39. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Shultz-Shevardnadze Meetings, April 13, 1987


  • United States

    • The Secretary
    • Jack F. Matlock
    • Paul Nitze
    • Kenneth Adelman
    • Rozanne L. Ridgway
    • Richard Perle
    • Robert Linhard
    • Thomas W. Simons, Jr. (Notetaker)
    • Dimitri Zarechnak, Interpreter
  • Soviets

    • Eduard Shevardnadze
    • Aleksandr Bessmertnykh
    • Victor Karpov
    • Yuriy Dubinin
    • Sergey Tarasenko
    • Aleksey Obukhov
    • Vitaliy Mikol’chak
    • P. Palazhchenko, Interpreter

[Omitted here is the first session of the Shultz-Shevardnadze meetings during which they discussed the schedule for their talks.]

Second Session

Shevardnadze commented that he was not used to the interpreting equipment, but it was okay. The Secretary agreed. Shevardnadze suggested that they proceed to security issues, the heading the Soviets give to arms control. He wished to say a few words first.

The Soviet side understood the meeting of the foreign ministers to express the desire of both sides to achieve progress in the main area of U.S.-Soviet relations. A great deal of work had already been done, above all at the Geneva meeting of the President and the General Secretary, the talks and negotiations there, including the important [Page 146] statement on the inadmissibility of nuclear war, of war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, and a number of basic agreements. The next landmark was Reykjavik.2 That could well be described as historic. It laid a sound foundation for definite progress in the security area, for understanding on global problems, for a dramatic reduction of nuclear arsenals. It was not useful to discuss why a significant agreement had not been signed at Reykjavik. A basic understanding had been reached on nuclear missiles, on strategic offense. There was a foundation for further work and negotiations. It was very important to proceed on the premise that both countries were equally interested in reaching a sound agreement. Any idea that one was more interested than the other would be a great mistake. We should use the chance that the two countries have now.

Shevardnadze said he hoped the Secretary agreed that this objective can be realistically attained. The Soviet side believed it was realistic to expect to reach an initial agreement on the reduction of nuclear arms with this Administration, and this year. The most interesting area was medium-range missiles. There had been interesting exchanges in Reykjavik, and we could realistically expect this. There were also the broader security issues, strategic weapons and space. But today they should concentrate on medium-range missiles. If the Secretary agreed, he would ask him as the guest to speak first, and tell him how he thought they should proceed.

The Secretary said he welcomed Shevardnadze’s remarks, and shared his appraisal of Geneva and Reykjavik. He agreed they should start with the INF/medium-range subject, but he wished to make the point also made in the General Secretary’s speech in Prague,3 that radical reductions in strategic weapons remains the root of the problem. He was not sure there would be plenty of time to dig into it; we should make as much progress as possible, and further instruct our negotiators.

Their private talk had been good, thorough and constructive. They had discussed the problems arising from intelligence matters. They had briefly touched on other bilateral issues, and Tom Simons would be meeting with Shevardnadze’s designee; he hoped that before their own meetings ended they could receive at least a brief report on how matters stood. They had had an exchange of thoughts on human rights. He had designated Assistant Secretary Schifter and Shevardnadze would designate someone to dig into these matters thoroughly and report back to them. At lunch Shevardnadze had reported on his Asian [Page 147] trip, and developments in Kampuchea. With all due respect to arms controls, if tensions in other areas could be reduced and understanding achieved, our ability to move ahead on arms control would be increased. He knew Shevardnadze agreed.

Shevardnadze said that in practical terms they would need to have some additional discussions, working groups on this or that. Comrade Bessmertnykh would be his chief of staff. They could designate experts to discuss any aspect in a working-group setting.

The Secretary responded that working groups were a good idea. We could follow it as well in the arms control field. If they could move along in the medium-range field, the negotiators were there, and could report back to them. Shevardnadze agreed.

The Secretary suggested Ambassador Ridgway for non-arms control issues, Ambassador Nitze for arms control. Shevardnadze said he would name Bessmertnykh and Karpov, the usual players. The Secretary interjected “the usual suspects.”

The Secretary continued that he would be glad to go through INF issues totally, as we saw them. He would make an initial statement, wished to hear Soviet views, and then they could discuss things.

First, he said, we are continuing work on a treaty. We had tabled a draft. It was based on the Reykjavik formula of 100 missiles on each side, with the Soviet side’s in Asia—exactly where to be determined—and ours in the U.S. This was the Reykjavik formula, and we hold on to it.

We believe that concurrent constraints on short-range missiles and effective verification must also be included. He had been interested to read General Secretary Gorbachev’s speech, where he commented in a general way on verification. Our objective remains the total elimination of all Soviet and U.S. LRINF missiles. When the General Secretary speaks and uses “elimination and reduction” and so on, we are in the process of agreeing to reduce them drastically. We believe strongly that the last small remaining increment should be eliminated.

There were additional reasons, the Secretary went on, why this would be to everyone’s advantage, yours and ours. Our point of view was also that of our ally Japan, also of China, and Korea.

100 warheads is a needle into them from the Soviet side. We would like more stable relationships all around. We did not see what the Soviet side gained by provoking them in this way.

Second, the Secretary said, we have to think of reductions and verification as related problems. You have emphasized verification and we have emphasized verification. If we have two substantive outcomes and one is more easily verified, the more verifiable outcome has a lot to recommend it. It is much harder to verify 100 missiles on each side [Page 148] than none. It simplifies things; it would increase confidence all around. If we have gone practically all the way from 1400 to 100, why not go the rest of the way for greater ease of verification. Ambassador Glitman could develop the argument in detail, but it would undoubtedly be easier to verify.

