263. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to NATO, the Embassy in Japan, and the Embassy in Australia1

256573. Military Addressees Handle as Specat Exclusive. Subject: Moscow Arms Control Experts Meeting: Briefing the Allies.

1. Secret—Entire text (except paragraph 14 Unclassified)

2. Summary and Action Requested: Ambassador Abshire should inform PermReps at earliest opportunity of the results of the U.S.-Soviet arms control experts meeting held in Moscow August 11–12, drawing on the points contained in paras 3–13, and stressing the confidentiality of the information.2 For Tokyo and Canberra: Ambassador should do the same at appropriately high level in MFA. Action addressees should also pass on the USG public guidance provided in para 14. End summary.

3. U.S. and Soviet arms control experts met for eight hours on August 11 and four hours on August 12.

4. U.S. participants were Ambassadors Nitze, Rowny, Kampelman, Glitman, and Lehman, ASD Perle, and Special Assistant to the President Col. Robert Linhard. Karpov, Obukhov, Chervov, Detinov, and Tara[Page 1081]senko (Special Assistant to Shevardnadze) participated both days on the Soviet side.3

5. The meetings were serious, substantive, and businesslike. Each side was able to hear the other out in detail, and to express its own views. The sides explored ideas and had a good exchange.

6. Karpov opened the first day’s session by stating that the purpose of the talks was to work out substantive solutions which could facilitate a productive Foreign Ministers’ meeting. He added that this was a free exchange, with discussions on an ad ref basis. Nitze answered that there were two purposes: to prepare for the Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting and to support the NST negotiations.

7. During the first day the Soviets did not follow through on Bessmertynkh’s call for fresh thinking, but instead reiterated past positions without offering any new ideas. They showed little interest in engaging in discussion of the offense-defense relationship.

8. The Soviets raised some questions on U.S. position regarding defense and space arms—in particular continued observance of ABM Treaty—but did not pursue those questions. They offered nothing new on START and resisted the notion of differentiation between types of strategic systems.

9. They did express some interest in a separate INF interim agreement involving retention by both sides of some LRINF missiles in Europe, but were not forthcoming on Asia or SRINF and persisted in raising the issue of non-transfer to third parties.

10. The second day was more productive. Substantive discussion began with the U.S. posing questions intended to frame central issues in each of the three NST areas. The subsequent exchanges were, with one exception, non-polemical and constructive. Karpov said he would [Page 1082] take U.S. side’s questions as “homework” in preparation for next round of talks in Washington.

11. The exception involved Chervov. After U.S. review of our approach on the ABM Treaty and possible deployment of advanced strategic defense outlined in the President’s July 25 letter,4 Chervov launched into a lengthy, intense attack on SDI and U.S. motivations.

12. The Soviets asked about our post-May 27 ideas on mutual restraint. Linhard explained that U.S. would not exceed Soviet levels of ballistic missile warheads or strategic nuclear delivery vehicles. U.S. was ready to discuss other elements of mutual restraint, but sides must focus on need for negotiated reductions. The Soviets mentioned a nuclear test moratorium as a possible element of a mutual restraint regime. Nitze made clear that our position on a test moratorium had not changed.

13. We have invited the Soviets to come to Washington in early September and will be working through diplomatic channels on exact dates.

14. Following is text of USG press guidance on Moscow arms control experts meeting:

Q. What comments can you make on the just-completed meeting in Moscow of U.S. and Soviet arms experts? Did they make any substantive progress?

—The two days of meetings were serious, substantive and businesslike. Each side was able to hear the other out in detail, and to express its own views. We explored ideas and had a good exchange.

—As we said earlier, this dialogue is intended to support the Geneva NST negotiations and the Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting set for September. It is also part of the overall U.S.-Soviet diplomatic process in arms control and the other key areas of the U.S.-Soviet agenda, including human rights, regional issues, and bilateral matters.

—The dialogue on NST issues will be continued. We anticipate that these experts will meet again in the near future, with a date to be set in diplomatic channels.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, [no N number]. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information to SecDef, Moscow, all NATO capitals, Seoul, and Beijing. Drafted by Tulenko and Burton; cleared by Thomas, Nosenzo, Nitze, Hawes, Rowny, Deming, Kampelman, Smith, Lehman, Wheeler (JCS), Glitman, Michael (OSD/IS), Pascoe, Timbie, Linhard, and Pearson; approved by Ridgway.
  2. Memoranda of conversation of the August 11–12 NST meetings in Moscow are in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XI, START I, Documents 143 and 144.
  3. In his memoir, Shultz recalled: “Paul Nitze headed a team of experts that went to Moscow in mid-August and returned to say that the atmosphere was good. There were seven on the U.S. team: Paul Nitze, Ed Rowny, Max Kampelman, Mike Glitman, Ron Lehman, Bob Linhard, and Richard Perle. Ken Adelman asked to be included, and I agreed. Adelman said that I regarded him as ‘the eighth dwarf.’ ‘Do I look like Snow White?’ I asked. ‘I felt the Soviets were instructed to be serious about narrowing differences,’ Paul said, ‘but the people they selected for their team find it hard to deal with such instructions.’ The Soviet delegation was composed of the same people who had been negative all through the negotiations in Geneva. Bessmertnykh had remarked privately about his own delegation, saying, ‘We perhaps made a mistake in the composition.’ The Soviets were fascinated by SDI but showed no signs of interest in our July 25 approach. The least progress of all was on START. With INF, Nitze felt we were getting somewhere. He asked me a crucial question, ‘Do we put the brakes on an emerging INF agreement until we see Soviet movement toward radical reductions in strategic arms?’ ‘No,’ I said without a moment’s hesitation. ‘Wherever we see the possibility of progress, we should be ready to go forward.’” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, pp. 726–727)
  4. See Document 254.