99. Editorial Note
On October 12, 1984, Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam dictated a personal note describing a meeting that day “with Paul Nitze to discuss where we should be trying to go in arms control in a second Reagan term. (I was Acting Secretary because the Secretary was in Mexico and then briefly in Puerto Rico to meet with the transiting Pope.) Paul was in an exceedingly pessimistic mood. His view was that the odds were against reaching any arms control agreement that would be in the national security interests of the United States. At the same time he thought it was necessary to reach an agreement that would be in our interests, and he specifically said that he thought that the walk-in-the-woods agreement would have been in our national interest, and indeed anything close to it would have been (since he is firmly of the view that the Soviets did reject it and under any circumstances would have rejected it at the time). At the same time he liked the idea of negotiating on a twenty-year perspective and we discussed the reasons why that might be a good idea. I tended to emphasize the fact that it was easier for the Soviet Union, not to speak of the United States, to agree to phase out some system that was not yet in production. Paul, on the other hand, tended to emphasize the fact that it was desirable to engage the Soviets on grand principles, not so much because he thought there was any chance of agreement, but because he thought it was necessary from the standpoint of public opinion in the United States and of relations with the Allies to be engaged with the Soviets in arms control discussions. To induce the Soviets to engage in such discussions, it was necessary to be open to pragmatic and practical arrangements that might be possible. But he warned strongly against interim agreements and moratoria, which he felt would almost certainly be disadvantageous to the United States and which the Soviets had shown an ability to benefit from unilaterally in the past. For example, he attacked in the most outspoken manner the 1972 interim agreement on offensive weapons. On another point, he though that it was [Page 359] unquestionably a fact that the Soviets had nuclear superiority over the United States. I asked him why he was so convinced that that was true, in view of the fact that we had the advantage in sea-launched ballistic missiles and air-launched cruise missiles. He said that he thought so because he had done the analysis along with an interagency group for Bill Casey in 1981 and said nothing had fundamentally changed. We agreed that it would be desirable to bring that analysis up to date to see what the situation was like today and how it would project out into the future.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records: Deputy Secretary Dam’s Official Files, Lot 85D308, Personal Notes of Deputy Secretary—Kenneth W. Dam—Oct. 1984–June 1985) The 1981 analysis was not further identified.
On October 26, Dam dictated a personal note recounting “a lengthy meeting on arms control held the previous day” with Secretary of State George Shultz: “We discussed the fundamental question of how an unconstrained situation would affect United States security policy. There was general agreement that we would not fare well in a situation in which the Soviet Union was not constrained, even though the United States was also not constrained, because the Soviets had the technical and economic ability to build large numbers of nuclear weapons systems and no need to phase out the old ones, even though they might choose to do so. This is different from the view of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and of ACDA Director Adelman, who seem to believe that any arms control agreement we would be likely to negotiate would be harmful to U.S. national security interests. The Secretary stated forcefully that this was likely to be the fundamental foreign policy issue of a second Reagan term.” (Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S–I Records: Deputy Secretary Dam’s Official Files, Lot 85D308, Personal Notes of Deputy Secretary—Kenneth W. Dam—Oct. 1984–June 1985)
Also on October 26, Dam dictated a second personal describing a meeting that day to prepare Shultz for a meeting with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. “This is the follow-up to the Gromyko meeting. We did not plan to reveal any particular substance on arms control to the Soviets, but we did plan to review the current state of play on all the issues and to interpret the President’s remarks in the meeting between Gromyko and the President. I later learned that Dobrynin did not bring any substance to the table either and indeed did not appear to be instructed on what he could say. However, yesterday the Counselor at the Embassy invited the Deputy Assistant Secretary with responsibility for Soviet and Eastern European Affairs to lunch, at which he suggested that Gromyko did see his visit to Washington as an opening and hoped to follow up but was constrained by various things, including the strong statements that the Soviets had made on not being [Page 360] willing to negotiate on arms control until the Euromissiles were withdrawn from Europe. One implicit suggestion was that we might negotiate formally in Vienna on space while doing the negotiations covering START and INF in diplomatic channels (i.e., in foreign minister meetings), which was the pattern for much of the Carter administration.” (Ibid.) The memorandum Shultz sent to President Ronald Reagan about his meetings with Dobrynin is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. IV, January 1983–March 1985, Document 296. For Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko’s visit to Washington, see footnote 3, Document 278.