Third, the Secretary went on, there was the question of location. Both sides felt strongly about this, and it could be eliminated as a point of argument if we went all the way to zero.

It thus seemed to us that no persuasive case could be made for retaining the remaining SS–20’s. They did not counter U.S. forces in Asia; they were provocative in the Asian context; the General Secretary had sought in his Vladivostock speech4 to improve the Asian context. If we keep 100 warheads it would be clear that this was because the Soviet side wanted to keep them, not because we wanted to keep them, and we would of course have to if the Soviet side did.

So the reasons were verification, the provocative aspect, and to avoid acrimony over location, the Secretary concluded. We were ready to proceed to a global ceiling of 100, as agreed at Reykjavik, but we believed that the agreement would be stronger if we went all the way to zero.

The Secretary then turned to the question of so-called SRINF missiles. We defined these in terms of weapons systems, and the two we had in mind were the SS–12 mod–2, the Scaleboard, and the SS–23, known as the Spider. He asked Shevardnadze not to ask him where these names came from. Shevardnadze said he did not know either. The Secretary ventured that the issue is probably not worth much research. Shevardnadze said Professor Nitze probably knew.

The fact that we are aiming for massive cuts, whether the outcome is 100 on a side or zero, the Secretary went on, gave SRINF great additional importance. Our position from the beginning of the negotiations had been and remained now that they must be constrained, if not definitively dealt with, as part of an LRINF agreement. Certain principles were involved: 1) restraints, 2) any restraint had to be worldwide, for the same reason we needed global LRINF, because they were so transportable; and 3) we must preserve the principle that had guided us in other areas, namely the principle of equality.

So we had the position that these systems should be constrained, at or perhaps below current Soviet levels; that the constraint should [Page 149] be worldwide; and that the U.S. must have the right to match that level, since we did not have comparable forces deployed. He wished to state strongly that we could not accept inequality. It made no sense either from a military deterrent point of view, or politically, from the point of view of a treaty on this subject.

The basic Soviet position had been set forth in Gorbachev’s speech, in comments by Karpov in Geneva, and there were other ideas. He would be interested in Shevardnadze’s comments, on precisely what Gorbachev had in mind, and he would perhaps have some questions. Just as verification was important for LRINF, the same consideration applied in the SRINF area. In terms of substance, if the Soviet side accepted our proposals, or, i.e, we could achieve an outcome like them, further negotiations should be agreed as part of an initial agreement. These should begin promptly, say within 6 months after an initial agreement was settled.

Finally, the Secretary went on, we had talked back and forth on verification. There had been discussion and agreement on the general principle at Reykjavik, another one of its little-noticed accomplishments. We had tabled a draft on this subject, and urged the Soviet side to do so as well. So we should work to go forward, and get into the guts of the problem in detail.

The detail should include comprehensive and accurate data exchange both prior to and after reductions began; on-site observation of destruction down to agreed levels; and effective monitoring of remaining inventories and related facilities—and this would be easier if there were none. This work would be complex, but it was necessary, and if we wanted to aspire to an early agreement, this was a subject we had to dig into promptly. He thought we were within hailing distance of an agreement. We would like Shevardnadze’s comments.

The Secretary asked if Ambassador Glitman had any comments. Glitman responded that he did not, but he knew where the system names came from: they were NATO designations. The Secretary said he would not ask where NATO came up with them.

Shevardnadze said he would try to comment on some of what the Secretary had said and lay out the Soviet position.

In general, Shevardnadze said, it seemed to him that we should not revise the principles of the understandings reached at Reykjkavik. With regard to medium-range systems, what the American side called INF, the agreements were very clear: zero for Europe, 100 warheads in the Asian USSR, and the same number on U.S. territory. As for location, he thought the clarity achieved should not be revised. Both sides had understood that missiles should not be deployed so as to reach the territory of the other side. On the global solution for medium-range missiles, we should proceed on the Reykjavik understanding [Page 150] that all categories should be discussed and resolved, but that in the present situation in the region—it was complex, the U.S. had bases there, and there were other elements—they thought the agreement reached at Reykjavik was best at this time.

When this agreement on medium-range missiles was reached, it had involved some risk for the Soviet side. They had set aside the nuclear arsenals of Britain and France, which had ambitious modernization programs, and this had not been easy for them, a concession. They found positive things in the U.S. position, and the U.S. had presented a draft. Objectively speaking there were elements in it that were basically acceptable. But certain aspects in the draft needed to be more precise, and he would also have to speak about certain elements in it that were not acceptable to the Soviet side. He did not mean to advertise the Soviet approach, but he was sure the U.S. side appreciated the flexibility the Soviet side had demonstrated.

Shevardnadze went on to say he surely remembered the Reykjavik formula for short-range missiles, or in your term SRINF, which is a more complex term. He treated the U.S. side’s desire for greater clarity with understanding. He would sum up briefly.

Since the two sides had agreed on the zero option for Europe and 100 warheads in the U.S. and in Soviet Asia, the Soviet side proposed that the two sides begin negotiations without delay on the reduction and elimination of operational-tactical missiles, or SRINF missiles, if necessary in a special working group within the Geneva negotiations framework or elsewhere. The foreign ministers’ deputies should discuss arrangements on where and how this should be handled.

Next, right after the signing of an INF agreement, Soviet operational-tactical missiles would be withdrawn from the GDR and Czechoslovakia, as Mikhail Gorbachev had said.

