84. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ministers’ reports; Iran-Iraq war; START and “key provisions”; summitry


  • U.S.

    • The Secretary
    • National Security Advisor Carlucci
    • Ambassador Nitze
    • Ambassador Ridgway
    • Ambassador Matlock
    • EUR/SOV Director Parris (Notetaker)
    • Mr. Zarechnak (Interpreter)
  • U.S.S.R.

    • General Secretary Gorbachev
    • Foreign Minister Shevardnadze
    • CPSU Secretary Dobrynin
    • Gorbachev Advisor Chernyaev
    • Marshal Akhromeyev
    • Dep FornMin Bessmertnykh
    • Ambassador Dubinin
    • Mr. Palazhchenko (Interpreter)

GORBACHEV opened the meeting with a grin and a hearty “So, we go forward!” He welcomed the Secretary, noting that his presence in Moscow so soon after Shevardnadze’s Washington visit spoke for itself. The relationship had entered a more dynamic phase. The Soviets welcomed this. Of course, the most important thing was substance; Gorbachev felt that, there, too, something was emerging.

THE SECRETARY agreed that we must always focus on substance. It was also true that there was often a relationship between the pace of meetings and progress on substance. Much had been achieved during the Washington discussions. And, as the Secretary had said in his luncheon toast the day before, in ten years, people would record that the Reykjavik meeting had accomplished more than any previous summit.

GORBACHEV said he agreed. Reykjavik had been a kind of intellectual breakthrough: its “shock effect” had been similar to a stock market reaction.2 When people settled down, however, they realized a new stage in the U.S.-Soviet political dialogue had been entered, especially as regards security issues.

Gorbachev said he also wished to welcome the other members of the Secretary’s delegation. Some, like Ambassadors Ridgway and [Page 456] Matlock, he already knew. Now he knew Carlucci as well. He hoped Carlucci could make a constructive contribution, as, Gorbachev understood, he had in Washington. He should do the same in Moscow.

THE SECRETARY said he and Carlucci had worked well and easily together since the seventies, when Carlucci had been in the Office of Economic Opportunity, dealing with the problems of the poor. They had then worked together in the Office of the Budget. Few in our government had such varied and extensive experience as Carlucci.

GORBACHEV commented that Carlucci must have learned from this experience that no agreement was possible without taking into account the interests of both parties. He said this, Gorbachev quipped, because he knew that when Nitze and Akhromeyev got together, they invariably sought to achieve some advantage over the other. (THE SECRETARY said that this was the first time he had heard that about Akhromeyev; he knew it was true about Nitze.)

GORBACHEV said it was good that the military was represented in today’s discussions, noting that that fact, too, marked a new element in the relationship. For if there were to be no war, if there were to be disarmament, the military would have to speak to one another. THE SECRETARY agreed, recalling that the Incidents at Sea3 agreement between our two navies had weathered successfully the ups and downs of U.S.-Soviet relations over the years. We believed that there should be meetings between defense ministers, and between Akhromeyev and Admiral Crowe.

GORBACHEV said that would be good. He then suggested a brief discussion of how to structure the meeting. Consistent with the process of democratization now underway in the Soviet Union, Gorbachev would make some suggestions, but would welcome the Secretary’s ideas as well. Perhaps, Gorbachev offered, the Secretary and Shevardnadze could first summarize their discussions since the Secretary’s arrival as a basis for further discussion.

THE SECRETARY said that was a good approach. He opened his summary by noting that a good procedure had by now been established for structuring his meetings with Shevardnadze: relatively small meetings between the two ministers were integrated with the efforts of experts in individual working groups. This process had produced good results. (GORBACHEV interjected that it had indeed been well tested.) THE SECRETARY explained that individual working groups had been set up on bilateral, human rights and arms control. There had also been a “spur of the moment” exchange on regional issues, but the [Page 457] ministers themselves had had a more productive discussion of such issues at their level.

On arms control, the ministers had tried to use their discussion to help our delegations in Vienna reach a mandate for conventional arms talks. There had been a useful discussion on chemical weapons (CW). A special sub-group had been set up to address INF issues; and the ministers had themselves talked about strategic and defense and space matters.

The Secretary said that the U.S. objective in Moscow, and his own instructions, were to complete an INF Treaty, or, failing that, to move the discussion to the point where it was clear that it would be possible to do so. But the President had always felt that strategic arms were a key, and we had noted Gorbachev’s statements that such weapons were a “root problem,” and that a treaty on strategic arms could be completed by the following spring. The U.S. agreed, and would like to see the issues involved moved to a point where, when Gorbachev came to the U.S.—and we hoped he would come—it would be possible to have an in-depth discussion of strategic arms, laying the groundwork for completing a treaty. So that was the U.S. objective.

On the question of intermediate range missiles, we had settled some issues, including the so called “German Pershing” question. Most of that progress, the Secretary noted, had been made by the ministers themselves. We had frankly been disappointed by the attitude we had encountered on the part of Soviet working group representatives, but the working group had now been put back to work. The Secretary had been particularly concerned by a tendency to seek to refer controversial issues to Geneva. The Secretary had rejected this on the grounds that the Geneva delegation’s instructions came from Moscow, and that this was where the decisions should be made. So, the Secretary could not report as much progress as he would have liked to, but he could report that the job was doable.

On strategic arms and the ABM Treaty, the Secretary felt that the discussion between the two ministers had been worthwhile. They had been able to identify the key political decisions which needed to be made. They had also identified the main detail work which had to be addressed. On the latter point, it was becoming clear as we struggled with the final stages of the INF Treaty how difficult verification issues became as operational details were worked out. The task would be even more difficult with strategic arms, where the problems would be far more complex.

It would thus be important to begin pushing on strategic arms verification issues now. In that context, the differences in perspective on mobile land-based missiles was of particular importance. The Secretary said he had explained to Shevardnadze that our problem was not one [Page 458] of principle, but reflected the difficulty of verifying whatever might be agreed to on mobile missiles. So he and Shevardnadze had agreed that the problem would get priority attention. By the time of Gorbachev’s visit, the Secretary thought it should be possible for Gorbachev and the President to address this problem.

The Secretary said that that concluded his summary, offering Carlucci the opportunity to comment further. CARLUCCI declined.

