45. Memorandum From Secretary of State Shultz to President Reagan1


  • My April 21 Meeting With Dobrynin

In accordance with our earlier discussions, I met with Dobrynin today to talk about the INF negotiations. Paul Nitze, Ken Adelman, Ken Dam, and Mark Palmer joined me. The meeting also touched briefly on the Pentecostalists, Shcharanskiy, your new confidence-building measures proposals, and our bilateral fisheries agreement.

On INF, I underscored for Dobrynin that the zero option remained on the table, but that we had presented an alternative, interim proposal in order to emphasize our flexibility and our willingness to discuss any reasonable approach based on equality. I then posed a series of four questions for Moscow to ponder, in order to determine whether there is any give in the Soviet position:

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First, was there any finite, equal level of U.S. and Soviet INF warheads-on-missiles that the Soviet Union was prepared to accept?

Second, did the USSR insist that an INF agreement must totally exclude Soviet systems located in the Eastern part of the Soviet Union? (I cited the mobility and transportability of the SS–20 as arguments against a Europe-only approach.)

Third, is it the Soviet view that even an interim INF agreement must include aircraft as well as longer-range INF missiles? (I noted that the U.S. was prepared to consider aircraft in the context of a two-phased approach.)

Fourth, is it conceivable that we can design an INF agreement between the U.S. and USSR based on parity and equality (i.e. without accounting for British and French forces)?

On each of these questions, Dobrynin interjected with comments indicating no change in the Soviet positions as had been set forth earlier either in Geneva or at Gromyko’s recent press conference.2 I took issue with Dobrynin’s consistent “No’s,” noting that this suggested no progress at all was possible in INF. In light of his earlier comments to me that Soviet negotiators never act without instructions, I expressed some puzzlement how he could square this with Paul Nitze’s exploratory conversations with his Soviet counterpart last year (“The Walk in the Woods”), during which there had been some deviation from these Soviet positions.

In response, Dobrynin tacitly admitted it had been the Soviet side which broke off those discussions on the grounds they were apprehensive they “were negotiating with an individual and not with a government.” I stressed to him that we were seeking precisely that sort of informal, exploratory discussion to find a mutually-agreeable INF solution.

After reiterating various familiar Soviet arguments (the “strategic” threat posed by the Pershing II, the need to be compensated for UK and French systems, and a refusal to negotiate on systems beyond Europe), Dobrynin attempted to put the onus on the U.S. for coming up with new ideas to solve the current stalemate. I reminded him that no such ideas would be possible if the Soviets continued in their inflexibly negative responses to questions expressing our basic concerns. Dobrynin promised to pass on our questions to Moscow, but was not particularly sanguine about the likely replies.

Other issues

On the Pentecostalists, I noted that the two families were now back home in Siberia waiting for their visas. I expressed the hope that Moscow would proceed in a reasonable fashion to grant them [Page 159] permission to leave. I also reminded Dobrynin that we want the Soviets to release Anatoliy Shcharanskiy soon. He did not respond on either of these subjects.

With respect to your new confidence-building measures proposals, I told Dobrynin that we would be approaching them soon with ideas on how to begin discussions on the two which Moscow had accepted (upgrading the Hotline, and developing a multilateral convention for consultations in the event of the use or acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists). I also urged the Soviets to reconsider their position on the two proposals they did not accept, including the proposed Joint Military Communication Link.

On economic matters, Dobrynin confirmed that the Soviets today had conveyed their acceptance of our proposal for a one-year extension of the bilateral fisheries agreement.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Country File, Europe and Soviet Union, USSR (04/21/83). Secret; Sensitive. Reagan initialed the memorandum, indicating he saw it. In a forwarding memorandum to Shultz, Palmer noted: “I have prepared the attached memorandum to the President reporting on your meeting this afternoon with Dobrynin. Given the fact that Dobrynin did not yet have any definite answer on the LTA and the continuing sensitivity of this issue, I have not included any reference to that matter in this memo.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S, Special Handling Restrictions Memos, 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, Super Sensitive, April 18–30)
  2. See Document 33.