221. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

Tosec 80138/133191. Subject: Presidential Message on Reactor Accident.

1. Secret entire text.

2. Asst. Sec Ridgway will deliver points at para 3 below to Soviet Chargé Sokolov Tuesday morning.2 Embassy should seek urgent appointment at highest available level of MFA to deliver parallel démarche using same points. Points should be delivered as an oral message from the President to Gorbachev. You should leave paper incorporating points for the record. You should make the two points at para 4 separately from the President’s message.

3. Begin text of President’s oral message:

—We wish to express our deep regret over the accident at the Chernobyl atomic energy station. We hope casualties and material damage are minimal.

—The President has directed me to assure you that the United States is prepared to make available to the Soviet Union humanitarian and technical assistance in dealing with this tragedy.

—We could send immediately a party of scientists from our Nuclear Emergency Search Team (NEST) who can assist in determining and subsequently coordinating the best use of the resources from the United States nuclear safety and environmental protection programs.

—These resources can also be made available and include the following capabilities:

1. Atmospheric Release Advisory Capability (ARAC) which can predict radioactive material dispersion based on geography, weather, and the radioactive materials released.

2. Aerial Measuring System (AMS), a helicopter-borne radiological measurement system which can map the actual spread of radioactive contamination.

3. Radiological assistance teams including health physicists and equipment to measure radioactive contamination in water, air, and [Page 933] soil. Also, technical assistance in assessing the environmental effects of the radioactive materials released.

4. Medical personnel experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of radiation exposure in people.

5. Technical expertise and assistance in radiological decontamination, recovery from a nuclear reactor accident, and minimizing environmental effects.

End text.

6. Begin text of additional points.

—We are of course concerned about the levels of radiation released as a result of the accident. Press reports indicate higher than normal radiation levels as far north as Finland.

—Since radiological damage or accident assessment issues with international implications may result, we would appreciate any additional details you can provide on the Chernobyl accident.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D860328–0820. Secret; Niact Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Parris; cleared by Negroponte, McDaniel, and Devine; approved by Ridgway. Sent for information Immediate to Shultz; see footnote 1, Document 220.
  2. April 29.