296. Paper Prepared by the Senior Arms Control Group and the Arms Control Support Group1


The 11–12 October meeting in Iceland between the President and General Secretary Gorbachev is intended to set the stage for a full scale summit to be held in the United States late this year. This paper reviews those arms control areas of such prominence that they will inevitably be discussed in Iceland. The paper is limited to the three areas specifically mentioned in Gorbachev’s 18 September letter—ABM/SDI, INF and [Page 1249] nuclear testing—and START, the most important issue for the United States.2 The intent is to identify new approaches the President might use or, where no new approaches are appropriate, to identify the areas where the President must be prepared to explain why no further US movement is possible. (S)


United States Position and Objectives

The United States seeks broad, deep, equitable and verifiable reductions in strategic offensive arms, with special emphasis on destabilizing ICBMs such as the Soviet heavy SS–18 missile. While remaining firmly committed to 50% reductions, we have also tabled an interim proposal which includes 1600 SNDVs (with a possible sublimit of 350 heavy bombers), a 50% ballistic missile throwweight reduction, and a combined limit of 7500 RVs plus ALCMs, with sublimits of 5500 ballistic missile RVs, 3300 ICBM RVs and not more than 1650 RVs on all permitted ICBMs except silo-based light and medium ICBMs with six RVs each or less. The proposal would produce less sweeping reductions and involves many other steps designed to reduce the differences between the two sides. (S)

Soviet Position and Objectives

The Soviets tie progress in START to an extended period of non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and severe constraints on the SDI program. They reject the US emphasis on ballistic missiles and seek limitations on SLCMs and on all bomber weapons, not just ALCM. Foreign Minister Shevardnadze during his meeting with Secretary Shultz and General Secretary Gorbachev in his September letter to the President simply said reductions would follow resolution of Defense and Space issues. Soviet NST negotiators have not been forthcoming since our most recent proposal was tabled in Geneva. Nevertheless, the Soviets could choose to reemphasize START at any time, including in Iceland. (S)

United States Options in Iceland

The most recent START proposal was made by the United States and the Soviets have yet to respond in a meaningful fashion, although they have tabled proposals previously made at the September 5th experts meeting. All agencies agree that the President should go on the offensive and aggressively push for offensive force reductions along the lines the United States has proposed, but that no further US movement is appropriate unless and until the Soviets make a significant [Page 1250] move on this issue. The President should stress the importance he places on START whether Gorbachev raises it or not. He should stress that early agreement on specific limits on the numbers of warheads on ballistic missiles and ICBMs, and on how to limit missile throwweight, especially of the Soviet SS–18, would provide a framework around which a final agreement could be built. He should also stress that the United States will not accept the linkage the Soviet Union is seeking to impose between START reductions and US non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. (S/S)


United States Position and Objectives

The United States seeks a treaty now with the Soviet Union which would commit both sides to establish an agreed way to jointly manage a stable transition to a defense-reliant strategic regime if, after 1991, either side makes a decision to deploy advanced defenses. The President’s July 25 proposal to Gorbachev provides a concrete framework for an agreement which includes such a treaty. (S)

Under the President’s proposal, the US and the Soviet Union would confine themselves to activities permitted by the terms of the ABM Treaty through 1991, and possibly beyond, until such time as either side determines that the program of research, development, and testing has demonstrated effective strategic defenses to be feasible and until a plan is submitted for “sharing the benefits” and “eliminating offensive ballistic missiles.” At that point, a new treaty regime, to be negotiated as soon as possible, hopefully in 1986, will be triggered. Under the new treaty regime, the sides will negotiate on the plan for sharing the benefits of advanced defenses and for eliminating offensive ballistic missiles. If agreement is reached, deployment will proceed according to that agreement. If agreement is not reached after two years of such negotiation, either side will be free to deploy advanced defenses after providing six months notice of its intention to do so. (S)

The United States is continuing to elaborate on how effective defenses would provide a more stable offense/defense relationship, the importance of reversing Soviet non-compliance with the ABM Treaty, and how the U.S. Open Laboratories Initiative can help to address both U.S. and Soviet concerns. (S)

