43. Telegram From Secretary of State Shultz to the Department of State and the White House1

Secto 6022. Brussels for Secretary’s Party only. Subject: Memorandum for the President—My Meeting With Gorbachev April 14.2

1. (Secret—Entire text)

Memorandum for the President From the Secretary.

2. The big gold doors that open to St. Catherine’s Hall in the Kremlin seem like a Hollywood set, and the guy inside seems right at home in this larger-than-life setting.

In four and a half hours with Gorbachev, I covered it all. I began by telling him that the overbearing Soviet intelligence effort against us is creating the kind of hostile environment that cannot but negatively effect our relationship. I noted that your decision to send me here despite the votes of 70 U.S. Senators against the trip was evidence of your seriousness about relations. Gorbachev claimed we do more spying than they do. Although both sides do it, and disclaimed knowledge of physical penetration of our Embassy. He said it was against his policy and rules. When I asked if I could report that to you, he said, certainly so. Without doubt, he got the point about how seriously we take this.

On human rights, I challenged him to step up to freedom for Soviet Jews. He cited increased emigration figures to me, and said they would continue to consider and work on humanitarian issues. But when I raised Jewish rights here, he got hot under the collar about interference in internal affairs before he broke off. I also introduced regional issues, and was especially clear about our views on Afghanistan, as a warmup for my more thorough discussion with Shevardnadze.

Most of the discussion was on arms control. Gorbachev’s main tactic in most areas was to assault us for backtracking on the agreements you had reached in Reykjavik, and here I did not give an inch. On START and space, Gorbachev was not particularly productive. He did not seem to have thought through our new proposals. I laid them out clearly and took a firm stance. He went at the question of permitted activities on SDI and I repeated your positions strongly. I told him that [Page 208] SDI was a necessary, good, and permanent program, and fully in accord with the ABM Treaty.

In INF, we did not come to agreement, but Gorbachev went far enough to lead me to conclude that the groundwork has been laid if the Soviets want to go ahead. I pinned him down to a set of principles consistent with my instructions.

SRINF would be part of an INF Treaty. (I asked if it were clear what systems we were dealing with, and Gorbachev replied “the SS–23 and upward.”)

—Limits on SRINF would be global in character.

—There would be some understood top limit, for instance one derived by subtracting from the current Soviet level, the systems withdrawn from Czechoslovakia and the GDR and then destroyed.

—I insisted on the principle of equality, which would give the U.S. the right to match the Soviet number whatever it was.

—There would be follow-on negotiations about the remaining systems.

Gorbachev pressed me for an answer to his statement that the Soviet position would be zero. I said that we were part of an alliance and this was the first time he had stated this position. Maybe he could dictate to his allies but we couldn’t. So we would consult with them before deciding. We had not yet decided on our position, or whether we would favor zero or a finite number.

There was one other area of progress, but the Soviets may back off. We worked out language on starting negotiations about verification of nuclear testing that could lead to ratification of the treaties. I will give you the details in another cable. The language is totally within the instructions you gave me and, if the Soviets don’t wake up to the fact that we are coming out better on this one, we could nail it down here tomorrow. This would be useful in view of the speaker’s arrival in Moscow3 just as I will be leaving.

It’s not peaches and cream. It’s been a rough day but we have gotten somewhere at least. Gorbachev talked about a summit in the U.S. based on substantive achievement. He indicated that he was thinking of an INF agreement, an agreement in nuclear testing, and a set of principles or instructions to negotiators on START and space. He talked about coming in the fall or before the end of the year. I did not bite except to say that a summit should be carefully prepared by a visit to Washington by Shevardnadze. If we look too interested in this package they may raise the ante. So I’m continuing to low key it.

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I have a 30 minute interview on Soviet TV Wednesday,4 so some things here are changing—in part owing to the strong policies you have put in place and stuck with.

  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; Niact Immediate. Sent Immediate for information to Brussels.
  2. See Document 42.
  3. Reference is to Speaker of the House of Representatives James “Jim” Wright.
  4. April 15.