As the failed Iceland summit broke up, a fuming President Reagan made clear to Mikhail S. Gorbachev that he doubted his sincerity, bluntly telling the Soviet leader, "You don't really want another summit," a top Administration official said today.
White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan said that Gorbachev leaned on Reagan to the bitter end to abandon his commitment to "Star Wars," insisting there was "still time" to arrange another summit.
At that point, Regan said, the President snapped back, "You don't really want another summit."
Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes reported Reagan's words a little differently today.
When a somber Reagan walked with Gorbachev outside of Hofdi House Sunday evening at the conclusion of the two-day summit, the President told the Kremlin leader: "You really didn't want an agreement," Speakes said.
Speakes said that an angry Reagan also told his top aides as the meeting with Gorbachev was breaking up: "I'll be damned if I will give up" the Strategic Defense Initiative, the "Star Wars" space shield. "I made a pledge to the American people."
The New York Times had still another version of Reagan's parting words to Gorbachev. The newspaper said Reagan said, "I think you didn't want a summit," and quoted Gorbachev as replying "Well, there is still time."
Reagan then reportedly retorted: "No, there isn't."
The Sunday sessions produced dramatic progress in nuclear arms reductions. But all the agreements hinged on Gorbachev's insistence that the deep cuts and concessions hinged on Reagan's agreement to limit "Star Wars" research to the laboratory.
At the last caucus with his aides, Reagan said, "This will be the final offer."
When he made his offer and Gorbachev stuck to his guns, Reagan picked up his papers and left the room, apparently in anger. Gorbachev, who said that the President had missed a "historic opportunity," also picked up his briefing papers from the table and their meeting was concluded.
Veteran photographers, who saw Reagan emerge from Hofdi House, said they had never seen Reagan look grimmer. When reporters shouted a question at him, he put up both arms, bringing them down angrily. "Not now," he said, getting into his limousine.
Cursed in Limousine
Inside the limousine, Reagan reportedly did some cursing while heading for Klefavik airport, a NATO base, where he spoke to 4,000 U.S. airmen and their families who had waited for eight hours to hear him.
The New York Times said Reagan was surprised that Gorbachev had come to Iceland with such sweeping proposals for arms control. "This wasn't supposed to be a summit. We weren't supposed to be in on these negotiations," it reported the President said.
But Gorbachev, who in his Sept. 19 letter to Reagan suggested the meeting in Reykjavik, brought along a spate of proposals and concessions.
It was his proposal for a stricter interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty concluded in 1972 that would restrict Reagan's dream of a "Star Wars" defense system to the laboratory that blew up the talks.
The newspaper said Reagan reiterated his proposal to ultimately share the results of U.S. research but Gorbachev wasn't buying it.
"I don't want any part of it," it quoted the Soviet leader as saying. "I don't believe you're going to share it. You don't even share oil and gas technology with us."