Next, SRINF in Europe would not be withdrawn to areas outside Europe. He knew this was a question the U.S. and also its allies were asking. They would be eliminated.

In proposing negotiations on operational-tactical missiles, the Soviet side had no desire to drag out finding a solution to this problem, and was ready to include a statement that operational-tactical missiles in Europe would be eliminated within an agreed period of time. He did not rule out that this could be done before we had finished the elimination of medium range missiles.

Shevardnadze said the Soviet side was ready to take a very broad view of the problem of nuclear missiles, including tactical missiles. He did not know whether the terminology was clear. What he had in mind was that missiles of up to 500 km. range could be discussed in the framework of negotiations on conventional and chemical weapons. [Page 151] Why? Because it was known that they are included in the structure of conventional military formations and units, and it would be inappropriate to discuss them in isolation.

The Soviet side was ready to discuss the question of limiting operational-tactical missiles in Asia, Shevardnaadze went on, considering equal ceilings for the U.S. and USSR. This would be similar to the handling of medium-range missiles in Asia. This should be looked at in Geneva.

It should not be hard to agree on a timeframe to eliminate medium-range missiles in Europe. The U.S. side had a different view, but the difference was not fundamental. There was a question of stages, with different procedures. Shevardnadze said the Soviet side tentatively proposed a compromise whereby at each stage both sides would take reductions not on a percentage basis but on a proportional basis, so that both sides would approach the final stage with equal numbers of warheads. Both sides should take reductions in the first stage and they should be proportional. This was not just for political reasons, but also to test verification arrangements. The Secretary had quoted Mikhail Gorbachev in Prague correctly.5 Agreement should include the following elements. First, there should be verification, including on-site inspection, of the dismantling of launchers and subsidiary structures, and of those remaining. Second, this should apply to all facilities in the deployment areas, including test sites, manufacturing plants, training centers, and storage areas. Third, there should be access for inspectors to relevant military bases in third countries, to prevent circumvention—this was fundamental. There had been a special discussion of this at the recent meeting of the Warsaw Pact Foreign Ministers, and the Soviet Union’s friends in the GDR and Czechoslovakia had agreed that their facilities where missiles are now deployed would be subject to inspection.

Shevardnadze went on that this corresponded to what the Secretary had said, but further discussion was required. In the U.S. draft treaty, there were elements the Soviet side did not accept. Medium-range missiles in Europe were to be eliminated, but the U.S. wanted the right to convert them to short-range missiles, from Pershing II to Pershing Ib; moving GLCMs to ships, and making them SLCMs; or putting them in a non-nuclear mode. All Soviet medium-range missiles had to be destroyed, meanwhile, including those in Asia. This was not acceptable, not just for the Soviet Union, but also for others. The Soviet side could not agree that the weapons of one side would be eliminated while the [Page 152] other would just make rearrangements of its military presence on the European continent. There could even be a buildup with other types and the degree of confrontation would increase. The nuclear arms race would move from one area to another, with the rebuilding of U.S. nuclear forces in Europe. The U.S. side recognized that it could easily convert back from Pershing Ib to Pershing II. This was not endurable. It would place the Soviet Union in an unequal position as concerns security. It was surely not in the U.S. interest to push the Soviet Union to convert SS–20s to other systems. That path had no end; there would be no agreement, no reductions.

Shevardnadze said he wished to stress the importance of the Soviet proposal to negotiate reduction and elimination of operational-tactical missiles as rapidly as possible.

Other elements of the U.S. draft were at least doubtful. This included the unacceptable U.S. claim to a right to retain so-called subsidiary facilities. Another problem was the possibility to increase the number of warheads on medium-range missiles from 1 to 3. Finally, there was a ban on Soviet deployment of ground-based cruise missiles while the U.S. retained and introduced new types of conventional cruise missiles.

With regard to the process of continuing medium-range negotiations, Shevardnadze said, the Soviet side favored making the delegations work more intensively, taking account of the U.S. draft at the beginning. The Soviet side intended to propose a comprehensive draft at Geneva. It had prepared such a draft. It was also ready for discussions at other levels if there was a need for this. They had already raised the level of their delegation, and they were ready to go higher, including to the foreign minister level, as well as to use embassies more intensively.

Shevardnadze proposed to proceed in the following way based on the results of their discussion: 1) they should determine those parameters where the sides have similar positions, and only additional technical work is required; 2) determine those areas where the experts should seek comprehensive solutions, since many Soviet proposals had emerged since the conclusion of the last Geneva round and changed the situation; and 3) decide which questions cannot be resolved here and required further work at Geneva. He proposed that the ministers designate a working group to go to work and report to them at the next plenary. It was necessary to work here and in Geneva, and to report to our leaders and to the press. The overall situation should be reported to the public.

Shevardnadze said that summed up what he had to say on medium-range missiles and short-range INF.

[Page 153]

The Secretary said he thought the suggestion of going to a working group was a good one, and he was prepared to do it, but he had some questions for the sake of clarity.

First, the Secretary said, he wished to correct a misunderstanding about Reykjavik. The Reykjavik agreement he recalled was to reduce to 100 warheads globally, with none deployed in Europe or where they could hit Europe, and the Soviet side’s in Soviet Asia, and the U.S. side’s in the U.S. Shevardnadze had added the provision that they could not be deployed where they could hit the territory of the other side. There was no logic to our putting our missiles in Chicago. There was a logic to putting them somewhere else. The logical place for them was Alaska; there they would have some meaning. He wished to clarify. We had looked at the records, and the only restriction was that those remaining should be on the territory of each country, and the Soviet side’s should be in Soviet Asia.