GORBACHEV asked Shevardnadze to summarize for the Soviet side.

SHEVARDNADZE said he agreed in principle with the Secretary’s assessment. GORBACHEV interrupted to ask whether, if the two ministers agreed, it was up to him and the President to disagree. SHEVARDNADZE said that he had said he agreed “in principle.” THE SECRETARY said that, were it not for the agreements which Gorbachev and the President had reached in Reykjavik, there would be nothing for the ministers to discuss.

SHEVARDNADZE acknowledged that the understandings which had been reached during his Washington visit on INF were based on the Reykjavik discussions. As for what had happened after the Washington visit, it had in the previous day’s discussions with the Secretary been possible to reach agreement on many principled questions which had seemed very difficult and complicated. It had been possible to agree on a text regarding the German P–1a which was suitable both from the standpoint of the U.S.FRG alliance relationship and from the Soviet standpoint. Another difficult issue which had been resolved was that of the time frame and procedure for the elimination of intermediate and short range missles (IRM’s and SRM’s): for IRM’s the timeframe would be three years; for SRM’s, 18 months, taking into account technical possibilities. There had also been a good discussion on non-circumvention; Shevardnadze thought a compromise was emerging. Verification remained a tough question which required an objective approach, in view of the sensitivity and complexity of the issues involved, and the vital interests at stake.

GORBACHEV said that the Secretary had quite correctly emphasized the importance of verification not only for IRM’s and SRM’s but also for strategic offensive arms. The issue would become even more important. Everything should be done to ensure that both sides had the confidence they needed.

SHEVARDNADZE agreed, noting that it was also important to take into account the two sides’ different patterns of production and deployment of strategic weapons. THE SECRETARY replied that the U.S. had no quarrel with that proposition.

SHEVARDNADZE said he had agreed with the Secretary that, on some issues, decisions were needed “today.” Were they referred back [Page 459] to Geneva, negotiations could go on indefinitely. GORBACHEV said that fundamental issues should indeed be resolved while the Secretary was in Moscow; technical questions could be referred to Geneva.

As for what he called the “second set of issues,” Shevardnadze seconded the Secretary’s reference to Gorbachev’s description of the radical reduction of strategic offensive weapons as the “root problem.” Here, the results of the ministers’ discussions had been more modest. Shevardnadze said he had described in frank terms to the Secretary the day before Moscow’s perception that Soviet steps to accommodate U.S. interests had been met with U.S. moves which made progress in the area even more difficult.

GORBACHEV asked Shevardnadze if it were not the Minister’s view that the problem of space, which had not been resolved in the Reykjavik “marathon,” and had emerged as a problem afterwards, had arisen again as a difficulty. Further, while the Soviet Union had shown flexibility on the issues involved, the U.S. had remained locked in concrete. How, then, should one move on this central problem for U.S.-Soviet relations and for the world?

SHEVARDNADZE said he would like to address this issue, but wished first to summarize U.S. steps in the strategic arms talks which had become complicating factors. He cited specifically U.S. insistence on: eliminating heavy missiles; a one-sided approach to warhead counting rules; a ban on mobile missiles; and the inclusion of Soviet medium bombers in a START Treaty. In addition, the U.S. was refusing to agree on a sea launched cruise missile (SLCM) sublimit, despite the agreement in Reykjavik to do so. Shevardnadze said that he had conveyed to the Secretary the Soviet view that these issues were all resolvable if the necessary basic decisions were taken.

As for the ABM Treaty, Shevardnadze reported that he had indicated that if there were a retreat from the agreements reached at Reykjavik—i.e., a ten-year non-withdrawal period of strict compliance with the ABM Treaty—there could be no agreement on strategic offensive arms. Shevardnadze had also reviewed the Soviet position on activities which could proceed in laboratories and test ranges, along with their more recent proposals on the parameters for devices to be banned from space. It had been Shevardnadze’s impression, however, that there had been insufficient time to discuss these matters in detail.

Finally, Shevardnadze concluded, he had reminded the Secretary that, to have a “full scale” summit, it would be important to have an agreement on key provisions—as had often been discussed in the past. Shevardnadze said he would not address the discussions which had taken place on conventional and chemical weapons, which had been handled primarily by working groups. There had been a discussion of regional issues, particularly the Persian Gulf, which went on until nearly midnight. It had been a very substantive, occasionally sharp talk.

[Page 460]

GORBACHEV interrupted to say that perhaps it would be worthwhile to diverge for a moment on the Gulf. The situation which was emerging there was of concern to the Soviet Union for two reasons. First, because it appeared that the U.S. had not adequately calculated the consequences for itself, for the Soviet Union, for the world. Second, because the Gulf had emerged as an area where the two superpowers had been able to cooperate effectively on an important international problem. The Soviets had felt that there was still untapped potential for such cooperation, but now the U.S. had apparently decided to go it alone. Moscow did not consider recent U.S. conduct in the Gulf appropriate and regretted America’s rejection of its earlier cooperative approach.

THE SECRETARY’s attempt to respond was cut short by SHEVARDNADZE’s request that he be allowed to complete his report. Shevardnadze said that he had outlined to the Secretary the Soviet position that the unity of the Security Council (UNSC) should be preserved. He had also described the Soviet leadership’s view that, if all other means had been exhausted to bring about implementation of UNSC Resolution 598, resort should be made to the UN military staff committee.

Summing up, Shevardnadze said that, on INF, prospects of an agreement were by no means remote. With the necessary effort and will, outstanding issues could be resolved within twenty days. In addition, there was a need for intensive work on a key provisions agreement regarding 50% reductions of strategic offensive arms and the ABM Treaty, since for the moment there was no solid basis for resolving the issues involved. It was the ministers’ task to prepare by the summit a solid basis for discussion of those issues.

Having been invited by Gorbachev to comment, THE SECRETARY said he had little quarrel with Shevardnadze’s summary. On INF, he agreed that the two sides should settle as many issues as possible before his departure, leaving the Geneva delegations to cross the t’s and dot the i’s. Otherwise we would be waiting for months. GORBACHEV said he would welcome such an approach.

On strategic arms, THE SECRETARY stressed that this was an area of great importance. Shevardnadze had said that Gorbachev would have some thoughts on this subject. The Secretary would be glad to hear them.