Soviet Positions and Objectives

The Soviets are seeking to stop the US SDI program at the earliest possible stage by “strengthening” the ABM Treaty through more restrictive provisions. (S)

The Soviets are also linking agreement on reduction of strategic arms to an agreement in Defense and Space. For a 50 percent reduction [Page 1251] in strategic arms they still require agreement to ban development (including “scientific research”), testing, and deployment of so-called “space-strike arms.” For lesser reductions (i.e. 30 percent) they require U.S. agreement: not to exercise our right to withdraw from the ABM Treaty for a period of “up to fifteen years;” to adhere strictly to the terms of the ABM Treaty; and to negotiate new and more restrictive definitions governing ABM related activity. The Soviet Union also proposes bans on the development, testing and deployment of dedicated ASAT systems or space-based systems capable of striking targets in the atmosphere or on the earth’s surface. (S)

United States Options in Iceland

The most recent major move on Defense and Space issues was made by the United States in the President’s July 25 letter to Gorbachev. Ambassador Kampelman will only just have tabled the full details of the President’s proposal. Thus all agencies agree the President should use Iceland to set forth his new proposal directly to General Secretary Gorbachev and to give the rationale for that proposal, using the line of argumentation that was employed effectively by the U.S. experts, and by Secretary Shultz in his discussions with the Soviet Foreign Minister. This has already been incorporated into the President’s proposed talking points. (S/S)

There is also consensus that the President should attempt to have the discussion on Defense and Space during the first day of the meeting, after he initiates discussion of START. The objective would be to elicit Gorbachev’s reaction to the President’s presentation and attempt to address the General Secretary’s concerns during the second day—but with the President demonstrating how they can be addressed within the framework that the President has proposed. (S/S)

Finally, all agencies agree that further adjustments to our position during the Iceland meeting are inappropriate unless the Soviets show major—and unexpected—positive movement. However, there are different views concerning whether the U.S. should be prepared to make such offers in response to significant Soviet movement. (S/S)

All agencies agree that we would prefer to respond within the START framework to any Soviet movement in START. No agency proposes we volunteer any movement in Defense and Space. Some believe, however, that if: (1) the Soviets make a major move in START, (2) the Soviet offer is attractive enough in the context of the President’s Defense and Space proposal and would help move us toward agreement on central START issues, and (3) the Soviets hold their offer hostage to further US movement in the Defense and Space area, we should agree to hold discussions in Defense and Space with the aim of resolving differences on two areas of interest to the Soviets:

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—what is meant by the Soviet proposal that we commit not to withdraw from the ABM Treaty (i.e., how would the Soviets modify Article 15 so as to achieve their purpose while not asking us to foreswear our right to withdraw due to supreme national interest); and

—differences that appear to exist now between United States and Soviet understanding of ABM Treaty obligations. (S/S)

Advocates of this option note that both sides propose that the defense programs be governed for a period of time by the provisions of the ABM Treaty. The Soviets propose an extended non-withdrawal commitment; we propose the sides confine themselves through 1991 to research, development, and testing, which is permitted by the ABM Treaty. Therefore, as part of any settlement involving continued observance of the ABM Treaty’s limitation for a finite period of time, we could agree to discuss with the Soviets what is permitted and what is prohibited by the Treaty. In addition we could, while making clear our problems with Soviet proposals for non-withdrawal, suggest a specific formulation for how restrictions on withdrawal from the ABM Treaty would apply under our proposal. This subject could be taken up by the DST delegations, by a separate group of experts as the Soviets propose, or by an experts group that would work under the delegations in Geneva. (S/S)

Others believe, however, that there is no problem understanding what the Soviets mean by non-withdrawal, that the ABM Treaty definitions are already clear and agreed, and that it is not in the US interest to reopen these definitions. Any additional discussions would divert the focus from the President’s new proposal and would inevitably lead to unacceptable new restrictions which would undermine the President’s SDI program. They further believe the coherence of the President’s new proposal would be fragmented by discussing it in such a fashion. Finally they believe that the most appropriate response to Soviet movement in START is further US movement in START to be determined after the Iceland meeting, and that we should not move further in Defense and Space until the Soviets show movement in that forum. (S/S)

