Chapter 15 - Soviet Arms Treaty Violations


Reagan’s early presidential statements about the Soviet Union’s cheating and lies as part of its Marxist-Leninist ideology and practice broke existing U.S. diplomatic taboos and shocked the Soviets, his political opponents and much of his inherited bureaucracy. Yet Reagan’s remarks were borne out by unprecedented U.S. intelligence assessments, diplomatic efforts, and public exposure of the realities of Soviet Union’s deception practices, exploitations, violations, and denials involving Soviet non-compliance with key arms control agreements. These included SALT, START, the ABM Treaty, Chemical and Biological Arms, Nuclear Testing, and conventional forces (the Helsinki Accords).

Reagan’s Organizational Changes. Critical to Reagan’s objectives on dealing with Soviet cheating was his and his National Security Advisor William Clark’s strengthening of NSC authorities in November 1982 to assure thoroughgoing Interagency assessments and regularly updated official public diplomacy reports in this controversial topic which accommodationist 1970s U.S. policies had avoided. The intensified NSC-coordinated effort drew on a range of government agencies to identify essential U.S. requirements for strengthened U.S. verification capabilities going beyond existing elastic concepts of “adequate” verification and moving to “effective” verification requirements based on “high confidence” as certified by the U.S. Intelligence Community for each provision of any proposed arms control treaty. Also important in overcoming bureaucratic obstacles was Reagan’s November 1982 appointment of a Presidential General Advisory Commission (GAC) to conduct an independent assessment of twenty-five years of Soviet non-compliance practices. Unclassified summaries of both the GAC and Interagency reports became public early in 1984, were briefed to Congress and U.S. allies, and their findings were pressed with the Soviets in both diplomatic and public channels.

[Book pg. 353]