Also on October 26, President Ronald Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive Number 148, “The U.S. Umbrella Talks Proposal,” which stated that the United States was “prepared to begin discussions aimed at exploring mutually acceptable approaches to initiating negotiations on the limitation of the anti-satellite capabilities of both sides and the more general topic of the militarization of space, and to resuming negotiations on the reduction of offensive nuclear arsenals.” The decision directive instructed Shultz “to solicit a Soviet position concerning the U.S. proposal,” and President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Robert McFarlane “to conclude promptly work already in progress and any additional work needed to support the conduct of these talks.” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat: National Security Council, National Security Decision Directives, NSDD 148)
On November 6, President Reagan defeated Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Walter Mondale to win a second presidential term. In the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, January 21, 1985, Reagan convened his national security team in a series of meetings to formulate U.S. positions on the Umbrella Talks in advance of Shultz’s meetings with Gromyko, scheduled for early January 1985.
On Friday, November 30, 1984, President Reagan chaired a meeting of the National Security Planning Group in the Situation Room from 1:45 to 2:45 p.m. to discuss Soviet strategy on arms control, the current status of Soviet forces, and projections of future Soviet capabilities. Principals agreed to the importance of pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and obtaining Congressional support for production and deployment of the M-X missile. Toward the end of the meeting, Reagan asserted “that the Soviet goal is to protect the motherland while developing military power that they can use to blackmail the West.” The minutes of this meeting are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume IV, Soviet Union, January 1983—March 1985, Document 322.
The following Wednesday, December 5, the National Security Planning Group met in the Situation Room from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. McFarlane [Page 361] introduced the agenda as a discussion of U.S. and Soviet objectives in the arms control talks set to start in January in Geneva and summarized a paper prepared by the Senior Arms Control Group. “Our goal is to get a useful process going and to achieve formal negotiations on offensive systems while we discuss the relationship of defense to offense,” McFarlane said. Midway through the meeting, President Reagan “noted that we could build on the Soviet preoccupation with protecting the homeland by making clear that we have no intention of starting a nuclear war” and “have no objections to their having defenses, but we have to look at defenses for ourselves and we need to look at reducing and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons.” After meeting participants discussed anti-satellite weapons and other advanced technologies, the President concluded: “SDI gives us a great deal of leverage on the Soviet Union.” The minutes of this meeting are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985, Document 326.
The National Security Planning Group met again on December 10, in the Situation Room from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. McFarlane introduced the agenda as a discussion of six questions concerning the U.S. position in Geneva: (1) “Do we want separate START and INF negotiations or should they be merged?”; (2) “What shall we do about Space—negotiations or discussions only?”; (3) “Should Space issues be dealt with separately or merged with START and INF?”; (4) “Should we combine everything together in one large negotiation, perhaps having separate working groups?”; (5) “How do we deal with the objectives of Umbrella discussions?”; and (6) “Should we view these as ‘Umbrella Talks’ or perhaps ‘Stability talks?’” The President and his team debated these questions yet did not arrive at definitive answers. At the close, Reagan “noted that the situation today is like a duel between two gunfighters. Our policy of MAD could get us both killed. It is just too dangerous.” The minutes are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985, Document 331.
On December 17, the National Security Planning Group met in the Situation Room from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Deliberations centered on how to preserve domestic and allied support for SDI under sustained pressure from the Soviet Union, and the possibility of the Soviets’ walking out of Strategic Arms Reduction Talks and Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces negotiations if the Reagan administration proceeded with research into strategic defenses. McFarlane encouraged the other principals to participate in a public diplomacy campaign emphasizing the benefits of SDI toward reducing the risk of nuclear war. Participants also considered whether or not SDI would rely exclusively on non-nuclear technologies, and the advantages of approaching the Soviets [Page 362] with specific numerical proposals. The minutes of this meeting are scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, vol. IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985, Document 334.
On January 1, 1985, the President signed National Security Decision Directive 153, which enumerated six specific goals for Shultz’s meeting with Gromyko: (1) “Establish, without concessions or pre-conditions, a sustained, formal negotiating process with the Soviet Union on offensive nuclear arms which would permit us to pursue our goal of achieving deep reductions in U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals”; (2) “Keep START and INF issues substantively separate, and preferably procedurally separate if possible”; (3) “Shape the nature of future discussions or negotiations in other areas to support U.S. interests by: a. proposing negotiations on nuclear defensive forces, which complement those on offensive nuclear forces, with space weapons being included in both forums as appropriate; b. avoiding a ‘space only’ forum; c. specifically protecting the SDI program and, thus, the promise offered by SDI; and d. providing for future discussions about the long-term maintenance of stability and the transition to deterrence based on the contribution of defenses”; (4) “Keep the Soviet Union on the defensive at both the private and public levels with special attention to: a. keeping the onus on Moscow to resume serious negotiations; and b. denying the Soviet Union a sustainable basis for charging that a ‘failure’ of the Geneva meeting was the responsibility of the U.S.”; (5) “Avoid public negotiation with the Soviet Union”; and (6) “Lay the groundwork necessary in the discussions with the Soviet delegation to provide the basis for later garnering public and Congressional support for the U.S. position.” NSDD 153 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, volume IV, Soviet Union, January 1983—March 1985, Document 348.