15. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

879. Subject: Soviet Official on Arms Control Proposal, Vorontsov, Matlock. Ref: (A) 86 Moscow 21664.2

1. Secret—Entire text.


2. According to a Soviet State Committee for Science & Technology (SCST) official—who is probably a KGB officer—work on a draft protocol to the ABM Treaty was proceeding smoothly and the draft should be ready “soon.” Vorontsov’s appointment was intended to demonstrate how seriously Moscow seeks an arms control agreement with the U.S. Vorontsov reportedly met for two hours immediately prior to his departure for Geneva with Gorbachev, Shevardnadze and [Page 75] Dobrynin. Moscow welcomed the Matlock appointment.3 End summary.

Work on Draft Protocol

3. At a January 19 meeting called at his request, the SCST official, a regular and long-standing Embassy contact, commented that work on the reported draft protocol to the ABM Treaty (reftel) was proceeding smoothly and should be completed “soon.” He claimed as before to be unaware of any more specific matters of its substance than last time, when in fact work on the draft protocol was likely to be completed, or how Moscow would choose to present its purported new proposal to Washington.

Vorontsov Appointment

4. The SCST official volunteered that Moscow intended the appointment of Yuliy Vorontsov to head the Soviet NST delegation to be seen as a significant demonstration of the Kremlin’s desire to reach a mutually beneficial arms control agreement with the U.S. Vorontsov’s appointment was neither routine nor coincidental. Gorbachev had been personally dissatisfied with progress at the last NST round and with the Soviet delegation’s work. He wanted a new approach, fresh views, more vigor and a genuine effort to cut through the red tape to get things moving. That is why he personally chose Vorontsov. To emphasize this point, the SCST official claimed that, immediately prior to his departure for Geneva, Vorontsov met for “two hours” with Gorbachev, Shevardnadze and Dobrynin to discuss Soviet strategy for the upcoming round of talks. Furthermore, Vorontsov would have immediate access to the same group, and in particular to Gorbachev whenever necessary.

Other Bilateral Items

5. The SCST official commented that Dobrynin had been very pleased with his recent meeting with Ambassador Hartman and considered it to have been useful. For that reason, Dobrynin reportedly intended to keep such a channel open and would welcome meetings with Ambassador Matlock once he arrived. The Soviets welcomed Matlock’s appointment in view of his knowledge both of the White House and the Soviet Union. The Soviet official added that Gorbachev himself would probably receive Matlock following his arrival if he were carrying a personal message from President Reagan—even on an insignificant bilateral matter.

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Ermarth Files, Arms Control. Secret; Priority; Nodis.
  2. In telegram 21664 from Moscow, December 31, 1986, the Embassy reported that a Soviet official indicated that the Soviets were preparing a draft protocol to the ABM Treaty on nuclear testing. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number])
  3. On January 30 President Reagan nominated Jack F. Matlock Ambassador to the Soviet Union.