230. Minutes of a National Security Planning Group Meeting1


  • Arms Control Issues for the Summit


  • The President
  • State

    • Secretary Shultz
    • Ambassador Max Kampelman
    • Ambassador Paul Nitze
    • Ambassador Edward Rowny
  • OSD

    • Secretary Weinberger
    • Dr. Fred Ikle
  • Energy

    • Secretary Herrington
  • CIA

    • Mr. Robert Gates
  • JCS

    • General Robert Herres
    • Vice Admiral Jonathan Howe
  • ACDA

    • Dr. Kenneth Adelman
  • The White House

    • Mr. Kenneth Duberstein
    • Mr. Frank Carlucci
    • Dr. William Graham
    • Lt. Gen. Colin Powell
    • Col. Robert Linhard
    • Mr. William Tobey
[Page 998]


The President began the meeting with a statement from the attached talking points.2 He added that he was prepared to consider new options and that the only thing he would rule out is canceling the summit. (S)

Frank Carlucci began discussion of Defense and Space issues by reviewing our current position and available options from the attached talking points.3 He then turned to the Secretary of State. (S)

Secretary Shultz said that he thought the central idea the U.S. has used in the Defense and Space negotiations, i.e. identifying some period of time of non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty is a fundamentally better approach than negotiating over what the ABM Treaty means, although it does leave ambiguity about what activities we can undertake. He continued that we have said that we will live by the ABM Treaty and that we will somehow have to “kick along” the question of what activities we can undertake and leave as the centerpiece a period of non-withdrawal. He added that restrictions on what activities can be undertaken must not abort our ability to effectively test SDI. As for the length of the non-withdrawal period, he expressed a desire to hear carefully and well thought through statements by those who are close to the SDI program on what would be an appropriate period of time for non-withdrawal. (S)

Secretary Weinberger offered what he said was a careful and well thought through answer. He said the real question is, “Do we want to deploy?” He continued that he did not know if we can in 1995, although he thought it would be possible. He said some want to extend the non-withdrawal period [from 1994] to 1996, but that he was not sufficiently sure that we would not be ready in 1995 to favor this. He said we would pace the research by what we tell ourselves about non-withdrawal. To illustrate the point he said if we had done this with the Manhattan Project, he is not sure we would have gotten the atomic bomb before the Germans did. He said that although there is dissimilarity between the two projects, because SDI is to save lives, the point is that we did not limit the number of tests or put any restraints on ourselves. Instead, we went full bore ahead and we were fortunate we did. (S)

Secretary Weinberger continued that SDI is fully as important as—and far more constructive as an alternative to—the [atomic] bomb. He said that we should not lengthen the time under the narrow interpretation of the ABM Treaty, or worry about any “nonsense about cost effectiveness at the margin, in the middle, or at the end.” He said [Page 999] he hoped we could get a START agreement, but not at the price of “hampering, giving up, delaying, or denying what we need for SDI.” (S)

With respect to the problem of Congressional funding for SDI, Secretary Weinberger said he did not think more restrictions would bring more funds from Congress. He continued that we should do nothing that would require additional negotiations before deployment. He endorsed an option that would have the President restructure the SDI program according to the broad interpretation of the ABM Treaty. He said that we cannot verify whether or not the Soviets are testing under the broad interpretation, that we cannot photograph satellites from satellites, and that the Soviets will cheat by cloaking tests under the mantle of other activities. (S)

Secretary Weinberger concluded that we cannot predict when SDI will be ready if we cannot work on it, and that we should do everything possible to advance the program. He noted that the public supports the program. (S)

Frank Carlucci noted that Secretary Weinberger seemed to be supporting the current U.S. position. (S)

Secretary Shultz said that he could agree with all of what Secretary Weinberger said, except when he “snarled” at the criterion of cost effectiveness. Secretary Weinberger said that subject “always brings out the worst in me.” Secretary Shultz said there must be conditions under which we will not deploy, if defenses do not work, if they are not survivable, and if they are not cost effective in the sense that the Soviets could expect to overwhelm them through proliferation of offensive weapons. Secretary Weinberger appeared to agree.

