Gorbachev calls for nuclear weapons treaty

Gorbachev calls for nuclear weapons treaty

In a surprising announcement, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev indicates that his nation is ready to sign “without delay” a treaty designed to eliminate U.S. and Soviet medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe. Gorbachev’s offer led to a breakthrough in negotiations and, eventually, to the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in December 1987.

Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan had been wrestling with the issue of nuclear arms reduction in Europe since 1985, when they first met face-to-face to discuss the matter. A subsequent meeting in 1986 started with high hopes for an agreement, but the discussions broke down when Gorbachev linked the issue of the elimination of U.S. and Soviet INF in Europe to U.S. termination of its development of the Strategic Defense Initiative (the so-called “Star Wars” anti-missile defense system). However, both Reagan and Gorbachev faced pressures to reach a settlement. Reagan was under assault by “no-nuke” forces both in the United States and in western Europe. By late 1986 and early 1987, he was also faced with the fallout from the Iran-Contra scandal, when his administration had become involved in illegal arms dealings with both Iran and the Contra forces in Central America. Gorbachev wanted to achieve a cut in nuclear armaments, both to bolster his prestige on the world stage and to provide some much-needed relief for a Soviet economy sagging under the burden of massive military expenditures.

READ MORE: Why Reagan's 'Star Wars' Defense Plan Remained Science Fiction

In February 1987, Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union was willing to proceed with negotiations on the INF Treaty. This time, he suggested that “the problem of medium-range missiles in Europe be singled out from the package of issues and that a separate agreement on it be concluded, and without delay.” In other words, he was dropping his insistence on including SDI in the negotiations. The timing of Gorbachev’s offer was interesting to many observers in the United States. Some suggested that it was not coincidental that his statement was released just days after a high-level presidential review board had issued a stinging report critical of the Reagan administration’s involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. Perhaps, they concluded, Gorbachev felt that Reagan would be anxious for a settlement. The two men met in December 1987 and signed the INF Treaty, by which the Soviets eliminated about 1,500 medium-range missiles from Europe and the United States removed nearly half that number.


Gorbachev calls on nuclear powers not to forget about obligations under NPT

TOKYO, January 6. /TASS/. Nuclear powers should not forget about their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regarding movement towards a world without weapons, former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev said on Saturday in an interview with Japan’s Kyodo News.

"We must not forget that the movement towards a world without nuclear weapons is the most important obligation of the nuclear powers enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty," Gorbachev stressed. He also expressed confidence that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF treaty,) the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (the New START,) and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) "all are parts of a single architecture that can collapse if one of its elements is undermined." "I still hope that the leaders of our countries have enough wisdom to prevent this," Gorbachev noted.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who, according to Kyodo News, is currently receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, also said that he would like to visit Japan in the future.


Gorbachev’s Nuclear Initiative of January 1986 and the Road to Reykjavik

Soviet nuclear abolition proposal in January 1986 welcomed by Reagan, set stage for historic Reykjavik summit and the INF Treaty 30 years ago
Gorbachev believed US dismissed idea as propaganda but declassified documents show major internal debate, consultations with allies, serious presidential support

Compiled and edited by Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton
Research assistance from Tal Solovey and Nadezhda Smakhtina
Web design by Rinat Bikineyev

For further information, contact:
Svetlana Savranskaya: 202.994.7000 and [email protected]

The authors present declassified U.S. and Soviet summit transcripts to Mikhail Gorbachev at Reykjavik, Iceland, October 2006. At left is Pulitzer-Prize-winning professor William Taubman at right is the then-president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.

Paul Nitze (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.)

An NSPG meeting in the White House Situation Room, with President Reagan at left, Vice President Bush and Secretary of Defense Weinberger with backs to camera, national security advisor Poindexter speaking at right, May 1986 (Photo credit: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library)

Marshal Sergey Akhromeyev (Photo credit: Yulia Medvedeva.)

Margaret Thatcher talks with Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, 1987. (Photo credit: Gorbachev Foundation website)

Washington, D.C. October 12, 2016 – Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s radical proposal in January 1986 to abolish nuclear weapons by the year 2000 met with derision on the part of many U.S. officials, who treated it as pure propaganda, but was welcomed by President Reagan, according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The records reveal serious internal U.S. debates, consultations with allies, and support by the president that ultimately helped produce the historic Reykjavik summit 30 years ago.

The documents posted today include Gorbachev’s abolition letter of January 14, 1986, Top Secret critical responses by the U.S. defense secretary and by the director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (“largely propaganda”), Reagan’s formal response over a month later (February 22), the minutes of a Top Secret National Security Planning Group meeting (February 3) that debated how to respond, key highly classified “OWL” and “SAGE” policy options papers produced by U.S. officials behind the scenes, reports back from consultation missions to allies from London to Tokyo, Gorbachev’s ultimate invitation letter for the Reykjavik meeting (September 15), and the actual declassified transcripts of the Reykjavik sessions where the two leaders came close to abolishing nuclear weapons.

Transcripts covering all of the bilateral summits from 1985 to 1991 will appear next month in the new book, The Last Superpower Summits: Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: Conversations that Ended the Cold War (Central European University Press, 2016).

Before the January 14 abolition letter, Reagan and Gorbachev had met at Geneva in November 1985 – the first summit in more than six years of heightened Cold War – where they agreed in an historic joint statement that “nuclear war can not be won and should never be fought.” After Geneva, however, U.S.-Soviet momentum on arms control had all but disappeared. The Gorbachev letter and the public statement that immediately followed in January 1986 took the Reagan administration by surprise and generated more than a month of internal debate before Reagan’s February response addressed only the first portion of Gorbachev’s proposal. The documents posted below show that during this time the U.S. administration was split between those who thought abolition was just another Soviet propaganda move and those who believed it was a serious program that needed a substantive response. The records show conclusively that President Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz were in the latter camp.

The history of the Soviet abolition program dates back to the spring of 1985, according to first-hand accounts by the top officials who developed the proposal. Soon after Gorbachev came to power in March of that year, Chief of the General Staff Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev first spoke to Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Kornienko and the head of the Legal and Treaty Department of the General Staff, General Nikolai Chervov, about preparing a detailed program of total elimination of nuclear weapons. Kornienko supported the idea, and Akhromeyev gave orders to selected military experts to study the issues and prepare a draft. Very few people knew about the program until the end of 1985. Soviet arms control expert General Viktor Starodubov mentions that the planners felt the time was right to present it to Gorbachev after his meeting with Reagan in Geneva.[1]

According to Gorbachev’s spokesman and biographer, Andrey Grachev, the drafters of the program envisioned it in terms somewhat similar to those of the U.S. drafters of Reagan’s “zero option” INF solution of 1981. They thought that the chances of the U.S. side accepting abolition were close to zero, but that making the proposal would provide both strong negotiating grounds and propaganda points to their own side. According to General Starodubov, quoted in Grachev, Akhromeyev’s reasoning was that “if by any chance the Americans accepted the idea, the Soviet side would be able to make full use of its advantage in conventional weapons.” Gorbachev, however, saw the program differently—as an opportunity to advance the U.S.-Soviet arms control discussion that had stalled after Geneva with a bold, radical stroke—which he thought would be acceptable to Reagan because of his strongly expressed belief in a nuclear-free world. Also, by accepting the Akhromeyev-Kornienko drafted initiative, Gorbachev, according to Grachev, “trapped” his own military into supporting very deep cuts in armaments across the board.[2]

Gorbachev approved the abolition plan in late December 1985 and after discussion among the top leadership it became the official Soviet program with Gorbachev’s public announcement on January 15, 1986.

