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


  • Request for Defense’s Recommendations re Destruction of Biological Weapons and Transfer of Biological Facilities

NSDM 35 (25 November 1969) requested Secretary Laird’s recommendations regarding the destruction of biological agents/weapons. NSDM 44 (14 February 1970) requested his recommendations regarding the destruction of toxins.

Also, since issuance of the two decisions, Defense, OST, Agriculture and HEW have been reviewing the possible transfer and alternative uses of the existing biological facilities.

Destruction of Biological and Toxin Agents/Weapons. There is inter-agency agreement on all phases of the destruction plan proposed by Army except Defense is waiting for HEW to decide the last stage involving the disposal of denatured biological materials after the agents are no longer active. The final solution of this last step is not necessary prior to implementation of the President’s decisions.

Future of Directorate of Biological Operations (DBO) at Pine Bluff Arsenal. Secretary Hardin (Agriculture) has requested two months to formulate his final comments on whether Agriculture wants DBO. Some worthwhile environmental work can be performed at DBO, according to OST, but it is really a matter of fiscal priorities.

At any rate, final decisions on the future of DBO do not have to be settled now. The destruction of biological agents will take approximately a year. Any public announcement could include a general statement that DBO would not be part of any military program after destruction of the weapons, nor would it be mothballed for future programs.


Biological Labs at Fort Detrick. Secretary Finch has asked for the labs at Fort Detrick and for supplemental funds for a research program there. Budget does not want to grant additional funds in the [Page 2] form of a supplemental, but approves the transfer to HEW subject to approval by Secretary Laird.

We understand Secretary Laird has two recommendations on his desk: (1) JCS and Army recommend keeping Fort Detrick at one half capacity; (2) DDR&E and ISA recommend transferring the labs to HEW while moving the defensive program to Dugway and Edgewood Arsenal.


Plant Sciences Labs at Fort Detrick. All agencies agree that these labs should go to Agriculture.

We believe a well-timed and comprehensive announcement on the implementation of the President’s decisions would be advisable prior to sending the 1925 Geneva Protocol to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. Such an announcement could include, for example, an invitation for international observation of the destruction process and perhaps an international lab setup at Fort Detrick. (As noted, the future of DBO at Pine Bluff Arsenal and the last step of the destruction program do not require decisions at this time.)

Attached at Tab A is a proposed memorandum to the Secretary of Defense which requests his recommendations on these matters by June 19. OST (Dr. Vincent McRae) assures us that this is ample time as almost all of the leg work within Defense has been completed.

Attached at Tab I is a memorandum for the President stating the reasons for the memorandum to Secretary Laird and requesting his approval thereof.


That you sign the memorandum to the President at Tab I
That, if the President approves, you sign the memorandum to Secretary Laird at Tab A
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Boxes H–212 and H–213, NSDM 35. Secret. Sent for action. Sent through Robert Behr (NSC). Kissinger wrote on the memorandum, “Doesn’t need Pres. Give Laird 2 weeks in memo.” Rather than forwarding the memorandum at Tab I to the President, Kissinger initialed approval for him. The memorandum to Laird at Tab A, revised to provide a two week deadline, is Document 195.
  2. Guhin forwarded, and Kissinger approved, a memorandum to Secretary of Defense Laird requesting his recommendations on the destruction of biological weapons, future candidates for the Directorate of Biological Operations, and the transfer of biological weapons facilities.