190. National Security Decision Directive 2091


My meetings with General Secretary Gorbachev produced a fresh start in U.S.-Soviet relations in the sense that it established a framework for bilateral negotiations of some of our outstanding differences. It is now our task to make use of this framework to move us toward the goals I have set for U.S.-Soviet relations. This will also be a key component in the substantive preparations for my meeting with Mr. Gorbachev in the United States this year. (U)

In order to ensure vigorous pursuit of a dialogue and, where appropriate, negotiations in those areas where the Joint U.S.-USSR Statement at Geneva indicated that progress is possible, I hereby designate the following agencies to take the lead in coordinating the United States [Page 820] position and pursuing it actively with representatives of the Soviet Union: (U)

1. Negotiations on Nuclear and Space Arms: The Senior Arms Control Group will continue to have responsibility for coordinating views of U.S. positions to be taken, which will then be reviewed by the National Security Council. (C)

2. Regional Conflicts: The Secretary of State will have responsibility for developing concrete new ways to pursue my initiative to end regional conflicts, as outlined in my speech to the United Nations General Assembly last October, and for conducting regular consultations with the Soviet Union. This issue is a major one, and the Department of State should also take the lead in ensuring that it receives an appropriate share of public attention. (C)

3. People-to-People Contacts and Information Exchange: The Director of the United States Information Agency will have the responsibility for implementing the initiatives I have made in this area. Policy matters will be considered by an Interdepartmental Group chaired by the National Security Council Staff. I would note in this connection that the areas for expansion of contacts noted in the U.S.-USSR Joint Statement are only a start toward the objective I have set for a radical expansion of contacts. Therefore, efforts should concentrate not merely on implementing those programs to which the Soviets agreed at Geneva, but to expanding their scope and size in accord with the proposals made by the United States before the Geneva Summit. (C)

4. Chemical Weapons: The Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency shall, in coordination with the Interdepartmental Group on Chemical and Biological Weapons Arms Control, have primary responsibility for preparing the United States position for talks with the Soviets on verification measures to enforce a chemical weapons ban, and on measures to combat the proliferation of chemical weapons. In case of interagency disagreement, the issues should be referred to the Senior Arms Control Group. (C)

5. Risk Reduction Centers: The Staff of the National Security Council, working with the existing ad hoc interagency group on this subject, will retain primary responsibility for the development and implementation of the U.S. approach to be taken in the exploratory, expert-level discussions on the concept of risk reduction centers. (C)

6. Thermonuclear Fusion: The Secretary of Energy shall have the responsibility of coordinating the United States position for the study of the feasibility of an international effort to build a prototype fusion power plant. (C)

7. Cancer Research: The Secretary of Health and Human Services, in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health, shall be responsi[Page 821]ble for developing a cooperative program in this area, utilizing the U.S.-USSR Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Medical Science and Public Health as a framework for implementation. (U)

8. Environmental Research: The Director of the Environmental Protection Agency will have the responsibility for implementing cooperation in this area, utilizing the U.S.-USSR Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection. (U)

9. Humanitarian Issues: The Secretary of State will be responsible for conducting a vigorous effort, based primarily on private diplomacy, for achieving United States objectives in this area. (C)

In all of these areas, the normal interagency process will be utilized to ensure that steps taken are in the interest of the United States. While I wish to ensure that these issues are pursued vigorously with the Soviet Union, all should be discussed and negotiated strictly on their merits. In negotiating with the Soviet Union no artificial deadlines should be set, nor any concessions made merely because another meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev will be scheduled for this year. (C)

Ronald Reagan
  1. Source: Reagan Library, George Shultz Papers, Executive Secretariat Sensitive (02/05/1986–02/06/1986); NLR–775–15–15–9–0. Confidential. Poindexter sent a copy of NSDD 209 to Bush, Shultz, Baker, Weinberger, Baldrige, Casey, Regan, Crowe, and Wick under a February 4 covering memorandum. (Ibid.)