51. Note From Ambassador-at-Large Nitze and the Counselor of the Department of State (Kampelman) to Secretary of State Shultz1

Mr. Secretary:

On May 15th at 3:00 p.m., Dr. Lawrence Horowitz met with us for a debriefing following a brief trip he had made to Moscow earlier this week. The meeting was pursuant to an understanding he had reached with Ambassador Kampelman at the latter’s home on the evening of Saturday, May 9, just prior to Dr. Horowitz’ departure for Moscow. The Moscow trip followed a recent invitation from Anatoliy Dobrynin, consistent with a series of such visits by Dr. Horowitz, representing Senator Ted Kennedy, with Soviet officials, beginning with Andropov’s leadership.

On Tuesday, May 12, Horowitz spent approximately 1½ hours with Dobrynin and his deputy, Kornyenko. On Wednesday, he spent a similar amount of time meeting with Mr. Zagladin, Dobrynin’s other principal deputy.

The tone of the Dobrynin meeting, personally warm, was “uncharacteristically rigid” in substance and at variance with the tone of their last similar meeting in Moscow in December.2 After some discussion of Presidential politics in the United States, characterized by distorted Leninist analysis, Dobrynin asserted that the very promising developments between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. following the latter’s initiative in December had clearly failed. (The code name for this Soviet overture was “Project 5.”) General Secretary Gorbachev had been encouraged by the President’s response that he was willing to have his personal representative meet with Dobrynin in Moscow for informal discussions of how to break the Geneva log jam. The President’s decision to include Richard Perle in that delegation was interpreted by the Soviets as an inability on the part of the President to carry through on the spirit of the Soviet overture. (Horowitz said that he challenged the validity of that conclusion in that the participation of Perle would have helped produce a U.S. consensus behind any results achieved and would have been of assistance in the later ratification of any treaties coming out of Geneva.)

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Dobrynin stated that the Soviet government now believes that only an INF agreement can or should take place with President Reagan. They are convinced that President Reagan will not take any steps designed to meet Soviet “weapons on space” concerns and that without some satisfaction in that area, no START agreement is possible. Dobrynin very candidly stated that the President is now obviously weaker than he was in December and does not have the ability to get his way with Congress. They are also convinced that the President has no intention of showing any SDI flexibility and that it is already too late. Furthermore, the Soviets see no need to negotiate on SDI since the Congress will meet their present concerns by prohibiting tests which would violate the ABM Treaty. (Confidentiality, says Horowitz, must here be protected.)

Horowitz informed Dobrynin that in his view and that of Senator Kennedy, such a Soviet conclusion would be a “tragic mistake.” He pointed to the fact that a Presidential veto of any legislation restricting SDI would be upheld by the Senate. He also said that postponing the issue until there was a new President would only mean that an “arms race in space” would get underway in the interim; and the identity and program of a new President are today totally unknown. It is Horowitz’ view that those assertions, coming from him, may have had an impact on Dobrynin, but he is uncertain. Kornyenko was very tough and Dobrynin seemed to be associating himself completely with those tough views.

There was a discussion on INF with Horowitz concluding that the Soviets are eager for that agreement and optimistic that one could and would be negotiated in Geneva. Dobrynin showed no sympathy for the concerns of the Germans and the uncertainties of our European Allies. He also verbally closed the door on any possibility that the 100 INF warheads agreed upon at Reykjavik as a global limit would in any way be reduced to zero. The Soviets, he asserted, already know how they are going to deal with the 100 in Asia. He said that 33 would be aimed at U.S. nuclear weapons in Korea; 33 would be aimed at our bombers in Japan; and 33 on the Far East which they identified as a “special problem” relating to the U.S. activity there, with no further explanation.

Dobrynin asserted that the Soviets had made all the INF concessions they were going to make and that they had made more than their share. They were prepared to have an LRINF agreement without any provision dealing with SRINF. Dobrynin denied that Gorbachev had proposed to the Secretary a global zero SRINF program. (It was Horowitz’ impression, however, that the Soviets would be prepared to get down to zero globally on SRINF if that was the U.S. insistence.)

In the discussions dealing with SPACE, Dobrynin said that the Soviets could not accept any agreement which implied that they would [Page 253] at any time acquiesce in the broad interpretation of the ABM Treaty. He, furthermore, asserted that the Soviets could not accept any agreement or statement of principle which would legitimize any withdrawal from ABM or imply that the ABM Treaty had a finite life to it.

Dobrynin said that the Soviets would be prepared to have a statement of principle on START pronounced at the Washington Summit, but that statement of principle had to recognize Soviet linkage with SPACE and the Soviet commitment to the ABM Treaty. The statement of principle could lightly acknowledge those Soviet concerns, but there had to be some such acknowledgement.

