109. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • China and Arms Control
[Page 275]

ACDA Acting Director Farley has sent you the ACDA issues paper on “U.S.-China Arms Control Talks” which you asked about at the Senior Review Group Meeting on Friday, March 12 (Tab B).2 In the paper it is proposed that the U.S. initiate with the Chinese an exchange of views on one or more of the following control measures:

  • —A renunciation of force declaration.
  • —A Washington-Peking hot line.
  • —Information exchange on nuclear weapons safeguards.
  • —Agreement not to possess biological weapons.
  • —Pugwash-type unofficial arms control talks.
  • —A conference of the five nuclear powers to discuss accidental war, command and control, and arrangements for emergency communication.

Regarding unofficial arms control talks, Mr. Farley notes that we have already suggested to the Romanians that they invite Chinese participation in the Pugwash Talks to be held in Bucharest this year. (The telegram was cleared with us.)3

In response to your request to Under Secretary Irwin, ACDA is now engaged in developing with State a renunciation of force declaration for negotiation with the Chinese.4

Mr. Farley states that other suggested recommendations in the paper need interagency review. These are summarized at Tab A. In order for you to have interested agency comments for consideration before the next SRG or NSC meeting on this subject, it would be advisable to have this paper circulated as soon as possible.


That you authorize Jeanne Davis to circulate the ACDA paper to State, Defense and CIA with a request for comments by March 24.5

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Tab A

Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff


Propose that the US and the PRC issue the following declaration, based on language and principles of the UN Charter:

The Government of the United States and the Government of the People’s Republic of China hereby declare their determination to settle all disputes which may arise between the two nations without resort to force or the threat of force, including nuclear force. As part of this declaration, both governments declare and resolve to refrain from the use of force or the threat of force, including nuclear force, against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

—Such a declaration would be a first step toward improving relations between the US and the PRC without any additional commitment on the part of the US since the language of the declaration would simply extend basic provisions of the UN Charter to the USPRC relationship. Taipei would oppose such a US agreement with the PRC and would press us hard for reassurances that this would in no way alter the US agreement under the security treaty.

Propose that the United States and the PRC establish a direct secure communications link between Washington and Peking—a hot line.

—The advantage of a hot line would be its use during a crisis. The Chinese could easily accept this proposal without encumbering it with extraneous political conditions. The Soviets might take a gloomy view since it would provide an obvious means of secure communication between the Chinese and ourselves.

As a first step in discussing with Peking the problem of accidental nuclear war, we could provide the Chinese with the considerable amount of unclassified material available on US nuclear weapon safety program. We would invite an exchange of views and information on this subject.

—Whether or not reciprocated, this would benefit the US by focusing Chinese attention on the dangers of nuclear deployment. If the PRC responds we would gain valuable information on the Chinese weapons safety program, about which we now know nothing. The only cautionary involved is that this would have to be broached to the Chinese with very great care to avoid raising Peking’s sensibilities that we were patronizing them.

After we ratify the Geneva Protocol, we could propose to the Chinese a joint statement renouncing the development, production and stockpiling of biological warfare agents.

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—A proposal of this nature to the Chinese would be consistent with the President’s public position and with our desire to encourage other states to renounce biological warfare. The principal disadvantage is that the Chinese might reject the approach due to our reservations regarding the use of tear gas under the Protocol or because of Chinese unwillingness to separate discussion of biological warfare from chemical warfare agents, a position taken by a number of other states including the USSR.

The United States, Britain and the USSR, the nuclear powers now active in arms control negotiations, could invite the other two nuclear powers, the PRC and France, to meet with them to exchange information and discuss accidental nuclear explosions or launchers, accidental war, command and control, and arrangements for emergency communications.

—All the nuclear powers have a real interest in this subject and the Soviets might not object because it would involve France as well as China and might meet some Soviet concerns as expressed in SALT. However, the Soviets might be suspicious of our motives in trying to include the Chinese in such talks. If the Chinese come they might use this forum to exploit differences among the nuclear powers.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 521, Country Files, Far East, China, Vol. VI. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Attached but not printed. The 12-page issue paper, undated, was forwarded t. Kissinger under a covering memorandum by Farley on March 16. (Ibid.) Farley and Green also sent a copy of the paper and a covering memorandum to Irwin on February 25. They hoped it would be considered in parallel with the SRG’s discussion of NSSM 106. (Ibid., RG 59, Lot Files: 74 D 164, Summaries of the Under Secretary’s Meetings with Kissinger, October 1970–March 1972) Handwritten notes on an agenda for a meeting between Irwin and Kissinger on March 16 read: “Briefly discussed. HK merely spoke of receiving it.” The meeting agenda is ibid. For the March 12 SRG meeting, see Document 108.
  3. See Document 96.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 108.
  5. There is no indication whether or not Kissinger approved this recommendation, but according to a note on the NSC Correspondence Profile attached to these documents, this effort was deferred. A short May 26 note from Holdridge to the NSC Secretariat observed that the document was being held because “more modest proposals on subject [are] being incorporated in NSSM [124] due June 4.” An attached anonymous note, September 7, reads: “HAK has deferred action on NSSM 124.” NSSM 124 is printed as Document 117.