With respect to what Gorbachev had said on the Gulf, the Secretary agreed that U.S.-Soviet cooperation in UN diplomacy on the region had been good, and we continued to want to see it work. We wanted to see it work because it could end a poisonous war. We wanted to see it work because nothing could strengthen the standing of an organization like the UN as successfully dealing with a difficult prob [Page 461] lem. It would enhance the prestige of the UN to demonstrate that when the U.S. and U.S.S.R united on something, they could make it happen. So we had no desire to go it alone in the Gulf. To the contrary, we wanted the UN process to work.

As to the U.S. military presence in the Gulf, the Secretary pointed out that there were more European vessels than our own and that, if Soviet ships were added, the U.S. presence amounted to only about a third of the total. Why were we there? Because Iran, and the war generally, posed a threat (a) to our friends in the Gulf, and (b) to the flow of oil of great importance to Western nations. We had to stand by our friends and safeguard this vital supply. The Secretary said he had told Shevardnadze that, as the problem receded, the level of U.S. forces would recede.

GORBACHEV objected that the presence of U.S. forces had complicated the situation, not made it more secure. That was not even in the U.S. interest. Gorbachev understood the U.S. interest in securing the flow of oil, but not its methods.

THE SECRETARY acknowledged that the argument could be made either way, but said that the stronger argument was for having forces in the Gulf. When, for example, Iran mined international waters, was caught by the U.S., claimed that their vessels carried only food, and then were proved to have lied before the UN, people tried to say it was provocative. It was not provocative; it simply forced Iran to realize that they could not say anything and get away with it. It was not provocative to force Iran to deal with reality.

Iran was a first class menace. It had inflamed the Islamic world by its attacks against Saudi Arabia and its holy places. The Secretary commended to Gorbachev a recent speech by the Egyptian foreign minister,4 a thoughtful and deeply religious man, who had roundly condemned statements by Iranian leaders as having nothing to do with Islam. Iran was creating turmoil and needed to be contended with, not necessarily in a confrontational way, but in a way which demonstrated that it could not get away with everything.

The Secretary reported that he had discussed these points with Shevardnadze the night before, as well as the situation in the Security Council. The Secretary General was carrying an implementation package to the parties. Iraq would accept the resolution. The Secretary and Shevardnadze had discussed what to do in the Security Council if, by the end of the month, the Secretary General had ended his work and Iran was still playing games. There would be a need for follow through [Page 462] by the Council. We did not want Iran to make a fool of the UNSC; the Council’s credibility was on the line.

GORBACHEV said he did not want to get into an extended discussion. This was, however, an important problem, one which could “bury” many things, including U.S.-Soviet negotiations. He wanted to emphasize he hoped that the U.S. would weigh all aspects of the situation and not react to transient events on an emotional basis. This approach was fraught with danger. Gorbachev urged that the cooperative line which had been established earlier be maintained. Its potential had not been exhausted. THE SECRETARY agreed, noting that there was important work to do in the UN.

GORBACHEV said that he would like to go back to something the Secretary had said earlier. Not only had there been a more dynamic process recently, there had been concrete movement in some areas. If one looked back at the road running from the Geneva summit through Reykjavik to the present, much was clearer than it had been in the past. Gorbachev believed both sides had a better understanding of their roles, and the responsibility they bore for continuing to work to achieve practical results. This was an important first result of the post-Geneva period.

There was also, Gorbachev continued, a certain common experience of working together. Gorbachev valued the exchanges he had had with the President and with the Secretary, as well as the relationship the Secretary and Shevardnadze had developed. Such relationships had been missing during the early years of the Reagan administration, and had proved an important factor in finding solutions to mutual problems. So, despite occasional difficulties, there was an atmosphere of cooperation and common interest without which nothing could be achieved. This was a second post-Geneva achievement.

Moreover, each side had taken steps (Moscow felt that it was ahead in this respect) to accommodate the interests of the other. This had generated great expectations in both countries, and in the world. Indeed, we were approaching a stage where results were to be expected. If they were not forthcoming, it would be counted against the U.S. leadership, and that of the Soviet Union as well. One had to face that reality. From that perspective, Gorbachev wanted to react to the ministers’ reports.

Gorbachev said it was his impression that an INF agreement could be completed soon. He agreed that the main issues should be resolved in Moscow so as to leave only technical questions (drafting and editorial work) for the negotiators. Were it possible to overcome the remaining issues, it would be an important, significant achievement to present to the world. This raised a question: if an agreement was near, why were certain things, such as the continued deployment of INF, continuing? [Page 463] Perhaps one should consider a joint moratorium effective November 1, even before signing of a Treaty. Such a move would correspond to the political decision which had been made to conclude an agreement. It would show that the Treaty was already working, and demonstrate a mutual readiness to sign an agreement.

On strategic offensive arms and space, Gorbachev wanted to reiterate his Prague remarks (re the “root problem”), which the Secretary had cited. Strategic offensive arms and space were the most important issues for the U.S. and U.S.S.R. because they determined the strategic situation between the two countries. There was as a result a special urgency to find mutually acceptable solutions to this complex of issues.

In Reykjavik, there had been serious exchanges on these issues, which had given impetus to the whole process. The Soviet side had since tried to show its commitment to finding solutions on the basis of the “essence” of the Reykjavik formula—50% reductions of strategic arms and 10 years of non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.

But what was happening in the Geneva talks? Haggling was taking place. The Soviet side had thus been thinking about how to move the process forward. Stripped to its essentials, the problem boiled down to two issues: strict observance of the ABM Treaty; and the establishment of an optimum correlation of the elements of both sides’s strategic forces, i.e., of the triad.

On the first issue, the Soviet side had proposed no withdrawal from the ABM Treaty for 10 years; “or” a second “variant,” related to the first—to discuss what could be in space and what could not be in space. Moscow was awaiting a response to its proposals.

On the second issue (optimum correlation), the Soviet side had looked carefully at the problem and proposed a new formula. Under that formula, there would be a distribution of levels for warheads on the three elements of strategic forces. Each side could compensate to make up for shortfalls in any one leg by withdrawing reentry vehicles from another. In other words, distribution would be by warheads, but compensation would be made by reentry vehicles.

