Jeremy Stone Interview, March 23 1995
Interviewer — Metta Spencer
Metta Spencer: I just realized I don’t have a synopsis history of F.A.S. so maybe you can tell me where it started and all that.
Jeremy Stone: The Federation of American Scientists is three weeks older than the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and was founded by the original atomic scientists in 1945, and in the action arm of the movement of which the Bulletin is the educational arm.
MS: I knew it was about then, but I didn’t know it was three weeks…
J STONE: It was originally called the Federation of Atomic Scientists, and it was changed to America to keep the initials the same and to let in more scientists. It’s now sponsored by 48 Nobel Prize Winners and many other famous scientists. It’s going have it’s fiftieth anniversary this October. I’ve been in charge for 25 years.
MS: Is it just scientists or do you have any auxiliary component? I belong to something called…
J STONE: We have scientists of all kinds.
MS: Social scientists too?
J STONE: Yes, the chairman at the moment is Nobel prize winner Robert Solow, in economics.
MS: I see, good.
J STONE: What is it you want to talk about? How scientists have influenced the Russians. Do you want to know my own ….
MS: I want to start with your own and then I’ll want your ideas of the things that you’ve heard about from other scientists. Why don’t you give me your own history of work in policy.
J STONE: I started in 1963, I wrote a paper called “Should The Soviet Union Build an Anti-Ballistic Missile System?” I answered, in the paper, ‘no,’ saying if they did it, we would do it and neither side should do it. This was one of the earliest papers urging halts in this, thirty years ago, and leading to the anti-ballistic missile treaty which was passed in 1972. For the 10 years after 1963, when I wrote that paper, I tried to persuade the Russians as well as the Americans to do this treaty. In ’64 the paper I had written had gotten thicker, and I was offered a thousand dollars by a small study group of Russians and Americans that were meeting privately in Cambridge, run by Paul Doty. I, a young man then, was asked to present the paper because they knew the subject was important but they didn’t have a paper. So I was able to present this paper to high placed Russians who were there quietly meeting in a kind of bilateral Pugwash movement.
MS: Do you remember who they were?
J STONE: It was called, at that time, The Joint Study Group. On the American side it was Henry Kissinger, Marshall Shulman, Jerome Wiesner, and on the Russian side Tetlensky, the General Historian, that is a General and a Historian, Millionshchikov, the Vice President of Soviet Academy of Sciences, [Fedoff], the missile expert, and Vasily Emelyanov, who had been the metallurgist advising Stalin and later head of the IAEA. I presented this paper; the Russians denounced it, the Americans approved it and I decided this was really interesting.
I began going to Russia myself. My wife and I financed ourselves — five trips (each year, ’66 through ’70) —in an effort to give lectures and present the two books and many articles I had written on this subject, to talk them into supporting the ABM treaty. I lectured in Russia every year, ’66 through ’70. That was even before Arbatov’s Institute was created in 1967. I used to lecture at the Friendship House first. By one means or another, going as tourists and paying our own way, we ah…My wife learned Russian for the purpose…and we lectured on the ABM until 1970 when the official talks began. We decided to work on something else. My wife started learning Chinese, and we prepared to go to China, which we did two years later.
MS: To do the same type of operation? What were you doing in China?
J STONE: In the end we had dinner with Chou En’lai and started the scientific exchange with China. We were there one month after Nixon; we got invited before Nixon. The first realm of my working with Russia was five years struggling to talk them into the ABM treaty.
MS: Let me cover that a little bit further. I know that Millionshchikov was really important to that, and I think Artsimovich was also important in trying to stop the ABM in Russia.
J STONE: Not very. When the Russians denounced me at the conference in ’63, in Cambridge, I went up to Millionshchikov, and I said, “you guys may disagree, but at least one Soviet academician agrees with me. Look at what Artsimovich once said,” and I showed him the quote. Artsimovich [had] said, “someday defenses could be worse than offenses.”
Millionshchikov said without any hesitation, “Artsimovich always disagrees with everyone else.”
When I later became a good friend of Andrei Sakharov’s, we discussed one night at his home, this whole question of the ABM. He was very impressed that we had been against it and campaigning as early as ’63. He only figured out to be against it in ’67. During this period the Russians were saying “Defense is really good.” The chapter that I presented at the first conference is the first chapter of the book I wrote “Containing the Arms Race.”