Karpov explained what the Secretary had said to Shevardnadze in Russian.

The Secretary went on to say this was the kind of argument that would be avoided if we went to zero instead of keeping some. We had agreed some would remain in Reykjavik, and we would stick to this. But he urged Shevardnadze not to put out of his mind the possibility of global zero; it would be much less complicated.

The Secretary said his second point concerned conversion. The U.S. side would comply completely with the limits in any agreement. It would be verifiable as the Soviet side would insist, and we would insist. An INF agreement must constrain shorter-range systems, and we would meet our obligations under such an agreement. If there is a concern that missiles could be reconverted to longer-range missiles, we would consider having the Soviet side verify that the components needed to make them longer-range again had been destroyed, if the missile stayed here. But if we were to have the right to deploy short-range systems, he wished to recall the point he had made about equality. It was up to us to decide how to get there consistent with the treaty. The same points could be made concerning the Soviet point on GLCMs. Regarding SLCMs, we had agreed to try to find some mutually acceptable solution to the question, but it was a difficult question because no one had figured out how to verify a solution.

Shevardnadze said he would return to the question of cruise missiles.

The Secretary noted that the two sides had talked a lot about it. The Soviet side had used a phrase to describe what we call short-range missiles. Estimates of range vary, and perhaps ranges can be made to vary too. But there was a question of intended coverage. He asked [Page 154] whether the Soviet side intended to cover both the SS–23 and the SS–12 under its concept of what is to be limited.

The Secretary said he had another comment about what was to be done in Asia. The same rationale as concerns a global ceiling for LRINF applies to SRINF: they are highly mobile, and it makes sense to think globally, so why not a global solution?

Once again, the Secretary went on, he wished to stress equality. He recognized the effort the Soviet side had made in proposing a limited timeframe for negotiations, but that begged the question of how far we were to go at this time. It also left Asia open, and that was a problem.

Shevardnadze asked the Secretary whether he insisted on the option to convert.

The Secretary said he believed we should have the right to deploy to match Soviet levels based on the principle of equality. How to get there is up to us. But by assuming the obligations in a treaty we could deal satisfactorily with the point Shevardnadze had made that one should not reconvert back upwards. He supposed this meant that the Soviet side would have the right to see the increment that would make possible recreation of long-range systems made subject to the verification provisions of the treaty.

Shevardnadze said that with regard to Europe he saw a mutually acceptable outline emerging. The Secretary had spoken of equality. The Soviet side had made an exception to it when it had set aside British and French systems, but, he said, let us not speak of that now. But if we could agree to eliminate U.S. and Soviet LRINF, immediately negotiate SRINF and put a timeframe on that negotiation, the question of equality would be taken care of. The Soviet side was not proposing to drag the negotiation out for decades. It favored a quick negotiation and elimination of all operational-tactical missiles with a range of 500–1000 km.

Concerning the Secretary’s concern about the composition of the operational-tactical missiles to be reduced and eliminated, Shevardnadze said, he could agree that the parameters should be further discussed. This was not a big problem. The experts could reach agreement, and then the ministers could.

With regard to Asia, Shevardnadze recalled that at Reykjavik they had decided to leave 100 warheads on Soviet and American territory. He thought the clarification that Soviet missiles could not reach U.S. territory and American missiles could not reach Soviet territory was a positive clarification. He could not imagine this situation could be handled any other way. If the U.S. side wanted deployment that could reach Soviet territory, the Soviet side would have to take a similar step [Page 155] to guarantee its security. Alaska had been mentioned at Geneva, but he was not sure where things stood. He noted that Glitman agreed

The Secretary rejoined that he could speak for Ambassador Glitman. He wanted to be sure it was clear whether we agreed or not. The U.S. interpretation of Reykjavik was that we had agreed simply to leave 100 warheads, not in Europe, deployed in the respective countries. There were no other parameters, and no undertakings on our part not to deploy so as to be able to hit the Soviet Union.

Shevardnadze asked if the Secretary would agree to the possibility of Soviet deployments that would hit the U.S.

The Secretary repeated the U.S. position. Shevardnadze repeated his question. The Secretary said he was sure the question of location was a thorny one, and one more reason why in our view we would be better off without these systems.

Shevardnadze said it was hard to understand why they should look at any other arrangements beyond what their leaders had agreed to. The Secretary said they could improve on that without backing off. His leader would prefer a zero outcome, and he knew that from talking to him. As Shevardnadze contemplated where to put them, he should think about verification complications; about the aggravation—to use a mild term—to friends of ours.

The Secretary asked whether there were further questions to be considered before they established the working group?

Shevardnadze said he believed the problem of deploying medium-range missiles in Alaska was contrived. He frankly did not see the need for them. The sides had to be guided by the approach of not reaching the other’s territory. This was fair; it was scientific. Japan should respond to the problem in the normal way. Japan should find it all right that there would be a radical reduction to 1/5 of what had been there, and a possible global solution open, with Europe as an example. The latest statements by Japanese Foreign Ministry officials indicated that they accept it. He could not see why the U.S. side needed anything else. They had given the U.S. Alaska, and now it was a problem.

The Secretary said we had bought it fair and square. He spoke with confidence when he said his Japanese colleagues were glad for reduction but preferred zero. He asked whether Turkey and Norway were in Europe? The location question was not easy. He suggested that the ministers leave it to the experts for a while.

Shevardnadze said he would do that, but the Alaska argument did not stand up. If it were a bargaining point, let us bargain. But let us not waste time, he urged. It was not fair. To be fair we should not be able to hit each other’s territories.