In the context of the Soviets proposing major, and unexpected, positive movement, the Arms Control Support Group also considered the option of offering to attempt to narrow the gap between commonly cited “time lines” associated with the US and Soviet positions, i.e., between our proposal of 7½ years before deployment and the Soviet proposal of “up to 15 years” of “non-withdrawal” from the ABM Treaty. (S/S)

All agencies agree it is essential to recognize the fundamental differences between our two approaches. We seek Soviet agreement to a period after which we would be permitted to deploy the fruits of our [Page 1253] research and complete a transition to defense. We desire this to help institutionalize SDI’s survival as a viable program. The Soviet objective is the opposite; after the Soviet 15 years, we would simply revert to the present situation. Therefore, until some progress is made in shifting the Soviet Union to a framework supportive of our objectives, all agencies agree it is not in the US interest to initiate discussions on narrowing the difference between the two time frames. We can pocket Soviet movement toward shorter time lines, but should not seek to focus discussion on this point. (S/S)

Additional Issues. Two additional areas have been reviewed for possible new approaches:

Krasnoyarsk. Although the Soviet Krasnoyarsk radar is a violation of the ABM Treaty and our modernization of the US radar at Thule, Greenland is not, if the Soviets dismantle the Krasnoyarsk radar, we could consider dismantling the phased-array radar at Thule, replacing it with a modern dish radar. After extensive review, all agencies agree this option should not be pursued. Additional analysis is attached.3 (S/S)

Offensive Use of Space Systems. It has been suggested we propose a ban on testing of space systems for attacking targets on the earth’s surface. (Extending such a ban to the atmosphere is unwise given the difficulty of defining “atmosphere” in a fashion which permits boost-phase intercept of ballistic missiles). We have no plans for such tests, and this could be part of a package including Soviet acceptance of our right to pursue SDI research, development, and testing. All agencies agree such a proposal is premature since we do not know what future testing the SDI program may require and such a proposal would raise verification issues which are just now being analyzed. (S/S)

Should the Soviets raise the issue of offensive use of space systems, we could counter by pointing out that existing treaties prohibit weapons of mass destruction in space, by reaffirming our continuing commitment to these treaties, and by asking Gorbachev to specify the particular Soviet concerns. (S/S)


United States Position and Objectives

Our goal remains the elimination of the entire category of land-based Long Range Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (LRINF) missiles. We have agreed, however, that the way to make rapid progress toward [Page 1254] this goal may be to reach an interim agreement at a level above zero. Any agreement must adhere to the principles we have advanced to throughout the negotiations: There must be significant reductions, both in Europe and (for the Soviets) in Asia; reductions in Asia must be proportional to those in Europe (although we can depart from this in a limited range of cases such as that indicated below). We will not permit an INF agreement to export the threat to Asia. The US and the USSR must have the right to equal global warhead limits under the agreement. There must be effective verification provisions as part of the agreement. There must be constraints on Short Range Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (SRINF). Third party systems (i.e. UK and French) will not be given formal or informal consideration in the agreement. (S)

In response to a Soviet suggestion during the last round of Experts’ Talks in Washington to limit European LRINF warheads to 100 per side, we have proposed in Geneva an interim agreement that would limit each side to 200 warheads globally. Each side would be permitted 100 warheads in Europe and up to 100 warheads outside of Europe. Under such an agreement (e.g. 100/100), the Soviets could deploy their warheads “outside Europe” on Soviet soil, while the US would agree to deploy systems outside Europe only in US territory. The equal ceilings in Europe and Asia resulting from this proposal are not to become a substitute for the general principle of proportionate reductions. Our previous proposals remain on the table, including: (1) an interim 140-launcher limit for each side in Europe (with proportional Soviet reductions in Asia), and (2) agreement to move to zero LRINF in three stages, reaching zero in a specified time. (S)

