92. National Security Decision Directive 2881


General Secretary Gorbachev has accepted my invitation to attend a Washington Summit, beginning December 7, that should witness the signing of an INF agreement and a thorough review of all elements on the U.S.-Soviet agenda. The signing of the INF treaty represents a triumph and vindication for the policy that this Administration has followed toward the Soviet Union from the start. It demonstrates that realism, strength, and unity with our allies are the prerequisites for effective negotiation with Moscow. We must keep this principle in mind as we address all issues related to the Summit. We must also bear in mind that the nature of the Soviet regime, while it may be changing slowly, sets limits to what we can achieve with Moscow by negotiation and diplomacy. (S)


I have a carefully calibrated mix of objectives for the Summit. All are important. They include:

—the completion and signing of an INF agreement in a form and manner that maximizes Alliance solidarity and the prospects for ratification;

—making real progress toward a START agreement and moving toward a treaty on Defense and Space that furthers the promise the Strategic Defense Initiative holds for a safer world through deterrence based increasingly on defenses;

—taking diplomatic and public affairs actions which at a minimum assure that the Summit is seen as an event addressing thoroughly our whole agenda. Prior to and at the Summit, we should create political pressure for the Soviets to take positive steps on our human rights, regional, and bilateral concerns. For example:

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• On human rights, we should make the point that while there has been some progress on the Soviet side, it has been marked by tokenism; it has not been institutionalized nor made irreversible, and is therefore far from adequate. We should seek Soviet adherence to all human rights conventions signed by the U.S.S.R., and vast improvement in emigration, repatriation, and resolving divided family cases. If the Soviets raise the issue, we should clearly say that they have a long way to go before we can give support to the idea of a human rights conference in Moscow.

• We should make clear that the absence of any progress on regional issues is a fundamental impediment to a general improvement of our relations. We should be firm on the need for a prompt withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, urge agreement right away to a transitional regime free from Communist domination, and repeat our willingness to facilitate their withdrawal and to guarantee a genuinely independent, non-aligned and neutral Afghanistan. We should make clear our grave concern about the turn for the worse in Soviet policy in the Persian Gulf—shielding Iran from a second UNSC Resolution as Iran’s behavior towards us and the Gulf Arabs becomes more belligerent, and allowing their Bloc partners and clients to ship arms to Iran that could be used against us. We should put the Soviets on notice that they are at a crossroads: cooperation now on a second resolution would mean real progress on the regional agenda, but persistence in their current policy could damage U.S.-Soviet relations and put us on a potentially very dangerous collision course. (S)

In conducting this Summit we must strike a sensible balance. While seeking concrete agreements in arms reductions which serve our national interests, we must not foster false illusions about the state of U.S.-Soviet relations. Such illusions would only undermine our ability to continue conducting the realistic policies which brought us an INF agreement and have enabled us to meet the Soviet challenge worldwide. (S)

Our conduct at the Summit and the framing of its results must in no way complicate our efforts to maintain a strong defense budget and key programs like SDI; they must help us maintain support for the Contras, Mujahidin, UNITA, and the democratic resistance in Cambodia; and they must reinforce Alliance unity. In brief, the Summit should seek simultaneously to codify progress in the U.S.-Soviet relationship, prepare the way for future progress, yet make clear where fundamental differences remain which block progress. (S)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, National Security Council: National Security Decision Directives (NSDD), NSDD 288. Secret.