation]3

—Strat concept4

—Sov actions

—undermine AB[M] Treaty

—appearance of [unclear]

—go over each area in which undermining ABM

—Kras [Krasnoyarsk] radar



concurrent ops [operations]

A very solid record that they have undermined existing doctr [doctrine] of deter [deterrence]

—compl [compliance] problem undermines in each of AC

[compliance] at heart of any prospect or if no change in Sov record can’t expect AC to/will remain viable instrument of diplom [diplomacy]

—Emerging Technologies

In coming months [unclear—owe?] further

—what initiatives/restriction might be [unclear—fair?]

haven’t found any yet

—what CBMs might take for better [unclear]

—[what] US [unclear—mil?] in [unclear—Am?] Def

[Page 1389]

—3 or 4 others

Comment? Max?


—yes ok

—agreement throughout gvt [government]

we’re not demandeur

—Our plan to suggest a less long session about a month—look over & come back to recommend

—exchange, inform, explain concerns, hear


SDI=research program not to be limited

—Begin discuss transition phase


Current balance

Sov have 10:1 warhead adv

2 options

1. Current5

Zero Zero, INF agreem [agreement]

Sept 83—aircraft, global geog [geographic] scope, P [Pershing] II, 420 global

is really an infinite number of [unclear—positions?]

eg 0–572 eg 420

is not a take it or leave it posit[ion]—

meet criteria

—eg verify, not export to Asia

excl Fr Brit


Weinb—footnote re 27 systems in transit

—probl [problem] re Dutch

Adelman—shows probl of any non zero-zero

1) very diff to verify—low degree

[Page 1390]

2) repres coming prob re mobile land based eg Sov [SS–]24 & [SS–]25 rail/road mobile

2. Equal % Red6

Works only under very narrowly defined point in time & even then conceding Sov INF [unclear] in Asia from 400 (Sov) launchers to about 200 (50% red) 120 in Eur, 80 in East

From US [launchers] to 112 launchers in Eur (warhead [unclear—range?] of 112–448)


Weinb—strongly opposed

— = % red not = equals

—Mobility means can rapidly move from East—easily [unclear] therefore not useful or safe distinct [distinction]

—get away from simple easy expl

Shultz—Cap’s mobility concern applies to all

—% red not principle we want to endorse but might make it negotiable

Weinb—but 200: 112 launchers = Sov adv & West/East distinction meaningless

Sh—merely = variant of Option 1

Nitze—change chart to show US global r[ight] to 200

Pres—Verific? [verification?]

Pick spot in world to which deliver missiles for dismantling by intern[ational] team

Adel—not know if all exist [existing] missiles delivered there

Pres—at least this way we’d know

Casey—can now observe dest [?] [destruction?]

Weinb—all non zero=hard find

all have [unclear] problem


[Page 1391]

—either option can be worked with

—could be used in sequence

—should have treaty with = warheads (?)7

Weinb—is launchers, not warheads

[unclear—so?] dangerous move away from one warhead [unclear—focus?]

Sh—if Opt 1 again, Sovs accept, but seek make more specific & propose Opt 2 within framework of Opt 1

Opt 2 is an illustration of 1 which may not work as balance changes

W—can’t say Opt 2 = illust of Opt 1 when 1 = global equal

Sh—need add sec[tion] re US right to 200 globally

Bud—all agree & to same warhead

Weinb—moves us away from = launchers therefore [unclear]

—Opt 2 = increase, not reductions therefore back to SALT II [unclear—treaty?]

Bud—Gen Vessey

Vessey—must limit all so Sovs can’t move to Eur.



Current U.S. 1250, 5000, 400, 2.5 mil KG

Trade offs

Alt 18

1250, 5000, 350

Alt 29 (ALMs lim to 4,000)

[Page 1392]

1800 launchers—Sov category & [unclear—desire?]—we’d meet ½ way but we’d still try reduce heavy ICBMs from 308 to 200 and if want add ALCMs would need reduce 200 further

RVs—6,500 in 95 [25% below current 8,300]10 instead of 5,000 proposal today

Rowny—this is end game after Sovs have reduced heavies

Alt 311—Adds ALM (1500–2000)

—1800 SNDVs, Aggregate 4500 MIRVd missiles & 1500 ALCM

[1235% reduct [reduction] in Sov MIRVd miss [missile] [unclear—warheads?]] & 25% cut in Sov

Shultz—most rad [radical] reduct in most threat system

Alt 413

Bud—premised on what is militarily essential to target (that’s my pers [personal] opinion re its advantage)

—aggregates to 1800 launchers add sublimits to restrain Sovs

—permits US 700 Midgetman

—price = 9700 warheads = very high of which 7,000 ballistic in ’95

—20% fewer SNDVs than S[ALT] II & roughly double SII reds

33% MIRVd ball miss warhead cut

Vessey—right, permits US to modernize

—also needs look at SDI & Def/Sp

—prob [probably] closer to what Sovs want

therefore risk them OKing, then press on SDI

Pres—relatively cut? how perceived

Ves—big cut in destabilizing [things ?]

