December 21, 2013
*Updated March 15, 2014
by Jason Saltoun-Ebin
On this page you will find a list of all the National Security Council and National Security Planning Group meetings held during the Reagan administration. This list is based on the list kept by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. If a document is highlighted it contains a link to the official meeting minutes for that particular meeting. Many of these documents were released, declassified, or further declassified as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests or Mandatory Declassification Review requests I filed at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Most of these documents were used in the “The Reagan Files: The Untold Story of Reagan’s Top-Secret Efforts to Win the Cold War” and in “The Reagan Files: Inside the National Security Council.” New documents used in the second edition of “The Reagan Files: Inside the National Security Council” (2014) will be put online in 2015.
My own feeling – and one which I have talked at length – is that we are way behind, perhaps decades, in establishing good relations with the two Americas.
“We must change the attitude of our diplomatic corps so that we don’t bring down governments in the name of human rights. None of them is as guilty of human rights violations as are Cuba and the USSR. We don’t throw out our friends just because they can’t pass the ‘saliva test’ on human rights. I want to see that stopped. We need people who recognize that philosophy.
“In Angola, for example, Savimbi holds a large chunk of Angolan territory. With some aid, he could reverse the situation. We should also reestablish relations with countries like Chile who have made substantial progress – and stop worrying about Allende’s fate.”
“For too many years we have been telling adversaries what we can’t do. It’s time we make them start wondering what we will do.”
“We can’t afford a defeat. El Salvador it’s the place for a victory.
If the Junta falls in El Salvador, it will be seen as an American defeat. We must not let Central America become another Cuba on the mainland. It cannot happen.
Feb. 18, 1981: NSC 3: Caribbean Basin, Poland, F-15 Aircraft, Saudi Arabia, El Salvador, Nicaragua
(Minutes are still classified. The link above is to the summary of conclusions released on April 13th, 2009. In 2010, the Reagan Library released background papers related to the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia which can be accessed by clicking here:
March 4, 1981: NSPG 1: (Unknown)
March 9, 1981: NSPG 2: (Unknown)
March 26, 1981: NSPG 4: (Unknown)
April 1, 1981: NSC 7: Haig Trip to the Middle East and Europe, Saudi AWACS, and Nicaragua
April 3, 1981: NSPG 5 & 6: (Unknown)
April 7, 1981: NSPG 7: (Unknown)
April 24, 1981:NSPG 8: (Unknown)
May 11, 1981:NSPG 9: (Unknown)
May 14, 1981: NSPG 10: (Unknown)
May 15, 1981: NSPG 11: Libya, Caribbean Basin Initiative
Why should we preserve the illusion of SALT if we are going to slide around and do what we accuse the Soviets of doing (violating it).
May 28, 1981:NSC 10: Sinai Multinational Peacekeeping Force and Observers, China, Caribbean Basin, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
June 1, 1981:NSC 11: Conventional Arms Transfer, Libya
June 3, 1981: NSPG 12: Sudan, Mauritius
June 4, 1981:NSC 12: Caribbean Basin, Conventional Arms Transfer of F-16 Aircraft to Venezuela and Libya, Foreign Military Sales
June 9, 1981: NSPG 13: (Unknown)
June 10, 1981: NSC 13: China, Greece, Poland
June 10, 1981: NSPG 14: (Unknown)
June 11, 1981: NSPG 15: Libya
June 12, 1981: NSC 14: Non-Proliferation and Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Policy
June 18, 1981: NSPG 16: Libya
June 30, 1981: NSPG 17: Israeli Attack on Iraq; Leaks
July 2, 1981: NSC 15/NSPG17: Police Training Force in Foreign Countries. Israeli Politics, AWACS, Terrorism, Saudi Arabia
We are held by our Allies to be most rigid (in our approach) to maintain a stricter position. Our allies note they have the Soviets next to them. Trade is more essential to them. But, how do we say to our own people that we must continue to sacrifice – and to our Allies – if we are not prepared to use all our weapons? Don’t we seem guilty of hypocrisy – weak – if we are not prepared to take a strong position?
There are sometimes leaks –perhaps in background briefings. I don’t think by anyone in this room. Perhaps by persons not here, who know only a little. But if we can get through another week, perhaps it will become a habit. I want to see an end to the stories of our speaking with different voices. We only speak with different voices in this kind of briefing. If there is no other way to cure it – other than blowing up the Post and the Star – then, if I found out about them, then they are going back to South Succotash, Wisconsin, in a hurry.
