"The United States is ready to stop the development of Pershing II and ground-based missiles when the Soviets dismantle their SS-20, SS-4, and SS-5 missiles," announced US President Ronald Reagan on Jan. November. This so-called "zero option" is primarily a concession to the Europeans. At the same time he is reacting to peace offers from Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
The US government believes it is forced to act, as research institutes have calculated that the West is inferior in the field of nuclear weapons. Defense Minister Casper Weinberger even calls for the neutron bomb to be stationed in Europe. He and Foreign Minister Alexander Haig agree that only a balanced threat can keep the peace.
Foreign ministers meeting in Geneva
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at the end of September, the Federal Government insists on a US-Soviet Foreign Ministers meeting. Haig and his Soviet counterpart Andrei Gromyko agree to negotiate on the restriction of medium-range missiles in Europe. Nothing of the negotiations in Geneva leaked to the public: the negotiators imposed a news blackout. But the US delegation speaks of serious problems that separate the partners. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt ties his political fate to the success of the negotiations.