297. Talking Points Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1

—Mr. President, yesterday we reviewed preparations for your meeting in Iceland in all areas except arms control.2

—Today we will deal with arms control, which we believe General Secretary Gorbachev’s letter and subsequent Soviet pronouncements make clear will be the principal Soviet focus of the Iceland meeting.

—If you have no preliminary comments to make, I will summarize where we stand and then open the session up to general discussion. I’d like to begin by reviewing our perception of what the Soviets seek.

—We are not certain about Gorbachev’s agenda for this meeting. His letter implies concentrating on the areas of Defense and Space/SDI, INF and nuclear testing. The Soviets also told our Ambassador in Moscow that they are interested in some discussion of both chemical and conventional arms control.

—We believe that START, our highest priority, needs to be discussed as well to indicate the importance you place on it. The Soviets [Page 1261] have not given adequate priority to the need for real reductions in strategic arms.

Gorbachev probably expects progress only in INF, although we cannot be certain.3

—It would be consistent with past Soviet practice for him to suggest a dramatic new approach in some other area as well, perhaps on nuclear testing.

—We have conducted a review of our arms control positions. As a result of that review, all agencies agree that your principal purpose should be to articulate the United States position directly to Gorbachev forcefully and completely and that major new initiatives are not appropriate.

—Specifically we believe that:

—On START you should reaffirm the importance you place on the area, restate the offer for an interim reductions agreement you made in your July letter, and urge the Soviets not to hold progress in this area hostage to the defense and space area.

—Similarly, on INF you should make a presentation restating our current position. Since we appear to be closest to agreement in this area (although we are not as close to agreement as the Soviets claim), some believe you should use the meeting to attempt to seek specific narrowing of outstanding issues. I will review the suggestions that have been made in a moment.

—On nuclear testing you should continue to press the Soviets to accept verification improvements in existing treaties as the necessary next step in this area. You should also make it clear neither a moratorium on testing nor early negotiations on a comprehensive test ban are acceptable.

—Finally, on Defense and Space, we recommend you use Iceland to set forth your new proposal directly to General Secretary Gorbachev, using the line of argumentation that was employed effectively by the U.S. experts, and by George Shultz in his discussions with the Soviet Foreign Minister.

—We have prepared suggested talking points to assist you in making our case.

—Should Gorbachev raise either chemical or conventional arms control, we believe you should listen and review current U.S. positions. Once again we have prepared suggested talking points. While we [Page 1262] have not reviewed this area in depth, we see no need for any new U.S. initiatives.

—We believe you should attempt to have the discussion on Defense and Space during the first day of the meeting. The objective would be to elicit Gorbachev’s reaction to your presentation, returning to his concerns during the second day, but addressing them within the framework that you have proposed.

—Issues remain in two areas: Defense and Space and INF.

—While all agree that no new initiatives are appropriate in the areas of START and nuclear testing, in the area of Defense and Space, some agencies believe that if the Soviets make a major, and unexpected, new move in START, and if the Soviet offer is attractive enough and if they hold their offer hostage to a major move on the U.S. part in Defense and Space, you should agree to hold discussions with the intent of narrowing differences on two areas of interest to the Soviets:

—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

—The differences that appear to exist now between United States and Soviet understanding of ABM Treaty obligations.

—Others strongly disagree, believing such discussion would gain us nothing, fragment the coherence of your proposal, and lead to greater restrictions which would severely undercut SDI.4

—Were you to agree to this approach, you would need to also consider how much movement in START must the Soviets show before additional US movement in Defense and Space is appropriate.

—The second issue concerns INF. The fundamental question is should you use the meeting to attempt to seek some specific narrowing of differences on outstanding INF issues, given the apparent Soviet belief that this is where we are closest to an agreement? You could:

—Explore with Gorbachev specific numbers around the existing United States proposal for an interim agreement of 100 warheads in Europe and 100 warheads in Asia, or

—Seek Soviet agreement on general principles in areas where such agreement does not now exist. Such agreement might be on the elements required for effective verification, on reductions in shorter range [Page 1263] systems, or on the need for Soviet INF missiles in Asia to be reduced concurrently.

—Unless there are specific questions on other areas, I suggest we use our time to discuss these two issues: whether to respond in the Defense and Space area should the Soviets move on START, and whether to probe for specific movement in INF. Perhaps we could begin with the Defense and Space issue. George [Shultz] would you like to start?


(When discussion of Defense and Space seems no longer profitable.)

—I think we should now turn to discussion of whether to use our time with Gorbachev to narrow our differences in the INF area and, if so, what to concentrate on.

—As we noted earlier, you could either explore specific numbers around our current interim proposal of 100 warheads in Europe and 100 warheads in Asia, or seek Soviet agreement on general principles where such agreement does not now exist. Is there discussion on this point?


(When the meeting time is almost over.)

—Mr. President, this meeting makes it clear that we are in agreement on the basic approach for Iceland. We will reflect this discussion and your subsequent decisions in your talking points and background briefing papers.

—Thank you all for coming.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Sven Kraemer Files, [Oct 1986] Chron File: [No.13–No.17]. Secret. Brackets are in the original. These talking points were for Poindexter for the NSPG meeting that took place on October 7 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room. Brooks and Linhard sent the talking points to Poindexter under their October 6 covering memorandum; see footnote 1, Document 296. The minutes of the October 7 meeting read: “VADM Poindexter opened the meeting using his prepared talking points. (Tab B) He then asked participants to comment on possible changes in U.S. arms control policy in preparation for the President’s impending meeting with Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev. A general discussion ensued, based on the options and analysis in a compartmented options paper prepared by the Arms Control Support Group (attached at Tab C) [see Document 296]. Discussion focused both on the tactics the President should use and the substantive movement he might offer during the arms control portion of his upcoming meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, with Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev. No detailed record of discussion was maintained.” (National Security Council, Institutional Files, SR–111, NSPG 138, Arms Control—Iceland)
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, on October 6 from noon to 1:05 p.m. a Senior Advisers’ luncheon took place in the Cabinet Room. (Reagan Library) Reagan wrote in his personal diary on October 6: “The news is that Mrs. Gorbachev is coming to Iceland. Our news is that Mrs. Reagan isn’t. We had a working lunch about the Iceland meeting. Consensus was that Gorby is trying to make it a one topic agenda—arms control. We think we should get into Human rights, Afghanistan etc.” (Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries, vol. II: November 1985–January 1989, p. 645) Earlier, on October 4, Poindexter sent Reagan an agenda for the luncheon, the purpose of which was “to discuss the major issues on our bilateral, regional and human rights agenda. Arms control issues will be addressed at Tuesday’s NSPG meeting.” (Reagan Library, Jack Matlock Files, US-USSR Summits, 1985–1986, Briefing Book for Ambassador Matlock for the President’s Trip to Reykjavik (4))
  3. Linhard’s handwritten notes of the NSPG meeting read: “Pres—on INF—there was an agreement all the way to 0—but they held out in Asia. —Asian weapons can hit Europe—if a figure for Asia—we will deploy Pershing other that Europe to counter Soviet in Asia—not happy about mix—they can [unclear] down GLCMs—don’t want if they have missiles—we must have missiles.” (Reagan Library, Robert Linhard Files, Arms Control Chron, NSPG—October 7, 1986: Originals)
  4. Linhard’s notes read: “Pres—if no in Alaska—why put some in E Russia—on [5?]—once we negotiated the elimination of ballistic missile then we will share—a new treaty signed now that would supersede the ABM Treaty—seeking an end to offensive weapons—if they refuse to eliminate offensive weapons—then we deploy.” (Ibid.)