210. Telegram 4005 From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

4005. Subject: UNGA Disarmament: Soviet Memorandum on Disarmament.

1. USSR introduced Sept 28, in conjunction with Gromyko UNGA statement (septel), a “memorandum of the Soviet Union on questions of ending the arms race and disarmament” (full text pouched IO/UNP). Memorandum, to be circulated as UNGA document, parallels in essential respects disarmament portion of Gromyko address, with more detail on some issues.

It deals with nuclear disarmament; Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB), nonproliferation; chemical weapons (CW); new weapons of mass destruction (MDW); reduction of armed forces and conventional arms (including elimination of foreign military bases); Indian Ocean peace zone (IOPZ); Mediterranean; reduction of military budgets (ROB); World Disarmament Conference (WDC); and special session on disarmament. Highlights include:

—Soviet willingness to participate in nuclear disarmament discussions involving all nuclear weapon states and including non-nuclear weapon states;

—Willingness to seek compromise verification procedures for a CTB permitting voluntary decisions on on-site inspection;

—Readiness to examine non-national control provisions for verification of a CW agreement, particularly methods for verification of destruction of CW stocks;

—Call for measures for reduction of conventional arms and armed forces;

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—Willingness to explore with other powers reduction of military activities in the Indian Ocean;

—Endorsement of idea of special UNGA session on disarmament as step toward a WDC.

Summary follows.

2. Nuclear Disarmament. Memorandum states first step is to stop manufacturing nuclear weapons, equipping armed forces with them, and developing new types of such weapons. This should be accompanied or immediately followed by reductions in stocks, with transfer of nuclear materials to peaceful purposes. Reduction of weapons stocks should be accompanied by reduction of means of delivery. Simultaneously, measures should also be taken for limitation and reduction of armed forces and conventional weapons. This process is “inconceivable” unless all nuclear-weapon states (NWS) take part. USSR is prepared to engage together with all other NWS in “comprehensive discussion of nuclear disarmament problem in all its scope and elaboration of concrete ways of its practical solution.” USSR “has no objections” to non-nuclear-weapon states (NWS) also participating.

3. CTB. Memorandum asserts that conditions are ripe for achievement of a CTB, “particularly as a result of signing” of U.S.-Soviet PNE treaty, which establishes procedure for PNEs that “will preclude their use for perfecting nuclear weapons.” Recalling 1975 Soviet CTB resolution, memorandum says it is “necessary to begin negotiations promptly.” It rejects argument that teleseismic means are insufficient to verify compliance with a CTB but does not reject on-site inspection: “the Soviet Union is convinced that no particular difficulties should arise in elaborating such a compromise basis for an agreement as would ensure a voluntary framework for taking decisions relating to on-site ascertaining of relevant circumstances and, at the same time, impart confidence to all parties to the treaty that the obligations are complied with.”

4. Nonproliferation. Memorandum states it is “important to strive for the NPT to become truly universal” (no holdouts are mentioned by name). It also asserts that other types of action are necessary. Noting that international commercial exchange of nuclear materials, equipment, and technology will lead to increased production of plutonium that can be used for nuclear weapons, memorandum states that nuclear suppliers bear special responsibility and that strict safeguards are needed to prevent nuclear cooperation from becoming channel for spread of nuclear weapons. It also states that Soviet Union “resolutely advocates the need for perfecting in every possible way the system of control over nuclear installations and materials exercised by the IAEA” and is ready to cooperate toward this end with all interested states.

5. CW. Reaffirming Soviet preference for a single-step comprehensive ban on all chemical weapons, memorandum at same time recon [Page 672] firms Soviet willingness to start with an agreement on prohibition and elimination of the most dangerous, lethal types of chemical weapons, adding that a “substantial contribution to this end could be the implementation” of the 1974 U.S.-Soviet agreement to consider a joint initiative in the CCD. On verification, memorandum states that control should be exercised, as in BW Convention, by “national means.” However, it goes on to assert that “the Soviet Union is ready to examine a possibility of using additional control procedures and, in particular, to discuss methods of verifying the destruction of stocks of chemical weapons.”

