58. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Weinberger to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark)1

Dear Bill:

Attached are some comments with respect to the State Department memo proposing several new openings to the Soviets, which you and I have discussed.2

Please let me know if you want anything more.



Paper Prepared in the Department of Defense3

Comments on State’s Memo on US-Soviet Relations: Next Steps

1. The specific proposals of this memo come down to the following initiatives:

—a SecState visit to Moscow to be followed by an invitation for Gromyko to visit Washington;

—negotiations on a new Cultural Agreement; and

—opening of consulates in Kiev and New York.

2. Regarding the visit of SecState to Moscow, one should consider that SecState visited there at the occasion of Brezhnev’s funeral. A better first step might be a Gromyko visit to Washington early in September. This makes the United States appear less as the petitioner. A SecState visit to Moscow as early as this summer could put pressure on the US—far more than on the Soviets—to produce results. It would be our Secretary who would be seen as having to come back with results if he goes all the way to Moscow at the President’s initiative.

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3. The Cultural Exchange Agreement was permitted to expire in 1979 as part of the Carter Administration’s response to Afghanistan. Resuming negotiations toward such an Agreement could be misconstrued as our having forgotten and forgiven the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The memo points out that the asymmetry in the visits between the US and the Soviet Union is troublesome, but this point ought to be broadened. There is a disturbing lack of reciprocity favoring the Soviet Union in a wide variety of US-Soviet relationships. The Soviets have a larger Embassy staff and trade missions; their visitors generally have more access to the American people and the media; and their trade relationships with us (as George Schulz has pointed out in another context) is one-sided because they are a single government monopoly with a great deal of information about the US economy and US firms, while we have private firms competing with each other to do business with the Soviet Union.

Thus, the problem that a new Cultural Exchange Agreement is supposed to fix is much broader than cultural affairs. And even in the realm of cultural affairs, it cannot be fixed by such an agreement. What we need is more effective implementation of the tools we now have to enforce reciprocity, plus perhaps some legislative changes. We should therefore develop a framework for US-Soviet reciprocity in diplomatic, business, cultural, scientific, and other such relations, and proposals on how to enforce it. Once we have such a framework in place, a new Cultural Exchange Agreement might well fit into it and accomplish its desired purposes.

4. A critical question on all these initiatives is timing. If there is a possibility of a summit next year or later this year, the agreement on the consulates and the signing of the Cultural Agreement (based on rigorous reciprocity) may be precisely the kind of limited substantive outcome that we need to hold in reserve, so as to keep open for the President the option of a summit. We should not get into a situation where a summit may be desirable for a variety of reasons, but achievable with a substantive outcome only by massive last-minute US concessions on arms control negotiations or other difficult issues. If a Cultural Agreement and consulates are the things the Soviets are perhaps more eager to get than we, these items could give us the leverage to avoid one-sided pressures on the President in conjunction with a summit.

5. The State memo omits the flat Soviet rejection of our proposal to negotiate verification improvements for the Threshold Test Ban Treaty. We must not accept that turndown and go on to other business more convenient for the Soviets, such as cultural affairs and consulates. We should not be left dangling with an unverifiable treaty that we comply with; this would establish a bad precedent for other arms control. Hence, the verification negotiations on TTB ought to be part of any package of new initiatives.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, William Clark Files, US-Soviet Relations Papers Working File: Contains Originals (7). Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.
  2. See Document 54.
  3. Secret; Sensitive.