[Page 156]

Director Adelman said the Soviet side had mentioned reductions of SRINF systems while we were reducing LRINF by the terms of the treaty we had underway. He wondered about Shevardnadze’s views concerning what belonged under the treaty, and what belonged under follow-on arrangements.

Shevardnaze replied that in the treaty they could include a provision for beginning negotiations on reducing short-range missiles and beginning their reduction. This would be a general provision on the basic treatment of operational-tactical missiles, for inclusion in the treaty. They handled it this way in their draft treaty.

Obukhov said the sides should agree to negotiate on the reduction and elimination of these missiles and on the timeframe for that. This could be written into the treaty. The sides would predetermine the future of operational-tactical missiles. The experts could find the best language for doing this.

The Secretary suggested there might be a good statement in the treaty that the subject of SRINF missiles would be treated; the principles for treating them might be included, along with provisions for follow-on negotiations; probably a mandate should be stated in the basic treaty. Shevardnadze said that sounded right, provided only it was in the direction of an improvement in the situation, and not in the direction of waiting for an agreement in the treaty. Negotiations could be started right now, without any delay.

The Secretary said he did not think we should start new negotiations until we had the environment for it, but we could work that through. He would ask Ambassador Glitman to represent the U.S. on the working group.

Karpov said he had a question about short-range missiles and their relation to other missiles. The Soviet side believed that negotiations could be started right away to discuss the elimination of short-range missiles in Europe. The American position was that we should proceed in stages, recording in the treaty the U.S. right to match, and then discussing a future beginning of negotiations in six months. The Soviet position was more radical. Why was it not acceptable?

The Secretary replied that whenever we start to discuss this, in a working group or otherwise, we would need to think more about principles. He had stated some: equality, a global basis, a level where we are equal at no more than we have at present. We would need to consult with our Allies, and would probably want a level lower than now, but not necessarily zero. We need to give some guidance.

Nitze pointed out that if we went to zero for operational-tactical missiles as the Soviets defined them, shorter-range systems would become more important, and he was not sure we wouldn’t want to raise issues of even shorter-range missiles.

[Page 157]

The Secretary said there were many questions, and they could not be tackled all at once. He suggested that the ministers let Glitman and his counterparts grapple with the issues. Shevardnadze said Obukhov and Masterkov would join Ambassador Glitman; they knew each other well. They could come up with a good solution. They should be authorized to work through the night to the morning.

The Secretary suggested a short break, and Shevardnadze agreed.

Third Session

Shevardnadze asked whether the ministers should move or stand in place. The Secretary said he was for motion. Shevardnadze said he was too. The Secretary asked whether they should turn to strategic weapons. Shevardnadze agreed. The Secretary asked whether he should start again. Shevardnadze invited him to.

The Secretary said that once again he wished to quote his favorite author, the General Secretary: “radical reductions in strategic weapons remain the root of the problem.” The U.S. side agreed wholeheartedly. At Reykjavik the General Secretary and the President had agreed on the basic principle of 50 percent reductions to equal levels, and now is the time to get into the details, to get to a draft treaty. The U.S. side hoped its negotiators would table one at the beginning of the next round or shortly thereafter.

Very important agreements had also been achieved at Reykjavik and earlier, the Secretary continued: 6000 warheads, 1600 missiles and heavy bombers, and a heavy bomber counting rule. This was a good and important beginning, a good basis on which to work. In saying we have to work we referred to sublimits to turn these principles into a treaty.

Sublimits on ballistic missiles seemed essential to us, the Secretary went on. More than anything else, ballistic missiles and their warheads were the greatest threat to strategic stability, more than bombers and ALCMs, and required a special sublimit. The President had had this view of the issue from the beginning, in his Eureka speech.6 We understood the Soviet view, expressed in the meetings of August/September 1986, about the 80–85 percent concept, and we have converted this into a sublimit of 4800 warheads on ballistic missiles. This was the first thing on which we needed to agree. Perhaps we did agree, but this was not set out clearly and concretely.

Within the category of ballistic missiles, the Secretary continued, ICBMs constitute, once again, the greatest threat. They are continuously [Page 158] on alert, they are by and large more accurate. There had been a variety of proposals to limit them. We had started at 2500, and now we were at 3300. Soviet needs had been identified, and we had increased the number as discussions had gone on. This was consistent with the general idea of 50 percent reductions, given where the Soviets now were.

The Secretary said there were three other matters of special concern to us: heavy ICBMs was the first. From what the Soviets had said, the implication was that the Soviets were willing to accept a limit of 1500 warheads. The general proposal had not been translated into specific numbers, and this was what we had done. The U.S. side thought this required special treatment, and was glad the Soviet side did too.

The Secretary said we also thought missiles with more than 6 warheads deserve special attention, as an especially great threat to stability, one more invitation to a first strike.

Our third concern, the Secretary continued, was with mobile missiles. We recognized there were certain advantages to stability in the mobile mode of deployment, but it created extreme problems of verification. He recalled the powerful statements of the General Secretary on verification. It was important to maximize our agreements on verification, and mobile missiles were extremely hard to track.

The Secretary said we were proposing a sublimit of 1650 to deal with these three problems, with zero for mobile missiles. This would cover many Soviet systems as well as our MX Peacekeeper missile.

On throwweight, the Secretary continued, the Soviet side had agreed that this is a legitimate problem. You offer a unilateral statement to the effect that you will reduce our throwweight by 50 percent, and welcome it. But we thought this should be a commitment, codified in the treaty in such a way that what came down, as with INF, did not bounce back up again.