So where was the compromise? Gorbachev asked. The U.S. would agree to record in legally binding form its non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty for ten years, with strict compliance. The Soviet Union would agree to distribution levels to be established for warheads on each leg of the triad. Specifically, the Soviet side was prepared to accept, within the 6,000 warhead aggregate limit, the following sub-limits:

—3,000–3,000 ICBM warheads

—1,800–2,000 SLBM warheads

—800–900 ALCM warheads

Such reciprocal movement would enable negotiators to move quickly to a point where a key provisions agreement on strategic offen [Page 464] sive arms and space would be possible. Thus the agenda for Gorbachev’s visit to the United States would conform to that he had discussed with the Secretary during his April visit to Moscow: signature of an INF agreement; signature of a key provisions agreement based on the compromises Gorbachev had outlined; and an agreement on nuclear testing. This would be a solid agenda for a summit.

Gorbachev said he was aware that not everyone in the U.S. wanted an agreement on strategic arms and space, and sought to use such irritants as the Krasnoyarsk radar to undermine prospects for such an accord. Noting that the Soviet side also had complaints about U.S. radars in “Scotland and Greenland,” Gorbachev said that he was prepared to remove Krasnoyarsk as an obstacle on a reciprocal basis. Specifically, he could inform the Secretary that, as a unilateral initiative, the Soviet Union was prepared to impose a twelve month moratorium on further construction for the Krasnoyarsk radar. It expected a similar step from the U.S. This would make possible serious work on strategic offensive and space issues in their interrelationship.

THE SECRETARY asked to respond, noting that anytime the General Secretary made a suggestion, it was studied in the U.S. with greatest seriousness. Nonetheless, the Secretary would venture some initial reactions.

The Secretary welcomed Gorbachev’s comments on INF, and the impulse he seemed to be prepared to give both sides’ negotiators in Moscow to get a Treaty in hand.

On the ABM Treaty and related questions, one of the Secretary’s objectives in Moscow had been to clarify precisely what the Soviet side had proposed during Shevardnadze’s Washington visit. Cautioning that he did not want his questions to imply interest on the part of the President, who had strong feelings on the subject, the Secretary said he wanted to be sure he correctly understood the Soviet position. Specifically, he understood that Moscow called for a ten-year non-withdrawal period and for compliance with the ABM Treaty “as negotiated.”

GORBACHEV interrupted to state: “in the form we observed it before 1983.”5 There had been no differences of interpretation up till then. This had been established not only by Soviet sources, but by the U.S. Congress, on the basis of documentation provided by the Departments of State and Defense.

THE SECRETARY said he was only trying to clarify that when Gorbachev spoke of compliance, he meant compliance as defined in [Page 465] the DOD report of 19856 and similar documents, which served as points of reference. GORBACHEV repeated: “as we both interpreted it, and observed it, before 1983.”

THE SECRETARY said he did not want to argue, but pointed out that legitimate questions of interpretation of the ABM Treaty had arisen. He also noted that, in recent years, some believed that the Soviet side had sought to establish a “narrower than narrow” interpretation of the Treaty. But it would be useful to know how the actual Soviet position corresponded to points of reference like the DOD document the Secretary had described.

GORBACHEV replied that what he meant was the actual practice of both sides before 1983, which reflected their underlying interpretation of the Treaty. If there were differences in interpretation, the Soviet Union was ready, as Gorbachev had told the President in Reykjavik, to come to the rescue in dealing with SDI. Gorbachev felt that the Soviet proposal for agreeing on what could and could not be placed in space held promise in this regard, subject to a ten-year non-withdrawal commitment. This would allow SDI research within agreed parameters. Orders to research institutes would remain and could be filled, but there would be limits. But the key was that there should be no “weapons” in space. In the meantime, the Soviet side would have agreed to the U.S. approach on sublimits.

THE SECRETARY said he wished to clarify further the Soviet position, again with the caveat that his questions did not imply acceptance of that position. He was not in a position to do that. But as he understood it, the Soviet position included the following elements: a ten-year non-withdrawal period; activities as traditionally understood under the ABM Treaty; additional activities in space within the confines of certain specific thresholds; none of these activities to include deployment, which is prohibited by the ABM Treaty.

GORBACHEV added: “not just deployment, but testing of weapons.” He again emphasized the word, “weapons.” What is permitted, he continued, should be discussed and defined.

THE SECRETARY said that perhaps as much as could be said on the subject had been said. He reiterated that he was only seeking clarification of the Soviet position. He was not agreeing with that position on behalf of the President. He wanted to emphasize this. GORBACHEV said he understood.

On the other side of the equation, THE SECRETARY continued, was the issue of how to effect 50% reductions. We believed much [Page 466] progress had been made, and would like to make an alternative suggestion, recognizing that in the past the question of sublimits had posed a problem for the Soviet side.

There appeared already to be certain broad areas of agreement. The two sides agreed: on a common, albeit bracketed, common text; on a 6,000 warhead aggregate ceiling; on a 1,600 bomber/launcher limit; on a 1540 heavy missile sublimit; on a bomber counting rule; and on reducing throwweight by 50%, while seeking to codify this in language which would prevent subsequent increases in throwweight once this level were reached.

One of the sublimits which the U.S. had proposed, which had been picked up in the proposal which Gorbachev had just made, was a 3,300 warhead ceiling on ICBM’s. In Washington, the Soviets had instead proposed a 3,600 limit for all legs of the triad. The U.S. felt it was important to distinguish among the legs of the triad comprising ballistic missiles, on the one hand, and air-delivered systems, on the other. At the same time, land-based missiles could be distinguished from SLBM’s in that the former were always “on station.” These factors lay behind our desire for a minimum number of warheads to be allocated to the air-delivered leg of the triad, and thus behind our call for a 4,800 ballistic missile warhead sublimit.

In the interest of trying to move the process forward, the U.S. was prepared to drop individual ICBM and SLBM sublimits in exchange for a 4,800 common limit with freedom to mix ballistic missiles.

As the Secretary had said before, when it came to mobile missiles, the question was one of confidence in our ability to verify any limits which might be agreed upon. We did not see an answer to the problem. Perhaps the Soviets could demonstrate how it could be solved before Gorbachev came to the U.S.