Secretary Shultz asked why Secretary Weinberger had “snarled” at the criterion. Secretary Weinberger said that his opposition was because opponents of SDI use the criterion to argue that we cannot prove SDI is cost effective so we should stop work on it. Amb. Rowny agreed. Secretary Shultz said that was not the point. Secretary Weinberger said we should seek thoroughly reliable defenses and not worry about whether an interceptor might cost $1 more than a warhead; after all, the targets they would be protecting must be taken into account. Secretary Shultz said “let the leaks from the meeting show that” he supported Secretary Weinberger’s desire to have cost effective defenses. (S)

The President said that journalists sometimes use the criterion to oppose the program by arguing that it is too expensive. The President continued that he does not think anything could be too expensive if it were to save us from nuclear annihilation. (S)

Frank Carlucci then asked Robert Linhard to explain another of the options under consideration, involving removing ABM Treaty restrictions on sensors. (S)

[Page 1000]

Robert Linhard said that the idea was one we should study. He said it would do something about most of the compliance issues we will have to deal with including the Krasnoyarsk radar, the Gomel radars, and concurrent operation of ABM and air defense components. He said the idea was to modify the ABM Treaty by unilateral action or by negotiation with the Soviets to: (1) resolve the Krasnoyarsk radar issue in a manner helpful to SDI; and, (2) free up our ability to pursue a wide range of SDI activities that are critical to the program. He said that the main drawback of the idea is that it would remove the Krasnoyarsk radar as a reason why we should not be bound by the entire ABM Treaty. (S)

Frank Carlucci added that Linhard’s explanation was just that, not advocacy of the idea. (S)

Secretary Weinberger said he was “not going to snarl at Bob [Linhard].” Robert Linhard said the Secretary was welcome to snarl at him as that is what colonels are for. (S)

Secretary Weinberger said he was opposed to the idea because it was tantamount to handling the difficult question of how to prosecute a bank robber by repealing the law against robbing banks. He said that it would legitimize a Soviet violation of the treaty but would allow us to engage only one narrow activity that would be permitted under the broad interpretation of the ABM Treaty. He said that the U.S. could do nothing under the option that it could not already do under the broad interpretation of the ABM Treaty.

Frank Carlucci disagreed, saying we could deploy certain systems. Secretary Weinberger said we could do virtually all we could otherwise do. Frank Carlucci said it was not enough. Secretary Shultz asked if in essence the proposal amounted to saying to the Soviets let’s agree to do everything except deployment. Kenneth Adelman pointed out that interceptors were not included. Frank Carlucci agreed that testing interceptors was not part of this proposal. Secretary Weinberger said the proposal was the road to discussing permitted and prohibited activities, which would only lead to additional restrictions on the SDI program. (S)

Robert Linhard agreed that was a danger, but said that we have been arguing with the Soviets about what to do about the Krasnoyarsk radar, that this is the year of the ABM Treaty review, and that we must step up to the issue of whether the radar constitutes a material breach of the Treaty. If we decide it does, and we do not act, we could lose our right to take a proportional response to the Soviet violation. (S)

William Graham said he thought we had already called the Krasnoyarsk radar a material breach of the ABM Treaty. Kenneth Adelman said that we had not. Secretary Weinberger joked that we had perhaps called it an immaterial breach. (S)

[Page 1001]

Frank Carlucci summarized by saying the option had not received unanimous enthusiasm. (S)

Secretary Shultz expressed surprise that Secretary Weinberger had not favored the proposal as it would have eased the restrictions of the ABM Treaty. Secretary Weinberger said let those who leak know that I did not.

Kenneth Adelman explained the ACDA option saying that there was not sufficient time to negotiate a separate Defense and Space Treaty. He therefore suggested a protocol to the START Treaty with an extension of the non-withdrawal period. (S)

Frank Carlucci asked if that would play into the Soviets’ hands on linkage between START and Defense and Space. Kenneth Adelman reiterated the ACDA proposal. Frank Carlucci asked what we would do if the Soviets halted START reductions to force concessions on SDI. Kenneth Adelman said we would tell them before signing the START Treaty that we intend to test SDI under the broad interpretation. Frank Carlucci asked how we would handle this issue with Congress. George Shultz said that we need to be careful not to limit our offensive forces regardless of what the Soviets do with defenses. (S)

Frank Carlucci asked Gen. Herres if the Chiefs saw the non-withdrawal period as advantageous. Gen. Herres said yes, because the Soviets can break out of the ABM Treaty rapidly with nuclear ABM interceptors that do not require sophisticated sensors or great accuracy. He added that the Soviets have tested these systems and have open production lines; they only need to produce additional systems. (S)