The Secretary went on to say that as we have reflected on Soviet statements about the difficulties of coming down, given their force structure, which we of course also had, we had decided to propose that reductions take place over seven years from whenever the treaty became effective. We hoped to move promptly, even this year or early next year, to a treaty, and were prepared to work hard. This proposal was designed to meet the force structure problem.

On verification, the Secretary said he agreed with the great and essential importance attached to it by the General Secretary, including in his speech on Friday. He recalled being at Reykjavik with Shevardnadze when they were with their two leaders, and how they had outdone each other on the importance of verification. The sides needed to bear down on it, particularly with respect to something as important [Page 159] as strategic arms. We hoped to table a draft treaty which would include our thoughts on verification. As with medium-range missiles, the issues were complex and difficult, so we needed to work hard; this was essential.

In summary, the Secretary said, the U.S. side thought the levels of 1600 and 6000 agreed to by the two leaders were excellent, and we should build a structure within which we would turn these principles into reality. We proposed 4800/3300/1650, a throwweight limitation, and dealing with the problem of verification.

Shevardnadze said he had a few words on how the Soviet side saw the situation in the negotiations. Of course, there had definitely been some progress, some rapprochement in the positions of the two sides on strategic offensive weapons, regarding 50 percent reductions. There had also been some movement on verification. He wished to summarize the Soviet position, based on the Reykjavik understandings.

First, there should be a reduction of 50 percent in strategic weapons within five years, within elimination of the weapons reduced. Second, both sides should retain the traditional triad with 1600 missiles and no more than 6000 warheads. Third, to speak of SLCMs again, additional levels should be set. This was a move by the Soviet side toward the U.S. position. Fourth, we should not revise the Reykjavik agreement that the two sides would at their own discretion define the residual force structure, as among the elements of the triad. At Reykjavik Mikhail Gorbachev had proposed 50 percent reduction of the entire triad, and the President had agreed. Fifth, Soviet heavy missiles would be reduced by 50 percent; this was also a move to accommodate the U.S. position. By reducing Soviet missiles in this way, the aggregate number of warheads on heavy missles would be reduced by 50 percent.

With regard to subceilings, Shevardnadze went on, the Soviet side was fundamentally against this objective. It was not part of the Reykjavik agreements. The Soviet side had quite appropriately criticized ceilings and subceilings in Reykjavik, and the U.S. side should not try to break the mix of strategic forces as it is now, and demand that the Soviet Union change its mix. Shevardnadze and the Secretary had been participants at Reykjavik, and Shevardnadze’s memory was firm that subceilings had been removed from the agenda. He had taken careful notes. They had been withdrawn by our agreement that heavy bombers should be counted as one weapon if they were equipped with gravity bombs and SRAMs. Nitze disagreed, but it was recorded.

Nitze said he did disagree.

Shevardnadze said that if the two sides agreed to go back to counting every bomb and SRAM within the 6000 aggregate (he said he knew this would not be acceptable), the Soviet side was prepared to think about the possibility of limiting warheads to no more than 80 percent [Page 160] of the overall number of nuclear weapons, or 5100, with no more than 60 percent, or 3600, on any type launcher. They were not against using such terms, with the understanding of which systems were included in each category to be agreed in Geneva.

Turning to sea-launched cruise missile systems, Shevardnadze said we had agreed to the principle of limitations on nuclear-tipped weapons. There might for instance be functional characteristics put on conventional systems that distinguished them from nuclear-tipped. This would require inspection of all ships, as the Soviets had said in Geneva many times. Otherwise all sea-based missiles would have to be counted as nuclear-tipped, on the model of other arms control negotiations.

Concerning strategic weapons one cannot ignore the need for mutual restraint, Shevardnadze went on. The U.S. side refused now to comply with the Interim Agreement on Offensive Arms and SALT II.7 But now we were in a qualitatively new situation, one of change. We were reaching for an INF agreement, we were dealing with Asia, we were making progress in other talks. The Soviet side proposed that we agree on restraint while the Geneva talks continued; that we should exchange data on our force levels at Geneva or elsewhere as of an agreed date; and agree not to increase, effective for a fixed period of time, with the possibility of prolonging it. That seemed to Shevardnadze to have a valid logic.

In sum, said Shevardnadze, there had been some movement to accommodate 50 percent reductions, but there were differences, and it was not easy to find a common language.

Turning to space, Shevardnadze said this question had been discussed within the Soviet Government, in anticipation of the Secretary’s visit. Perhaps it would be possible to agree on instructions to our delegations, or key provisions, today or tomorrow, as guidelines for our delegations. If there were agreement on medium-range missiles, key provisions on strategic offensive weapons and some elements on space could also be signed at the highest level. We were dealing with the full scope of issues on medium-range missiles, and an agreement could be prepared and signed this year. The problem areas on strategic offensive weapons and space weapons were more difficult, and were interrelated, but we could set the drafting of key provisions as an objective. The ministers could designate some of the reserve players to think about some of these questions too.

To summarize, Shevardnadze said, the Soviet side favored sticking to the Reykjavik formula. It was intelligent, reasonable and simple: the [Page 161] qualitatively existing structures should not be changed; it had been agreed at the summit to reduce the whole triad by 50 percent, including the three elements of ICBMs, heavy bombers and SLBMs. As the Secretary would recall, there had been only one condition.

