199. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Laird to President Nixon1 2


  • National Security Decision Memoranda 35 and 44

In National Security Decision Memoranda 35 and 44 you directed that all stockpiles of biological agents and munitions be destroyed and that the biological research program of the Department of Defense be confined to defensive purposes only. You also asked for recommended plans to achieve these ends. This memorandum provides our recommendations.

A detailed plan for the destruction of all biological agents, toxins and associated weapons has been prepared. It has been reviewed and concurred in by the Office of Science and Technology, by the Surgeon General of the U. 5. Public Health Service, by the Department of Agriculture and by the Federal Water Quality Agency of Department of the Interior. These reviews satisfy the requirements of Section 409, Public Law 91–121. Notification to the Senate, the Congress and Governors as required by that legislation will be made as soon as you approve our recommendations.

[less than 1 line not declassified] biological agents are stored at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas, and [less than 1 line not declassified] agents at Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Colorado. Destruction will be accomplished at the sites so that no transportation will be involved. The agents will be rendered completely innocuous, and there will be no hazard to public health and welfare. Destruction of [less than 1 line not declassified] agents and munitions will require 107 weeks and $6,442,000. Destruction of [less than 1 line not declassified] agents and munitions will take 112 weeks and $3,768,000. Both operations will run at the same time. A summary of materials to be destroyed is given at Tab A.

The Department of Defense has directed that plans be made to reduce the biological research and development program from about $20 million per annum to $10 million. The $10 million is solely for defensive purposes. It will provide for medical research on diagnosis, therapy and immunization to be done at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Frederick, Md.; for research and development on detection and warning of biological agents at Edgewood Arsenal, Md.; and for testing of defensive equipment, and vulnerability analyses at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

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We have decided that the U.S. Army Biological Laboratories at Fort Detrick and the production facility at Pine Bluff Arsenal will not be needed by the Department of Defense. We have notified Dr. DuBridge of this decision and are working with him and the Bureau of the Budget to effect their transfer to HEW. We hope that the transfer of the U.S. Army Biological Laboratories can be effected during Fiscal Year 1971 and that the production facility at Pine Bluff Arsenal can be transferred early in Fiscal Year 1972 when we will have destroyed all biological agents and decontaminated the facility to make it safe for other occupancy.

It is hoped that the $10 million per year program level can be reached by the beginning of Fiscal Year 1972. However, this is dependent on the rate at which transfer of facilities and people to other Federal agencies can be made.

Melvin Laird
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[text not declassified]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 311, Subject Files, Chemical, Biological Warfare (Toxins, etc) Vol. II. Secret. Kissinger initialed the memorandum next to the subject line
  2. Laird responded to Kissinger’s June 15 memorandum with a complete outline of the Defense Department’s recommendations on the destruction of biological weapons and the transfer of biological weapons facilities.