My involvement with Russia has gone through three stages. The first stage was trying to talk them into the ABM treaty. When I started, nobody was trying to do this; when I ended everybody was trying to do this, including MacNamara was talking to Kosygin. I quit working in ’70 on this when the official talks began. The treaty was signed in ’72. I spent 10 years of my life on it, most of it in the…talked the Russians into it because in America it was much more easy to understand. The Russians thought defenses were really good; they’d been attacked a lot. It’s hard to argue against spending money on defense. When Emelyanov used to defend what I was saying, in articles in Russia, it was very interesting to us to see how he defended it. Emelyanov would write articles in Russia saying, “We told them defenses were good, we told them, but then they said,‘Look Vasily, the capitalists will make a lot of money out of this, the capitalists really want this.’” He would revamp our arguments into forms that would sell in Russia. I would go there and in my lectures sometimes people would come who would not explain who they were, well-dressed people, you know, the real military industrial complex [types].
I would talk to them anyway, even if they didn’t give their names. I would say, “Look, we’re richer than you are.”
They would say, “Well, why can you do this better?”
I’d say, “We’re richer and we don’t worry about the money,” and they would sort of blanch. Then I wrote a Delphi paper for the Institute of Strategic Studies. This is an important monograph, I took it to Russia and I paid people to translate it and to deliver it to key Russians. In other words, we lobbied them.
MS: Yes. What was your official role?
J STONE: I didn’t have an official role. I took over the federation in 1970. I was too young to be invited to Pugwash, so I did it myself. I had many more adventures than they did, as a result, because I went right to Russia to do it. They sort of had meetings. They invited me to some of their meetings, but I wasn’t a regular. There were seasoned regulars.
MS: The Pugwashites, I don’t want to take you off your train of thought but the Pugwashites — especially Rotblat — tell stories about how he can pinpoint the time when Millionshchikov and Artsimovitch changed their tune. He’s claiming it was Pugwash that did it, so maybe you can sort of fill in the…
J STONE: The fact that he knows when they changed their tune, doesn’t mean that they did it. I was the first to present this to them because at that time Doty and Donald [Brenet], now dead. Brenet first and then Doty, had decided that these conversations could best be done in a bilateral mode. They set up their own Pugwash called The Joint Study Group, which was a bilateral one. It was one of their first meetings, I think their first meeting, that I presented this paper at.
MS: Does anything remain of that group?
J STONE: No, but the person you could talk to about this is Paul Doty, at Harvard. He’s still alive. In my experience, the kind of people that were going to Pugwash at the time were — the ones who went to Doty’s meetings — were much more highly placed. Emelyanov and I became quite friendly, I hosted him in Washington and received him in…Pugwash was one avenue of these discussions, but my paper was written…I think there was a paper saying defenses were bad at a Pugwash conference in India, in ’62 maybe.
MS: Can you tell me…You don’t think you influenced Millionshchikov— from what you said?
J STONE: No, I didn’t say that at all.
MS: All right, fine, then. Tell me more about how that happened. What you do think happened?
J STONE: Well, I just explained to you what happened. We presented these papers and we lobbied them. As the decade wore on from the 60’s through to the ’70’s many more Americans were lobbying them too. It became more and more of a hot issue each year….What exactly do you want?
MS: I want to know when they changed and what you attribute it to.
J STONE: Well ma’am, I don’t know what you mean by “they.” You see, look, as I explained to you, when I presented this paper at this conference, they took the official line. General Telensky said to me, “Stone is giving us an ultimatum,” he said this in a public meeting, “and if he say’s this one more time we will get up and walk out.”
Marshall Shulman, to be very diplomatic, said, “Oh no, Stone is just saying that if you build one of these, we’ll build one too, inevitably. It’s a warning, not a threat, you know and what good will come of it? Their line was very antagonistic. When Emelyanov went back to Russia, he invented these great reasons that we had never thought to give, which sounded great in Russia. In other words, they knew very early on, there wasn’t any doubt in the scientists’ mind. The point is, these scientists first of all understood this very well, that this was sincerely meant on my part and that the American scientists understood this. They knew they were poor. General Telensky was a general, and he knew less than the others. I actually attended his funeral in Moscow. He was there linked to the defense ministry and not a very sophisticated person. Talking to him was like talking to your grandfather. But the scientists, like Emelyanov or Millionshchikov, they knew immediately. They didn’t change their tone until it became more acceptable in Russia. They were the transmission belt and it wasn’t a question of when they changed it. It was a question of when they were permitted to express the views that, I think, scientists all along understood. Once it was pointed out, I don’t think it was that difficult to understand. It was difficult for them to say “Sure, Jeremy, I agree with you completely. I’ll write 16 letter to the Politburo tomorrow.” They didn’t work that way in Russia.