[Page 1393]

Alt 514

Goes to heart of reducing—most impt [important] reasons

—warheads & TW [Throw Weight]—by 50% in power & not dictate Sov force restructuring

eg 5,300 MIRV RVs, TW & heavy bombers trade-offs specific re bombers

Weinb—bomber diff [differential] recogn we need more bomber bec of Sov air defenses

—also recogn [unclear—great?] diff in TW/much narrower US/Sov imbal than other [unclear—of?]

—“Radical red” per Sov vocab

—Simple, 50%

—Per Vessey, may not give us all weaps for all [unclear] but reduct in #s, TW & compensat [compensation] for air def = impt

Alt 615

Inspired by your Sept speech on Roadmap in 20 yrs horizon16

Therefore, 20 yrs instead of just 10 yr horizon

Proposes we discuss outcomes at end of day but not as demanding re dictating how get there, replace etc

’95 benchmarks

—5,000 warheads

—3½ MKG Sov (25% red)

—400 US 320 Sov

Adelman—give negot view of 1st Round set of [unclear—outcomes?]

[Page 1394]

—RV ball, TW & bombers

all consid most impt factors

—lays out factors without partic adornment

not include SNDV limit that not a service to US, if Scowcroft can

—not include ALCM limit Sov are demandeur


You asked JCS address mil sufficiency

Chiefs have addressed alter [alternatives]

Vessey—most impt = assumptions

1. one assumption = we’ll be able to complete own mod progr

some of these damage but you must assess our mod vs. pol [policy] re [recommendations]

none of these proposals OK, unless we mod

2. you must pick a point in time when we can check US & Sov force structure

We’ve picked 1995.

—All of these [unclear] OK at ’95

some far better re US mod

[ditto] re Sov

MIRVd mobile land based missiles extremely threatening

[therefore] should add provis [provisions] to all opts for ban

3. how affects other negotiations


—all proposals should be kept simple

—we ought to talk trade offs home in on Sov ICBMs vs US bombers

—need offensive vs offensive deal otherwise Sovs will accept [unclear] deal & zero in on SDI

—[therefore] go back to off vs off capab


—not known whether Sovs are serious

—I’m reluctant reward their walk out

—I’d prefer build on current position

they’ve not even discussed it & it was new

—We need discuss trade-offs, can [unclear—codify?]

—Prefer to probe, report back on our findings

seek flexibility to probe

keep our moral posture on 5,000 warhead line & maybe pkg with sublimits

[Page 1395]

Pres—Sovs have talked re goal of total elim

—Shouldn’t we pick that up


repeat goal & set path toward it

ShultzGromyko not answer in Geneva

Pres—but since Geneva


  1. Source: Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, Geneva—NSC Meeting, 03/04/1985. No classification marking. The editor transcribed Kraemer’s handwritten notes of the NSC meeting specifically for this volume. An image of the notes is Appendix E. No formal notes of the meeting were found. In a February 28 memorandum to Kimmitt, Linhard and Kraemer forwarded papers on Defense and Space, INF, and START in preparation for the March 4 NSC meeting. (Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, December Chron File: [No. 111–No. 112]) These three papers correlate closely with topics covered in Kraemer’s notes of the meeting (see annotation below). In his diary on March 4, Reagan wrote: “We had an N.S.C. meeting with our Arms Talk Leaders looking at various options for how we wanted to deal with the Soviets. It’s very complicated business. I urged one decision on them—that we open the talks with a concession—surprise! Since they have publicly stated they want to see nuclear weapons eliminated entirely, I told our people to open by saying we would accept their goal.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. I, January 1981–October 1985, p. 431)
  2. Although this phrase is unclear, it seemingly correlates to the “Areas of Agreement” section of the briefing paper on Defense and Space. This section lists 12 “approaches” for the first round of talks.
  3. In the briefing paper on Defense and Space, Section II. “Areas of Agreement,” subsection A. “Current Strategic Situation,” stated that “both sides have certain incentives to act quickly and decisively with their military power, both nuclear and conventional. This creates an unstable situation that could make crises more difficult to manage and, if conflict breaks out, makes rapid, perhaps immediate, escalation to high levels of destruction more likely. This is a dangerous situation. It is one the US and the Soviet Union must address both together and unilaterally. 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 diffused.”
  4. In the briefing paper on Defense and Space, Section II. “Areas of Agreement,” subsection B. “Strategic Concept,” stated: “We should present our views on correcting these dangers and moving toward a more stable strategic relationship, highlighting the benefits that effective limitations on nuclear arms and moving toward a posture more reliant on defense would have on enhancing the stability of our strategic relationship.”
  5. In the INF briefing paper under “INF Policy Options,” Option 1 to “Resubmit Previous US Proposals” stated: “The US would resubmit the position on LRINF missile limitations embodied in its two draft treaties, recalling NSDD 153’s statement that ‘an agreement is possible on the basis of the September 1983 US proposals.’ In doing so, we could emphasize that we are willing to consider any other alternatives which could lead to an INF agreement meeting our basic standards.”
  6. In the INF briefing paper under “INF Policy Options,” Option 2, “Equal Warhead Levels in Europe,” stated that the “US could add specificity to previous proposals such as

