239. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting of the National Security Planning Group1


  • NSPG—6 June 1986

1. Poindexter opened up with the strong position of Soviets seeming to be in disarray. We need to maintain funding levels to keep our strong position.2 The Soviet proposals plus our strong options may provide an unusual opportunity. We should sort out what we can do in six areas of arms control: defense, space, conventional forces, INF, nuclear tests, chemical warfare. Gorbachev will have to have any positions pretty quickly if we are going to get a reaction and understand in time for the Soviets to prepare for a late-November, early-December meeting here.

2. Shultz wants rather to extend strengthening to the start of our proposals. The needs for us to exploit it.3 We have a chance to look at things desirable—reduce and ______ weapons.4 There is real negotiating going on at Geneva. He perceives both U.S. and the Soviets struggling to find the next direction. Again held forth on the victory of [Page 980] freedom. The value of free and open markets, negotiating with entrepeneurs. He cited China, the recent meeting of the African nations—Soviets have lost ideological battle. Their position is based only on military strength. He thinks we have greater military and doubts that they could have pulled off the Libya raid. They have two bases outside Libya. We have lots of bases. Only Soviet advantage is in Lenin based strength. U.S. not as good as Soviets particularly because we are not good at ______. It would be to our advantage to reduce this advantage of the Soviets. Soviets are floundering.

3. He then went into historical deductions. In the Nixon years of linkage, linkage did not work. The Soviets took advantage of opportunity—Afghanistan and Angola.

4. There was a shift in the Reagan years from linkage to pursuit of our own interests. Shultz cited the furor over the KAL shootdown. The tension separated the two countries at the Geneva negotiations. They were sent back with the message that arms control is important in itself. The allies liked this. They did not recognize ______, namely, that we are pursuing our own interests independent of the Soviets. Shultz mentioned his Rand speech.5 Shultz says that all the Soviets have been able to do is to cite violation in the spirit of Geneva. There is no spirit in Geneva. The two have different concepts of the relation—ours for interest for each and theirs for linkage: for the spirit of Geneva. He then pointed out Geneva and that there had been a great deal of movement on their part to the British and French capabilities; their zero-to-zero offer, the 50% reduction to freeze of SS–20s in Asia, to nuclear testing moratorium now going over a year, their response to chemical warfare initiatives and conventional arms proposals. In their conventional arms proposals they bought the concept of applying it from the Atlantic to the Urals for the first time. Shultz went on to say that on verification they had not done much but their rhetoric had opened up on divided families. They have done more than they have ever done. They allowed Sacharov (sp?) out and Bonner to travel, the bilateral exchange—people to consulates—moved forward. They have gone forward in the program and have been friendly in bringing out the red carpet.

5. Shultz mentioned the question of how the Soviets would deal with Reagan, the strong and tough. Why not wait it out, but on the other hand if an agreement could be struck with Reagan, he will be able to make it stick better than the next President may be likely to do. Finally, the next President will take time to sort out a ______ and figure out his strategy and he would not be ready for dealing until [Page 981] sometime in 1990. Meanwhile, military and economic pressures on Gorbachev are great. A lot going on in defense area. This is the first time we have them talking about these reductions.

6. In addition to trying to capitalize on the deep reduction, we need to build SDI into the system to assure its momentum into the 1990s. We need to work on four lines:

1. Get started this year;

2. To restore the funding necessary to preserve the level we have and the strength it provides with the forward thrust which has put us ahead

3. Work on our alliances

4. Keep advancing proposals that have a chance to result in a good agreement

Shultz concluded his discussions whereupon Poindexter resumed the floor saying that arms control was the prime area for progress.6 For these reasons: (1) compelling public interest in arms control; (2) Soviets will continue to make proposals and advances. They will have an impact on the allies, the public and the Congress. We must put forward counter arms proposals before the summer break; (3) Study a comprehensive space and defense in the areas of space and defense including ABM, nuclear tests, conventional forces; (4) Study whether this can be a repackage of what we have out there or key developments options; and (5) President Reagan should work to develop a comprehensive initiative on defense and space. We should consider what could be done with the Soviet ABM proposal to defense research and extend ABA [ABM]. They have started a 15–20 years extension. In regard to defining research, Poindexter said this is unacceptable but we should consider what we should do to assure near time support of SDI and institutionability while avoiding restraints on the program itself. He expressed fear of the accusation the Soviets would make that we tried to advance ABM. Soviets have fear of competition, fear of xray laser to technology and economy. He pointed out that the Soviets have SDI programs going on. Our SDI could not survive the abrogation of the ABM Treaty. He said we should consider some [Page 982] extension of the ABM Treaty in exchange for a definition of research which will permit testing. Soviets would also want to test no later than we and we should attempt to establish an understanding that will permit full scale testing and evaluation within the Treaty sufficient to permit a scale engineering decision that SDI is feasible. We might also consider a modification that would permit deployment only after a specified fixed negotiation period, after feasibility. He then turned to nuclear testing of CTB for a long-term resolution for verification issues, limits on lowering of threshold perhaps to progress in reducing offensive forces. Now a decision on public position of the U.S.—whether in Geneva, whether in a letter to Gorbachev, whether a Presidential speech, the objective would be to take the high ground to improve position in Congress to institute SDI and shift the blame to the Soviets if all this fails.

