275. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Poindexter) to President Reagan1


  • NST Experts Meetings, September 5–6

U.S. and Soviet arms control experts met for approximately eight hours on September 5, and again for approximately eight hours on September 6.2 The U.S. team, headed by Paul Nitze, included Max Kampelman, Ed Rowny, Richard Perle, Ron Lehman, Mike Glitman and Bob Linhard. Ambassador Victor Karpov (the head of their NST delegation) headed the Soviet team which also included Ambassador Obukov (their START negotiator) and Generals Chervov and Detinov. Soviet Ambassador Dubinin attended all of the meetings.

George Shultz met briefly with the group on the second day to welcome the Soviet team, stress the importance of the discussions, and underscore the need for the Soviet government to find ways of resolving the Daniloff case and the problem we are now having with Soviet emigration.

The discussions were all held as ad referendum talks. The following points summarize the results of these discussions.

INF. In discussing the idea of an interim agreement on LRINF missiles, the Soviet side proposed a ceiling of 100 warheads on LRINF missiles in Europe, specifically on 25 GLCM launchers for the U.S. side (but no Pershing II ballistic missiles) and 33 SS–20 launchers for the Soviet side. The Soviets currently have 810 warheads on 270 SS–20s in [Page 1109] Europe. The Soviets refused to discuss any reductions on SS–20s in Asia. They said that they would continue their freeze on deployments of SS–20s in Asia (by our count, 513 warheads on 171 SS–20s) and that the U.S. could retain in the U.S. warheads to match them on a global basis. Under this Soviet scheme, the Soviets would retain 613 warheads on SS–20 ballistic missiles in range of U.S. forces and allies in either Europe or Asia while the U.S. would have only 100 warheads on cruise missiles in range of their targets.

The U.S. side suggested that the Soviet proposal of a 100 warhead level in Europe might be acceptable if the Soviets reduced their corresponding SS–20 forces in Asia to 100 warheads or less. This would result in a global ceiling of 200 LRINF warheads, an 88% reduction from current Soviet levels. Under such a reduction, the U.S. side indicated that it could accept constraining all U.S. LRINF missiles beyond those providing our 100 warheads in Europe to the United States. However, Pershing II ballistic missiles must constitute a part of the U.S. force mix.

START. While the Soviet position on START remained basically unchanged, the Soviet side did introduce two new elements at this session.

Limit on Ballistic Missile Warheads. The first new element was that the Soviet side suggested, under the current Soviet proposed limit of 8,000 nuclear devices, no more than 80–85% of the total number of nuclear devices permitted to either side could be on ballistic missiles. This would still allow them to have between 6,400 to 6,800 ballistic missile warheads—too high a number. On the other hand, this is the first time that they have proposed a ballistic missile warhead limit, and our side moved immediately to pocket this new element.

Treatment of Nuclear SLCM. The second new element was a Soviet proposal that nuclear SLCMs be limited, but not under the Soviet 8,000 limit. Instead, they would be controlled separately. We pointed out that we saw no way to limit the relatively small number of nuclear SLCMs that we have planned without unacceptable consequences for non-nuclear weapons needed by our fleet which are launched by the same launchers used for nuclear SLCM. We challenged the Soviets to provide their ideas as to how we could resolve this problem.

Defense and Space. Compared to the treatment of INF and START, the discussion of the Defense and Space area was limited. The Soviets reiterated their proposal for non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty for 15–20 years and for negotiations to clarify the meaning of the ABM Treaty. The U.S. side pressed the Soviets on when we could expect a response to your July 25th letter to General Secretary Gorbachev. The Soviet side replied that it would come after the Foreign Ministers’ [Page 1110] meeting. The U.S. side explained that the absence of a Soviet response to this letter made it impractical to discuss defense and space beyond the conceptual exchanges which were held in Moscow when the experts group last met.

Summary for Allies. Attached is a cable which summarizes the meetings for our allies. We have attached this cable for your information should you wish a bit more detail.3

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Tyrus Cobb Files, Country File, USSR 1986 (3); NLR–98–5–23–12–0. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. This memorandum is Tab I of a September 8 memorandum from Linhard to Poindexter, forwarding NST information to Reagan. Reagan’s initials are at the top of the memorandum but are struck through by an unknown hand.
  2. For a summary of the first round of meetings in Moscow, which began on August 11, see Document 263.
  3. Telegram 282182 to all NATO capitals, Tokyo and Canberra, September 9, is attached but not printed. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, [no N number].)