172. Memorandum From Michael Guhin of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2


  • Proposed NSSM on U.S. Policy and Programs with Respect to Toxins

The basic issues relating to the subject of U.S. toxins programs were outlined in our memorandum to you of December 18 (Tab B).

As stated therein, toxins should be handled as a separate issue without in any way confusing the matter with definitions and semantics. Also, we are going to have to confront this issue in the near future at the Geneva Conference of the Committee on Disarmament, and should establish some firmer guidelines before entering the Senate hearings on the Protocol in order to avoid any unnecessary erosion of the President’s policy initiatives.

Pursuant to your note of December 27 (Tab C), attached at Tab A is a draft National Security Study Memorandum which (1) states that the President has directed a study of United States policy and programs with respect to toxins; (2) states that the review should consider current and alternative U.S. policies and programs, and should include discussion of R&D programs and objectives, production methods, current capabilities, the military utility of toxins, and the effects upon the U.S. international position; (3) requests that the Interdepartmental Political-Military Group (IPMG) perform this study; and (4) requests that the study be forwarded to the NSC Review Group by January 9, 1970.

With regard to the very short time frame, as stated in our cover memorandum of December 23 (Tab C), steps have already been taken between State (IPMG), Defense (ISA) and Joint Staff to coordinate an issues memorandum. Joint Staff has already drafted a response as part of a coordinated IPMG memorandum, and this response is now awaiting ISA concurrence and Secretary Laird’s approval. Captain [Page 2] Birdt (IPMG) has assured me that an interagency issues paper could be forwarded within a very few days after Secretary Laird clears on this matter. The IPMG hopes to have a coordinated paper completed by the end of this week or January 5 at the latest. It is our conclusion that this matter will require a boost if the subjects of appropriate guidelines and policy are to be considered before the discussions at Geneva and in the Senate hearings, possibly in February.

Thus, it should not be very difficult to meet the due date of January 9 which would allow ample time for Review Group consideration in January or early February.

We will handle the other matter discussed in the action memorandum of December 23 (i.e., cooperative research and information exchange agreements with other countries) separately as an operational matter for the Under Secretaries Committee.

Colonel Kennedy concurs in the draft NSSM.


That you sign the proposed NSSM at Tab A

That either you or General Haig contact Secretary Laird regarding the desire to move this matter along.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–168, NSSM 85. Secret. Sent for action. The memorandum was sent through Behr. At Tab A is a draft of Document 173. At Tab B is Document 170. At Tab C is a document (not published) in the margin of which Kissinger wrote that a NSSM should be issued for the following reasons: “Laird’s sensitivity;” it was “a policy & not an operational issue;” the President should “get credit.”
  2. Guhin forwarded a draft NSSM indicating the President authorized a study and review, to be conducted by the Interdepartmental Political-Military Group, of current U.S. programs and policies on toxins. Given that the Joint Chiefs, and the Departments of State and Defense, had already undertaken steps to comply with the request for information, Guhin noted there should be no difficulty complying with the January 9 deadline.