Then the President spent about 5 or 6 minutes of additional time to express his general attitude.7 He said that he thought that Gorbachev is confused and that Gorbachev and the hardliners are increasingly at odds. He believes that Gorbachev is groping for a line and said it might be that their action on divided families and other human rights type things is his way of testing what Ronald Reagan said to him in Geneva, namely that the U.S. represents no threat to the Soviets and had no desire to harm them. He indicated the desire to give Gorbachev some ammunition to use with hardliners by Reagan expressing appreciation of those gestures, press for more collaborated activities, like the creation of an international consultation group on nuclear power, like exchanging experience and safety hints, etc., the kind of thing which would be something for Gorbachev to point to. At the same time, press for definite steps to reduce weapons as a first step to eliminate mistrust. We can’t give SDI away as long as nuclear weapons exist. He would be interested in a provision that would assure that we not take advantage in developing SDI. He would like to continue on research and necessary testing and would be willing to consider an agreement in advance that if the testing was successful, the Soviets would be invited to observe the tests, with the understanding that the will go forward in the absence of an agreement which would lead toward the [Page 983] deployment elimination of defense and would also agree to make defense available to all contributors beginning with the Soviets. He used the saying “Keep the gas mask to protect against mad men.” The bottom line was we should recognize and appreciate what the Soviets have put forward.

William J. Casey8
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 88B00443R: Policy Files (1980–1986), Box 19, DCI Memo Chron (1–30 Jun ‘86). No classification marking. The June 6 NSPG meeting took place in the Situation Room from 10:58 to 11:51 a.m. (Reagan Library, President’s Daily Diary) A copy of the official NSPG minutes are in the Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC National Security Planning Group (NSPG), NSPG 134 06/06/1986 [US-Soviet Relations]; excerpts are provided in the annotation below. Weinberger’s memorandum for the record is in the Reagan Library, Fred Ikle Files, Arms Control (President Gorbachev) 1986–88. Gates’ memorandum for the record is in Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 89B00224R: Committees, Task Forces, Boards, and Councils Files, Memos for the Record of Mtgs w/ Nat’l Security Advisor (1986).
  2. According to the minutes: “Admiral Poindexter introduced the meeting by noting that the approaching summer break in the Geneva arms control negotiations provided an opportunity for fresh thinking aimed at developing new proposals for the fall. The Soviets clearly wanted to lock us into a period of ABM treaty adherence, and this presented opportunities and challenges.” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC National Security Planning Group (NSPG), NSPG 134 06/06/1986 [US-Soviet Relations])
  3. According to the minutes: “Secretary Shultz then outlined the overall state of the relationship, concluding that the Soviets are at a fork in the road where they can either choose to wait out the President—gambling that Congress will cut the defense budget—or go for an agreement that will allow them to reduce their military spending on the premise that Ronald Reagan is their best hope for selling an agreement to the American public. He argued that USG priorities for the year should be: restore the budget cuts to defense and international functions, work on alliance relationships, and go for a good arms control agreement.” (Ibid.)
  4. This and all other omissions are in the original.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 2.
  6. The official NSPG minutes read: “Admiral Poindexter opened a general discussion with the observation that an arms control agreement represented both the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge to the Administration. In re-examining our current position, the main issue was the ABM treaty versus SDI—how to position ourselves so as to bring Congress along in funding SDI, while working the treaty issue, developing a concept for transition to a defense-based deterrence, and coming up with a viable concept for sharing. In addition, the other arms control areas must also be addressed. He proposed that the interagency group be tasked to develop proposals for consideration by the NSPG. The output of these deliberations should be a private initiative and/or a public speech.” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC National Security Planning Group (NSPG), NSPG 134 06/06/1986 [US-Soviet Relations])
  7. The official NSPG minutes read: “The President observed that Gorbachev has an internal dilemma, heightened by Chernobyl—we need to reach an agreement which does not make him look like he gave up everything. We cannot give away SDI, but we can make clear we do not seek a first-strike capability. He was thinking of something like an agreement now that, if SDI research proves out, and recognizing that both sides are now free to conduct research under the ABM treaty, we would when we got to the point of needing to test, invite the Soviets to observe our tests, but then actual deployment by either side would depend on the movement towards total elimination of strategic nuclear missiles—in this way, both sides would see SDI not as a threat, but as a defense against a madman.” (Ibid.)
  8. Printed from a copy that bears his typed signature.