WASHINGTON — Aside from the promise of things to come, the fruits of Mikhail S. Gorbachev's three meetings with Ronald Reagan are now reduced to two handsome leather-bound volumes containing the treaty banning ground-launched intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
The Soviet copy--in red, naturally--was aboard the general secretary's plane that left Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Thursday night, bound for East Berlin and then Moscow.
The blue American copy, bearing the embossed gold seal of the United States, went from the White House to a State Department safe. There it will repose until some day "in due course," when it will be turned over to the National Archives for permanent keeping with the thousands of documents, going back to the Declaration of Independence, that record the history of the United States.
An official of the National Archives' diplomatic records branch could not estimate when the agreement, making the first reductions in deployed nuclear missile forces, would join the country's historical record, but he took a more prosaic view than the breathless commentators who attended the signing:
"We don't really know when we will see it. Every two or three years, the State Department sends us a couple of linear feet of treaties."
Whenever the INF document does arrive at the archives, it will be accompanied by an addendum correcting an error in the official text, State Department sources said Thursday.
In the process of drafting the final language, a typographical mistake inserted an error adding 10 missile launchers to one of the totals. By the time the mistake was caught, it was too late to remove it, and officials agreed that it would be corrected in a separate note.
This came after U.S. negotiators mistakenly gave the Soviets erroneous coordinates for some of the Pershing 2 missile locations, and the Soviets pointed out that the supposed launch sites were in the middle of a lake. For their part, the Soviets mistakenly reversed the coordinates of a missile site, putting it in the ocean when American negotiators pinpointed it on a map.
Secretary of State George P. Shultz started telephones ringing in the State Department's Treaty Office when he referred before Gorbachev's arrival to the treaty's being copied onto "special paper."
Time was when the United States put its treaties on a special gold-edged parchment. There are no such pretensions today. The Reagan-Gorbachev INF agreement, agreed by one and all to be Historic, is written on high-quality commercial paper, slightly thicker that that used every day in offices all across the land.
"It comes in packages of 100 sheets," said an official of the Treaty Office. "It's the same stuff we use for all of our agreements now."
Will wonders never cease?
After making history by visiting the Pentagon on Wednesday, the Soviet Union's No. 2 military official went back Thursday. On his second trip, Marshal Sergei F. Akhromeyev was the breakfast guest of his American counterpart, Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Before reporters were shooed away, Crowe was showing off his collection of hats gathered in his travels around the world, and he pointed out to the marshal a fur headgear that he said had once belonged to a Moscow policeman.
" Nyet, nyet, " Akhromeyev said. "That's a soldier's hat."
The specter of a top-ranking Soviet military officer visiting the Pentagon--albeit in civilian clothes--supposedly shivered the timbers of retired Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, once a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff himself. For his part, Moorer surveyed the Niagara of publicity generated by Gorbachev's three days in Washington and suggested that summits should be held on neutral territory--"maybe in Antarctica or someplace."
Washington's ubiquitous street vendors, bone-weary police officers and neighbors of the sealed-off Soviet Embassy were not disposed to disagree with the admiral's recommendation that leaders go to the summit at the South Pole.
"It's been a strain," said Maj. Richard Cusick of the U.S. Park Police, whose men worked 17 hours a day, keeping an eye on a host of demonstrators. "It'll be a relief to see this end."
Vendors, with political antennae of their own, generally didn't bother to stock up with Gorbachev T-shirts and posters, concluding that the tourists who tramp the streets of Washington "just don't like Gorbachev."
While the fickle press turned its attention to the Soviet leader, the sidewalk merchants still manned carts and booths loaded with T-shirts and pictures paying tribute to Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, the Marine with the basset-hound eyes and the tall tales from the inside of the Iran-Contra affair.
By Thursday, tour bus driver Albert Strange had succumbed to the clogged streets and the show-stealing summit. It was impossible to get through the streets, even if anybody wanted to take the usual tour of the monuments and edifices of democracy. "The summit killed us," Strange said. "We don't have no people."