July 22, 1981: NSPG 20: Grain Agreement with the USSR; Credit Sale of Corn to Poland
Aug. 3, 1981:NSC 19/NSPG21: Space Shuttle Policy, Space Programs
Aug. 4, 1981: NSPG 22: Gambia
Aug. 7, 1981: NSPG 23: (Unknown)
Oct. 6, 1981: NSPG 26: Sadat
Do we really want a "zero-option" for the battlefield? Don’t we need these nuclear systems? Wouldn’t it be bad for us to give them up since we need them to handle Soviet conventional superiority?
It seems to me this gets down to showing that if the free world had not helped them and had let their system deteriorate, we wouldn’t have the problems we have today. But we (the U.S.) can’t do it alone. The question is have we worked in good faith with our Allies to get their cooperation? And, if we don’t get their cooperation, at what point do we (by unilateral embargo actions) simply cut off our nose to spite our face and add to our own (economic) problems by not selling – by depriving ourselves without depriving them (the Soviets) as was the case with grain. Can we make alone a decision to hold them back?
Oct. 16, 1981: NSPG 27: Caribbean
*Note from Dr. Diego Trinidad, a Cuban scholar: “This is the first time in my 45 years of research that I found such an admission from a high American official.” Dr. Trinidad is referring to the discussion of the U.S.-Soviet accord in which the United States promised not to invade Cuba. Sec. Haig, specifically, said: “The Soviet threshold on Cuba is clear: it is the 1962 accords – the promise not to invade [Cuba] is the line. Invasion is the trigger for a serious Soviet response. Up to that point, there is a free play area.”
Nov. 12, 1981: NSC 25: TNF, NATO, Strategic Forces
Nov. 16, 1981: NSC 26: Cuba, Central America, Proposed U.S. Peacekeeping Force in Chad, Military Assistance
Nov. 19, 1981: NSPG 29: Intelligence, Liberia, Lebanon
Dec. 7, 1981: NSC 28: Counterterrorism, Libya
Dec. 8, 1981: NSC 30: FY 1983 Foreign Assistance Budget
Dec. 14, 1981: NSPG 31: Update on Poland
Supplemental document: Dec. 14, 1981 CIA Briefing Note on Poland
Dec. 17, 1981: NSPG 32: Intelligence Capabilities, 85-90
Dec. 19, 1981: Poland
That doesn’t bother me at all. If we don’t take action now, three or four years from now we’ll have another situation and we wonder, why didn’t we go for it when we had the whole country with us. I am tired of looking backward.
We could say that we cannot continue trade (if events in Poland continue) and that we will press our Allies to follow us unless the Polish situation is alleviated. But again holding out our hand. Can he envision what it would be like if trade with the West were open? It would be a different, much better, world. He can have that one, giving up nothing, or the one that will result if we are forced to take trade-cutting actions.
Let me say something in the form of a positive question. This is the first time in 60 years that we have had this kind of opportunity. There may not be another in our lifetime. Can we afford not to go all out? I’m talking about a total quarantine on the Soviet Union. No détente! We know – and the world knows – that they are behind this. We have backed away so many times! After World War II we offered Poland the Marshall Plan, they accepted, but the Soviets said no.
Well, Al, it seems to me on this we make up our minds on what is right to do. We say to the Soviets tomorrow night, we will proceed with actions, without spelling them out – actions that will isolate them politically and economically. We reduce political contact; we do all we can to persuade our Allies to come along, unless and until martial rule is ended in Poland and they return to an antebellum state. We have to deal with out own labor movement. They are shutting off shipments to Poland, though Church shipments are still going.
(Supplemental document: NSC Analysis of Exceptional Circumstances clause)
Jan. 7, 1982: NSPG 33: Taiwan
Suppplemental documents: Briefing papers, including draft talking points, an Options Paper, and discussion paper.