Horowitz informed us that he pointed out to Dobrynin that such a statement of principle was worthless and would not bind a new President; would have no validity in American law; would not make a new negotiation on the subject with a new President any easier; nor would it improve the chances of later ratification of a treaty. He said that it was his view that there was still time for a START treaty. The problem was a serious substantive one, but not one of time.

Horowitz said that Dobrynin’s messages were always directed toward Senator Kennedy and no specific reference was made to any likelihood that Horowitz would be sharing what he learned with any Administration officials. The meeting concluded with Dobrynin asserting that he could not visit the United States before autumn. He then expressed the hope that Horowitz would visit him again in Moscow within the next three months so that they could take further inventory of where they stood.

On Wednesday morning,3 Horowitz had breakfast with Ambassador Jack Matlock who told him that he had seen Dobrynin at dinner the previous Friday night.4 Matlock felt that the tone of his conversation was much more positive than the tone of the conversation with Horowitz, but that it was substantively similar.

Horowitz then met with Zagladin. The latter stated that he wanted to spend time with Horowitz so as to “tone down the negative impression” that Dobrynin may have given him. He said that nothing had changed substantively since Secretary Shultz’ visit to Moscow and that the substance communicated to the Secretary was not altered. He asserted, however, that it was necessary for Dobrynin to be inflexible because the substance communicated to the Secretary was established policy and Dobrynin could not deviate from it. Furthermore, since Gorbachev was out of Moscow, there was no way for Dobrynin to receive authority to moderate his tone or reflect what he had learned [Page 254] from Horowitz. Zagladin stated on more than one occasion that there was no “closing of the door.” The U.S., however, had to realize that there could be no START agreement without some SDI linkage which would include a compromise agreement on testing. With respect to START, Horowitz clearly understood that there would be some flexibility in recognizing U.S. concerns about additional sub-limits.

It was significant that Zagladin urged Horowitz to communicate to Senator Kennedy and to Administration authorities that the Administration should study the May 8, 1987 Soviet “key elements” statement in Geneva (text provided to Secretary in Moscow).5 He specifically read out loud the reference to a Soviet requirement that a negotiated and signed START treaty could be ended if any of the parties proceeded to “practical creation” of a space-based ABM system. (The Soviet word is “development.”) There had to be some such conditionality in any START agreement and this conditionality was absent in the U.S. draft treaty. He emphasized the statement was carefully drafted and that the words “practical creation” were designed to be a discussion opener. He hoped the United States in Geneva and elsewhere would probe the meaning of those words with the Soviets and suggested those words might provide a cover which would satisfy the SPACE requirements of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. He also suggested that it was necessary to have some acknowledgement by the U.S. of what was agreed upon on January 5, 1985, that the purpose of the negotiation and agreement was to prevent an “arms race in outer space.”

Zagladin asked Horowitz to cable him whether he was able to communicate his message to U.S. authorities. Kampelman authorized Horowitz to say he had communicated it to Kampelman, who was aware of the Soviet paper, took it seriously, had instructed U.S. negotiators in Geneva to probe, and intended himself to probe further with Vorontsov when they next met.

It was Horowitz’ conclusion that the difference in emphasis between his Tuesday and Wednesday conversations might reflect a division on the part of those who advise Gorbachev. He also believes that Gorbachev very much needs and wants a Summit in the Fall. Horowitz, speaking as a concerned citizen, felt this gave us a great deal of leverage. He saw no advantage for the United States in having Gorbachev receive a triumphant tour in the United States by signing an agreement which was not as important to the United States as the President’s desire to achieve radical reductions in the strategic weap[Page 255]ons. (This is a point worthy of more serious consideration by the United States.)

NOTE: Horowitz believes that Dobrynin accurately reflected current Soviet thinking. Kampelman is doubtful, believes that Zagladin’s conversation was also a part of the Soviet message, and looks upon the “tough” part of the message as consistent with a well established Soviet negotiating pattern, particularly as the talks come close to the “last 20 minutes.”

Horowitz stated that Dobrynin responded further to Kennedy’s family reunification concerns by giving him the travel papers to deliver to two of the families on the Senator’s list.

  • Paul H. Nitze6
  • Max M. Kampelman
  1. Source: Department of State, Ambassador Nitze’s Personal Files 1953, 1972–1989, Lot 90D397, July 1982. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. See Document 9.
  3. May 13.
  4. May 8.
  5. See telegram 5233 from the Nuclear and Space Talks delegation, May 11. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D870626-0692)
  6. Printed from a copy that bears these typed signatures.