MS: Right, OK. So it was pressures at home, and the release of those pressures that you think made it possible for them to overtly change their line.
J STONE: What do you mean pressures at home?
MS: Well ah…
J STONE: As the idea spread through the government there, they sensed that it became more and more acceptable to imply, suggest, indicate that they didn’t think that this was such a dumb idea.
J STONE: In that regard, by the way, this isn’t the only thing that I’ve worked on like that. I have other things too.
J STONE: It’s just a natural thing, if they’re really [encountering] a foreign idea, and their leaders and supporters in Moscow haven’t yet come around to it, then they’re rather more nervous than they otherwise would be.
MS: Ok, I threw you off course. You had your own chronology in mind.
J STONE: The second stage of my operations in Russia were after I was president of the federation. In 1975 I went there to see whether the Helsinki Accord would have any application in Russia. The Russians, the Americans, and other countries had signed the Helsinki Accord for a lot of individual rights. We went there to see, were these rights going to be given to our colleagues? In that capacity I talked to refuseniks and others that were in trouble and to Andrei Sakharov, at his dacha. I wrote a newsletter here that I sent to all members of the academy containing some criticisms of the academy and noting that the president of the academy had not visited any of the dissidents or done anything to help them while he was in Moscow and urging members of the academy to write me and tell me whether they thought the academy should change its position, which 250 academy members did.
MS: Out of how many?
J STONE: Out of a thousand, so a quarter of the academy people said their president had been wrong and I was right. As a result of this the National Academy of Sciences had a big flap and decided they had better set up a committee on human rights. As a result of the flap and articles in science magazines saying Handler and Stone are fighting, we decided to explain to the readership of this magazine what was really happening. We wrote to 125,000 scientists in America. That’s all the scientists that get Science magazine plus the entire membership of the American Physics Society.
MS: You wrote private letters? Individual letters?
J STONE: Mass mail. You can’t write private letters. We printed a letter.
MS: Yeah, but I mean it wasn’t just stuffed in the magazine or something.
J STONE: No, we wrote a letter. We rented the mailing list of Science Magazine and the American Physics Society. We wrote to 125,000 scientists, saying: here’s what’s at issue and we think all scientific societies should have human rights committees. They should defend the rights of scientists in their discipline. That’s what we’re trying to make sure people do. That’s what this fight is all about, and if you like what we’re doing, join us. Write your society and tell them to set up a committee—which they all did. From that day, all these scientific societies have had human rights committees. Before that, only the physics society had one, you know, of the major committees. And it was very debatable inside the scientific societies whether this was the kind of work they should do, because these were professional societies. A big debate ensued and all of them formed human rights committees and they all got more with it. So this was a big achievement for the Federation which came from that meeting in Russia, but as far as Russia was concerned, he fact that the federation was poking around in this was a big departure. In fact, inside our own organization there was some dispute as to whether we should.
MS: I can imagine.
J STONE: And we actually, we boycotted…I refused to go to a meeting in Moscow of scientists unless they would let Sakharov’s wife get an eye operation abroad. This was in 1975, before I met Sakharov. When I first met him I said “Sakharov we think we’re responsible for the fact that your wife has just got this visa.” He thought of me as a very brash young man.
He said, “Well, Dr. Stone, two different people have taken this up with Brezhnev personally, the King of Belgium and Willy Brandt. In both cases Brezhnev said the same thing,‘This is the first I’ve heard of it.’” He told this joke to sort of defuse this brash young man claiming more than he had done.
I said, “Well, Mr. Sakharov do you know the significance of the date in which this visa was given to your wife?”
He said, “No, I’m very interested.” August 19th, it was. He said, “I’m very interested because the day before they said,‘You can go blind.’ She had said,‘OK, I’ll go blind. It will be on your head’ to the visa authorities.” It looked like they weren’t going to get it.
