204. Letter From the Acting Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Fisher) to the Representative to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee (Foster)1


Dear Bill:

This letter is for the purpose of keeping you abreast of developments in the ABM field. You will have received my August 28 memorandum to Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara and Walt Rostow on “Arms Control Considerations of a U.S. Anti-Ballistic Missile Deployment Decision.”2 When it became apparent that things were moving toward a decision to initiate deployment of an ABM system, I spoke to Secretary Rusk and to Secretary McNamara urging that the announcement of such a decision be delayed, and pointing out its adverse effects on the NPT negotiations.

A decision, however, has been made to have Secretary McNamara announce the U.S. plan to deploy a thin ABM system in a speech which he will make on September 18.3 It is presently planned to inform NAC on [Page 502] September 14; the Perm Reps will probably then join the Disarmament Experts Meeting later in the afternoon of the same day for a discussion of some of the implications, including those relating to arms control.

I know that the announcement on September 18 will pose very real problems for the current NPT negotiations. Hopefully, we will be able to arm you with the kind of statements recommended in Recommendation 5 of the contingency paper which I circulated in my memorandum of August 28.4 We will be working on a contingency statement that you can use in Geneva to meet the excepted charges by those who would see a U.S. ABM deployment as a peg on which to hang criticism of the NPT effort. In any event I did want you to be forewarned of the planned announcement.

I am sure you will want to take the September 18 announcement into account in weighing the pros and cons of an early ENDC adjournment. It certainly will not be easier in Geneva after the 18th and it might well be better not to provide some of the opponents of the NPT with a ready-made forum after the 18th.

The September 18 announcement is being treated here as a most sensitive subject and I would suggest that you limit knowledge of it to yourself and George Bunn.


  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 383, ACDA/D Files: FRC 77 A 80, Miscellaneous Papers. Secret; Exdis.
  2. See Document 202.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 203.
  4. See the enclosure, Document 202.