Jan. 21, 1982: NSC 38: Law of the Sea
Jan. 22, 1982: NSPG 34: Cuba
Can we do a speech without making it sound like war? We are seeking to offer the advantage of our economic system to others. We have had good neighbor policies before. None of them succeeded. We forget our size and our strength. We tried to impose our way. We should go to the Caribbean and say we are all neighbors. Let’s hear your ideas and together bring about the things you are interested in. The problem is how I am perceived. I was a hawk in Vietnam because I believe if you ask people to die you should give them a chance to win. The best way to prevent war is to get to the problem early. Can I do something without adding to the perception of me as a hawk?
Feb. 19, 1982: NSC 41: (Unknown)
Feb. 25, 1982: NSC 42: (Unknown)
Feb. 26, 1982: NSPG 35: Cuban Excludables
March 11, 1982: NSPG 36: Cuban Excludables
Let me raise a question from the world of fantasy. So far we are doing things which threaten to deny. But they are still in Afghanistan, they are still supplying Cuba, they are still preventing Jews and Christians from emigrating. Is there a right time for the West to cooperate? The Europeans do not understand. Can we foresee a time when they (the Soviets) are in a desperate plight, when the military deprives the people of food, and we might be able to say to them: ‘Have you learned you lesson? If you rejoin the civilized world we will help you bring wonderful things to your people. But you must get out of Afghanistan, deal realistically in Geneva. No one wants to attack you.
April 5, 1982: NSPG 37: Central America
April 7, 1982: NSPG 38: (Unknown)
June 14, 1982: NPSG 39: Lebanon
June 25, 1982: NSC 52: START
June 29, 1982: NSC 53: Law of the Sea
July 13, 1982: NSPG 40: Central America
July 17, 1982: NSC 54: U.S./EC Economic Relations
July 19 1982: NSC 55: Nuclear Testing, Nuclear Weapons
July 27, 1982: NSPG 41: Kampuchea, Lebanon, NATO
Aug. 19, 1982: NSPG 42: Middle East
Aug. 12, 1982: NSPG 43: Middle East
Sept. 13, 1982: NSPG 44: Arms Control
Sept. 20, 1982: NSC 60: Lebanon
President Roosevelt called for a quarantine on Germany in 1939. He had his brains kicked out. What would history have been like if he had been listened to?
Sept. 24, 1982: NSPG 45: Central America
Oct. 13, 1982: NSC 63: NSDD on Japan
Oct. 15, 1982: NSC 64: East-West Trade, Poland Sanctions
Nov. 2, 1982: NSPG 46: Poland, Latin America
NSC 65 concludes: “On November 16, the President signed NSDD 66 which approved the 'Summary of Conclusions' on East-West economic relations resulting from consultations with the Allies by Secretary Shultz; approved cancellation of the December 30 sanctions and the June 22 amendment; and laid out the President’s objectives for the studies with the Allies in the area of East-West economic relations.” Reagan announced the cancellation of sanctions during his Nov. 13, 1982 radio address.
Dec. 7, 1982: NSC 68: MX Missiles, Energy
Dec. 10, 1982: NSC 69: Alternative Energy
Dec. 13, 1982: NPSG 47: Suriname
Jan. 4, 1983: NSPG 48: Suriname
Jan. 10, 1983: NSPG 49: U.S. - Soviet Relations
Jan. 14, 1983: NSC 71: Preparations for Visit of Japanese PM
Feb. 4, 1983: NSPG 51: Lebanon
Feb. 8, 1983: NSPG 52: Suriname
Feb. 11, 1983: NSC 74: VP’s Trip to Europe, Shultz trip to Asia
Feb. 14, 1983: NSPG 53: Libya & Sudan
Feb. 18, 1983: NSPG 54: Central America
Feb. 24, 1983 NSPG 55: Central America
March 9, 1983: NSPG 57: Central America
March 18, 1983: NSPG 59: INF Negotiations; Next Steps in the Israeli-Lebanon Negotiations
A) Agenda and Briefing Paper on Lebanon
April 22, 1983: NSPG 62: Middle East
May 10, 1983: NSC 79: START
May 18, 1983: NSC 80: Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions
May 31, 1983: NSPG 63: Central America
June 7, 1983:NSC 81: START
Supplemental documents: NSC documents on START
June 10, 1983: NSC 82: Nuclear Weapons Security/Safeguards
June 16, 1983: NSC 83: International Debt Crisis, International Finance
June 21, 1983: NSPG 64: Lebanon
July 8, 1983: NSC 84: Central America
July 15, 1983: NSPG 65: Lebanon
July 20, 1983: NSPG 66: Lebanon
July 29, 1983: NSPG 67: Update & Review
Aug. 9, 1983: NSC 85: Mexico
Aug. 12, 1983: NSC 86: Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces
Sept. 2, 1983: NSPG 68A: KAL 007
Sept. 3, 1983: NSPG 68: Lebanon
A) Briefing memo and State discussion paper
Sept. 6, 1983: NSC 87: Mutual and Balanced Forced Reductions, Lebanon
Sept. 10, 1983: NSC 88: Lebanon
Sept. 16, 1983: NSPG 69: Central America
Sept. 23, 1983: NSC 90: Central America
Sept. 27, 1983: NSPG 70: Nicaragua/Lebanon
Sept. 29, 1983: NSPG 71: START
Oct. 25, 1983: NSC 91: Japan Trip
Nov. 1, 1983: NSC 92: (Unknown)
Nov. 3, 1983: NSC 93: (Unknown)
Nov. 3, 1983: NSC 94: (Unknown)
Nov. 7, 1983: NSC 95: Japan Trip
Nov. 7, 1983: NSPG 76: Iran-Iraq; Bombing of Marine Barracks at BIA
Nov. 14, 1983: NSPG 77: Lebanon
Nov. 16, 1983: NSPG 78: (Unknown)
Dec. 1, 1983: NSPG 79: Lebanon
Dec. 2, 1983: NSPG 80: Lebanon
Dec. 22, 1983: NSPG 82: Iran-Iraq War
Jan. 5, 1984: NSC 98: (Unknown)
Jan. 6, 1984: NSPG 83A: Central America
Jan. 9, 1984: NSC 99: Soviet Non-Compliance on Arms Control
Feb. 6, 1984:NSPG 84: Lebanon
Feb. 17, 1984: NSPG 85: Central America
Feb. 24, 1984: NSC 101: (Unknown)
Feb. 27, 1984: NSPG 85a: (Unknown)
March 13, 1984: NSC 102: Visit of French President Mitterrand
March 20, 1984: NSC 103: (Emergency Energy Preparedness)
March 29, 1984: NSC 105: Multilateral Chemical Weapons Treaty, Chemical and Biological Warfare
April 16, 1984: NSC 106: (Unknown)
April 17, 1984: NSPG 88: (Unknown)
May 22, 1984: NSC 107: Nuclear Safeguards
May 25, 1984: NSPG 90: The Gulf War
Unknown: NSC 108: (Unknown)
If such a story gets out, we’ll all be hanging by our thumbs in front of the White House until we find out who did it.
Aug. 28, 1984: NSC 109: Poland
As to Iran, whoever designed the old strategy of cooperating with Iran was on the right track. Iran used to be the “cork” in the bottle as far as Soviet expansion was concerned. The old strategy made good sense and we let it slip away.
Now there is no prospect for basing in Iran, it doesn’t make sense. It seems to me the current situation suggests two things:
First, we’ve done a lot of things for the Gulf and our Arab friends. Have we done enough to make the Soviets worry about the risk of invading, the risks of war?
Second, have we given enough thought about where we could do things – not necessarily in the Gulf – in another theater, elsewhere on the Soviet periphery if they moved toward the Gulf? The objective would be to make the Soviets look hard over their shoulder.
Sept. 11, 1984: NSPG 95: Review of the (redacted) and Central America Special Activities
*Evans and Novak wrote about this meeting a few days later. Jack Matlock, however, disagreed with their assessment, and wrote a memo to McFarlane to that effect. "If my understanding of the meeting is correct," Matlcok wrote McFarlane, "the colum is quite literally disinformation. Its contents seem deliberately meant by the source to give the wrong impression of events at the NSPG. Whatever the source's motives, this 'revelation' may create serious problems in our dealings with the Soviets."
Oct. 3, 1984: NSPG 97: Lebanon
Oct. 19, 1984: NSPG 98: (Unknown)
Oct. 30, 1984: NSC 110: (Unknown)
Unknown: NSC 111: (Unknown)
Unknown: NSC 112: (Unknown)
Unknown: NSC 113: (Unknown)
Nov. 16, 1984: NSPG 99: Grenada/Ethiopia