I said, “Sakharov, do you know that this date was the last date of the meeting of the International Federation of Scientific Workers, which we had boycotted on the grounds that if they wouldn’t speak up for this, we wouldn’t go.” He was immediately interested, he thought maybe there is some truth to this. Maybe the federation had bugged the World Federation of Scientific Workers and the….I guess the…Somebody had told the world federation: We did this for you, for the World Federation. There was some evidence the World Federation had complained and we had boycotted the World Federation. The World Federation was a pro-Soviet thing and was friendly with the Russians. So it looked to him and me as if this was the first hunger strike of Sakharov’s. You see, he had given a hunger strike for three days and nobody had noticed, it was long before he was that famous, in ’75. We had seen it in the Post and we had called the Soviet embassy and said “We’re not going unless you give this visa.”
He became very friendly with me then and thought maybe they did do something. Then we helped him in four or five further hunger strikes. In fact, in 1980 (he was passed off to Gorky in 1979) in 1980 we asked permission to go to Gorky to talk to him. They refused to give us a visa to do that because he was under guard. We said, “OK, we’re breaking relations with you, and unless we get some personal request from the ambassador, we’re not going to do business with the embassy here until this is rectified. If we can’t talk to Sakharov we won’t talk to you.” For three years we boycotted any dealings with the Soviet Union, which is pretty unusual, since we were set up to do disarmament. In ’83 the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty came up under criticism, in a way, by Reagan, who announced he was for Star Wars. We wrote and the Russians came to our office with a big petition of scientists saying that this was terrible. We reminded them that we had boycotted them. It’s kind of complicated to explain the whole blow-by-blow.
The point was this, we said, “This is pretty serious. We’ll come talk to you about the Anti-Ballistic Missile, as we did before, but only if you understand that when we get to Russia we’re going to complain about Sakharov because honor demands that we had boycotted over this.” That is what we did, we went back to talking to them but at each of these meetings we made our pitch about Sakharov. I had secret meetings with his wife. She was allowed to go back and forth from Gorky to the embassy and places.
They smuggled out letters to us, I have them hanging on my wall, including a letter from Gorky that said, “I hear you speaking, Stone, on the Television, in defense of me.” The KGB used a device to jam his listening to the Voice of America but if he took his radio into the park away from his apartment he could hear me defending him on the Voice of America.
MS: How nice.
J STONE: He wrote me a letter that was printed on the front page of the New York Times ???warning of his most important hunger strikes smuggled out, and he asked me to warn the world about it. We were negotiating and dealing with Sakharov as early as ’76, and through the period when he got out in about ’86. I was in the Kremlin with Gorbachev and Sakharov when they first met, the first meeting of the two of them. There was a meeting…
MS: Describe it. The meeting
J STONE: This was a meeting… Sakharov had been released in ’86. This was ’87. It was a meeting in Moscow of a forum, a big forum on lots of things. During the forum there was a meeting of a group that we had helped a Russian scientist get started, named Velikhov. The group was called the International Foundation for the Survival and Development of Humanity.
MS: That’s the thing that Von Hippel is connected with.
J STONE: Yeah, that’s right. Frank was later on the board of it. I was sort of the one that helped them start it and Frank was the one who was willing to stick with it, work with it, longer than anyone else. At this first meeting I have a picture of him _____ on my wall. I’m looking at it now. Frank was there, and so was Sakharov, so was I, so was Dobrynin and ______ and the head of UNESCO. There was about 50 people sitting around the table. The point is the second phase of my operation was dealing with human rights and defending Sakharov.
MS: Did you have conversations with him during that period? There was this letter he wrote to Sidney Drell defending the U.S. missiles.
J STONE: Drell got him into a lot of trouble.
MS: Well, it wasn’t Drell’s fault, was it, if they disagreed? I thought he was disagreeing with Drell.
J STONE: See he wrote letters back to Drell that implied he was against the…that he was for the MX missile and…
MS: He not only implied it, he outright says so in him memoirs: that he was in favor of them as a bargaining chip and I wondered…
J STONE: That he wasn’t in favor?
MS: That he was.
J STONE: The Russians really got sore about that, so I felt Sid got them into a lot of trouble. If you’ve got Sakharov’s memoirs, my activities are mentioned in there twice. I did have a lot of contact with Sakharov and I have one thing that you might find interesting. I spent a few evenings with him, one of which I took Frank along, Frank Von Hippel who was in town, and one I took Jerome Wiesner along, one I’m with myself. I had a long discussion with Sakharov in ’87 about what had transpired since the time I had seen him in ’76, and what we had been trying to do for him, and how it had all worked out. This is printed in my newsletter of that period.