The program envisioned three stages. First stage: a 50-percent reduction of strategic nuclear weapons (over 5 to 8 years) and an agreement to eliminate all medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe. Second stage: starting in 1990, Britain, France and China would join the process by freezing their arsenals, and all nuclear powers would eliminate their tactical weapons and ban nuclear testing. Third stage: “starting in 1995, liquidation of all still remaining nuclear weapons is completed.” (Document 1) Other important elements of the Soviet program were a ban on space weapons, strict adherence to the ABM Treaty, and a nuclear testing ban. Because of the lack of immediate response, Gorbachev always believed that his program was never taken seriously in the West, and had been dismissed as propaganda.

For example, on April 4, 1986, Gorbachev complained to a visiting delegation of U.S. congressmen that “the United States decided to hide behind the opinions of its allies – West European countries and Japan, otherwise, it would be hard for them to justify their negative position …. We are often accused of making propaganda proposals. Well, if it is propaganda, then why not catch Gorbachev at his word, why not test his intentions by accepting our proposal?” (Document 23)

In fact, recently declassified documents show that President Reagan’s initial reaction to the proposals, according to his diaries, was positive, not dismissive. He launched a serious and thorough process within the administration to study the feasibility of the Soviet proposal and ways to respond, given his own interest in nuclear abolition. On January 15, after a long meeting with Shultz and national security adviser John Poindexter, he wrote that “we’d be hard put to explain how we could turn it down,” and on February 3, after the NSPG meeting devoted to the Soviet proposal, Reagan wrote in his diary: “Some wanted to tag it as publicity stunt. I said no. Lets say we share their overall goals & now want to work out the details. If it is a publicity stunt it will be revealed by them.”[3] (In other words, the American president and Soviet leader were thinking along identical lines.) The minutes of the NSPG meeting show a harder Reagan line than he took in his diary, but this was perhaps for the benefit of the half of his audience that opposed any positive response. (Document 10)

According to senior advisor Paul Nitze, Reagan’s first reaction to the Gorbachev letter after Nitze and Shultz briefed him was, “Why wait until the year 2000 to eliminate all nuclear weapons?”[4] At the same time, Reagan remarked again and again on the fact that Gorbachev had set an actual date, which made the proposal sound more realistic.

As noted, there was a considerable difference of opinion within the administration: from Shultz arguing for engaging Gorbachev and his program, to Weinberger claiming that it was just an effort to “divert energy” and to kill SDI. Shultz devotes several pages of his memoir to the internal debates. His account describes Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle as the most hard-line opponent: “Perle declared to the Senior Arms Control Group in mid-January that the president’s dream of a world without nuclear weapons – which Gorbachev had picked up – was a disaster, a total delusion.” According to Shultz, Perle opposed even holding an NSC discussion of how to respond to Gorbachev “because then the president would direct his arms controllers to come up with a program to achieve that result.”[5]

Most eloquently, Shultz quotes his own speech to the State Department’s arms control group on January 17, 1986: “I know that many of you and others around here oppose the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons. You have tried your ideas out in front of the president from the outset, and I have pointed out the dangers, too. The president of the United States doesn’t agree with you, and he has said so on several very public occasions both before and since the last election. He thinks it’s a hell of a good idea. And it’s a political hot button. We need to work on what a world without nuclear weapons would mean to us and what additional steps would have to accompany such a dramatic change. The president has wanted all along to get rid of nuclear weapons. The British, French, Dutch, Belgians, and all of you in the Washington arms control community are trying to talk him out of it. The idea can potentially be a plus for us: the Soviet Union is a superpower only because it is a nuclear and ballistic missile superpower.”[6]

Nitze describes the deliberations as follows: “The President and his principal advisers were in disagreement, particularly Shultz and Weinberger, over the response to Gorbachev’s January 15 letter. The rest of the bureaucracy, unaware of these high-level discussions, continued the debate on a battle ground already in disarray, which soon degenerated into a free-for-all between the Pentagon and State Department.”

In addition to internal deliberations, which produced two NSPG meetings and two National Security Decision Directives, Nitze and Ambassador Ed Rowny were sent to consult with the allies in Europe and in Asia, respectively. Both brought back negative views, arguing that responding favorably to the Soviet program would be too costly in terms of NATO solidarity. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was strongly against any idea that would eliminate the U.S. nuclear umbrella and, in her view, undermine deterrence. Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany was an outlier, supporting “both the goal of total elimination and zero/zero INF in Europe.” (Document 14)

In the end, the Reagan administration did not dismiss the abolition proposal as propaganda, but came to the conclusion that they were not ready for a program of such a scope. Reagan’s letter to Gorbachev on February 22, 1986, engaged only part of the proposed first stage of abolition—the elimination of intermediate-range missiles. The response and the sense of lost opportunity on the part of some observers was summed up by U.S. Representative Dante Fascell in his conversation with Gorbachev in April 1986: “the reality is such that the United States is not ready, for some reason—either political or military, I don’t know—they are not capable to make the big leap, which you are calling for, at this time.” (Document 22)

Although the Soviet side was dissatisfied with the U.S. response, the interaction did push both sides to work harder on negotiating positions and think about deep disarmament for the next summit. (Document 25) In fact active Soviet diplomacy and the American effort to use the opportunities offered by Gorbachev resulted in a comprehensive review of the entirety of U.S. arms control policy and long-term nuclear strategy in preparation for the next summit, a process which continued throughout spring and summer 1986 (Documents 26 and 27). Meanwhile, the Reagan administration actively engaged the Soviets in all negotiating formats. As a result, the Soviets accepted the U.S. “zero option” on INF, agreed to radical verification measures, and started internal discussions on dramatic reductions in conventional weapons. Gorbachev’s January 1986 initiative and the U.S. response laid the first paver on the road to the most dramatic summit in U.S.-Soviet history – at Reykjavik in October 1986 – which despite its failure prepared the ground for the INF Treaty signed in 1987.

Gorbachev later described Reykjavik as a summit of “Shakespearean passions,” which are particularly evident in the final session transcript, with the astounding agreement to abolish all nuclear weapons, disagreement over constraining strategic defense research to the labs, repeated offers from Reagan to share SDI with the Soviets – a personal plea from Reagan that Gorbachev rejected (“they will call me a fool in Moscow”) – and two tight-lipped leaders stalking out of the summit. The dramatic details may be found in Chapter 2 of The Last Superpower Summits, and in the authors’ package of key declassified documents from both sides, presented to Gorbachev at the 20th anniversary of the summit in 2006.[7]


GORBACHEV CALLS ON U.S. TO RATIFY TREATY

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday urged U.S. Senate ratification of the treaty he signed at the recent summit with President Reagan to eliminate land-based intermediate- and shorter-range nuclear missiles.

Addressing the Soviet people for the first time on the summit results, Gorbachev said, however, the meeting had not settled differences on Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative and said it was too early to speak of a "fundamental improvement" in U.S.-Soviet relations.

In a low-key, 20-minute speech, Gorbachev called the missile treaty a "major event in world politics, a victory of the new political thinking," but at the same time only "a modest step" since it rids the world of only 4 percent of its nuclear weapons.

"But even for that, it is first of all necessary to put the treaty into effect -- to ratify it," Gorbachev said.

Unlike earlier arms control treaties such as SALT 1 of 1972 and SALT 2 in 1979, whose limits could be observed without Senate approval, Senate ratification is needed to implement the destruction of missiles and warheads in the intermediate-range nuclear forces pact.