Soviet Position and Objectives

The most recent Soviet move has been to suggest a limit of 100 warheads for each side in Europe, but offering only a “limit” (unspecified) on Soviet LRINF forces in Asia and no mention of SRINF. The US would be limited to Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs) only in Europe. The United States would have the right to match Soviet warheads outside of Europe, but such forces would be limited to deployment in the continental United States, excluding Alaska. The Soviets also would include a provision prohibiting transfer of medium range systems to third countries and insist on an agreement of limited duration. (S)

Soviet objectives include retaining a significant Soviet SS–20 force in Asia (thus driving a wedge between the US and Japan), eliminating the US Pershing–II ballistic LRINF missile, and driving political wedges between the US and our NATO Allies on the LRINF and SRINF issues. The Soviets omitted any explicit reference to compensation for UK and French forces in their last suggestion. They also removed their original [Page 1255] condition that UK and French forces not be modernized, but only in the context of an interim agreement of more limited duration than we consider acceptable. (S)

United States Options in Iceland

For the purposes of the Iceland meeting, modification of specific INF proposals or creation of a new option is not required. Most agencies believe that, despite Soviet claims, agreement is not near in this area because, among other issues, of the extensive verification procedures which remain to be negotiated. However, INF is likely to be an area the Soviets will want to focus on for the summit, and they may want to expand the “areas of agreement in principle.” INF is also the area about which the European allies and Japan will be most sensitive to any perceived changes in US positions; they will expect to be consulted in advance. (S/S)

The US has been forthcoming in Geneva—thus the “ball is in the Soviet court.” All agencies agree our first priority should be to press Gorbachev for a response to our specific proposal of September 18 of 100 warheads in Europe and 100 or fewer in Asia. Beyond this, our options are somewhat limited; we could:

Continue to insist on Soviet agreement that SS–20’s in Asia will be reduced concurrently and proportionately with those in Europe under an interim agreement. Ambassador Rowny believes that further US proposals are inappropriate without a response to our September 18 proposal and would favor such an approach.

Explore the range of numbers around 100 that would be acceptable for an interim level of warheads in Europe, bearing in mind our policy of returning to the principle of proportional reductions in Asia. Clearly the problem will be determining what level in Asia the Soviets may propose or could accept between our offer of 100 warheads and their current warhead level of at least 513. We may see them show interest in a level roughly equivalent to their position in Asia at the time of the “Walk in the Woods” (90 launchers or 270 warheads; roughly their current order of battle at Novosibirsk and Barnaul).5 If this were the case, applying the principle of proportionality would result in 372 warheads in Europe and 270 in Asia. This would meet our criteria and should be acceptable, although we may prefer deeper reductions. Some believe an alternative of 300 warheads in Europe and 300 in Asia (or some level between 100/100 and 300/300) might be both preferable and negotiable. At issue is whether we should be prepared to pursue [Page 1256] either or both of these outcomes. Others, including OSD and Ambassador Rowny, believe this latter approach would give the Soviets 100 more warheads than they would be permitted under the application of proportionate reduction—a dramatic and undesirable departure from past US commitments to our Asian Allies, and one we should reject. (S/S)

Seek additional areas of agreement in principle. As examples we could seek Soviet agreement:

—That, since both sides agree on the need for effective verification, they further agree that such effective verification provisions should include (1) a comprehensive and accurate exchange of data, both prior to reductions and thereafter, (2) on-site observation of destruction down to agreed levels, and (3) inventory control of remaining forces, including on-site inspection as appropriate.

—That Soviet SRINF would have to be limited globally as part of an agreement, with the US retaining the right to equal levels, and with a commitment to subsequent negotiations to reduce and eliminate SRINF as part of any LRINF agreement.


