100. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • U.S.-Soviet Chemical Weapons Negotiations

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.

I support these views of the JCS.

Harold Brown
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Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense Brown2



  • US Chemical Weapons Negotiating Position (U)

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 implemented.

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.

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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
Vice Director, Joint Staff
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harold Brown Papers, Box 61, Chemical/Biological Weapons. Secret. Copy sent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a June 30 memorandum to Brown, Brzezinski wrote that the “views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” had “been noted and will be brought to the attention of the President. I suggest we examine this question in connection with the FY 1981 Budget review process.” (Ibid.)
  2. Secret. A copy was sent to U.S. Commander in Chief, Europe.
  3. See Document 70.