281. Memorandum From Tyrus Cobb and Robert Linhard of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Poindexter)1


  • Senior Advisors Meeting on Shevardnadze Visit

Attached at Tab I is a memorandum from you to the President providing background material and an agenda for tomorrow’s “Senior Advisors” meeting in preparation for the visit of Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze.2 The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for the President to review Secretary Shultz’ game plan for the FM’s visit and to discuss the major issues likely to arise.

The actions we are taking today against the SMUN3 and the Soviet refusal to respond to our initiatives to resolve the Daniloff case cast some uncertainty regarding whether Shevardnadze will still come to Washington. In any event we anticipate that Secretary Shultz will meet with Shevardnadze, if not here then in New York. This meeting thus provides an opportunity for the President to provide guidance to the Secretary for his meetings with the FM.

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As Ty indicated in his memo to you yesterday,4 there is little interagency disagreement with respect to human rights, bilateral and regional issues. Although the President will wish to stress our positions on these issues should he meet with Shevardnadze, we see little if any prospect for substantial progress in these areas. We anticipate that tomorrow’s Senior Advisors meeting thus will focus primarily on the Daniloff case, SMUN reductions and arms control issues.

It seems unlikely that Shevardnadze will have a Gorbachev commitment on a summit date in his pocket when he arrives. However, we anticipate that he may have a response from the General Secretary to the President’s July letter.

On arms control we expect Secretary Shultz to outline his plan to provide Shevardnadze with a summary of our current position. Although we have not formally seen the talking points (which may pose a process problem for other agencies), our informal look reveals no problems. Secretary Shultz also plans to give Shevarnadze a 5–6 page draft paper entitled “Basic Elements of an Agreement,” a straightforward outline of our position on NST issues.

Two additional arms control issues may come up:

—On nuclear testing, Secretary Shultz plans to suggest that the Geneva discussions move to actual negotiation of new verification protocols to the TTBT and PNET. We agree, but anticipate interagency disagreement over who should lead those negotiations. In addition, however, Secretary Shultz plans to note that ratification of the TTBT commits the sides to further discussions. Since the treaty speaks of negotiations relating to “cessation of all underground nuclear weapons tests,” we think it unwise to stress this with the Soviets. They may incorrectly interpret it as a softening of the U.S. position on a CTB.

—Secretary Shultz will suggest negotiations to establish risk reduction centers. We agree. There is, however, interagency disagreement on who should lead such negotiations and on whether to attempt to sign some formal agreement at this summit. This issue should be forwarded to the NSC for resolution by tomorrow.


That you sign and forward the memorandum to the President at Tab I.

That you authorize Rod McDaniel to send the memorandum to his counterparts at Tab II notifying DOD, State and the VP’s office of tomorrow’s meeting and agenda.5

Bill Cockell, Peter Rodman, Frank Lavin concur.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Tyrus Cobb Files, Country File, USSR 1986 (4); NLR–98–5–24–8–4. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Cobb initialed for Linhard.
  2. Attached but not printed. Although no formal record of a September 17 “Senior Advisors Meeting” has been found, Reagan wrote in his diary on September 17: “Then an N.S.C. meeting getting ready for the Soviet Foreign Ministers visit & how we treat the Daniloff problem with him. We’ve notified the Soviet U. we’re sending 25 of their U.N. staff home—all are KGB agents.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. II: November 1985–January 1989, p. 639) In his memoir, Shultz wrote of this meeting: “At a meeting earlier in the day to discuss Shevardnadze’s arrival, Weinberger had argued again that we should cancel all contact with the Soviets until they unconditionally released Daniloff and gave us full satisfaction for the death of Major Nicholson. At that meeting, President Reagan had decided that I would deal with Shevardnadze on Daniloff as well as on the long-term issues but that he, the president, would not talk to Shevardnadze about anything but Daniloff and Nicholson. I knew that Shevardnadze did not want to get into a public standoff with the president and, perhaps, hoped even to avoid meeting him at all.” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, pp. 740–741)
  3. Reference is to the Soviet Mission to the United Nations. Shultz wrote in his memoir: “On September 17, the president, with the support of his advisers, ordered twenty-five Soviet KGB officials to leave the Soviet mission at the United Nations by October 1, 1986, or face expulsion. This order stood by itself and was not linked to Daniloff. We had informed the Soviets the previous March that they must reduce the overblown size of their mission from the current 275 to 170 in steps of 25. By October 1, they were to be down to no more than 218. Now we were also telling them who must leave. The original issue was the number of people and their intelligence-gathering practices. But the order would be taken, without any doubt, as linked to Daniloff’s detention in Moscow.” (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p. 739)
  4. Not found.
  5. Poindexter approved both recommendations. Tab II is attached but not printed.