39. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • Meeting with Dobrynin—April 7, 19832

Pursuant to our discussion of yesterday,3 Cap Weinberger and I met today with Dobrynin for approximately 70 minutes.4 We covered the full range of our established agenda for US-Soviet relations—arms control, regional issues, human rights, and bilateral relations. The tone of the meeting was businesslike and generally constructive, and there will be a number of follow-up actions to be undertaken in coming days.

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I. Arms Control:

Confidence-Building Measures: Cap began by outlining the new proposals for confidence-building measures you have recently approved, emphasizing that our purpose is to reduce the risk of a misunderstanding or accident that could lead to the inadvertent outbreak of war. Dobrynin expressed interest in our proposals and asked a number of substantive questions. Cap and I agreed to provide him more details in writing tomorrow and asked that he seek an early response from his government. Dobrynin suggested that our public announcement of the proposals—now scheduled to go to Congress April 11—be delayed until Moscow has had an opportunity to respond privately. Cap and I noted that our proposals are, in part, a response to Congressional interest and that their transmission to the Hill could not be held up for long. Nevertheless, we agreed to see whether a short delay is possible and again urged Dobrynin to seek a quick response from his government.

START and INF: I noted that we continue to look for ways to make progress and suggested that Dobrynin and I meet separately with Paul Nitze and Ed Rowny during the current break between rounds. In offering these meetings, I emphasized that their purpose would not be negotiation but clarification and informal discussion of our respective positions. After noting that he hoped these discussions would not be simply a sterile rehash of our respective positions in Geneva, Dobrynin agreed to go ahead with these meetings.

TTBT and PNET: I reminded Dobrynin that we had made a serious proposal to negotiate stronger verification provisions for the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) and Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET), and that we had been disappointed by the negative Soviet response. Dobrynin responded with the usual Soviet line that we should first ratify the treaties as they are and then consider whether additional verification measures might be needed. He also asked whether we intended to continue observing the 150 kiloton limit on underground nuclear tests provided for by the unratified TTBT. Finally, he reiterated the suggestion that we resume trilateral negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban.

In response, I noted that we have no plans, at present, for underground tests above the 150 kt. level, but that serious concerns about verification precluded our ratification of the TTBT until these concerns were addressed. I added that the Soviet emphasis on a CTB seemed to reflect a desire to run before walking in the field of nuclear testing limitations. Finally, I stated that Assistant Secretary Rick Burt would be calling in one of Dobrynin’s deputies soon on our TTBT proposal. I urged that the Soviet side reconsider our proposal. Dobrynin offered to consider whatever information we provided on our proposal.

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II. Human Rights

After underscoring again the importance we attach to these issues, I told Dobrynin of your personal appreciation for the positive Soviet actions in the Pentecostalist case.5 Emphasizing the need to keep up the momentum toward final resolution of this problem, I told Dobrynin of your letter to the Pentecostalists in the Embassy and Olin Robison’s visit to Moscow. I noted that we had proceeded quietly in this case, as is our general intention in handling human rights issues, and pressed Dobrynin for Soviet action on other “Madrid” issues, such as the level of Jewish emigration.

III. Regional Issues

Noting that Soviet misconduct in regional conflicts had been a major source of tension in our relationship, I pressed Dobrynin for concrete Soviet actions on Afghanistan, in southern Africa, and other regional trouble spots. I reiterated our readiness to play a positive role and told him that Art Hartman has instructions to see Gromyko on Afghanistan and the Middle East. Dobrynin suggested that we identify three or four priority areas for discussion on regional issues and develop specific proposals for solutions. I responded that we had tried to establish such a dialogue, but that the talks had seemed to us more academic than operational. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to move far in improving our relations unless there was concrete evidence of Soviet action to meet our concerns on these regional issues.

IV. Bilateral Issues

Having placed discussion of our bilateral relations in this overall context, I informed Dobrynin of your decisions to extend the fisheries agreement for one year6 and to propose negotiations for a new grains LTA.7 Noting that the decision on a grains LTA had been a particularly difficult one for us, I told Dobrynin that we intended to make an announcement on Saturday. Dobrynin was noncommittal on a new LTA and again noted that we were planning a public announcement before the Soviets could reply to our proposal. I replied that it would be extremely difficult to maintain the confidentiality of this decision while waiting for a Soviet reply. Dobrynin did not say when we might expect a reply, but later told Rick Burt that our proposal might have to be put on the weekly Politburo agenda—thus delaying a Soviet reply until at least the end of next week. While making no commitments [Page 130] about the timing of our announcement, I pressed Dobrynin to seek an early reply from Moscow.

Next Steps:

I will be taking the following actions to follow-up on today’s meeting:

1. Rick Burt and Richard Perle will call in an appropriate official from the Soviet Embassy tomorrow to convey more information in writing on our CBMs proposals and to press for an early Soviet response. Cap and I will confer on whether to delay transmission of the proposals to Congress for a few days in order to give the Soviets an opportunity to reply. Rick will also convey to the Soviet Embassy further information on our TTBT proposal as soon as possible.

2. I will schedule a meeting with Dobrynin next week to discuss either START or INF with Nitze or Rowny.

3. We will take another look at possibilities for dialogue on regional issues in light of Dobrynin’s suggestion that we identify three or four issues for priority work.

4. On the grains LTA, I believe we should try to give the Soviets a reasonable opportunity to respond before we make a public announcement, despite the difficulties this will cause us. Senators Dole and Percy have agreed to hold off on their legislation. I have already informed Jack Block of your decision and asked that it remain confidential for at least a few days. We have therefore told the Soviets that we intend to postpone an announcement for a few days.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (04/05/83–04/07/83). Secret; Sensitive. Clark’s stamp appears on the memorandum, indicating he saw it.
  2. The Subject line incorrectly dated the meeting as April 7, 1982.
  3. See Document 37.
  4. See Document 38.
  5. See Document 34.
  6. See footnote 6, Document 38.
  7. See Documents 32 and 35.