J STONE: This could be mailed to you if you want.
MS: That would be great. I would appreciate that.
J STONE: That was the second phase of my operation and that was of course done for the Federation. The third phase started in ’83 when we went back to talk to them about ABM and other subjects. The main thing I was trying to sell during that period had to do with the SALT II Treaty, and was an idea that linked the ABM treaty to the SALT II Treaty.
MS: How so?
J STONE: This idea, which some…which Sid Drell spoke at the funeral for Sakharov, he said Sakharov had an idea finesse…START II. There is a thing called the Sakharov finesse which he said made START II possible.
J STONE: Basically, what I was selling in Russia was this idea that he attributed to Sakharov. Although when Sakharov and I discussed it, I had a slightly different version of it and they actually adopted my version of it rather than his. He picked up an idea which I wrote about. I have it on my wall right here, March ’85, which I call the “Bear Hug to avoid Star Wars.” They were very interested in avoiding Star Wars. The question was how to do this, because the president was insisting on it. My idea was that the Russians would say, “OK, here’s the deal: we’ll agree to disarmament with you without regard to your threats for Star Wars.” Which was _______ to them at the outset.
They said, “if you’re going to threaten Star Wars, we’ll never do disarmament.” My idea was they should have a Bear Hug. The
Bear Hug was that they would say, “OK, we won’t complain about all this talk about Star Wars. We’ll go right ahead with disarmament for you, but we’ll do disarmament on a year by year basis, under a continuing agreement. If you actually violate the ABM treaty and go beyond talk, and actually violate the treaty, then boys, we’ll stop the agreement.” That was the Bear Hug, you see.
MS: I see.
J STONE: It would be a clever move; don’t object to their talk in America, just go ahead, __________ but then hold the Star Wars hostage by saying, “We’ll stop disarmament if you do this.” I gave a lecture in Moscow to 40 famous people, it was even videotaped. I started trying to sell this idea in Moscow.
In the beginning, they said, Arbatov said to me, “there will be blood all over the floor if we propose this,” because everybody was so ____________ to do with Star Wars. I thought it was a good idea and I came back and persuaded Paul Nitze, who was then the advisor to Reagan, that it was a good idea too. This is all written up in the book “Master of the Game,” by Strobe Talbott. In fact, if you want it’s written up in a Vitae I have, how this worked out. I’ll send it to you if you want.
MS: Great, I’d love it.
J STONE: You could see a lot of these different backgrounds. I had sold it on both sides and I sold it on this side, in conjunction, you see… I had a success with President Carter. He had secretly adopted an idea I had urged on the administration to just shrink all the SALT II agreements, by 5 percent a year. I didn’t know for three years that he had actually bought this idea, but I have hanging on my wall a note from him about it. It was done in secret at the Vienna summit, in ’79. Carter said to Brezhnev, I’ll give you two possibilities, either a freeze (you know which was very popular in America at that time) or let’s just shrink all the levels and sub levels of SALT II to five percent a year for five years.
MS: By agreement, each side would do 5%? You’re saying that the agreement that existed, they would add 5% reduction to that.
J STONE: Exactly. My idea was, here we’ve got this complicated SALT II agreement. Which was then about to be ratified.
MS: We hoped.
J STONE: Yeah, that’s right. I was lobbying, I said, look it’s SALT III, the next thing to do is something that the two heads of state could negotiate by themselves. All they had to do was negotiate a single number, I said, like 2% or 5% or 10% and then apply this number to the whole complicated SALT II agreement. All the levels and sub levels, of how many heavy missiles are permitted, how many MIRV missiles are permitted, how many land-based missiles are permitted. Just shrink the whole dam _____.
MS: Sounds great.
J STONE: I thought if SALT II is fair, what’s wrong with shrinking it? This seemed to be a very catchy idea and I had presented it to the Joint Advisory Committee, the arms control agency. IBM President Watson said, this is the best idea we’ve had in 10 months. I said, “will you take it to the president for me?” I had lobbied the White House, the Pentagon, and the foreign relations committee, I testified to them and they agreed to this unanimously, even Helms.
J STONE: Saying if…They didn’t all agree to SALT II, but they all agreed that in SALT III, shrinking it would be good. They were complaining about disarmament. See SALT II had no disarmament; it was just upper limits.