Gorbachev said the struggle for ratification has begun in the United States, adding, "We felt that keenly in America, that the American people back that treaty.

"But definite circles in the United States and other Western countries are already rising to prevent a change for the better," Gorbachev said. "One can hear increasingly louder voices urging the leadership of the United States not to go too far, and to halt the disarmament process.

"They demand that urgent measures be taken to make up for the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles through bringing into Europe and closer to Europe new nuclear forces, modernizing the nuclear and other weapons remaining there."

Gorbachev said those opposed to the treaty are trying to wrongly use the summit results to push ahead with SDI.

"Some people are even trying to claim that the talks in Washington have settled the differences on such an issue as SDI," and under this pretext call for accelerating the program, Gorbachev said.

"I will frankly say that these are dangerous tendencies and they should not be underestimated," he said.

While the summit did result in the signing of the first treaty to actually reduce weapons, Gorbachev said, "If one is firmly based on facts and is not given to exaggeration, it is yet early to speak about a fundamental improvement of Soviet-American relations."

Nevertheless, he said, "The dialogue with the president and other political leaders of the United States was different -- more constructive than before."

SDI is not an element of the just-signed pact, but Moscow views the missile defense project as a crucial factor in forthcoming negotiations about limiting strategic nuclear weapons.

Gorbachev reiterated that the Soviet side at the summit said it was ready at the next step in the disarmament process to reduce strategic offensive missiles by 50 percent, so long as the ABM treaty is observed in its form of 1972.


'Return to sanity': Gorbachev calls for US-Russia summit amid fears of nuclear treaty collapse

"This December will mark the 30th anniversary of the signing of the treaty between the Soviet Union and United States on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. " the former Soviet leader wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post, referring to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

He went on to note the merits of the deal, citing the fact that Russia and the US reported in 2015 that 80 percent of the nuclear warheads accumulated during the Cold War had been decommissioned or destroyed.

However, Gorbachev - who led the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991 - said the agreement is now "in jeopardy."

"It has proved to be the most vulnerable link in the system of limiting and reducing weapons of mass destruction. There have been calls on both sides for scrapping the agreement," he wrote.

Gorbachev stated that both Russia and the US have "raised issues of compliance, accusing the other of violating or circumventing the Treaty's key provisions. "

"Relations between the two nations are in a severe crisis," he said, noting the importance of establishing "a dialogue based on mutual respect."

The former Soviet leader said that it is up to US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to "take action," and called on both countries to hold a summit to focus on "the problems of reducing nuclear weapons and strengthening strategic stability."

Once again noting the importance of the INF Treaty, Gorbachev warned that scrapping the deal could result in a collapse of the "system of nuclear arms control," which would lead to "disastrous" consequences.

Gorbachev referred to today's "troubled world" and said it was "disturbing" that US-Russia relations have "become a serious source of tensions and a hostage to domestic politics."

"It is time to return to sanity," he wrote.

Signed at a 1987 summit meeting between Gorbachev and then-US President Ronald Reagan, the INF Treaty obligated both sides to eliminate their short- and intermediate-range missiles. It came into force on June 1, 1988.

The Treaty allowed for hundreds of nuclear-tipped missiles that were deployed in Europe to be scrapped amid the Cold War arms race.

The editorial comes just days after former US Defense Secretary William Perry warned that relations between Washington and Moscow have entered a "new Cold War," and that current conditions could lead to global conflict.


Gorbachev Calls Trump’s Nuclear Treaty Withdrawal ‘Not the Work of a Great Mind’

President Trump during a rally in Elko, Nev., on Saturday.

Credit. Doug Mills/The New York Times

MOSCOW — President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia drew sharp criticism Sunday from one of the men who signed it, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who called the decision reckless and not the work of “a great mind.”

In making his announcement Saturday, Mr. Trump cited Russian violations of the pact, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was signed in Washington in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev.

Mr. Gorbachev, who is now 87 years old, cast Mr. Trump’s decision as a threat to peace.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Mr. Gorbachev called Mr. Trump’s rollback of the disarmament agreement “very strange.” He added: “Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?”

The last Soviet leader, who is perceived more warmly in the West than inside Russia, has already watched his domestic reform agendas supporting democracy and greater freedom of the press unravel in recent years. Nuclear disarmament also defined his legacy.

“All agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limiting nuclear weapons must be preserved, for the sake of preserving life on earth,” Mr. Gorbachev said on Sunday.

Mr. Trump’s announcement also drew criticism from some Senate Republicans.

Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday” that it would be a “big, big mistake to flippantly get out of this historic agreement.”

He added: “This was a big part of Reagan’s legacy, and we should not get rid of it. It was an important step. We went from 64,000 nuclear-tipped missiles down to 15,000.”

The pact required the elimination of short- and intermediate-range missiles launched from land, and helped pull the superpowers back from the hair-trigger nuclear posture of the Cold War. The United States formally notified Russia of suspected violations four years ago, for developing banned missiles.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who leads the Foreign Relations committee, said that Mr. Trump may have been trying to lay down an ultimatum.

“This could be something that is just a precursor to try to get Russia to come into compliance,” he said.

But Mr. Corker also said he hoped that the administration was not trying to undo much of the nuclear arms control treaties that have been put in place.

Image

President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev exchanging pens during the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signing ceremony in the White House in Washington in 1987.

Credit. Bob Daugherty/Associated Press

President Vladimir V. Putin had as early as 2007 suggested that the treaty no longer served Russia’s interests. Still, it remained in force as a cornerstone of the disarmament agreements of the late Soviet period.

“Russia has not, unfortunately, honored the agreement so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” Mr. Trump told reporters after a political rally in Elko, Nev., on Saturday.

The Kremlin said Mr. Putin would seek an explanation about the move when he meets this week in Moscow with John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.

A deputy Russian foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, called the plans for a unilateral withdrawal “very dangerous” and said Russia might respond with unspecified technical means.

The treaty, known in shorthand as the INF agreement, resolved a crisis of the Cold War as both superpowers deployed a new generation of relatively short-ranged missiles in Europe, the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and the United States in response in 1983.

The United States’ missiles in Europe, including the Pershing II, shortened the decision-making window for the Soviet leadership in Moscow to respond to a nuclear strike to as little as 10 minutes, compared with about half an hour for an intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

If a leader failed to respond in time, the Soviet command might be obliterated before ordering a retaliatory nuclear assault on the United States.

In part to address this shortcoming in the Soviet deterrence posture, the Soviet Union developed a so-called “dead hand” launch mechanism that could fire missiles at the United States even if the leadership died in a first strike.

The Russian government first publicly acknowledged the existence of this launch authority during Mr. Putin’s tenure.

In a period of tensions at the outset of the Ukraine crisis, the government newspaper, Rossiskaya Gazeta, published an article describing this system for launch using a computer and “artificial intelligence.” It is not activated in peacetime, the article said.

The INF Treaty banned nuclear-capable, ground-based missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers, or 311 miles.

Mr. Trump’s plan to withdraw from the treaty came after United States assertions that Russia was understating the range of at least one of its missiles, known as the Iskander, which is launched from a truck and can carry conventional or nuclear payloads.


REAGAN, GORBACHEV SIGN NUCLEAR MISSILE TREATY

With a brisk exchange of pens and handshakes, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a historic treaty at the White House yesterday eliminating an entire class of nuclear-armed missiles and vowed to make progress toward another treaty that would slash the strategic nuclear arsenals of the rival superpowers.

In an East Room ceremony that was solemn and celebratory, the two leaders sat side by side at a table once used by President Abraham Lincoln and put their signatures to the accord to do away with medium- and shorter-range nuclear-tipped missiles.

