95. National Security Study Memorandum 591

  • TO
    • The Secretary of State
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • The Director of Central Intelligence
    • The Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology
    • The Director, United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
    • U.S. Policy on Chemical and Biological Warfare and Agents

The President has directed a study of U.S. policy, programs and operational concepts with regards to both chemical and biological warfare and agents.2

The study should examine present U.S. policy and programs on CBW, the main issues confronting that policy, and the range of possible alternatives thereto. The analysis should delineate (1) the nature of the threat to the U.S. and its Allies and possible alternative approaches in meeting this threat; (2) the utility of and circumstances for possible employment of chemical and biological agents, both lethal and incapacitating; [Page 314] (3) the operational concepts relating to possible use, testing and stockpiling; (4) the research and development objectives; (5) the nature of and alternative approaches to the distinction between lethal and non-lethal chemical and biological agents, including a review of current applications of U.S. policy relating to non-lethal agents such as chemical riot control agents and chemical defoliants; and (6) the U.S. position on arms control, including the question of the ratification of the Geneva Protocol of 1925.

The study should include consideration of the effects upon U.S. international posture in general and upon relationships with Allies in particular; of the relevant legal questions; of the various cost factors; and of the environmental control and public affairs aspects of U.S. policy.

The President has directed that the NSC Political-Military Group perform this study and that the addressees be included in the PMG for purposes of this study. The President has authorized the PMG to establish the necessary subgroups for special or technical aspects of this study.

The report of this Group should be forwarded to the NSC Review Group by September 5, 1969.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 365, Subject Files, NSSMs, Nos. 43–103. Secret. A copy was sent to General Wheeler.
  2. On April 30, Laird expressed his increasing concern to Henry Kissinger “about the structure of our chemical and biological warfare programs, our national policy relating to such programs, and our public posture vis-à-vis chemical and biological warfare activities.” Laird requested immediate NSC consideration of the matter. (Ford Library, Laird Papers, Box 3, Chemical Warfare and Biological Research) Kissinger replied on May 9 that he shared Laird’s concerns. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 310, Subject Files, Chemical and Biological Warfare, Vol. I) In a May 23 memorandum, Kissinger advised Nixon to authorize a NSSM on the matter. “In the light of the uncertainty surrounding U.S. policy and programs in this area, and in light of the increasing public concern and attention being given the subject,” Kissinger believed “that an overall study of present policy and possible alternatives is required.” (Ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–153, NSSM 59)