27. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (McFarlane) to President Reagan 1


  • Shultz-Gromyko Meeting: Unresolved Issues

As you know, tomorrow Secretary Shultz will hold talks with Foreign Minister Gromyko in Vienna. This meeting comes in the wake of your letter to Gorbachev of April 30 and your Strasbourg speech.2 In both documents you made proposals for how we could make progress in the resolution of problems on our agenda in the four areas of: arms control, regional disagreements, bilateral issues and human [Page 80] rights. Thus far, we have had no substantive reply from the Soviets to the letter or the speech.

For the past two weeks, your staff has been working with Cap and George’s staff as well as with the JCS to put together positions which could be taken in each of the four areas in Vienna. This process has been relatively harmonious—John Poindexter can show you the specific details of the several positions most of which break no new ground—but on two issues disagreements remain. These are how the issue of a summit ought to be treated; and, whether or not to introduce new material or at least greater precision in our arms control positions.

Treatment of a Summit/Meeting. The Secretary of State believes that he should raise the matter of the interest expressed on both sides in a Summit/Meeting and seek to begin the development of an agenda with Gromyko. Others, myself included, believe that to lead with our interest in Summit planning will give the Soviets a gratuitous advantage by appearing to be overly anxious toward getting such a meeting. After all, our interest has always been in getting tangible accomplishments which justify a summit. If we appear to be too preoccupied with holding a meeting, it can be used against us in leveraging points in disagreement. I would have no problem with authorizing the Secretary to respond with our ideas if the Soviets raise the issue. But if not, it seems to me more prudent to let matters stand as they do. You have invited the General Secretary to come to the US. He has said he would welcome a meeting but has not declared himself as to time, date or place. We have had recent low-level soundings by Soviet staff as to our interest in a meeting in a third country or in Moscow and have responded that we prefer the US. The ball is in the Soviet court and we need not raise it, except perhaps to say that “we assume that when you have considered the US proposal you will let us know.”

Introducing Specific Numbers in START and INF . Ambassador Nitze proposed that the Secretary be given contingency authority—for use if the situation in Vienna warrants—to flesh out the START and INF positions we introduced in Round I.3 On INF that contingency authority would entail a global ceiling on deployed US and Soviet LRINF missile warheads at a level of 600, a limit on deployed US and Soviet LRINF missile warheads in Europe at a level of 300 and an indication of US readiness to agree to a specific number of Pershing II missiles deployed in Europe (although no number would be given). In START , he supports contingency authority to propose associated limits on ballistic [Page 81] missile warheads and ALCMs at a level of about 8000 and associated limits on ballistic missiles and bombers.

Ambassador Nitze’s recommendations go substantially beyond current guidance and no other member of the Senior Arms Control Group supports this degree of new US flexibility at the Vienna meeting. In view of the Soviets having walked backward on several of their own proposals and the overall intransigence we faced during the last round, I agree that it would be counter-productive to reward such Soviet behavior with an indication of new US flexibility. We will be better served in patiently repeating our START and INF offers and listening for Soviet counter-offers.


That the summit issue not be raised by the US side in the Shultz/Gromyko meeting, but we should be prepared to respond if Gromyko raises the issue.4

That Ambassador Nitze’s proposals for contingency authority not be used during the Shultz/Gromyko meeting.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, Geneva—ShultzGromyko 05/14/1985. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Poindexter initialed for McFarlane. A copy was sent to the Vice President. In a May 13 covering note to the President, Poindexter wrote: “Bud would like some guidance on two issues that he will discuss tomorrow with George Shultz in Vienna in preparation for a meeting with Gromyko. Bud dictated the attached memo today from Vienna.” Reagan responded: “I feel very strongly that we should do no more to indicate we are begging for a meeting. We’ve invited them to a meeting in the U.S. (It’s our turn.) The ball is in their court. RR.”
  2. See Document 23. On May 8, Reagan addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. The text of the address is printed in Public Papers: Reagan, 1985, Book I, pp. 581–588. The speech is also printed in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 240.
  3. Nitze presented his recommendations in a May 3 memorandum to McFarlane. (Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, [May 1985] Chron File: [No. 23–No. 30])
  4. Reagan initialed his approval of both recommendations.