102. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

14555. Subject: USUSSR Chemical Weapons (CW) Negotiations, Round Ten: Ninth (Final) Plenary Meeting, August 31, 1979.

CW Message No. 19

[Page 224]

1. (Confidential—Entire text)

2. Summary: At ninth (final) plenary meeting, held August 31, both Delegations gave wrap-up statements. US Del head Fisher outlined accomplishments of round, drew attention to issues involved in drafting work and proposed both sides consider increasing resources devoted to bilaterals. Soviet Delhead reviewed accomplishments and made plea for common USUSSR approach to the work of the Committee on Disarmament in the chemical weapons field. Discussion of verification issues begun at previous meeting was continued. End Summary.

3. Ninth (final) plenary meeting was held Friday, August 31, 1979. Prepared statements were presented by both sides.

4. Statements by US Del head (Amb. A.J. Fisher) contained overview of the round.

A. Accomplishments: Fisher said that, overall, the US Delegation believed that round ten had been successful. He noted that in latter stages of the round the negotiations had intensified. In Fisher’s view the most important accomplishments were the initiation of active discussions of verification issues and initiation of efforts to draft language for a joint initiative. He noted, on the other hand, that the major unresolved issues remained the same.

B. Drafting group issues. Fisher pointed out that, in order to permit the drafting group to complete its work on the first three elements of a joint initiative issues in the following areas needed to be resolved:

—Use of munitions for permitted purposes

—Treatment of irritants and herbicides

—Coverage of toxins

—Transfer of super-toxic chemicals to non-states parties

—Scope of the term “precursor”

C. Neglected issues. Fisher expressed disappointment that it had not been possible to give priority attention to resolving the issues of declaration of stocks and procedures for challenge inspection. He pointed out that in the latter case the US had not received a response to proposals made well over a year ago.

D. Committee on Disarmament. With respect to the Committee on Disarmament (CD), Fisher said US was studying the Soviet August 15 suggestion that the two sides try to develop a common approach toward possible CD work on the outline of a CW convention, (as proposed by the Poles). The US hopes to respond well before the next round begins.

E. Delegation staffing. Fisher pointed out the difficulties experienced in trying to have the same Delegation members cover both the CD and the CW bilaterals. He proposed that, for next year, both sides [Page 225] consider assigning a senior political officer and several advisers solely to chemical weapons-related work.

5. Soviet Del head (Amb. V.L. Israelyan) also presented a wrap-up statement.

A. Overall assessment. Israelyan asserted that there had not been a single major issue where the Soviet Del did not present new views and proposals which took US views into account. He said that while the major issues remained there had been an active and useful exchange on verification.

B. Drafting group. Israelyan noted the promising beginning of efforts to draft language for a joint initiative. He said that in this connection the exchange of position summaries during the last round had been most useful.2 Enough time and attention should be devoted to drafting in the next round. The drafting group should also give attention to clarifying positions and narrowing areas of disagreement.

C. Committee on Disarmament (CD) both Delegations received verbal pat on the back from Israelyan for presenting the detailed joint progress report to the CD in July. Israelyan expressed concern, however, about US-Soviet difference on how to deal with CW related work of the CD. In his view, first priority should be given to the success of the bilateral negotiations. For this reason an effort should be made to coordinate positions concerning possible CD work on the outline of a CW convention.

6. As at the previous plenary meeting, verification issues were discussed extemporaneously.

A. Fisher responded to Soviet question from previous meeting about US suggestions for using verification procedures taken from the IAEA safeguards system, the Bilateral Treaty on Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNET), and the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) negotiations. He said that each treaty requires specially tailored verification provisions. However, all three cases mentioned by Soviets had a common element; on-site inspections had been agreed on in advance and provided for in the convention. While the balance between challenge inspection and systematic inspection for a CW convention had to be tailored to its special situation, the other three cases could provide a guide.

B. Israelyan agreed that every treaty required verification provisions suited to the particular nature of the agreement; there can be no general approach. He said that Soviet side is seeking the most effective system for verification of chemical weapons prohibition. In the Soviet [Page 226] view, lack of effectiveness is just as important an objection to the US approach as the risk the US approach poses to commercial and national security interests. Israelyan said visits to declared locations, as proposed by the US, might only create an illusion of compliance. USSR believes that a combination of national declarations and challenge inspection would provide the most effective verification system

7. Deputies made brief report on progress in the drafting group. Focus was on substantive issues which need to be resolved in order to complete the first three elements (basic prohibition, definitions, non-transfer/non-assistance). More terms may have to be included in “definitions” element as work on additional elements is undertaken.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790401–1186. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Moscow. The tenth round of negotiations began on July 16. (Telegram 12183 from the Mission in Geneva, July 18; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790327–0968)
  2. The U.S. and Soviet position summaries are in Telegram 12183 from the Mission in Geneva, July 18; ibid.