United States Position and Objectives

The United States seeks verification improvements to the TTBT and PNET and is willing to move forward on ratification once such improvements have been notified. A comprehensive test ban remains a long-term US objective, but only in the context of a time when we do not need to depend on nuclear deterrence to ensure international security and stability, and when we have achieved broad, deep, and verifiable arms reductions, substantially improved verification capabilities, expanded confidence building measures, and greater balance in conventional forces. Thus, the United States sees little prospect of commencing CTB negotiations in the foreseeable future. (U)

The President has stated that, upon ratification of the TTBT and PNET, and in association with a parallel program to reduce and ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons, the United States is prepared to discuss ways to implement a step-by-step parallel program of limiting and ultimately ending nuclear testing.6 No decisions have been made on details of such a program. OSD, DOE and the JCS believe any further limitations on testing (such as quotas or reduced yield thresholds) would severely limit, if not eliminate, our ability to maintain an effective deterrent. In the deliberations which led to the President’s step-by-step offer, State advocated an annual quota of tests above a specific threshold. The quota, which could decrease as strategic arms [Page 1257] were reduced, would be implemented after methods to verify it were in place and operating. Subsequent technical and policy analysis of such a proposal, conducted by DOE and OSD (with JCS support) respectively, led those agencies to conclude the number of nuclear tests required is not directly related to the number of strategic nuclear weapons in the arsenal and that a quota was neither verifiable nor it was not in the national interest. As a result, there is no interagency agreement on an acceptable approach to implement the President’s offer. (S/S)

Soviet Position and Objectives

The Soviets claim to have no interest in TTBT or PNET verification improvements, although two sets of technical discussions at the nuclear experts meeting in Geneva have been generally professional. A third meeting is scheduled for November. The Soviets have not responded to the President’s offer for CORRTEX demonstrations for Soviet officials (including Soviet Academy of Science personnel) at the Nevada Test Site. Nor have they responded to the President’s statement in his letter to Gorbachev and his UN speech on step-by-step limitations on nuclear testing following TTBT and PNET ratification.7 (S)

The Soviets continue to seek the immediate cessation of nuclear testing through a moratorium followed by a comprehensive test ban. Since the most recent Soviet extension of their moratorium on nuclear testing, the Soviet Union has gone out of its way, both publicly and privately, to make cessation of testing a major theme of Soviet foreign policy. This Soviet diplomatic and propaganda offensive is comparable in scope to Soviet attempts to preclude INF deployments in 1983, the Soviet campaign against enhanced radiation warhead deployments in the late 1970s, or the 1958 Soviet campaign which led to the 1958–61 nuclear testing moratorium. (C)

In his most recent letter to the President, General Secretary Gorbachev stated that “the attitude of a country toward the cessation of nuclear testing is the touchstone of its policy in the field of disarmament and international security.”8 The Soviets probably have made such a central theme of nuclear testing, even though they can be in no doubt as to the United States’ attitude toward a Comprehensive Test Ban, because they believe nuclear testing offers them an advantageous international propaganda issue. Alternatively, US unwillingness to agree to an end to testing could provide Gorbachev a convenient rationale [Page 1258] to use to blame the US for lack of progress in improving relations. Whatever the reason, Gorbachev himself is heavily engaged in demands for testing restrictions vastly greater than anything the United States is prepared to contemplate. (S)

United States Options in Iceland

There is no objective reason why we should worry. The intense Soviet propaganda campaign on nuclear testing has failed for the most part and United States policy remains intact. If, however, General Secretary Gorbachev is unwilling to agree to a summit without some, at least cosmetic, movement, then the present US position will not secure whatever benefit in meeting our objectives a summit would bring. (S)

It makes neither strategic nor political sense for the United States to alter (a) its position that the first step is effective verification of the TTBT/PNET, and (b) its opposition to a Comprehensive Test Ban in the foreseeable future. The issue is, within those parameters, whether there are any adjustments which might make it easier for Gorbachev to come to the summit without prejudicing our own position on testing or other national security concerns. OSD, DOE and JCS believe there are none. The following possibilities have been reviewed and rejected:

