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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Euromissiles Crisis

This is a collection of primary source documents dating from 1979 to 1983 – during a period of confrontation and building tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. The documents in the collection come from Dutch, German, and Italian archives. They include correspondence and negotiations between the leaders of NATO member countries. The majority of the documents are from 1979, an eventful year which included the conclusion of SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), the Soviet Union's deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles targeting Western Europe, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The rest of the documents dating from 1980 to 1983 deal with security policy and the increased hostility between the Soviet Union and the West. See also the related collections in the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, protesters in Lyon, France)

  • January 17, 1980

    Meeting of the Central Committee of the Italian Socialist Party

    During a meeting of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party, Bettino Craxi presents his point of view on the tense international situation.

  • March 11, 1980

    Letter to the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Chairman of the Socialist International, Willy Brandt

    A letter from Brezhnev to Willy Brandt before their meeting in Madrid. Discusses detente and the disarmament.

  • August 07, 1980

    Meeting between Comrades Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev and Todor Zhivkov

    This memorandum provides an overview of the meeting between Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov and Leonid Brezhnev. The two discussed international affairs, specifically escalating tensions with the U.S. and NATO, and Soviet interest in maintaining and strengthening detente. In response, a new international summit of the communist parties is proposed.

  • August 28, 1980

    Letter by the General Secretary of the CC of the CPSU, Gorbachev, to the Chairman of the SPD, Brandt

  • September 17, 1980

    Letter from SPD Chairman Brandt to General Secretary of CPSU Central Committee Brezhnev

    Willy Brandt writes to Leonid Brezhnev about issues plaguing arms control negotiations between the US and the USSR. Particular attention is paid to the way the US Presidential election has hampered progress.

  • December 12, 1980

    Memorandum of Conversation between Brandt and V. Semyonov on 11 December 1980

  • July 06, 1981

    Conversation between SPD chairman Willy Brandt and the Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev on 30 June 1981 in Moscow

    Memorandum of a conversation between Brandt and Brezhnev. Among other things, Brezhnev focused on the increased hostility between members of the international community. He pointed to debate over missiles in Europe as an example of that tension.

  • September 28, 1981

    Memo on discussions by the Chairman of the SPD, Brandt, with the French President, Mitterrand, on 25 September 1981

    Description of discussions between Brandt and Mitterrand on European security and strategic balance between the East and West. Topics covered include France's nuclear forces and INF negotiations.

  • February 22, 1982

    Letter by the General Secretary of the CC of the CPSU, Gorbachev, to the Chairman of the SPD, Brandt

    Leonid Brezhnev writes to Willy Brandt about ongoing US-Soviet arms negotiations.

  • March 17, 1982

    Letter by the Chairman of the SPD, Brandt, to the General Secretary of the CC of the CPSU, Brezhnev

    Brandt's letter is on the inter-continental missile negotiations which took initiative in Geneva. According to Brandt, American's "Zero Option" plan is a good start however, is not satisfactory to provide a safer Europe.

  • May 31, 1983

    Meeting Minutes of the Politburo of the CC CPSU, Regarding Western Plans for Deployment of New Nuclear Weapons in Europe

    Politburo discussion, presided over by Andropov, on how to respond to the Western decision to deploy new nuclear weapons in Europe.

  • October, 1983

    Evolution of the deployment of Soviet intermediate missiles

    An exhaustive memo on the deployment of the Soviet Intermediate Nuclear Forces from 1977 to 1983.

  • October, 1983

    Memorandum comparing the Soviet Intermediate Nuclear Forces and the Anglo – French forces capable of reaching the Soviet Union.

    A comparison between the Soviet Intermediate Nuclear Forces and the Anglo – French system capable of reaching the Soviet Union. The memo uses data to demonstrate that the Soviet INF outnumbered by far NATO nuclear forces.

  • October, 1983

    Memorandum on Geneva INF negotiations and East-West dialogue, with particular focus on Italian-Soviet relations.

    A memo about the relationship between Italy and the Soviet Union during the Geneva negotiations. It suggests some steps that Italy should undertake to keep alive the East-West dialogue and to preserve Italian economic interests.

  • October 14, 1983

    Telex from the East German Embassy in Romania to Bucharest, 14 October 1983

    Summary of Romanian position on the Euromissiles Crisis presented at October 1983 summit and also shared with the United States via a letter from Nicolae Ceauşescu to President Ronald Reagan.The Ceauşescu – Reagan letter underscored that: (1) Romania did not approve of the Soviet missile deployments; (2) noted that Romania would only participate in defense operations, and specified that it would carefully consider the nature of the call for assistance by fellow alliance members before sending its troops outside of Romanian territory; (3) stressed that the Romanian Armed Forces were fully under national control, giving several specific details on how this was guaranteed; and (4) explicitly noted that Romania did not and would not ever host nuclear missiles on its territory, whether from the Soviet Union or the United States.

  • October 28, 1983

    Memorandum on the Ottawa meeting of NATO's Nuclear Planning Group

    Some reflections on the outcome of the NATO Nuclear Planning Group meeting in Ottawa. The Italian government praised the NATO resolution to keep the INF at a minimum level of deterrence, while critiquing the Soviet refusal to compromise.

  • November, 1983

    Translation of a letter from Nicolae Ceausescu to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl about Euromissiles

    A letter from Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu to Helmut Kohl. Ceausescu makes some suggestions to ease the Geneva negotiations: the Warsaw Pact could accept “not taking into account the UK and French missiles”: the German government could “postpone the deployment [of the Intermediate missiles] to the end of 1984 or the beginning of 1985”; or the NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries should organize a conference “to discuss the issue of the Intermediate Range Missiles”.

  • November 12, 1983

    Memorandum on INF and START negotiations

    This memo to Prime Minister Bettino Craxi argues against the merging of the INF and START negotiations proposed by the Finnish government and backed by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. The memo suggests that the proposal could jeopardize the Geneva talks and harm European interests.

  • November 16, 1983

    Antonio Badini, Outline of General Considerations

    A memo to Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi from his Diplomatic Counselor Antonio Badini. Badini warns against the latest Soviet proposals. He suggests that agreeing to them without making any concessions regarding the deployment of American missiles would be tantamount to the realization of a long term goal of the Soviet Union, i.e. the decoupling between the Western European and the American defense system. […] He writes that the Soviet proposals “can be taken as a possible basis for an agreement is surprising. We can only hope that this fact does not imply that, from a political and psychological standpoint, the process of Finlandization of Europe is far more advanced than we believed thus far.”

  • 1984

    Memorandum on East-West Dialogue

    This memo expresses the regrets of the Italian government for the failure of the INF negotiations. According to the memo, Italy “committed itself to the normalization of the East – West dialogue” and proposed resuming Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction talks.