That then, was the situation, the Secretary concluded. There was still the question of the 1,650 limit. But our proposal was intended to relax the sublimit problem somewhat, while capping ballistic missiles.

GORBACHEV said that if means could be found of dealing with the whole complex of issues on strategic arms and space in their interrelationship, the question of mobiles could be solved. The Soviet side knew that the U.S. was deploying its own rail mobile MX, as well as the Midgetman. THE SECRETARY said we would prefer to ban mobiles and drop those programs. GORBACHEV pointed out that SLBM’s were also, in a sense, mobile, and that, while the flight time for an ICBM could be calculated, that of an SLBM could not. THE SECRETARY noted that in both cases it was very short, and, once fired, the missile could not be recalled. That was why we distinguished between them and air-delivered weapons.

[Page 467]

GORBACHEV said that, when he described the potentials of the two systems, he simply wanted to point out that both sides had reason for concern. But he wanted to make clear that he did not want the U.S. to feel insecure as a result of any reductions. This would create an unstable situation which was not in the Soviet interest.

THE SECRETARY said he recalled that Gorbachev had made a similar point in Geneva. It was a point that the Secretary accepted. The Secretary also recalled that in Geneva Gorbachev had stressed that neither side should require the other to restructure his deterrent. Such an approach would not work. That was why we had proposed an arrangement which would cap ballistic missiles but leave the question of structure within the 4,800 sublimit to the choice of the side concerned.

GORBACHEV said that he thought the basis existed for work toward a key provisions agreement. This could be the central element of a Washington summit, in addition to the signing of an INF Treaty. Agreement on key provisions would enable the leaders to give their delegations clear instructions to conclude a Treaty which could be signed at a subsequent Moscow summit.

In this regard, Gorbachev said he wanted to address an idea raised in the past by Amb. Kampelman and others that, if it were possible first to reach agreement on a START treaty, it would be much easier to deal with space. This was not a realistic approach; the two sides should not waste time on it. The problems should be dealt with in their interrelationship. The Soviet Union was willing to accommodate U.S. concerns, but any agreement should reflect the interests of both sides.

THE SECRETARY said that the U.S. was prepared to work on these things, but expressed doubts that the Geneva delegations would be able to deal with them adequately. This was something for Gorbachev and the President to decide. What the negotiators could do was to lay the ground for a fruitful discussion at a summit. He had made some suggestions to that effect.

First, the Secretary suggested that the Geneva delegations should be instructed to work with priority and energy on verification questions, and particularly on how we would verify whatever was agreed to on mobile missiles. INF had shown how difficult such issues could become; we did not want to wait until February or March to begin work on verification in START.

Second, with respect to the various positions that had been tabled in Geneva, the negotiators ought to try to clarify things as much as possible. They should seek to explain the rationale behind their positions. This would help when Gorbachev and the President got together.

Third, the Secretary suggested that the negotiators continue the process of seeking to eliminate brackets in the various texts being [Page 468] discussed. As to parameters, instructions could emerge from a summit meeting, in light of what had already been agreed upon before a summit.

GORBACHEV said he saw some weaknesses in the Secretary’s suggestions. First, there had been no mention of the problem of space. If that were not addressed, movement in other areas made no sense. The problems should be tackled in their interelationship. Why, Gorbachev asked, was the U.S. delegation avoiding a discussion of space issues, including the most recent Soviet proposals?

Gorbachev also expressed his “overall impression” that the Secretary’s three suggestions reflected an effort to reject the idea that a key provisions agreement should be prepared in time for a Washington summit. The Secretary was proposing “vague” provisions. Everything that he had suggested should be done, but the goal of such activity should be a key provisions agreement to sign at a summit. Gorbachev repeated with emphasis that such an agreement must be completed in time for a summit for signature by himself and the President in Washington.

In sum, Gorbachev concluded, the delegations in Geneva should be instructed to work on a key provisions agreement. Were this not possible, the Soviet side would have to postpone results until the next administration. This was not what it wanted. It believed there were good possibilities to achieve a Treaty with the Reagan administration.

THE SECRETARY said that he was not trying to be vague. Much was already agreed, largely as a result of Reykjavik. The question was as to next steps. The Secretary agreed with Gorbachev on the need for clearer instructions to negotiators, but reiterated that, with due respect for our delegations in Geneva, the basic decisions would have to be made by Gorbachev and the President. What the negotiators could do was prepare the ground. That was why the Secretary had emphasized the need for clarity and continued work on verification, especially as it related to mobiles.

GORBACHEV proposed that, in that case, the negotiators be instructed to prepare a draft key provisions agreement text, not just engage in desultory discussions.

THE SECRETARY agreed that, the further along the process was by the time of Gorbachev’s meeting with the President, the better. Much preparatory work could be done. But the big decisions would be made by the leaders themselves. We were as anxious as the Soviet side to capture the breakthroughs made in Reykjavik so that they could be put into effect.

GORBACHEV said that Reykjavik already had its place in history. But a second Reykjavik was not possible. It was impossible to meet [Page 469] again for an extemporaneous discussion. It had been possible to preserve Reykjavik despite the efforts of those who would bury it. But a second Reykjavik was impossible. It would be a political loss for both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. The Soviet Union had said it wanted to improve relations with the U.S.; the U.S. was lagging behind. Perhaps this was due to Ambassador Matlock’s reporting.

THE SECRETARY said that what was happening in the Soviet Union was interesting.

GORBACHEV said he would explain the reference to Matlock. He had with him an interesting document that, when he had first seen it, he had decided he must raise it with the Secretary. Holding up a copy of the State Department publication, “Soviet Intelligence Activities: A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda, 1986–87,”7 Gorbachev alleged that it contained “shocking revelations.” Specifically, he noted the pamphlet’s treatment of a “Mississippi Peace Cruise” which Gorbachev had commended to President Reagan during the Geneva summit as an example of the kinds of people-to-people activities they had agreed to expand. Now, it turned out, the U.S. had discovered that these same agreements—and this same cruise—were being used by the Soviets to deceive Americans. Gorbachev asked if the example he had given the President had been chosen on purpose for inclusion in the study.