Accept explicit reference in the summit communique to the existing provision of Article 1 (3) of the TTBT obligating the parties to “continue their negotiation with a view toward achieving a solution to the problem of cessation of all underground nuclear weapons tests.” The US would tie agreement to such explicit reference to agreement to move to formal negotiations on verification improvements which would permit us to move forward on TTBT/PNET ratification. The two leaders could not commit to ratification itself since there is no reasonable chance of completing these negotiations before a 1986 summit. The President would make it clear we would expect such future negotiations to follow his step-by-step approach and thus not to begin until significant strategic arms reductions were achieved. (S/S)

Repackage TTBT/PNET verification in a multilateral context. The US might seek to repackage TTBT/PNET verification in a way that would allow the Soviets to assert conditions had changed, perhaps by building on Soviet suggestions and seeking to involve the New Delhi Six in verification in some fashion. Multilateral verification of a bilateral treaty, however, would impair effective verification and would set a dangerous precedent for other arms negotiations. All agencies therefore judge this option to be unworkable. (S/S)

Agree to begin formal negotiations on the President’s step-by-step approach as soon as the TTBT/PNET is ratified. The President would make clear that progress in such negotiations would depend on progress in arms reductions, but would explicitly commit to begin them. Negotia[Page 1259]tions would have two objectives: agreement on exactly what limitations would be applied in a step-by-step fashion and detailed agreement on verification measures, which would have to be in place before any limits were implemented. This approach downplays the essential requirement in the President’s approach for a program of reductions and the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. (S/S)

All agencies agree that the best choice is to hang tough. The United States has made a responsible offer on TTBT/PNET verification improvements and has made it clear that discussion of further steps is possible once this verification is accomplished. The Soviets have not responded. Additional concessions are not warranted. (S/S)


All agencies agree that the President’s principal purpose in the Iceland meeting should be to articulate the United States position forcefully and completely. All agree that no new initiatives are appropriate in the areas of START and nuclear testing. (S/S)

In Defense and Space and its relationship to START, the following issues exist:

—If the Soviets make a significant move in START, but make that move conditional on US movement in Defense and Space, should the United States respond with movement in the Defense and Space area?

—If so, how much movement in START must the Soviets show before additional US movement in Defense and Space is appropriate?

—If the United States does respond to such Soviet movement, should the response be agreeing to discuss terms and definitions under the ABM Treaty and the subject of non-withdrawal from that Treaty? (S/S)

In INF, all options considered are logical extensions of our current position. The following issues exist:

—Should the President use the meeting to attempt to seek some specific narrowing of differences on outstanding INF issues?

—If so, should he (1) focus on exploring specific numbers around the existing US 100/100 proposal or (2) seek agreement on general principles in areas where such agreement does not now exist? (S/S)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, [Oct 1986] Chron File: [No.13–No.17]. Secret; Sage. Handle via Sage Channels Only. In an October 6 covering memorandum to Poindexter, Brooks and Linhard explained: “We had a long combined SACG/ACSG meeting this afternoon. As a result we did some repackaging of Defense and Space and INF options. The Defense and Space changes reflect some agencies’ concern that even if the Soviets move in START we should respond only in START, not in other areas. The INF changes clarify where we might seek agreement in principle. Attached are revised talking points (Tab I) for your use at Tuesday’s NSPG, along with a highlighted copy of the revised SAGE 42 issue paper for your reference (Tab II), both reflecting the SACG/ACSG discussions. We have distributed the revised SAGE 42 to agencies for their principal’s use.”
  2. September 15; see Document 280.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Documentation on preparations specific to INF issues for the Reykjavic meeting is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. XII, INF, 1984–1988.
  5. Reference is to the Nitze-Kvitsinsky “Walk in the Woods” proposal in Geneva in June/July 1982. Documentation on the “Walk in the Woods” is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. V, European Security, 1977–1983.
  6. See Document 203.
  7. Reagan made the statement in his September 22 address to the UN General Assembly. For the full text of the address, see Public Papers: Reagan, 1986, Book II, pp. 1227–1233.
  8. See Document 280.