J STONE: This was a very simple, probably the best idea I ever had, it was a very simple, natural idea. Carter proposed it in Vienna. A few years later in 1985, when this START?? II thing came up, I was still thinking about the person who had helped invent the ABM treaty, and the person who had to shrink [the] SALT II approach. I thought to myself: Let’s combine the two. If the Russians will just agree to shrink things, which means a year-by-year steady agreement, they could hold the Star Wars thing hostage, you see. I put these two ideas together and I felt really comfortable with them. I was trying this on both sides of the Atlantic. Sakharov’s idea…so this became know later as the “Sakharov finesse.”
J STONE: When I ______ this finesse the problem of, the rhetoric of Star Wars… Actually Sakharov’s version of this idea was not very practical. His version was that the Russians would break the disarmament agreement only if the U.S. actually deployed Star Wars. Deploying Star Wars is actually a lot more than just violating the ABM treaty. The ABM treaty had a lot of clauses in it that prevented a lot of things, it prevented certain kinds of research and certain kinds of testing. I don’t know why he did this. Sid had made the mistake of not even coming to this meeting in 1987. He didn’t talk to him at this stage. Sakharov felt that this research and testing doesn’t make much difference, it’s only if they deploy it that it makes any difference. That’s why he designed his idea that way. It wasn’t a very practical formulation because that would have meant that Russia had to sit by idly, continuing disarmament while the U.S. violated the ABM treaty in other ways.
J STONE: Andrei took the view that only deployment mattered, but politically the only thing that mattered was violation, violating the ABM treaty. You understand that problem?
J STONE: The natural way to draw the line was, if the U.S. violates a treaty, then of course the Russians will stop disarmament. He didn’t have a very good political line to draw. He urged it, I’m sure, inside Moscow, Sid was kind enough to attribute it to Sakharov on his, Sakharov’s, bier at the funeral in Moscow, out there at the memorial service. I think it was more important that these things were urged from abroad because no one is a hero in his…
J STONE: Sakharov’s impact in Russia was on things he could talk about publicly, but on technical things, they were as always, more interested in foreigners then. In Khrushchev’s memoirs, Khrushchev says, “Why don’t you put these missiles underground?”
And they all told him, “It’s too complicated in underground silos.”
Later he said, “I hear the American’s are doing it.” Then they all agreed. He said in his memoirs, “They’ll only do it if the Americans are doing it.”
MS: Do you think this, your argument, or what he said — either way — had anything to do with the acceptance of the INF?
J STONE: Of the what?
MS: Of the INF treaty, the willingness to go for the INF treaty.
J STONE: The INF treaty is a different thing.
MS: Yeah, I have stories about a lot of things but I can’t pin down who was influential in getting Gorbachev to make that zero option kind of concession and it just seemed to me that what you said might have been a factor.
J STONE: No, I don’t think that this had to do with…I have these dates here because I have these achievements on my wall. I have this article I printed at the Post called “The Bear Hug to Avoid Star Wars,” a Washington Post Article _______ Moscow Could Offer Steady Reductions of Offensive Arms, that’s the headline.
MS: That’s what year?
J STONE: March 17th 1985 and then, next to it I have this frame on Sunday, September 24th 1989, a New York times article called An Arms Obstacle Hole??: Moscow Puts Aside Star Wars Demands Removing Bar to Strategic Weapons Test.
MS: So that’s a four year difference.
J STONE: When you were talking about the ABM, see, there it took them almost a decade. Here it took them five years. This was absolutely typical of Russia, it took a long time. So I could read you what it said in this ______. The Soviet side told the Americans that they would sign and carry out a strategic arms treaty without securing assurances ahead of time that the U.S. would not deploy a space based defense shield. But in the next breath Soviet officials warned Mr. Baker that if the U.S. ever broke out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, by moving to deploy Star Wars defenses, Moscow would reserve the right to abrogate the Strategic Arms Agreement.
MS: So that’s your version and not Sakharov’s version.
J STONE: That’s what I proposed. It was exactly my version. It was a complete success for me. I didn’t do this by myself, but I definitely invented it. The meeting, the lecture I had with the Russians and all this, it’s in this Strobe Talbott book, but actually the references are in this Vitae.
MS: Ok, good. Do you know how that could have traveled? In other words, your main contact was Sakharov, but it wasn’t his version, but yours, that was accepted. How do you think that made its impact? Do you have any other ideas of people who took it and pushed it?
