80. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of State (Rush) to the Acting Secretary of Defense (Clements)1 2


  • U.S. Responses to Soviet Anti-Satellite Activities

Thanks very much for sending me the recent interagency study of U.S. responses to Soviet anti-satellite activities. I have reviewed this study and your memoranda directing certain actions related to a study of the vulnerability of U.S. space systems and to development of a plan for an anti-satellite technology program.

I recognize the reasons for your concern and believe it desirable that we examine carefully, as you have directed, the possible vulnerability of our space systems to Soviet anti-satellite action and that we consider what steps may be necessary with respect to our own anti-satellite capacity. I should like to note, however, that there are important political and other considerations which may affect decisions on U.S. anti-satellite efforts and which should be taken into account.

Any new U.S. efforts relating to anti-satellite activities, for example, are likely to become public knowledge and may become a subject of domestic controversy and stir foreign concern and reaction. A question may well be raised as to U.S. intentions since we have recently concluded a permanent treaty and an interim agreement with the U.S.S.R. which ban interference with each other’s national technical means of verification. Furthermore, there is the basic issue as to whether a new U.S. anti-satellite program (presumably non-nuclear) is needed on strictly military grounds.

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I do not wish to imply that we should not proceed merely because we might encounter domestic or Soviet objection. I appreciate, of course, that the Soviets have proceeded with their program despite our possible concerns in light of the SALT agreements. I strongly feel, however, that before we go much farther down this road, we should have a thorough review of the issues involved, on an interagency basis and at a high level. I suggest that an early meeting of the DPRC be convened for this purpose.

Kenneth Rush
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SP 12 US. Secret. Copies were sent to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  2. Rush recommended a high-level interagency review of proposed U.S. responses to Soviet anti-satellite activity.