6. MDW. Memorandum says negotiations on new MDW should be given “top priority.” It proposes, as an approach to definition, that new MDW include “any types of weapons based on qualitatively new principles of action—according to the method of use and the targets to be attacked or the nature of their impact.” Examples cited are “ray weapons capable of affecting blood and intracellular plasma, infrasound weapons designed to damage internal organs and affect human behavior, and genetic weapons the use of which would affect the mechanism of heredity.” New “systems” of MDW include not only systems for new types of MDW but also systems “introducing new technical elements of combat or support means” that can increase dangerous characteristics of weapons based on existing principles: “aero-space systems of nuclear weapons on the basis of transport space ships may serve as an example.”

7. Reduction of Armed Forces and Conventional Armaments. Noting increasing destructiveness of conventional weapons, memorandum asserts need for “feasible measures to reduce aircraft, artillery, tanks, and other modern types of conventional weapons as well as armed forces equipped with these weapons.” It recalls Soviet proposals for ceilings on armed forces of major states and says that “even now the Soviet Union is prepared to conduct negotiations on reduction of armed forces and armaments.” In addition, memo states desirability of “new efforts at the international level to bring about the elimination of all military bases in foreign territories and the withdrawal of foreign troops from such territories.”

8. IOPZ. In notable shift of Soviet position, memorandum expresses “understanding” for IOPZ idea and asserts that “the Soviet Union would be prepared together with other powers to seek ways for reducing on a reciprocal basis military activities of non-littoral states in the Indian Ocean and in the regions directly adjacent to it.” It notes that such measures “must fully take into account” international law on freedom of navigation on the high seas and need for “associated business calls” at ports as well as for research. Paper asserts that “key question” is to ensure absence of foreign military bases in region and [Page 673] dismantling of existing ones. “As to the Soviet Union, it did not and does not intend to build military bases in the Indian Ocean.” Memorandum further notes that USSR is “prepared to consider the question of its attitude” toward the convening of a conference on the Indian Ocean. Comment. Gromyko’s statement was more explicit in stating that Soviets were prepared to participate in preparations for such a conference provided their concerns were met. End comment.

9. Mediterranean. Memo recalls earlier Soviet proposal to U.S. that U.S. and USSR withdraw from the Mediterranean their ships and submarines carrying nuclear weapons and states that this proposal is “still valid.”

10. Memo briefly expresses support for nuclear-weapon-free zone proposals and asserts that USSR is in favor of “stopping the arms race in the Middle East within the framework of a comprehensive political settlement of the Middle East conflict.”

11. ROB. Ignoring the experts’ study under the SYG’s auspices of technical issues involved in the measurement and comparison of military expenditures, memo refers to 1973 Soviet proposal for ten percent reduction of military budgets of permanent members of the Security Council and says Soviets are flexible on percentage reduction to be agreed upon. It proposes that agreement on a figure “greater or smaller than 10 percent” be reached as a first step during 1977, adding that the question should be made as soon as possible a subject of “businesslike negotiations between the states concerned.”

12. WDC and Special Session on Disarmament. Memo once again endorses convening of a world disarmament conference as a forum for achievement of “cardinal changes in the solution of the disarmament problem.” It adds, however, that a special session of the UNGA could become an appropriate forum for discussing disarmament questions, determining ways of solving them, and working out a long-term program of practical steps. A special session would be “an interim stage which should by its decisions prepare a broad and radical review of the disarmament problem at the world (disarmament) conference.” Cryptic concluding comment states that special session “should not be restrained by strict time limits or the procedure followed at the General Assembly sessions, including special sessions.”

  1. Summary: The mission reported that the Soviet delegation to the United Nations had introduced a memorandum covering various arms control initiatives in conjunction with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko’s statement before the United Nations General Assembly on September 28.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760366–0640. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Repeated for information to Bonn, London, Moscow, Ottawa, Rome, The Hague, Tokyo, the Mission to NATO, the Mission in Geneva, the U.S. delegation to the SALT II talks in Geneva, the Mission to the IAEA in Vienna. In telegram 4008 from USUN, September 29, 0141Z, the Mission transmitted a summary of Gromyko’s September 28 statement. (Ibid., D760366–0811) An extract of the Soviet memorandum is printed in Documents on Disarmament, 1976, pp. 631–641. For the full text of the memorandum see telegram 4002 from New York, September 28. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760366–0669)