THE SECRETARY said he was unfamiliar with the pamphlet, and asked if he could keep it. GORBACHEV said it was his only copy. He had raised the issue, he continued, because the Soviet leadership had made a decision to improve U.S.-Soviet relations across the board. There was no interest in Moscow in nourishing hatred for the U.S. Could the U.S. not live without portraying the Soviet Union as an “enemy”? Was it a “must” to do so? What kind of a society would need such an approach? It did not bother Gorbachev when Charles Wick said that perestroika was all a show, but how could the Secretary of State negotiate with people he considered “enemies.” Gorbachev asked the Secretary to consider all of this carefully, because Moscow genuinely wanted to improve relations.

THE SECRETARY said that the desire to improve relations was mutual. The skepticism which many in the U.S. displayed toward events in the Soviet Union was a function of things which had been done by the Soviets in the past and which had bothered us a great deal. GORBACHEV interjected that some feared that Americans would [Page 470] be less skeptical, and so developed active measures which portrayed two years of progress in expanding exchanges as KGB penetration.

THE SECRETARY asked to give some examples of the kind of things which bothered Americans. “Poor” Jimmy Carter, to cite one, was a man of good will, who suddenly learned a lesson when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. It was a good lesson. KAL was another episode. We were not sure how that had happened.

GORBACHEV interjected that the Secretary should begin with Gary Powers and the U–2 incident. THE SECRETARY replied that the problem was that Gromyko had sat in Madrid8 with other foreign ministers and said, “yes, we did it, and we will do it again.” A chill had gone through the room. GORBACHEV asked how much the U.S. had paid for the pension of the pilot who flew KAL 007. THE SECRETARY said he would not dignify the comment with a response. GORBACHEV said he would ignore the Secretary’s remarks as well. THE SECRETARY told him to read Gromyko’s speech, which had appalled everyone who heard it.

The Secretary continued that, more recently, Soviet sources had sought to spread rumors that the U.S. had invented AIDS and was trying to spread it. We had thus been glad when Soviet authorities had informed us the campaign would stop. GORBACHEV asked why, in that case, the Secretary was raising the issue.

THE SECRETARY said he would describe his own attitude, which, Dobrynin could verify, had remained constant since the seventies. One had to recognize that the improvement of relations between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. was the most important endeavor in international affairs. There was no more important task. It was a difficult task, because our societies were different. GORBACHEV interjected that the Soviet Union did not tell the U.S. how to change. THE SECRETARY said that neither did the U.S. The Soviet Union had its own system. It was seeking to change that system. The Secretary was fascinated by the process, and would like to know more about it. But it was a Soviet problem, not ours. Holding up the pamphlet, GORBACHEV asked how, if what the Secretary was saying, such documents could happen. The SECRETARY repeated that this was the first time he had seen it. He suspected it was not as bad as Gorbachev had said.

GORBACHEV replied that the document, and the approach it represented, was a throw-back to an old approach. When he had recently met with American teachers of Russian, he had asked them if they had encountered in the Soviet Union any lack of respect for the United [Page 471] States. They had said, no. Nor would the Secretary find the Soviet Union portraying Americans as enemies or ready to precipitate a bloodbath, as Soviet citizens were portrayed by the U.S. The President liked to say that everything was possible once confidence was established. Did documents like this one produce confidence? There had been some improvement in contacts between the two countries, and the Soviet side welcomed this. But the U.S. seemed to be afraid of it. How weak the U.S. must be to react so. Gorbachev said he would like to conclude this sharp exchange on the note with which he had begun—a desire to improve relations. The desire was there on the Soviet side. The U.S. should reflect on this.

THE SECRETARY said he agreed. GORBACHEV said, “Good, let’s forget it.” THE SECRETARY said he also lived by it, and fought for it, which was not always easy. GORBACHEV said the discussion did not detract from the value of the meeting or diminish its importance. It was but another indication that the two sides should use the U.S.-Soviet bulldozer to move closer to one another.

Gorbachev asked the Secretary how they should conclude the meeting.

THE SECRETARY said that, in terms of content, while there was work to do, he had nothing to add. He only wanted to emphasize that the agenda we had agreed to was a broad one, and that we needed to address all the issues it covered, from human rights, to Afghanistan, to the various security issues. We needed constantly to be looking for areas where we could take constructive action. For example, the evening before the Secretary and Shevardnadze had discussed the situation in Southern Africa; maybe there was something which could be done there. So there was a broad agenda, and we should see what could be done at the ministers’ level, as well as at the level of Gorbachev and the President.

The President, for his part, hoped that Gorbachev would come to the United States. He was prepared to receive the General Secretary with great respect, and dignity, and friendship. Gorbachev had mentioned a reciprocal visit to Moscow, as had been agreed in Geneva. The Secretary was sure the President would like to see the Soviet Union, and not just Moscow. So the President hoped Gorbachev would want to come. From the President’s standpoint, the most convenient time would be late November. There should be an INF treaty by then. The Secretary did not have a clear idea of Gorbachev’s calender or how long he might wish to stay, but he wanted him to know that he would be welcome to come to do business, and to know that he would be received with appropriate official honors. In addition to personal interaction with the President and himself, the Secretary suggested it would be well for Gorbachev to meet with Congressional leaders and people [Page 472] from different walks of life and regions of the U.S. Knowing Gorbachev’s broad interests, the Secretary thought he should also take away some sense of American life in such areas as science, technology and agriculture.

GORBACHEV asked what kind of agenda the Secretary would expect for a Washington summit in light of the day’s exchange.

THE SECRETARY said that it would reflect the broad nature of the relationship itself. There would certainly be an INF Treaty to sign. There should be sessions between Gorbachev and the President, supported by advisors, and possibly working groups, on the range of substantive issues. It might be appropriate to hold the discussions in a special setting, e.g. Camp David or Williamsburg, to allow for sustained substantive concentration.

The Secretary thought that there should be an official program which would demonstrate respect for the General Secretary and the Soviet Union. There should also be opportunities for exposure to Congress and to Americans from various walks of life. The Secretary believed it would be very desirable for the General Secretary to travel beyond Washington, in part out of “personal motives.” The Secretary wanted to see relations between the two countries improve. He had had the privilege of seeing a fair amount of Gorbachev. He was convinced that the General Secretary would be liked and respected were he to get around the U.S.; he would be considered a “good guy.” His direct, engaging and curious manner would strike a responsive chord among Americans. These then, were the ingredients; they could be shaken up in any manner.