J STONE: I lectured on it in Moscow to 40 famous people. It was video taped, I think to show to Gorbachev.
MS: I see, OK.
J STONE: At that time…
MS: And that was how long before it was accepted?
J STONE: I lectured there the same year that this…it was ’85. At that time, I had been the president of the federation, I led this delegation in ’83 to go back to talking to them about these things after our boycott. About ’86 or so, maybe a little later, I turned this over to Frank Von Hippel. Frank is a high official in our group and has been for a long time.
MS: I’ve interviewed him.
J STONE: He and I had an agreement with Velikhov, which is also hanging on my wall, to work on disarmament things over a period of 5 years, signed by me and Frank and by Velikhov in October ’87. As far as how Sakharov and the others got it, it spread through Moscow. I lectured to these 40 people and then I went to see Arbatov the same day, with some of his staff aides in the room. Arbatov’s reaction was that “You’re wrong. There would be blood all over the floor if we do this in Moscow.”
MS: If he promoted it?
J STONE: He said in Moscow if we tried to get a consensus on this, in Moscow, there would be blood all over the floor, a lot of people fighting with each other. It sounds so revolutionary. But that’s exactly what happened with the ABM treaty. They all told me they would quit and walk out if I continued to discuss it.
MS: Do you think that Arbatov ever actually pushed it? I mean, when you left at the end, he was still opposed, or not?
J STONE: Ma’am I want to emphasize he wasn’t opposed.
MS: Oh, no, no, I know Arbatov…
J STONE: He wasn’t opposed.
MS: I think Arbatov is a key player but..
J STONE: He wasn’t opposed, he just said…
MS: Yeah, but was he unwilling to push it?
J STONE: A lot of what happens in a closed bureaucracy is quite unknowable. We put this idea on the table, explained it in a way that had unquestionable moral credentials in the sense that people that wanted disarmament were for this; it wasn’t a trick. They knew that; they knew it wasn’t a trick. I’d never spoken to such a large and distinguished audience as the ones I had talked to in ’85. This is all in the Talbott book. It was on the table and it was there for them to discuss. Now what happened between ’85 and ’89? Lots of things happened because the U.S. government is talking about Star Wars every other day, and talking about disarmament every other day and all kinds of things are going on, just like between the time of ’63 and ’72 when the ABM treaty was… When I started thinking about the ABM treaty in ’63, it took almost 10 years before they signed the treaty and during that period more and more people are talking about it and lobbying for it, you know, doing every damn thing. Things are going on inside government and between them. I know at one point while ah…I could only tell you the little bits and pieces I knew. At one point I pulled out an article that I had found that Sakharov had written in ’69. At that time Sakharov was in jail, in Gorky, and I handed it to Velikhov in a meeting and I said, “You know, if you’re against Star Wars, (which they all were; that was the line, you know: ‘Star Wars is bad,’) the greatest proponent that Star Wars is bad, wrote this article, here it is, here it says everything you and I agree with, Velikhov.” He looked at it and he saw that I had handed him a statement that Andrei Sakharov had written, years before Reagan. We were all against…I was against Star Wars 30 years ago, in 1963. Sakharov was writing about it in ’67 to ’68. I said, “You’ve got locked up in Gorky the best possible exponent of your idea.”
MS: Uh huh.
J STONE: “One that Americans would have to listen to.” I was combining, of course, my interest in opposing Star Wars and in getting Sakharov out of jail. There were a lot of…Everybody was doing their bit. How much happened in there… If you really want to know what went on there you have to talk to Velikhov, to know what really happened inside.
J STONE: I know it got raised with Gorbachev because later, in one stage when…after Reykjavik I was still urging shrinkage and Velikhov said to me, “Look, Jeremy, we tried it. We tried it in Reykjavik. How many times do we have to try it?” The situation in Russia was such that we would propose ideas that they would say “Christ, we’ve got so many ideas on our plate, Americans won’t agree to anything. How many more ideas do you want us to try?”
MS: Uh huh, yeah.
J STONE: The basic thing that you have to understand for your article, in order not to confuse people, is this: there was in the coldest periods of cold war, very little dialogue between the United States and Russia. The only two groups that really could trust each other across those barricades were scientists. Not just scientists, but scientists talking about disarmament. This was an OK thing inside Russia. If their scientists were talking about disarmament, it was OK. If the American scientists were talking about disarmament with their scientists, that was OK. That’s what we lived off of. In my case, when my wife had learned Russian for the purpose, they were all very moved by it. For me, I spent a month in Russia, each of the five years from ’66 to ’70. It was quite exciting, I had many adventures. A lot of people remembered me from that, even through the ’70s and ’80s. I actually tried to save the life of Khrushchev’s daughter.
