119. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • ALSO
  • Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Director of Central Intelligence


  • Indian Ocean Arms Control

The President has determined that the U.S. delegation should proceed with plans to conduct discussions with the Soviet Union on Indian Ocean arms limitations in Bern, Switzerland, on February 7–17. However, the U.S. representative should deliver to the Soviet negotiator in their first private meeting a strong statement of the U.S. position with regard to Soviet activities in the Horn of Africa and the related buildup of Soviet military presence as not conducive to international stability and efforts to improve relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. It is inconsistent with the concepts of stabilization and mutual restraint which underlie our efforts to reach an agreement. The Soviet side should clearly understand that these activities are a serious impediment to early agreement on Indian Ocean arms limitations. These concerns should also be reflected in the record of the plenary sessions. (S)

The U.S. delegation should table in this round a revised draft text of an agreement setting forth the U.S. position, without the appended supplementary statement of military activities. In discussing the various elements of a draft agreement and supplementary statement with the Soviets, the following guidance should be observed: (S)

1. SSBNs. During this round, we should omit any reference to U.S. deployment of SSBNs in the Indian Ocean from the proposed text of our supplementary statement, while reaffirming the verbal assurances we have provided in the past. The advisability of providing written assurances on SSBNs will be reviewed prior to any subsequent rounds. (TS)

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2. Facilities. We should press the Soviets to accept our distinction between a “routine port call of limited duration” and “utilization” of a facility. (C)

3. Land-Based Aircraft. We should continue to press the Sovietsto provide a description of their past deployments of bombers, fighter-bombers and interceptors to the Indian Ocean area which is as restrictive as possible. At the same time, we should begin consultations with Australia and other friendly nations as appropriate, seeking their views on how best to deal with this issue in light of its possible implications for enlarging the geographical scope of the agreement beyond the water’s edge. (TS)

4. Exception for Humanitarian Purposes. The delegation is authorized to introduce the U.S. draft text of such a clause at its discretion after receiving a Soviet response to our suggestion in the last round. (C)

5. Submarine Support. The occasional presence of a Soviet submarine tender in the Indian Ocean is consistent with the concept of stabilization. However, this point should not be conceded at this stage. (TS)

6. Other Issues. The recommendations of the Working Group, as accepted by the SCC meeting of January 24,2 are approved, including the use of the phrase “heavy bombers” in place of “strategic aircraft.” (C)

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 91, SCC 054, 1/24/78, Indian Ocean—Arms Negotiations. Top Secret.
  2. See Document 118.