The Helsinki Agreements

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  • Created on: 08-01-12 11:42
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Helsinki Agreements
The first meeting between President Reagan and Premier Gorbachev occurred at the Geneva Summit
in November 1985. Reagan was clearly in the stronger position. Nonetheless, his aims were fairly
Reagan's aim for the conference was to persuade Gorbachev that he sincerely desired peace
between the two superpowers. Gorbachev, although in a weaker position, was hoping to persuade
Reagan to drop his plans for SDI (Strategic Defence Initiative/Star Wars).
Gorbachev was also keen to establish a working relationship with the American president. Prior to
the meeting, he sacked the long serving Soviet foreign minister, Andrei Gromyko, and appointed
Eduard Shevardnadze as his replacement. This move signalled an end to the aggressive foreign policy
that had been pursued by Gromyko. The Geneva meeting was significant because the two leaders
were able to talk face to face and develop a personal relationship. However, no forma; agreement
on arms control was reached.
The Reykjavik meeting in Iceland in October 1986 was much more ambitious. Reagan proposed
scrapping all ballistic nuclear missiles. Gorbachev, however, was unwilling to agree with thse
proposals because Reagan refused to drop his SDI project.
Following the Reykjavik meeting, American and Soviet diplomats continued to try and draft an arms
reduction treaty. The result was the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed in
Washington in December 1987. The treaty eliminated all nuclear missiles with a range of 500-5500
The INF treaty was significant because it was the first treaty to reduce the number of nuclear missiles
that the superpowers possessed. It therefore went much further than SALT 1, which simply limited
the growth of Russian and American nuclear stockpiles.
Gorbachev had refused to agree to an arms treaty in Reykjavik because Reagan refused to drop his
plans for SDI. Nonetheless, a year later he signed the INF treaty in spite of the fact that Reagan was
still committed to SDI. Gorbachev changed his mind because:
- He came to see that nuclear weapons were highly expensive but added nothing to Soviet
- Reagan persuaded Gorbachev that he USA had no intention of attacking the USSR
- Gorbachev realised that the Soviet economy could never recover as long as it was spending
so much on nuclear weapons
- Gorbachev believed that disbarment would win him popularity in the West and this would
allow him to make profitable trade deals between the USSR and the West.
- Gorbachev believed that political and economic measures would be more effective in
guaranteeing Russia's security than military strength.


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