GORBACHEV said he wanted to return to the business part of the visit. What would be prepared for the meeting in the strategic arms/space areas?

THE SECRETARY could only tell Gorbachev what he would like to see emerge—a result which would enable us, given a push by Gorbachev and the President, to complete work on a Treaty by sometime the following spring. But, the Secretary acknowledged, he could not guarantee what might emerge. He asked Carlucci to comment.

CARLUCCI said he felt the chances of reaching agreement on START were good. The President would like to reach an agreement. But Carlucci had to say he was troubled by the emphasis Gorbachev had placed on linking the narrow interpretation of the ABM Treaty to START. This would be very difficult. The President had made a personal and public commitment to proceeding with a managed transition from mutually assured destruction to a reliance on a combination of offensive and defensive systems. He believed this to be a stable means of preventing war in the future. He was unwilling to accept artificial restraints on SDI. There was thus a need to identify ways of meeting [Page 473] the Soviet desire for greater predictability without putting restraints on SDI through the narrow interpretation of the ABM Treaty.

GORBACHEV countered that it turned out that the agenda that he had discussed with the Secretary in April had not emerged, to wit: an INF agreement; an agreement on key provisions of a strategic arms/space treaty; and progress on ending nuclear testing. Under such circumstances, he had to wonder about the meaning of summit. Would the two leaders gain or lose vis-a-vis their own countries and the world?

It had been right to have the first summit in Geneva. There had since been another. There had been many meetings between the Secretary and Shevardnadze. So what would be better? A summit meeting or something else? Gorbachev said he feared that people would not understand if the two leaders kept meeting and had nothing to show for it, especially since they both agreed, and had said publicly, that strategic arms were the key.

THE SECRETARY suggested that, in that case, perhaps they should consider different ways to conclude an INF accord. Since it was virtually complete, it should be signed, ratified and put into effect. It would carry more weight if it had the President’s and Gorbachev’s imprimatur, but it might be signed by negotiators in Geneva. The Secretary admitted, however, that he had not given serious thought to appropriate means of signing the treaty in the absence of the President and Gorbachev.

The Secretary also noted Gorbachev’s apparent view that a summit should be linked in some way to reaching agreement on the President’s SDI program. Carlucci had described the President’s strong views on this. The question was: was it possible to find a formulation which would give the Soviets the assurances they needed while preserving the strength and thrust of the President’s program? The answer was: we did not know. Some ideas had been advanced, but the Secretary did not want to overstate their prospects.

GORBACHEV said that, when he had asked about the agenda for a Washington meeting, he did not mean to suggest he did not want to come. He did want to visit the U.S., but had to emphasize what he had said in April. A meeting could not take place unless it produced really substantive results. A third meeting without movement would not be taken seriously. Gorbachev had therefore dwelt on the agenda because he wanted a summit—a summit in America. He believed that in the remaining month and a half enough progress could be made in Geneva to justify a visit, perhaps not in November, but in December. A meeting was necessary. He was prepared to come. He was not maneuvering. He was insisting on the need for a key provisions agreement on strategic arms and space because he was convinced that the quantitative wherewithal was there to produce a qualitative result if the two sides worked hard over the next month and a half. Perhaps [Page 474] the delegations would not be able to resolve everything, but the basic structure that Gorbachev and the Secretary discussed in April should be the basis for any visit.

SHEVARDNADZE commented that further contacts presupposed such an approach. If the President were to come to Moscow, the groundwork would need to be well laid.

THE SECRETARY said that it was not the format, but the content of Gorbachev’s suggestions which made him cautious. The content was there, but there were different ways to express it.

GORBACHEV said that the negotiators should give it a try. THE SECRETARY said he doubted that they would be equal to the task. The decisions involved had to be resolved at a higher level—at that of ministers or higher. The issues involved went to the heart of the President’s SDI program. As to timing, if things went beyond early December, one ran into a period which would not be good for a visit. A further delay would be possible, but the later a meeting took place, the less time the Reagan administration would have to seek its ratification and fight for it.

GORBACHEV noted with a laugh that much was clearer as a result of his talk with the Secretary. Both sides now needed to do some thinking and to clarify what should be done. Gorbachev would report to the Soviet leadership; the Secretary to the President. Did the Secretary agree?

THE SECRETARY said he would prefer to set a date, but had no authority to say he could predict with any confidence when Gorbachev and the President could agree on an ABM/Space/SDI package. There may be possibilities, but the Secretary did not know what they might be. GORBACHEV said that this was all the more reason for the Secretary to report to the President. He could decide.

THE SECRETARY said that he also thought that there was merit to the proposition that meetings of the leaders of the two superpowers should be able to meet “without the world shaking.” There was much to discuss; it was not necessary that every central issue be resolved. GORBACHEV said he agreed, but felt that this round should be conducted in the manner he had described.

THE SECRETARY asked how Gorbachev would propose to describe the outcome. The Secretary, for his part, would say that there had been a full round of discussion, would describe what had been done on INF, and would indicate that we expected to complete the Treaty in the near future. He would indicate that strategic arms and space had been discussed and that, while there had been a good exchange of views, he did not see, particularly in the space area, any immediate prospect for an agreement. He would say that the General [Page 475] Secretary had not felt comfortable at this time setting a date for his visit to the U.S., and that we would continue working in this area.

GORBACHEV agreed with the Secretary’s assessment, with the addition that he would say that he would probably write the President a letter.9 Gorbachev agreed that the process should be described as moving ahead, and that an INF agreement could be expected. Such an agreement would help in reaching agreement on the more central issues of strategic arms and space.

THE SECRETARY asked if the Soviet side had given thought to how an INF Treaty might be signed so that the ratification process could begin.

GORBACHEV said he believed on the basis of his discussion with the Secretary that there was still time to make progress in strategic arms. He wanted to explore further possibilities for compromise within the timeframe the Secretary and Shevardnadze had agreed to for a summit—i.e., within the current year. At present the Secretary clearly had to consult with the President. But there was time to work. If the two sides were successful, there would be a solid basis for a Washington summit.

