162. Memorandum From the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Arms Control Matters (Nitze) to Secretary of State Shultz 1


  • NST Issues

It is not too soon to begin to sort out our approach to the NST issues looking forward to a second summit meeting. I suggest the following main lines of attack:

1. That we fully develop and exploit the line you took with Mr. Gorbachev on British and French systems. Britain and France are important countries for the reasons you outlined; they are entitled to consider their nuclear systems to be their ultimate guarantee of security, as does the USSR, the US, and China; their nuclear forces today are relatively small in relation to those of the superpowers and smaller as a percentage of US and Soviet totals than they were some years ago.

We must recognize, however, that British and French forces will not only grow in numbers as they catch up in MIRVing but also increase in significance as US and USSR forces decline pursuant to an appropriate 50% reduction agreement. Therefore, we should support the participation of the British, French and Chinese in future negotiations toward reductions below 4500. Each of these countries has expressed such an interest, in one way or the other; and, most importantly, it would be imprudent for us to go below our proposed force level without participation of the other nuclear powers.

2. If British and French SLBMs are thus put into the category of “START-type systems”, they should be logically excluded from consideration in the category of INF or “medium range” systems. This would remove the principal boulder which has stood in the way of negotiating an INF deal. There are many other important issues in the INF field, but the major and most difficult element in the Soviet INF position has been compensation for British and French SLBMs.

3. With “medium-range” and “FBS” systems having been dealt with in the INF negotiations, the START negotiations would be purged of them and the major boulder blocking progress in START would [Page 728] have been removed. Numerous and difficult issues regarding START will remain, however. Among these would be the problem of convincing the Soviets to defer inclusion of British and French systems. Also, we should review the ban on all mobile ICBMs and reconsider banning only MIRVed mobile ICBMs. There may be other such issues where we might wish to come up with new approaches where pertinent, e.g., revisit the SLCM issue.

4. No overall progress is possible unless we’re prepared to deal in some intelligible way with the defense and space issues. In this regard, I see no way of making progress on defense and space unless we are prepared to get into a discussion aimed at agreement on what is permitted and not permitted in the field of research, development and testing. The problem is not merely one of defining research. One must also define the cutoff between permitted and nonpermitted development and testing. When we negotiated the ABM Treaty it was not intended that the parties limit the development and testing of subcomponents such as chips, sensors, propulsion units, etc; precise distinctions are essential in sorting out this area. Some in DoD do not wish us to get into any discussion of such precise distinctions. They say they are afraid our negotiators will negotiate improvidently. This battle must be won if we are to achieve overall progress in Geneva.

A second issue is that we must find a concrete way to deal with Gorbachev’s concern that space-based systems designed for boost phase, or post-boost phase, intercept could lead to systems able to penetrate, or re-enter through, the atmosphere to attack objects on earth. We should work hard to come up with measures which would support a verifiable ban on space-based systems able to attack objects on earth while not foreclosing boost and post-boost phase intercept systems.

A third issue is what specifically we have in mind when we speak of a cooperative, phased transition. I drafted a paper on this subject during the spring, but it was bottled up in the NSC and has not been exposed to interdepartmental review.2 The Defense and Space IG developed a paper on what should be said about transition to effective defenses, but that paper did not really address the substantive issues and was never acted upon by the IG.3

A fourth SDI issue relates to what happens in the event the “research” comes up with a positive result and the Soviets refuse to join in a cooperative program. The President rightly insists that we should not give the Soviets a veto. But the Soviets are understandably [Page 729] unwilling to hazard their basic security on some statement on or agreement calling for good intent on our part. The formula that we had in the “Monday Package,” making continuation of the program of offensive reductions contingent, at each step, on continued adherence to agreed limits on strategic defenses, was an attempt to meet that problem. We should give alternative solutions to this issue our concentrated attention.

6. We should also insist that the issues involved in the verification annex which has been hung up in the interdepartmental process for several years be promptly resolved. Perle, Ikle and Adelman would like to make verification the centerpiece of our post-Geneva NST program. I believe this is wrong and would be viewed as a transparent attempt to block progress towards an NST agreement. However, as one of five avenues of approach, I think it is necessary and appropriate that we get at sorting out the decisions required to achieve an approved draft verification annex.

7. After having sorted out the line we wish to follow on substance, there should be another, perhaps separate, exercise on the tactics, including meetings with the Soviets and their timing, and the Public Affairs, Congressional and allied consultation programs best designed to get on with the job.

8. If you agree with the thrust of these ideas, we will put them in a form appropriate for a memo from you to the President.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Ambassador Nitze’s Personal Files 1953, 1972–1989, Lot 90D397, November–December 1985. Secret; Sensitive. “Treat as original” is stamped at the top of the memorandum. A stamped notation reading “GPS” appears on the memorandum, indicating Shultz saw it. An unknown hand wrote “See GPS comment p. 3” next to Shultz’s stamped initials.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.
  4. An unknown hand drew a vertical line in the right-hand margin and wrote: “GPS: I agree. Do a memo.”