111. Summary of Conclusions of a Meeting of the Special Coordination Committee1


  • Indian Ocean Arms Control


  • State

    • Warren Christopher
    • Reginald Bartholomew
  • Defense

    • Harold Brown
    • Lynn E. Davis
  • JCS

    • General George Brown
    • Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin


    • Paul Warnke
    • John Twombly
  • NSC

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski (Chairman)
    • Gary Sick (notetaker)
    • James Thomson
  • CIA

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Robert Bowie

The purpose of the meeting was to define more precisely the U.S. position to be presented to the Soviets in the next round of Indian Ocean talks. The following issues were discussed:

Objectives. All agreed that our arms limitations objectives in the Indian Ocean remain as they were stated in our opening position to the Soviets in Moscow, i.e., that the process is aimed in the first instance at stabilizing the present level of U.S. and Soviet military presence in the Indian Ocean and, if that is achieved, to further consider reductions. General Brown stressed the importance of being able to bring our forces to bear in the Persian Gulf or other trouble spots in the future.

Working Group Recommendations. The SCC endorsed recommendations by the Working Group that: (1) the U.S. will not raise the question of possible limitations on ground combat forces in the next round with the Soviets; (2) the U.S. will not agree to compensate the USSR for the presence of our allies in the area or for bases in adjacent areas; and (3) the U.S. will not agree to ban aircraft carrier operations in the Indian Ocean. The Working Group was further instructed to continue its work [Page 378] on definition of the geographic area, on the possible exchange of information with the Soviets, and on a definition of transits.

Types of Surface Ships. All agreed that combatants and auxiliaries would be counted, in separate categories, for purposes of limitations, subject to the development and acceptance of a definition of auxiliaries. The Working Group was instructed to develop such a definition.

Levels of Surface Ship Presence. All agreed that the Working Group should reexamine the entire question of numerical limits more systematically for consideration at the next meeting.

Submarines. No agreement was reached on how submarines should be handled in the context of an arms limitations agreement. This issue will be referred to the President by separate memorandum for decision.

Time Limit. It was agreed that the question of the duration of any agreement needed to be examined.

Facilities. Several alternatives proposed by the Working Group were eliminated, and the Working Group was instructed to examine possible combinations of the remaining alternatives for consideration at the next meeting. These alternatives limiting facilities in the Indian Ocean should be presented in the form of tables comparable to those used in SALT with particular emphasis on relative effects of different alternatives for the U.S. and the USSR.

Aircraft. Limitations on land-based strike aircraft were discussed briefly, and the range of alternatives was narrowed. Decision was deferred until the next meeting, after additional Working Group analysis.

Timing. It was reported that the timing of the next meeting with the Soviets in Washington was still under discussion with the USSR. We had tentatively proposed the week of September 19, but that could be changed if it imposed too tight a time limit. A follow-on SCC would be held during the next week to consider the remaining issues and to look at the package as a whole in terms of its negotiability.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 88, SCC 026, 8/24/77, Indian Ocean. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are not attached and were not found. Sick sent the Summary of Conclusions to Brzezinski under an August 25 memorandum. (Ibid.) Papers prepared for the meeting are ibid.