"We can only hope that this history-making agreement will not be an end in itself, but the beginning of a working relationship that will enable us to tackle the other . . . urgent issues before us," Reagan said, before signing the first major treaty of his presidency.

He said these issues include "strategic offensive nuclear weapons, the balance of conventional forces in Europe, the destructive and tragic regional conflicts that beset so many parts of our globe, and respect for the human and natural rights that God has granted to all men."

Gorbachev, responding, said "we can be proud of planting this sapling which may one day grow into a mighty tree of peace."

"May Dec. 8, 1987, become a date that will be inscribed in the history books -- a date that will mark the watershed separating the era of a mounting risk of nuclear war from the era of a demilitarization of human life," Gorbachev said.

Scores of seated officials, dignitaries, and guests of the two leaders looked on as they carefully inscribed their names eight times in two large copies of the treaties, one bound in slate-blue leather for the United States, the other in burgundy-red leather for the Soviet Union. Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev sat beside each other as their husbands signed.

The accord will require the two countries to eliminate missiles, deployed and undeployed, of 300- to 3,000-mile range. The United States has 859 the Soviets 1,752, according to U.S. officials.

The treaty faces a contentious ratification process in the U.S. Senate, but is assured unanimous approval by the Supreme Soviet, Gorbachev's rubber-stamp national parliament.

After signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the two leaders walked together to the State Dining Room and made separate televised statements for a worldwide audience.

Then, they held the second of the summit's substantive meetings, which focused on strategic arms and other arms reduction issues. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the signing ceremony had given "a boost to the hope for progress" in these areas but added that a "sense of political realism" soon entered the picture.

In all, Reagan and Gorbachev spent almost three hours in official talks yesterday, beginning with a one-on-one morning discussion in the Oval Office and an afternoon plenary session in the Cabinet Room attended by senior advisers. Fitzwater later characterized the summit talks as "a day of positive, productive discussions."

Following a familiar summit format, task forces on arms reduction issues and on other issues of the broad U.S.-Soviet agenda were established, and these groups of senior officials met yesterday afternoon and in some cases last night. No results of these meetings were made public.

By the end of the day, Fitzwater said, "both sides felt that a foundation had been laid for substantive progress on specific issues." He gave no details.

A White House official who briefed reporters later on condition he not be identified said Gorbachev offered "no surprises or new proposals." The official said Reagan had opened the day's talks by raising questions of Jewish emigration and divided spouses, and that Gorbachev countered by saying the Soviets were seeking to improve in these areas, and also raised questions about U.S. human rights practices.

The extraordinary events of this busy and historic day gave Americans the best look they have ever had at the 56-year-old Russian who is shaking up the Soviet system and who has favorably impressed much of the noncommunist world.

The Gorbachev who was on public display on the White House South Lawn, in the East Room, the State Dining Room and in a late afternoon meeting with private Americans at the Soviet Embassy was a man of many faces. He was at times intensely serious and businesslike, speaking of war and peace and the destiny of peoples at times gently joshing with Reagan and playing to audiences and cameras with humor and burlesque at times seeming almost to overflow with words and gestures in an extemporaneous, almost imploring appeal to American intellectuals to bury the attitudes and images of the past and turn a new eye to a changing future.

In his White House remarks and at the Soviet Embassy, Gorbachev made the case for his restructuring in the Soviet Union, which he calls "perestroika." Internationally, he declared, "Something very serious is afoot, something very profound . . . . an awareness that we cannot go on as we are, that we cannot leave our relations the way they are."

Americans also received a glimpse of a president who appeared to have recovered the confidence that had deserted him during a year marked by congressional and criminal investigations into the Iran-contra affair, the collapse of the stock market and the cancer surgery of Nancy Reagan.

The 76-year-old president, appearing good-humored and relaxed, seemed to enjoy his exchanges with Gorbachev and to relish their appearance on the world stage together. The two leaders referred frequently to their ideological differences without rancor and stood solemnly together at the morning arrival ceremony as bands played first the Soviet and then the American national anthems.

But the treaty-signing ceremony also provided a glimpse of some of Reagan's potential political problems as the Senate considers ratifying the INF pact. Sen. Jesse Helms (N.C.), ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, was invited to the White House but declined.

In their public exchanges throughout the first day of the three-day summit, Gorbachev and Reagan displayed a comfortable familiarity with each other even while differing on substantive issues.

In the signing ceremony Reagan quoted what he called "an old Russian maxim" that he has frequently used in his speeches, "doveryai, no proveryai -- trust, but verify."

Gorbachev interrupted with a smile, saying, "You repeat that at every meeting."

Reagan, turning to the Soviet leader, said, "I like it."

The exchange was greeted with laughter and applause by the U.S. and Soviet officials gathered in the East Room.

Reagan and Gorbachev vied with each other in their worldwide televised speeches to express a sense of optimism about further agreements and an improvement in U.S.-Soviet relations while also warning that many differences remain between the superpowers.

"The treaty just signed in Washington is a major watershed in international development," Gorbachev said. "Its significance and implications go far beyond what has actually been agreed upon." In words similar to those used by the president, Gorbachev called the INF treaty "only a beginning" and said it had been achieved through "lengthy and intense arguments" that overcame "long-held emotions and ingrained stereotypes."

The day began with a 10 a.m. arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House where Gorbachev was given a trumpet fanfare and the honor of a 21-gun salute.

He and his wife Raisa arrived at the South Entrance in a black, bulletproof Soviet Zil limousine bedecked with Soviet and American flags. They were welcomed by the President and Mrs. Reagan and a crowd of several hundred U.S. and Soviet officials waving paper flags of both nations.

The panoply of the day's events was in sharp contrast with the early stages of the Reagan presidency, which began with a burst of anti-Soviet rhetoric and the largest peacetime U.S. military buildup in history.

Yesterday, a Marine Band in the foyer of the White House alternated playing of American and Soviet marches before Reagan and Gorbachev strode together down a red-carpeted hallway into the East Room as an announcer intoned, "Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States and the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union."

They were greeted by a standing ovation from an audience that included the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staffs and Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, chief of staff of the Soviet armed forces.

Reagan began his remarks by recalling the long road the two leaders had traveled to the completion of the INF treaty.

"This ceremony and the treaty we are signing today are both excellent examples of the rewards of patience," the president said. "It was over six years ago, Nov. 18, 1981, that I first proposed what would come to be called the zero option. It was a simple proposal -- one might say, disarmingly simple. Unlike treaties in the past . . . it didn't simply talk of controlling an arms race. For the first time in history, the language of arms control was replaced by arms reduction."

Reagan acknowledged that reaction to the proposal had been "mixed" and said that "to some, the zero option was impossibly visionary and unrealistic to others, merely a propaganda ploy. Well, with patience, determination and commitment, we've made this impossible vision a reality."

The Soviet leader, addressing his remarks to "Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, comrades," said the treaty had a "universal significance for mankind, both from the standpoint of world politics, and from the standpoint of humanism."

Speaking animatedly in Russian that was translated into English, Gorbachev said, "The treaty whose text is on this table offers a big chance at last to get on the road leading away from the threat of catastrophe. It is our duty to take full advantage of that chance, and move together toward a nuclear-free world which holds out for our children and grandchildren, and for their children and grandchildren, the promise of a fulfilling and happy life without fear and without a senseless waste of resources on weapons of destruction."

For all the celebratory spirit, Reagan and Gorbachev were not above competing in direct and scrappy fashion for favor with the other's constituency.

