109. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Meeting with Paul Warnke

You are scheduled to meet with Paul Warnke at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, July 11, 1977, for 15 minutes to discuss the results of the Moscow talks on the Indian Ocean. Other participants in the meeting will be myself and Gary Sick, who was the NSC representative at the talks.

Mr. Warnke requested the meeting as an expression of continued high-level U.S. interest in these talks. He suggested a brief statement from you indicating your satisfaction in the serious character of the [Page 375] initial talks. A draft announcement is attached.2 Mr. Warnke also intends to raise with you the comprehensive test ban talks which will resume shortly in Geneva. A proposed letter of instructions on the CTB talks is being forwarded to you under a separate memo.3

The Moscow talks succeeded in defining more clearly the nature of the tradeoffs which would be required for any U.S.-Soviet agreement on the Indian Ocean. Essentially, the Soviets want us to forego certain strategic options (deployment of SSBN’s, strategic bombers and carriers which could attack Soviet territory). In return, they are prepared to accept restrictions on their own naval activities. In addition, they will press us to “take into account” the presence of allied forces and base facilities adjacent to the Indian Ocean in setting limitations on our own forces.

The elements of a bargain are there: (1) a ban on all submarine deployments; (2) A ban on the operation of all land-based strike aircraft in the Indian Ocean area; (3) A freeze on surface ship deployments and use of regional support facilities at approximately the level of 1976. This arrangement would respond to Soviet concerns about deployment of strategic systems while placing severe limitations on their own naval capabilities in the area by depriving them of air cover and submarine support. Both sides would pay a price, but the prospects of an escalating arms race in the region would be significantly reduced.

On the other hand, PRM–10,4 our net assessment, has identified the Persian Gulf as being a primary U.S. interest and a potential conflict area in which the Soviet Union would enjoy considerable advantages because of its geographic proximity. Moreover, the Soviet focus on our SSBN’s raises questions as to why they would wish to circumscribe our options to maintain SSBN survivability. Each of these issues deserves careful consideration.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 86, SCC 016, 6/14/77, Indian Ocean. Secret. Sent for action. Carter wrote at the top of the page: “Zbig & Paul. Keep our negotiation positions highly confidential. I see good prospect for a good agreement—even if we have to yield on a few points. I don’t want this yielding to be the news—J.C.”
  2. Attached but not printed. The draft noted that Warnke had met with Carter to report the results of the discussions: “The President expressed his satisfaction that these initial talks were conducted in a serious atmosphere, without polemics, and he was encouraged at the prospects of working out an arms control arrangement in the Indian Ocean which would recognize the legitimate interests of both parties while avoiding an escalating arms race in the region.”
  3. Not found. An unknown hand wrote “Done by D.A. [David Aaron]” in the right-hand margin next to this paragraph.
  4. PRM 10, “Comprehensive Net Assessment and Military Force Posture Review,” issued February 18, is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. IV, National Security Policy.
  5. Carter and Warnke met from 1 to 1:25 p.m. Mondale, Aaron, and Sick also attended. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary)