Gorbachev was prepared for rapid arms control progress but 1988 transition got in the way

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Previously secret Soviet documentation shows that Mikhail Gorbachev was prepared for rapid arms control progress leading towards nuclear abolition at the time of his last official meeting with President Reagan, at Governor's Island, New York in December 1988; but President-elect George H. W. Bush, who also attended the meeting, said "he would need a little time to review the issues" and lost at least a year of dramatic arms reductions that were possible had there been a more forthcoming U.S. position.

The new documentation posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org) includes highest-level memos from Gorbachev advisors leading up to Gorbachev's famous speech at the United Nations during the New York visit, notes of Politburo discussions before and after the speech and the Reagan-Bush meeting, CIA estimates before and after the speech showing how surprised American officials had been and how reluctant the new Bush administration was to meet Gorbachev even half-way, and the declassified U.S. transcript of the private meeting between Reagan, Bush and Gorbachev on December 7.

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