The Secretary said he agreed wholeheartedly that there were plenty of problems. He remembered the references to force structures at Reykjavik. The U.S. side had never imagined it as a problem in arithmetic. But the sublimits we were proposing were approximations of the idea, making it more specific, understandable and workable. We were trying to translate principles into numbers, see what the content was and make adjustments. This was the nature of our approach to sublimits.

Concerning cruise missiles, the Secretary said he would be interested to hear Shevardnadze’s ideas on how limitations could be verified. He had suggested two ways, differentiating between conventional and nuclear-tipped, or counting them all as nuclear weapons. He hoped Shevardnadze could expand on that. He found the problems baffling, but was ready to listen.

Shevardnadze rejoined that he could not say much that was new. It was in the interest of the U.S. to distinguish between nuclear missiles and those for other purposes. The idea was to find observable, functional ways to distinguish missiles. Otherwise we would have to count them all as nuclear. He saw no other way.

The Secretary recalled that at Reykjavik we had suggested putting the issue aside for the time being. Now Shevardnadze had brought it up again. If Shevardnadze had any ideas, the Secretary said, he would be interested.

The Secretary continued that he inferred from what Shevardnadze had said that he was aspiring to skepticism concerning going very far very soon on START and space. He had not heard any thoughts on space from Shevardnadze. The U.S. side had some. The General Secretary had said strategic arms were the root of the problem, and the U.S. side thought they deserved heavy emphasis. A draft treaty could turn potential into reality. We should work on its provisions as we were working on INF. He had no objection to aspiring to the kinds of things this year that Shevardnadze was talking about.

The Secretary suggested an additional working group on START, and an additional group to shape up issues overall.

Shevardnadze said there should be one group on strategic weapons and space. It was not proper to separate them.

The Secretary said he had some new thoughts to suggest in the field of space. He wished to reiterate our view that it was important to move on strategic arms, whether or not this was related to space. The U.S. side had prepared a statement. He would give it to Shevard[Page 162]nadze; it was nine pages long.8 He suggested that the experts study it and discuss it, and the ministers might then return to it. It dealt with important and fundamental issues.

On space, the Secretary continued, the U.S. had made two very constructive offers. One had been the President’s letter of last July,9 the other at Reykjavik. Neither had rung bells with the Soviet side. Now we were trying again, with some new thinking.

Shevardnadze commented that it was good they had not rung bells, since this produced new thinking. The Secretary rejoined that Shevardnadze might like the old bells better; they had been good bells.

He continued that the Soviet side had not liked our offers, and we had not liked theirs. We had recognized that 50 percent reductions were historic and unprecedented in and of themselves. The President had sought to provide assurances of stability and predictability for the strategic regime. He was serious about this. This seriousness would be reflected in the philosophical piece the Secretary would give Shevardnadze in a moment.

The U.S. side had a new proposal to improve predictability, the Secretary continued, in the context of the 50 percent reductions we were discussing on the offensive side, and remembering that we were a long way from the offense-defense relationship discussed in 1972. We were prepared to undertake a mutual commitment until 1994, or seven years, not to withdraw from the ABM Treaty in order to deploy defensive systems whose unilateral deployment would not be permitted under the Treaty. This was a major step for the President, particularly in light of the encouraging progress being made in the SDI research program. It was contingent on the START reductions, and would not alter the right to withdraw as a result of a material breach or if even the supreme national interest was jeopardized, and it was imperative to redress the violation of the ABM Treaty in the case of the Krasnoyarsk radar. The effect would be that either side could deploy after 1994 unless they decided otherwise, and they might. The U.S. side wished to engage the Soviet side on the problem of the offense-defense relationship and on a transition that would ensure stability.

The U.S. side had some further thoughts on predictability, the Secretary continued. We were prepared for an annual exchange of data on planned activities of the two sides in the defense field. We had on the table previous proposals on open laboratories and reciprocal observation of testing. This set of things was designed to enhance [Page 163] stability and predictability. It would do so into the 1990s. The Secretary reminded Shevardnadze that seven years was a long time. In political time 1994 was two presidencies away, and that was quite a reach outward for President Reagan to make on non-withdrawal. This package, together with a new offensive environment from START, would enhance mutual confidence. Both sides could pursue their defense plans, while enhancing stability. We needed a new effort to restructure our thinking, through reductions and reexamination of the offense-defense relationship.

In presenting the paper, the Secretary said it was on the lengthy side, and he suggested that the experts go over it and bring it back to us with additional algumentation. It was useful while we did the nuts and bolts to step back to the philosophical and conceptual bases, and this was an effort to do that.

Shevardnadze said the fact that it was lengthy did not necessarily make it bad. The Secretary said a tight budget made us get the maximum use of paper. Shevardnadze said he knew the U.S. side was poor. The Secretary said that the country was doing great; it was only the government that was broke.

The Secretary proposed two additional groups, on strategic weapons as such, and on space and related matters. He hoped the group on space and related matters could deal with the proposal he had just made on behalf of the President, as well as the paper.

Shevardnadze said he had some thoughts to set out, and asked if the Secretary had to leave at 6:00 p.m. The Secretary confirmed that. Shevardnadze said he had listened carefully to all the Secretary’s points, and they deserved careful attention. He would consider them with pencil in hand. New thinking and concepts were useful. He had the following to say.

As the Soviet side had said at Reykjavik and after, what was of serious concern to it was that the U.S. Administration fully intended to renounce the only existing arrangement that now provided strategic stability. That was why the broad interpretation had emerged. It meant abandonment of the ABM Treaty, and it was strange to hear it said that it was consistent with the ABM Treaty. As the Soviet side had said and reiterated many times, SDI was dangerous in itself. As a concept it was more dangerous even than strategic offensive weapons, because the world situation would be uncontrollable if it were implemented. Mikhail Gorbachev had said he would find a response to it. Shevardnadze was surprised that the U.S. side had not taken this seriously. It knew the Soviet system and its leaders. These were not words thrown to the wind. If Gorbachev said he would find a response he would find it.