Reagan, speaking to the Soviet people in his televised statement after the treaty signing, said, "The true America is not supermarkets filled with meats, milk and goods of all description it is not highways filled with cars," managing to suggest the bounty of the United States even while denying that this is its spirit.

Gorbachev, in turn, spoke to the American people of an idyllic world "in which American and Soviet spacecraft would come together for docking and joint voyages, not for Star Wars," managing to take a poke at the popular name for Reagan's cherished Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

A last-minute hitch that threatened to mar the proceedings was settled yesterday morning when the Soviets provided a clear photograph, transmitted by facsimile from Moscow overnight, of an SS20 missile, the principal Soviet weapon to be eliminated by the accord.

The United States, lacking its own clear photo of the mobile SS20, had demanded one from the Soviets for inclusion in an INF document, but rejected the Soviet's first response because it showed the weapon hidden inside a cannister.

Another unexpected development was the 11th hour U.S. decision not to publish a "memorandum of understanding" negotiated as part of the treaty, which gives the locations of U.S. and Soviet missiles to be scrapped and of procedures for verifying their destruction and inspecting the sites from which they are to be removed.

A senior State Department official said the material was withheld at the request of the Defense Department, where some officials are concerned the details in the document could be used by terrorists.

The working group on arms control, headed by U.S. arms adviser Paul H. Nitze and Soviet Marshal Akhromeyev, met for several hours yesterday afternoon. Officials said they expect more meetings of the working group today.

Akhromeyev, highly regarded by U.S. officials as a tough, but authoritative negotiator, will receive unprecedented access to the U.S. military, going to the Pentagon to see Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci today, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. Thursday, and the National Military Command Center, heart of Pentagon operations.

Another U.S.-Soviet working group headed by Assistant Secretary of State Rozanne L. Ridgway and Deputy Foreign Minister Alexandr Bessmertnykh is considering regional disputes, human rights and bilateral issues. This group began meeting in the late afternoon and was reported to be holding discussions into last evening.

Americans at the White House state dinner said the day's talks had gone well. "They have a way of talking to each other," one participant in the leaders' expanded exchanges said. Another official said the atmosphere was so positive "the biggest problem is to keep enthusiasm down" and move slowly.

One veteran said such high-level meetings cannot be judged the first day, despite positive signs. "The real test will come in the middle of the night on Wednesday," said another, speaking of the strategic arms cuts.

The meeting of Reagan and Gorbachev this morning is to center on such regional conflicts as Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, southern Africa and Central America, Fitzwater announced.

Staff writers David Hoffman and Molly Moore and staff researcher Michelle Hall contributed to this report.


GORBACHEV PLEDGES WIDE-RANGING NUCLEAR CUTS

MOSCOW, OCT. 5 -- Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, responding to a sweeping U.S. arms-cut initiative, promised tonight to eliminate or withdraw all land- and sea-based short-range nuclear weapons.

In a brief televised address eight days after President Bush announced his promise of unilateral cuts, Gorbachev also called for negotiations to reduce further the long-range, strategic missile and bomber arsenals of both nations by roughly half. He pledged to reduce by another 1,000 weapons the number required to be cut under the new strategic arms treaty.

With his sweeping response, unconditional in some areas and challenging the United States to mutual steps in others, the Soviet president signaled his willingness to enter a new era of arms control, in which the two nations agree to destroy an entire class of weapons without years of bargaining and negotiation.

"Acting in this way -- in some cases unilaterally, in other cases by responding to the moves of others, and in other cases through negotiations -- we are decisively advancing the process of disarmament, bringing closer our goal of a nuclear-free world," Gorbachev said. The Soviet action, combined with Bush's earlier pledge, means that nuclear weapons numbering in the thousands will be withdrawn from Europe, Asia and the world's oceans.

After receiving a call from Gorbachev at Camp David before the Soviet leader's speech, Bush returned to the White House and told reporters that Gorbachev's announcement of nuclear-arms reductions was "good news for the whole world" and the Soviet Union had "come a long way."

Bush said a team of U.S. officials already in Moscow, headed by Undersecretary of State Reginald Bartholomew, is "prepared to discuss all issues" and already is talking with Soviet officials about Gorbachev's announcement.

Bush said it was premature to talk of a meeting with Gorbachev, although he would be agreeable to one at some point. In his speech, Gorbachev hinted he would favor another summit meeting soon.

Gorbachev's pledge to eliminate tactical nuclear arms affects a class of weapons that has caused the most worry recently for Western experts as the Soviet Union threatens to disintegrate. The Kremlin's arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, probably numbering more than 15,000 and located in several republics, is the most susceptible to theft by terrorists, to appropriation by breakaway republics and to unauthorized launching, the experts have said.

Matching Bush's plan for radical cutbacks in the tactical nuclear arsenal, Gorbachev said he would eliminate all nuclear land mines and artillery shells and remove all tactical nuclear weapons from surface ships, submarines and naval aircraft. He also pledged to destroy or place in storage the nuclear rockets of the nation's antiaircraft troops.

In addition, Gorbachev proposed that the United States agree to remove from the front line all aviation-based nuclear tactical weapons, meaning bombs and rockets, a category not included in Bush's unilateral initiative. And he challenged Bush to go one step further, "on a mutual basis," and destroy all sea-based tactical nuclear weapons, instead of just withdrawing and storing them, as Bush pledged.

Gorbachev also outlined a series of substantive but less sweeping measures to limit the strategic nuclear arsenal, phasing out development of some weapons and promising not to modernize others. Where Bush asked for negotiations to ban all land-based, multiple-warhead strategic missiles, Gorbachev promised only that the number of such missiles that are mobile -- meaning their launch site can be moved on trucks or railroads -- will not increase.

He renewed the Soviet commitment not to conduct nuclear tests for at least another year and called for Washington to follow suit. Gorbachev also said the Soviet Union would destroy 1,000 more weapons than called for under the latest Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, during the seven years of the treaty. This would leave the arsenal with 5,000 such weapons instead of 6,000, and still allow for further negotiated reductions. He called for speedy ratification of the START treaty, saying it will be considered at the first session of the new legislature, scheduled for Oct. 21.

The Soviet president also called for further talks on defenses against missile attack and on the possibility of developing a joint system of early warning against nuclear attack. Experts here have suggested that such a joint defensive system could build confidence and further lessen tensions between the two superpowers, while helping both defend against would-be missile launches from third countries.

Bush pledged unilateral arms cuts in a televised address last week. He said changes in the direction of democracy and reform in the Soviet Union allowed a "swifter, bolder" approach to disarmament than traditional arms-control negotiations.

The president promised to destroy whole classes of tactical weapons, whether or not the Soviets responded in kind, but he also challenged the Soviet Union to reciprocate, noting that the Soviet arsenal "now seems less an instrument of national security and more of a burden." Bush also called for negotiations to reduce the number of strategic, long-range nuclear missiles based on land, in part by eliminating multi-warhead missiles.

Gorbachev had welcomed the president's initiative one week ago, and Soviet officials had said a response would be forthcoming within days. But with the Soviet Defense Ministry still studying the details of the U.S. initiative, and with the Bartholomew team only arriving today, Gorbachev aides had predicted no detailed response until next week.

The Soviet president's speed in delivering a substantive reply, on the same day that he met with Bartholomew, appeared to arise from a desire that his initial caution not be viewed as ambivalence. "I do not want this pause in Moscow to be interpreted as the Soviets dragging their feet," Gorbachev's spokesman had said earlier this week.