THE SECRETARY said he hoped Shevardnadze was right, but pointed out that time was running out. He hoped the General Secretary was right, and would work hard to prove him right. GORBACHEV said he was sure of success if Nitze and Carlucci put their backs to the task. THE SECRETARY said he thought that assessment was wrong. GORBACHEV said that he would write the President, in that case. The “front” would have to expand.

THE SECRETARY said, “so be it.” But he warned that Gorbachev should weigh carefully the advisability of tying the entire relationship to SDI. It was not that people would get mad and stop trying, but time was running out.

As for himself, there was one promise the Secretary intended to collect from Shevardnadze—to see a bit more of the Soviet Union. GORBACHEV said that the Secretary would have plenty of chances. THE SECRETARY said he certainly would in about 15 months. GORBACHEV noted that the Secretary knew many people in the Soviet Union.

SHEVARDNADZE remarked that it was not good that the U.S. seemed to be afraid of a key provisions agreement. The Soviet side was not speaking about SDI, but about the ABM Treaty. THE SECRETARY repeated that we were not against a key provisions agreement as such, but were concerned as to its substance. The Secretary had been candid [Page 476] in explaining that, while he hoped for substantive progress on ABM matters, he did not feel as confident as in the strategic arms area.

GORBACHEV said that the U.S. should reflect further on the matter. If, however, the U.S. position was that there was nothing to talk about with respect to space, it should say so.

THE SECRETARY pointed out that the U.S. had had a number of things to say about space in Washington. The principle of non-withdrawal was acceptable. We had put forward the idea of a seven-year period, i.e., to 1994. The Soviet side was talking about ten years. So there were areas of overlap. There was less agreement on what happened at the end of that period. And the heart of the matter, and most difficult of all, was what happened during the non-withdrawal period itself. The ABM Treaty barred deployments, and so there was agreement on that. As for what kind of actions were permitted, the U.S. position was that the Treaty, as negotiated, was consistent with an interpretation which allowed a fairly broad range of activities, although this was not the definition used in structuring our SDI program.

GORBACHEV said that this was the approach which made the Soviet side so suspicious as to U.S. plans. THE SECRETARY emphasized the President’s view of the importance of freedom to determine the feasibility of a defense against ballistic missiles, noting that the U.S. had proposed various confidence building measures, e.g., open labs, to meet stated Soviet concerns over predictability.

GORBACHEV asked what might be signed in Washington on nuclear testing. THE SECRETARY recalled the agreement reached during Shevardnadze’s Washington trip to begin negotiations on nuclear testing, and on how to go about the task. Working groups were discussing modalities in Moscow. It was our expectation that the negotiations would focus first on experiments to resolve questions on verification techniques, and “as this was being done” it would be possible to seek ratification of the two existing treaties. By next spring, they might be ratified. In the meantime, some testing would remain important.

DOBRYNIN commented that it seemed to him a paradoxical situation had arisen. The President seemed to have made clear in his press conference earlier in the week that he considered INF essentially completed and START the main priority task. This was creating the impression that strategic arms issues would be the major issue at a summit. But since both sides knew that Moscow insisted on linking a START treaty to progress on space, the situation was headed for catastrophe. Why not rethink the matter, and use the remaining month and a half to achieve progress?

THE SECRETARY said he had no objection to such an approach, except that it did not appear realistic. The President had also pointed [Page 477] out in his press conference10 that the ABM Treaty had been premised on the assumption that strategic arms would decrease; instead they had increased by a factor of four. Even if strategic arms were reduced by 50%, there would still be twice as many warheads as in 1972. That was why we had felt it inappropriate to link strategic arms reductions to space.

GORBACHEV said that that seemed to indicate that everything which could be said had been said. But the dialogue was not over. Gorbachev had the advantage that he could write directly to the President. THE SECRETARY said we would expect a letter. GORBACHEV said it would come in short order. There was still time to reach an agreement on key provisions. This was a crucial juncture in the relationship.

THE SECRETARY acknowledged that a possibility existed. But he thought it unlikely. GORBACHEV said the Secretary could believe that if he liked. CARLUCCI said that this did not mean Gorbachev was not still welcome. GORBACHEV said he wanted to come, but not just for a reprise of Shevardnadze’s Washington visit—he and the Secretary had essentially worked out the INF agreement then. THE SECRETARY assured Gorbachev that, if the working groups had their way, he would still have plenty to work out in Washington.

GORBACHEV volunteered the notion that a “halfway” meeting might be appropriate for signing the INF agreement if he did not visit the U.S. in 1987. But this would mean that the President could not come to Moscow in 1988. For his part, Gorbachev wanted to come to Washington. But the substance had to be ready.

CARLUCCI said that there would be INF, and progress on START. But SDI was the President’s program. What Gorbachev had said about SDI, as Carlucci understood it, seemed to be incompatible with that program. This was a key issue.

GORBACHEV said he would write the President. If there were no result, the only thing to do would be to sign the INF agreement at an appropriate level outside the context of a Washington visit. But Gorbachev was not in favor of such an approach. CARLUCCI said he didn’t say nothing was possible; he said that Gorbachev’s goals appeared incompatible with SDI.

GORBACHEV said they had to be made compatible. One could not just walk away from the problem.

He concluded the session with a brisk, “O.K. These have been good talks,” and moved around the table to shake hands with the U.S. delegation.

  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/Washington Oct. 1987. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Parris. The meeting took place in St. Catherine’s Hall at the Kremlin.
  2. Reference is to the so-called Black Monday stock market crash earlier that week.
  3. See footnote 8, Document 67.
  4. Reference is to Ahmed Asmat Abdul-Meguid.
  5. Reference is to Reagan’s announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative in March 1983.
  6. Reference is to Report to the Congress on the Strategic Defense Initiative (Washington, DC: Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, Department of Defense, June 1986).
  7. Reference is to Soviet Influence Activities: A Report on Active Measures and Propaganda 1986–87, (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1987).
  8. Information about this episode is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985.
  9. See Document 88.
  10. For the full text of this press conference, see Public Papers: Reagan, 1987, Book II, pp. 1218.