Secretary Shultz said that he wanted to support a point made by Kenneth Adelman on the relation between START and Defense and Space. He said that the Soviets could play the game of seeking additional restrictions on the SDI program, but that we too wish to have the right to stop offensive reductions if the Soviets deploy defenses, because theirs are not cost effective. (S)

Secretary Weinberger said he hoped we could reach a START agreement but opposed paying for it with a concession on SDI. He said the ACDA option was like a framework agreement, which we oppose. Kenneth Adelman said it would not be a framework, but a minimalist agreement. Secretary Weinberger asked how they would differ. Kenneth Adelman said the ACDA option would finesse many difficult questions. (S)

Secretary Herrington noted the importance of not doing anything that would undermine the morale of scientists working on the SDI program, who follow the negotiations and the Administration’s statements on restrictions on the program very closely. He urged against any decision that would make prospects for deployment dubious. (S)

[Page 1002]

Frank Carlucci observed that no one was advocating such an option. (S)

Secretary Herrington said that requiring 6 months notice of intention to deploy makes the decision more difficult. (S)

Secretary Weinberger said we must not agree to negotiate when we can withdraw after the non-withdrawal period. Secretary Shultz said no one was advocating that. (S)

Kenneth Adelman observed that the ABM Treaty was not really constraining the Soviets with their large but less sophisticated programs, but it is constraining the U.S. Gen. Herres agreed that they can break out. (S)

Secretary Weinberger said that the Soviets have a closed society which makes it easier for them to take steps to deploy defenses; therefore, we should not accept political barriers to deployment. Frank Carlucci said no one was advocating such an option. Secretary Weinberger said the State Department was. Several said the State Department was not supporting such an option. Secretary Shultz asked what he was not supporting; when told, he denied it. Secretary Weinberger said to Secretary Shultz, “but you might some day.” (S)

Dr. Graham said that we should proceed as fast as possible with SDI. He continued that we are world beaters at technological advance, that our central impediment to progress toward effective defenses—funding and legal constraints—is not the same as the Soviets’ central impediment—backward technology. Nonetheless, the Soviets have built a lead which we must overcome. Furthermore, it would be incorrect to attempt to secure more support for SDI in Congress by making concessions to the Soviets. (S)

Frank Carlucci noted that Secretary Shultz had to leave to meet with Prime Minister Shamir of Israel, and that it was best to move on to START.

Amb. Rowny noted that we have been victimized by Soviet semantic infiltration. He explained that we have ignored that fact that although they seem to be more interested in discussing strategic stability, they remain committed to halting SDI. He concluded that we must secure an eventual right to deploy and maintain our rights to test as needed.

Frank Carlucci started to make a point about working with Congress. He was interrupted by Kenneth Adelman who made the point that atmospherics are important. He continued that we should not have a kick off of detente like the 1972 summit with clinking champagne glasses. He said that there was even greater danger of this because “you have a glitzy wife,” referring to Raisa Gorbacheva. (S)

Secretary Shultz drew an analogy to our relations with China. He said that relations have steadily improved and are now much broader [Page 1003] and stronger, but no one has noticed. He continued that people will notice if they get stronger. He concluded that in our relations with the Soviets we must have neither euphoria nor depression. He then departed. (S)

Secretary Weinberger said that verification of a limit on mobile missiles is a problem and that we should stick with our proposal to ban them. (S)

The President said this was a key question to getting an agreement or not. He asked whether it was not equally difficult to determine whether the Soviets were cheating under a ban on mobile missiles or limits on such systems. (S)

Secretary Weinberger answered that there was always a risk the Soviets could cheat under either proposal, but that it was easier to tell under a ban; finding one mobile missile would be an automatic violation. Kenneth Adelman added that flight test and production bans associated with the comprehensive ban would decrease the reliability of any covert systems the Soviets might have. Secretary Weinberger said we have a good position now. (S)

Frank Carlucci concluded the meeting at 11:53 a.m. by noting that there would be another NSPG before the summit. (S)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat: National Security Planning Group (NSPG) Records, NSPG 170 11/20/1987. Secret. The meeting took place in the Situation Room. All brackets are in the original text.
  2. Not attached.
  3. Not attached.