In addition, Gorbachev, whose power has sharply diminished since a failed right-wing coup in August, appeared eager to reassert his authority in an area where he has long been confident. Gorbachev, who several years ago proposed the elimination of all nuclear weapons within this century, believes Bush's initiative is in line with many of his earlier proposals, aides said, and was eager not to be seen as simply following Bush's lead.

Tonight, Gorbachev renewed several proposals opposed by Bush so far, including the ban on nuclear testing and a pledge by all nuclear nations not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

"I consider that the time for a joint statement of all nuclear states about no first use of nuclear weapons has come," Gorbachev said. "The Soviet Union has for a long time firmly supported this principle. I am convinced that a similar step from the American side would play a huge role."

From the beginning, however, Soviet officials had warned that it would be easier to match U.S. cuts in tactical weapons than in strategic. Bush's proposal, which would leave intact the U.S. arsenal of submarine-based long-range missiles, was widely seen here as unbalanced, since land-based missiles form the heart of the Soviet strategic force.

In the area of strategic weapons, Gorbachev promised tonight to halt development of a small mobile ICBM and of a new generation of short-range nuclear missiles to be carried on strategic bombers. He said the number of launching sites of rail-based ICBMs will not be increased and such missiles will not be modernized, and he pledged to keep all rail-based ICBMs in their permanent bases.

The Soviet president also said strategic bombers will not be on military standby, and their nuclear weapons will be stored, matching one of Bush's promises. But Gen. Merrill McPeak, U.S. Air Force chief of staff, told reporters here Friday that Soviet bombers had never been kept on full alert as in the United States.

Like Bush, Gorbachev said that all Soviet nuclear forces would henceforth come under a single command, which Gorbachev said would increase "the reliability of control over nuclear weapons." As the nation's republics have gained strength, outsiders have expressed fears about who would control the nation's 27,000 warheads, most of which are in Russia but some of which are in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Byelorussia and elsewhere.

In a nod to the new power realities of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev said tonight that he knew Russian republic President Boris Yeltsin and other leaders of the republics shared his positive evaluation of Bush's proposal as an extension of Gorbachev's own "new thinking."

Gorbachev also announced that Soviet troops would be cut by 700,000. Defense Minister Yevgeny Shaposhnikov had said earlier that the armed forces would decline from 3.7 million to 3 million.

DESTROY all nuclear artillery ammunition, mines and nuclear warheads of tactical missiles.

REMOVE all tactical nuclear weapons from surface ships and multi-purpose submarines. Weapons will be partly stockpiled, partly destroyed.

REMOVE and partly destroy all nuclear warheads of anti-aircraft missiles.

TAKE heavy strategic bombers off standby and store their nuclear weapons in depots.

STOP development of compact mobile ICBMs. Freeze mobile, rail-based ICBMs at present levels and keep them in their permanent sites.

REMOVE 503 ICBMs from alert status.

CUT Soviet armed forces by 700,000.

SUSPEND nuclear tests for the next year.

NEGOTIATE a further 50 percent cut in strategic weapons.

CREATE a joint U.S.-Soviet early warning system against nuclear attack.

LIQUIDATE all tactical nuclear weapons in both navies. Both sides remove all nuclear weapons from forward military tactical aviation units.

WITHDRAW all tactical (short-range) nuclear weapons from Europe and elsewhere in the world, and destroy the entire U.S. arsenal of these weapons.

ELIMINATE nuclear weapons, including nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, from all U.S. Navy surface ships and attack submarines.

TAKE U.S. strategic bombers off alert status, and put their nuclear weapons in storage.

IMPLEMENT ahead of schedule reductions foreseen in the recent START treaty of long-range missiles based on land and on submarines.

NEGOTIATE new agreements with Moscow to eliminate all missiles carrying multiple nuclear warheads.


"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

The story of the 1986 Reykjavik summit meeting is a tale of two visionary leaders and an “impossible dream.” It was the most remarkable summit ever held between U.S. and Soviet leaders. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev seriously discussed the elimination of all ballistic missiles held by their two countries and aired the possibility of eliminating all nuclear weapons.

As Gorbachev said in these pages, “[T]he 1986 U.S.-Soviet summit in Reykjavik, seen by many as a failure, actually gave an impetus to reduction by reaffirming the vision of a world without nuclear weapons and by paving the way toward concrete agreements on intermediate-range nuclear forces and strategic nuclear weapons.”

The world has changed since those heady days, but it is clearer than ever that the twin challenges of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism must be addressed “by reaffirming the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.” At a time when the international community is struggling to prevent a cascade of decisions by more and more states to acquire nuclear weapons, the ideas that briefly occupied center stage at Reykjavik look like the best answer we have.

Reagan and Gorbachev brought two great nations close to the end of the era of the Cold War. Two revolutionaries, each in his own way, became history’s catalysts for change. Gorbachev realized that the Soviet Union needed radical economic reform, and that to do it, he had to end the ideological confrontation with the West. Reagan was unlike any other U.S. president in his revulsion against the immorality of nuclear war, his willingness to do something about it, and his ability to act on his instincts. Turning away from classical arms control, he insisted on nuclear disarmament and succeeded to a remarkable degree. Reagan and Gorbachev found common ground at their first summit in Geneva in 1985 the two leaders declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

The road to Reykjavik began with proposals made by Reagan in 1981 to eliminate all intermediate-range ballistic missiles and in 1982 to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads by at least one-third. This was a departure from arms control thinking as it had developed since 1960, but it was rooted in an older paradigm: disarmament. Soviet leaders prior to Gorbachev saw these ideas as one-sided and insincere and rejected them.

The Soviet leaders had reason to be skeptical. Although Reagan had told his administration from the beginning of his presidency that he wanted reductions in nuclear warheads, he presided over a nuclear buildup to close the lead that he believed the Soviet Union had opened up over the United States. He never saw any contradictions in this, but had his administration ended in 1985 instead of 1989, it would have been remembered mainly for an enormous increase in defense spending and for arms control proposals that seemed designed to fail. Reagan’s second term changed all that.

Reagan wanted to make nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete,” and he saw two ways of doing that. One was to eliminate them, and he started that process in 1981 and 1982. The other way was to build a defense that would deflect an attack. He started that in 1983. Linking the two methods offered a way forward. What if it were possible to reduce nuclear weapons mutually while building up a defensive system jointly? In principle, there should be a crossover point where defense would have dominance over offense. This idea lay at the heart of the drama at Reykjavik.

Reagan had long mused about the inability of the United States to defend itself against a missile attack. Hydrogen bomb pioneer Edward Teller and Reagan’s own “kitchen cabinet” had encouraged him to think that a defense against ballistic missiles might be possible. On March 23, 1983, Reagan finally announced that he was asking U.S. scientists “to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.” Thus was born the idea that a shield could be built that would protect humanity from nuclear attack.

Still, the idea required more confidence between the Soviet Union and the United States than existed at the time. General Secretary Yuri Andropov saw in Reagan’s proposal a scheme that would force the Soviet Union to ever greater defense expenditures and end the period of relative stability that had marked General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev’s relations with Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. Furthermore, it came at a time when tensions were high because of the planned deployment in Europe of U.S. intermediate-range missiles, as had been decided by NATO at the end of the Carter administration. Andropov denounced the Reagan speech, and a period of bitter relations ensued. Significant progress in arms control and disarmament would have to wait until Reagan’s fellow visionary, Gorbachev, succeeded Andropov as leader of the Soviet Union.

