I enclose for your consideration and for transmittal to the President a
copy of a March 14, 1979 memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff
concerning U.S.-Soviet chemical weapons negotiations.
The memorandum underscores the Joint Chiefs of Staff concern that the
U.S. maintain effective means for monitoring compliance with any
agreement which is reached in our negotiations with the Soviets to ban
chemical weapons. The Chiefs also ask for SCC review, prior to this fall, of the decisions to
maintain U.S. chemical warfare forces without force improvement, and not
to seek funds for the binary munitions facility.
Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to
Secretary of Defense Brown2
US Chemical Weapons Negotiating
1. (S) Review of the US negotiating
position summary developed by the Chemical Weapons Backstopping
Committee indicates that an agreement fully incorporating all
elements in this position would meet the objective of a chemical
weapons prohibition set forth in Presidential Directive/NSC–15.3 However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that
the current and projected asymmetries in chemical warfare capability
favoring the USSR provide no
incentives for the Soviets to agree to any meaningful prohibitions
on chemical weapons.
2. (C) The Joint Chiefs of Staff note that the chemical weapons
negotiations, in seeking to eliminate an entire means of warfare,
constitute a disarmament—as opposed to an arms control—undertaking.
Therefore, it is vital to national security that strong, effective
provisions be made for monitoring compliance with any agreement
resulting from such an undertaking.
3. (S) There are serious military risks inherent in this disarmament
effort. [5 lines not declassified] These
risks could be offset to some extent if all provisions of the US position summary were fully
4. (S) While the position summary includes the essential US element requiring onsite
international access for adequate verification, the Soviets have
indicated this approach to chemical weapons verification is
unacceptable. In view of this real and critical difference and of
the absence of any compelling reasons for the Soviets to resolve
this difference, it will be important for the US Delegation to remain resolute in its
negotiating effort. Further, it is essential that the Special
Coordination Committee review again, prior to the fall of 1979, the
decision to maintain US chemical
warfare forces without force improvement and the decision not to
seek funds for the binary munitions facility.
5. (U) The Joint Chiefs of Staff request that you support their views
and that you also convey these views to the President.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
James E. Dalton
Major General, USAF