J STONE: Which was a secret for 20 years, but can be revealed now because the secret was blown by Khrushchev’s son who wrote a book called Khrushchev on Khrushchev and who revealed that I had tried to…I had sent a doctor there and received blood from her in America and tried to…
MS: What was the problem with her?
J STONE: She had lupus.
MS: Did she live through it?
J STONE: No, she died. But I sent the world’s best expert on lupus.
MS: No kidding.
J STONE: The KGB said to Khrushchev’s son, “You better report all your talks with him because we know Stone and that doctor work for the CIA.” Which was not true of either of us. So we had many adventures and people respected us for it. I basically ran my own Pugwash for those first five years and really still…
MS: You could get access to the people that you went to talk to?
J STONE: Oh yeah. Because I became very friendly with Millionshchikov. In fact I threw a party for Millionshchikov here in Washington, and Arbatov, and _________, and Henry Kissinger and 200 others in a small townhouse I had, the day that Henry invaded Cambodia. Millionshchikov, Arbatov and ________ were there and so I invited a lot of people to see them. I invited Henry, he was then the National Security Advisor. They went out on my balcony while Henry tried to explain to them why he had invaded Cambodia that day. I became quite friendly with Millionshchikov. I have more letters, hanging on my wall, from Sakharov, than you would believe for each of these hunger strikes and had more to do… The fact that Pugwash didn’t invite me to these meetings was one of the greatest things in my career because… They met in bulk and only the dullest people went.
MS: Why do you suppose that is?
J STONE: Because the Russians…the Pugwash thing was controlled until… for a long…it was very slow to change. The trouble with Pugwash, one of the troubles, is that the groups that come from specific countries see it as a ________ and they don’t lightly give up their place to some younger person.
MS: Yeah, this brings to mind some Canadian Pugwashites of exactly that description.
J STONE: Yeah, exactly. The only hazard I had was that…people in Russia, they said, “If you’re so good, why aren’t you invited to Pugwash?” This is a rather threatening remark because it might mean that they thought I was working for some agency.
I said to Emelyanov, I said once, in ’68 at an ABM conference in Denmark, which they did invite me to: “Vasily, there once was a study of a colony of chimpanzees and they had a complicated machine in which you could find bananas, if you pushed all the right buttons. They watched to see if the monkeys would learn how to do it. They learned two things: first, that if an old monkey figured out how to work the banana machine, and found bananas, everybody stood around and watched carefully and respectfully, and learned how to get bananas themselves. But, they learned, if a young monkey happened to for one reason or another get the machine to produce a banana, nobody learned anything. They just took his banana.”
MS: Ha, ha ha, that’s a wonderful story.
J STONE: Vasily, who loved a good joke, said, “Yes, in Russia also, we say we need new blood, but then we say, ‘well, we better wait a little longer and make sure it’s the right blood type.’” All these countries were very slow to let younger people in, and this, I think, hurt the organizations a lot. The most important reason really was that many of the people I was talking to were not scientists. I talked to newspaper editors and lots of high officials. I talked to them at home when there weren’t a lot of people around. I spent a month traveling around the country and it was much more exciting for me. My feelings were hurt…
MS: At that time you had to make a living. What were you doing?
J STONE: In ’62 and ’63 I was at Hudson Institute. That’s where I invented this idea, and ’64 and ’65 I was at the Harvard Center for International Affairs writing books on arms control. In ’66 and ’67…
MS: I was there, in ’67 to ’69, at the Center for International Affairs.
J STONE: Yeah, and in ’66 and ’67 I was teaching mathematics in Pomona, but I would go in the summer. Then in ’68/‘69 I had fellowships to work on arms control. This is all on this Vitae I’ll send you.
MS: Great, that’s good. Now tell me more about your influence on this side of the Atlantic. I haven’t been trying to follow how things got done and how policies made their way through the Pentagon and the White House. I need to look at that now for this Bulletin article that I’m supposed to write.
J STONE: How about I send you these two things and you look at the vitae, which explains what I thought I did at these various events, and the newsletter. Call me after you’ve read that.
Apple and smartphone-friendly audio link: here