Reagan’s ideas were met by a bold initiative from Gorbachev in January 1986, when he proposed the elimination of all nuclear weapons in three stages by the year 2000. Reagan responded by letter on July 25, 1986, and revealed the gist of that letter in an address to the UN General Assembly on September 22. Reagan raised the possibility of radical reductions in offensive ballistic missiles, a multiyear moratorium on deployment of ballistic missile defenses, an obligation to share the benefits of strategic defenses, and the total elimination of intermediate-range nuclear forces on a global basis.

Gorbachev expressed uncertainty about Reagan’s thinking and suggested a meeting in Iceland or the United Kingdom to talk about the issues directly. On September 30, 1986, Reagan announced that he had decided to accept Gorbachev’s offer to meet in Iceland. The meeting would take place in less than two weeks, on October 11-12.

The administration thought that the Reykjavik meeting would be an informal exploratory session with a limited agenda, a “base camp,” not a “summit.” Yet, Gorbachev came to Reykjavik with dramatic proposals covering all aspects of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms negotiation: a 50 percent reduction in strategic offensive arms, complete elimination of intermediate-range missiles of the Soviet Union and the United States in Europe, nonwithdrawal from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty for 10 years, and prohibition of testing of space-based elements of a defense system “except research and testing in laboratories.” These were unveiled at the first session on the morning of October 11. A subsequent all-night meeting between senior officials in the two delegations took place and hammered out key parameters for limits on strategic offensive forces. At the session the next day, Gorbachev added to his proposal to eliminate all U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range missiles in Europe by calling for a ceiling on such missiles of 100 each in Soviet Asia and in the United States. A major agreement on offensive forces was within sight, but everything depended on an agreement on ballistic missile defense.

When the discussion turned to that question, Gorbachev proposed that an extra, unscheduled session be set up in the afternoon to discuss the issue. Reagan agreed, and the two delegations met first in a session chaired by the foreign ministers. Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze insisted that there must be a 10-year period when there would be no withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. If this could be agreed, all other issues could be solved.

Late in the afternoon of October 12, when the two leaders met again with their foreign ministers to discuss the offense-defense link, Reagan presented the following draft text:

The U.S.S.R. and the United States undertake for 10 years not to exercise their existing right of withdrawal from the ABM treaty, which is of unlimited duration, and during that period strictly to observe all its provisions while continuing research, development and testing, which are permitted by the ABM treaty. Within the first five years of the 10-year period (and thus through 1991), the strategic offensive arms of the two sides shall be reduced by 50 percent. During the following five years of that period, all remaining offensive ballistic missiles of the two sides shall be reduced. Thus, by the end of 1996, all offensive ballistic missiles of the U.S.S.R. and the United States will have been totally eliminated. At the end of the 10-year period, either side could deploy defenses if it so chose unless the parties agree otherwise.

The final session was a scene of high drama. Gorbachev said he wanted to eliminate all strategic forces, not just ballistic missiles. Reagan said, “It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons.” The break point began to appear when Gorbachev, following the script laid out in his initial presentation, insisted that all research and testing of space-based ballistic missile systems be restricted to laboratories.

In the final minutes at Reykjavik, Reagan, as reported by Secretary of State George Shultz, re-read the key clause to Gorbachev: “Listen once again to what I have proposed: during that 10-year period [of nonwithdrawal from the ABM treaty], while continuing research, testing, and development which is permitted by that treaty. It is a question of one word.” Reagan did not want to enter into a negotiation that he viewed as amending the treaty. He had accepted a “broad” interpretation of the treaty, under which wide latitude was allowed for space-based testing, although the treaty’s original negotiators, the Soviets, and the Senate supported a more restrictive interpretation.

Gorbachev insisted on the word “laboratories.” Over this one word, the negotiations broke off. Washington read Gorbachev’s proposal as an attack on the missile defense program, the Strategic Defense Initiative. That one word, “laboratories,” obviously rang alarm bells in the minds of those who had been operating under tense conditions for two days.

So ended “the highest stakes poker game ever played,” as Shultz described it. In Reagan’s words, “We proposed the most sweeping and generous arms control proposal in history. We offered the complete elimination of all ballistic missiles—Soviet and American—from the face of the earth by 1996. While we parted company with this American offer still on the table, we are closer than ever before to agreements that could lead to a safer world without nuclear weapons.”

One of the great imponderables of history is what would have happened if Gorbachev had dropped the word “laboratories” and his objections to testing in space or if Reagan had accepted the limitation that Gorbachev sought? With the hindsight of history, it seems likely that the deployment of an effective ballistic missile defense system would not have been affected one way or the other. What we do not know is whether a treaty of the kind discussed at Reykjavik would have released Russia and United States from the nuclear deterrence relationship in which they are still entrapped.

Aftermath and Lessons

Nonetheless, Reagan and Gorbachev achieved a great deal at Reykjavik. They had stretched the envelope of thinking about reducing the nuclear danger. They had clearly distinguished between nuclear weapons and all other weapons and had stigmatized nuclear weapons as immoral, their use unacceptable in conflicts among nations. They reinforced the tradition of the non-use of nuclear weapons, and despite the famous word “laboratories,” the Reykjavik meeting led to the signing of the U.S.-Soviet treaty on banning intermediate-range nuclear forces and to a draft treaty on reducing strategic-range nuclear forces that was almost complete by the time Reagan left office. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed in 1991, is still in force. The first treaty to cut strategic nuclear arms significantly, it also provides the basis for verification of the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) concluded by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, which endorsed further strategic weapons cuts. Reykjavik was a long stride toward one part of Reagan’s dream, the elimination of nuclear weapons.

As things stand, however, each country is still hedging in its nuclear weapons programs so as to be prepared for an adverse turn of events in the other. Nuclear weapons are still a major factor in international relations. Rather than pursuing Reagan’s genuine interest in eliminating all nuclear weapons, the Bush administration, for example, has conflated nuclear and conventional weapons in its definition of offensive forces in its new “strategic triad” and refused to consider further reductions in operationally deployed nuclear forces, below SORT levels, even in response to appeals from non-nuclear-weapon states.

These policies contrast sharply with Reagan’s thinking about nuclear weapons. Of course, the world has changed since Reagan left office, and new threats have emerged. Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons programs were not the problems in the 1980s that they are in 2006. Nuclear-armed terrorist groups were imaginable then but not the real possibility that they are today.

I would argue, however, that Reagan’s ideas about nuclear weapons are as salient today as they were then. There is no doubt that national decisions to acquire nuclear weapons are motivated by regional rivalries, a desire to have an equalizer against the conventional weapons superiority of a global adversary, and by prestige and a sense of entitlement. Iran and North Korea are motivated by these considerations. U.S. policies have to be targeted on local and regional specifics in each case.

The decisions of potential nuclear-weapon states to acquire nuclear weapons also are affected by and very likely heavily influenced by their expectations of what other states will be doing. India was very explicit about this in the years before its decision to conduct nuclear weapons tests. A solid front of the present nuclear-weapon states against further proliferation will be more effective and persuasive if they are seen to be moving toward elimination of nuclear weapons, rather than updating them and threatening to use them against non-nuclear-weapon states.


U.S., Soviets Sign Historic Treaty to Cut Nuclear Arms : Summit: START pact will slash long-range strategic weapons. But President Bush is cool to Gorbachev’s call for new talks aimed at even deeper reductions.

President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed a historic and long-awaited treaty cutting their nations’ nuclear arsenals Wednesday, but they neared the end of their two-day summit meeting here still far apart on the future of arms control.

With the new treaty, the two countries “reverse a half-century of steadily growing strategic arsenals,” Bush said. “More than that, we take a significant step forward in dispelling a half-century of mistrust.”