    “—a commitment not to deploy in Europe more than 210 to 280 warheads (one-half to two-thirds of 420) if the Soviets deployed the same number within range of Europe. The US would retain the right to deploy additional warheads, up to the global ceiling of 420 outside of Europe; and

    “—a commitment to deploy no more than 42 to 56 P–IIs in Europe (one-fifth of 210 to 280, roughly the existing ratio).

    “The USG could also consider proposing a separate Asian subceiling to limit the SS–20 deployments in the eastern USSR.” (Ibid.)

  7. The parenthetical question mark is in the handwritten text. It is unclear if Kraemer was questioning Glitman’s statement or if the statement was unclear.
  8. In the START briefing paper, six alternatives were presented, and all were discussed during this NSC meeting. “Alternative 1: 1983 US START Proposal with Trade-Offs” proposed a reduction to 5,000 deployed ballistic missile warheads for each side, “equal ceilings of 400 heavy bombers,” and “deep reductions in Soviet throw-weight” to the “internal US goal of 2.5 Mkg.” (Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, December Chron File: [No. 111–No. 112])
  9. The START paper continued with “Alternative 2: SNDV Aggregate; Heavy Missiles/AHB Sublimit; No Weapons Aggregation.” This alternative “accepts some elements of the Soviet proposal, e.g. an aggregate of 1800 SNDVs,” and would “establish a ceiling of 6000–7000 ballistic missile warheads; that is, 1000–2000 more than our current position but still as much as a 25 percent reduction from current US and Soviet levels.” Alternative 2, “a combined subceiling, limiting each side to 200–250 ALCM-carrying heavy bombers (AHBs) and heavy ballistic missiles, would establish a de facto trade-off between the sides’ areas of relative advantage while permitting de jure equality.” (Ibid.)
  10. These brackets are in the original.
  11. “Alternative 3: SNDV Aggregate; Heavy ICBM Sublimit; RV/ALCM Aggregate; MIRV RV Sublimit” proposed “progressively stringent constraints on US and Soviet strategic forces” that would “put into place a framework for achieving our ultimate objective of eliminating nuclear weapons.” This alternative “would adopt a single combined limit on missiles and bombers, with a sublimit on heavy ICBMs; and a parallel combined limit on missile warheads and ALCMs, with a sublimit on MIRV RVs.” (Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, December Chron File: [No. 111–No. 112])
  12. Left bracket is in the original text.
  13. Alternative 4 in the START paper, “SNDV Aggregate: RV/ALCM Aggregate: Nested SNDV and Weapon Sublimits,” proposed the adoption of “an aggregate limit on ballistic missiles and heavy bombers and a parallel limit that aggregates ballistic missile RVs and ALCMs. The SNDV aggregate contains nested sublimits on heavy ICBMs (150), MIRVed ICBMs (550), total MIRVed ballistic missiles (960), and ALCM heavy bombers (1080). The RV/ALCM aggregate places similar sublimits on MIRVed ICBM RVs (4500), MIRVed ballistic missile RVs (7000), and total RVs and ALCMs (9000).” (Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, December Chron File: [No. 111–No. 112])
  14. “Alternative 5: Direct Throw-Weight and Warhead Limits” went beyond the current U.S. “START position in terms of requiring deep reductions from existing levels in the most destabilizing systems, namely ballistic missile warheads and throw-weight. It would also compensate for the existence of massive, unconstrained Soviet air defenses.” It proposed a reduction in ballistic missiles to 4,000 with “throw-weight to 2.0 million kilograms. There would be no direct limits on the number of deployed missiles, since we wish to encourage movement toward single-warhead missiles.” It would reduce heavy bombers to a “separate limit of 400 for the US and 200 for the USSR, with Backfire included in this total. This asymmetry would compensate for the massive Soviet air defense system.” (Ibid.)
  15. “Alternative 6: Bomber and Missile Destructive Capability Limits” proposed to distinguish “between the destructive potential of missiles and bombers in relation to the size and numbers of weapons they can carry to intercontinental range—and permits an explicit trade-off by negotiation of missiles and bomber destructive capacity. (RVs and possibly ALCMs would also be limited directly.)” (Ibid.)
  16. A reference to Reagan’s September 1984 UNGA speech. See footnote 7, Document 267.