The Secretary interjected that we listened carefully to what Gorbachev said. We had great respect for Soviet capabilities. We observed [Page 164] Soviet ABM defenses around Moscow, from which the Soviet side had undoubtedly learned. Shevardnadze rejoined that these were within ABM Treaty limits. The Secretary replied that our program was, too.

Shevardnadze continued that no one wanted to prevent the U.S. side from conducting research within ABM Treaty limits. The Soviet side did—witness the Moscow defenses—and within the Treaty. It should be possible to reach an agreement on the problem of outer space. The Soviet side understood President Reagan’s personal commitment to SDI, and took account of it in its own proposals.

The Soviet position was that the sides should not exercise the right to withdraw from the Treaty for ten years, but should stay strictly within the Treaty, and not develop, test or deploy systems or components forbidden under Article V. They should agree on a specific list of systems and devices banned from launching into space. They thought it should be possible to define the borderline between permitted and not permitted, and they could not understand why the U.S. side was not willing to try, as they had proposed in Geneva and elsewhere. Ideas had been presented by Soviet and /American scientists on how to do so, and the Soviet side wanted to involve academics more. The sides could hold an SCC session this year, and consider raising the level, perhaps to defense ministers or their deputies, to make it possible to engage in profound discussion. Such a special SCC session would have to be well prepared to discuss the complaints of both sides on how the Treaty was being implemented. Both sides had radar stations. The Soviet side had made a proposal that the U.S. side did not like, but it could be considered at the SCC, and other ideas as well. If the Soviet side could convince the U.S. side that the Krasnoyarsk radar would operate within the functional regime for space-track radars once it was commissioned, and if the U.S. side could convince the Soviet side on the radars it had complained about, a mutual concern could be removed. But, Shevardnadze continued, the Soviet side had seen the new U.S. guidelines for deployment of global /S/T, and this was a ban, and for elimination of its existing system. The U.S. was in effect ignoring world public opinion. The great majority of countries, in the UN and in public organizations, was for eliminating S4AS/T systems, nuclear testing and other things. The Soviet side was prepared to eliminate its system—the U.S. had raised the idea—on a mutual basis.

Our discussion of defense and space has brought out new elements, Shevardnadze went on. The experts should study them, and develop new guidance to the delegations in Geneva. He would give the Secretary a document of 3½ pages. It was not long, but certain points deserved attention.

Shevardnadze said the U.S. side had proposed an exchange of data for work underway. He was not rejecting this proposal; it deserves [Page 165] serious attention. The Soviet side also favored open laboratories. This was the President’s idea, but when the Soviet side submitted it in Geneva, the U.S. side abandoned it. The Soviet side was for an international inspectorate for space arms; it was for data exchange. It would study the U.S. ideas carefully.

Shevardnadze said the ministers had decided on a first group on medium-range missiles. He thought the second group should study both strategic offensive weapons and space. They cannot be divided, they are an integrated complex. If this were acceptable, Karpov and the U.S. team could meet that day and the next, and report back recommendations.

The Secretary reiterated that the problems of strategic arms are many and knotty whether or not they are related to space, and the U.S. side much preferred a group on them alone, but would not object to a group on space and related matters. Perhaps they should return to the issue, since they did not see it the same way. He would prefer to keep his schedule, but could return from 8:30 to 10:00 p.m. Shevardnadze suggested one group and two subgroups, though there might not be enough people. Perhaps there could be two subgroups, with Karpov, one strategic weapons and space. Simons suggested, and the Secretary presented, the idea of one group with subgroups, the Vienna formula. The Secretary said Vienna had been a catastrophe, but the concept was not bad. Shevardnadze tentatively agreed, and they agreed to meet again at 8:30 p.m.10

  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S Records, Memoranda of Conversations Pertaining to United States and USSR Relations, 1981–1990, Lot 93D188, Moscow Trip—Memcons 4/12–16/87. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Simons; cleared by Graze and Pascoe. The meeting took place in the Foreign Ministry Guest House. For Shultz and Shevardnadze’s “one-on-one” conversation, which took place prior to this conversation, see Document 38.
  2. Documentation on the Geneva and Reykjavik summits is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. V, Soviet Union, March 1985–October 1986.
  3. See footnote 5 below.
  4. Reference is to Gorbachev’s July 28, 1986, speech in Vladivostok, in which he called for a drawdown of Soviet troops in Afghanistan and better relations with Asian nations. (Philip Taubman, “Soviet Announces Decision to Trim Its Afghan Force,” New York Times, July 29, 1986, p. A–1)
  5. Reference is to Gorbachev’s speech in Prague, April 10, 1987, in which he reiterated his position of advocating large cuts in nuclear stockpiles. (“Excerpts From Gorbachev Talk on Arms and Social Changes,” New York Times, April 11, 1987, p. 5)
  6. Reference is to Reagan’s commencement address at Eureka College on May 9, 1982. (Public Papers: Reagan, 1982, Book I, pp. 580–86)
  7. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXXII, SALT, 1969–1972, and Foreign Relations, 1969–1972, vol. XXXIII, SALT II, 1972–1980.
  8. Not found.
  9. Scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. V, Soviet Union, March 1985–October 1986.
  10. See Document 40.