In private meetings and public statements, however, Gorbachev pushed for an early new round of arms talks aimed at far deeper cuts. “This is a beginning,” Gorbachev said in a brief speech before signing the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. “Let us get down to work again.”

Bush, who spoke just after Gorbachev, pointedly avoided any mention of a new round of arms talks. Later, his chief START negotiator, Linton Brooks, conceded at a briefing for reporters that “the Administration does not yet have a position” on where to go next.

The treaty, signed by Bush and Gorbachev at a solemn ceremony in the ornate St. Vladimir Hall of the Great Palace of the Kremlin, limits each side to 1,600 strategic weapons--intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers, submarine-launched missiles and the like.

The document, which must still be ratified by the Senate and by the Supreme Soviet, also limits each side to 4,900 missile warheads. Those restrictions will require each side to destroy hundreds of missiles, the delivery vehicles that carry the warheads.

Although the signing of the arms treaty was the original reason for holding this summit meeting, arms talks largely took a back seat to other matters here in Moscow. Those matters included superpower cooperation on the Middle East, the deteriorating state of the Soviet economy and the continued political tensions between Gorbachev and Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin.

And the U.S. reluctance to head right back to the negotiating table likely means that--in the short term, at least--superpower talks on new arms-control agreements will be on hold.

Bush’s resistance to plunging ahead reflects two fundamental realities. First, although he and his aides are careful to say publicly that the START treaty is “balanced” and “in the best interests of both sides,” they privately agree with the widely held view among arms-control experts that the United States won most of the key points in the final rounds.

Having come out ahead, they see little incentive to hurry into new talks.

Secondly, reaching agreement required intensive negotiations not only between Washington and Moscow but also within the U.S. government, where different military services, advocates of various types of weapons and partisans of opposing theories of nuclear deterrence have their own opinions as to the shape of an ideal military balance.

And politically, at least, the White House has little appetite for renewing those disputes, especially with a presidential election on the horizon.

For example, the United States succeeded in keeping all mention of naval arms control out of the new treaty. The Soviets have made clear that in any new talks they would insist on placing some restrictions on the huge U.S. advantage at sea. Although some U.S. officials might be willing to consider some reductions in return for Soviet concessions, the Navy has been bitterly opposed, and the admirals have considerable political clout.

The two sides also remain far apart on the subject of defenses against missile attacks.

Before the Moscow summit, Bush’s national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, told reporters that he thought the Soviets, who strongly opposed former President Ronald Reagan’s idea of a space-based “Star Wars” anti-missile shield, might be more amenable to the Administration’s current plans. These call for a much smaller system aimed at stopping accidental missile launches or attacks by smaller countries that might one day possess nuclear arms.

But although Bush made a pitch to Gorbachev about the benefits of such a program, Gorbachev gave no indications of a change in position, officials said.

The Soviets have insisted on strict compliance with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which allows each nation to build only one facility for shooting down incoming missiles. The Administration’s plan would call for several sites, although a version of the plan being debated in Congress would be limited to only one site, at least initially.

Despite the disagreements over the future, the massive and complicated treaty signed Wednesday remains a major milestone--the first treaty ever to require both nuclear superpowers to make substantial reductions in their strategic arsenals.

Under the agreement, warheads will not have to be destroyed, but they will be stored in ways that will allow the other side to guarantee against cheating--part of the treaty’s extensive provisions designed to ensure that the promises in it can be verified and monitored.

Overall, the treaty will require both sides to cut their total forces by roughly one-third, with the Soviets making somewhat deeper cuts than the United States. The Soviet weapons that U.S. strategists have considered the most threatening--warheads based on the largest land-based missiles--will have to be reduced by half.

The treaty, negotiator Brooks noted, was designed not only to cut forces but to restructure them. The pact contains incentives designed to prod both sides into relying more on bombers and less on missiles for nuclear deterrence. Because missiles can cross the globe in a matter of minutes and can be launched without warning, arms experts consider them more dangerous and thus more destabilizing than bombers.

St. Vladimir Hall, site of the treaty ceremony, was the same room used by Gorbachev and Reagan when they exchanged the formal ratification documents for the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and, earlier, by President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid I. Brezhnev in signing the SALT I pact.

With their wives, top aides and arms negotiators on hand, the two men signed the formal documents with pens fashioned by a Soviet artist out of metal taken from U.S. Pershing 2 and Soviet SS-20 missiles destroyed under the INF treaty.

Each signed four times, approving both an English and a Russian text of the treaty and a translation performed by each side. Earlier in the day, at Gorbachev’s suburban dacha , the two had signed separate protocols and annexes to the main treaty text.

Although the text itself runs 47 pages, the separate documents bring the total package to about 750 pages, making the treaty one of the longest and most complex in the history of international affairs. Negotiators worked on the final language of the pact at their offices in Geneva until 2 a.m. Monday morning, then hand-carried the final text here Tuesday.

As late as Wednesday morning, they were still correcting typographical errors on the formal documents, officials said.

Already, the treaty has been subject to criticism. Some Soviet legislators complain that Gorbachev and his negotiators gave up too much, and some conservative members of the U.S. Senate complain that the Soviets gave up too little.

Before the final agreements on the treaty were reached, however, Gorbachev won the approval of top military officials, virtually guaranteeing approval. And on the U.S. side, Administration strategists are convinced that at most a handful of senators will oppose ratification.

As they wrapped up their talks here, the two leaders issued several other documents, including a statement deploring the violence in Yugoslavia and urging peace talks there and an agreement approving previously announced steps toward cooperation in space. The two governments also prepared a joint statement on Central America to be released today that will call for peaceful resolution of conflicts in that region.

Earlier in the day, Bush placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier next to the Kremlin wall and spoke to Soviet business people, telling them they were building a “bridge to a new and prosperous Soviet Union.”

“Those who succeed here should not be insulted and labeled as speculators and exploiters,” he said. “They are the people who will fill the shelves in your stores, put your people to work.” Soviet leaders, he said, “are grasping the concept” that “the spirit of democratic capitalism” will be the key to “bringing back hope to the people of the Soviet Union.”

Today, after a formal departure ceremony at the Kremlin, Bush is scheduled to fly to Kiev, where he will address leaders of the Ukraine--the second-largest of the Soviet Union’s 15 republics--and speak at the memorial at Babi Yar, scene of one of the most grisly massacres of the Nazi Holocaust.

Next Step: What the Arms Treaty Will Do

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) cuts nuclear weapons held by the Soviet Union and by the United States and establishes a system to guard against cheating. Some key facts:

SIGNIFICANCE: It is the first time the United States and the Soviet Union have agreed to reduce their arsenals of long-range nuclear bombers, missiles and submarines. Soviets will cut stockpiles by 36%, the U.S. by 29%.

CEILINGS: There is an overall ceiling of 4,900 ballistic missile warheads. To reach that goal, the Soviets will have to cut about 48% and the U.S. about 39%.

RESULTS: Experts estimate that the Soviets are likely to end up with 8,000 nuclear warheads, the U.S. with 10,400. The weapons under discussion are those that can be delivered by bombers or intercontinental ballistic missiles, those that can fly 3,400 miles--roughly the distance from the U.S. East Coast to the western border of the Soviet Union.

OTHER WEAPONS: Not all weapons covered by the treaty will be reduced. Bombers and air-launched cruise missiles actually could increase. Sea-launched cruise missiles will not be monitored, but the two sides are promising--in a side letter outside the treaty--to limit their arsenals of this weapon to 880 missiles apiece.


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