104. Summary of Conclusions of a Mini-Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Committee on Disarmament Involvement in CW Negotiations (C)


    • State
    • Jerome Kahan (Dep. Director—Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs)
    • Stephen Steiner (Dep. Director—Office of Disarmament & Arms Control)
    • OSD
    • Dr. Lynn Davis (Dept. Asst. Sec. for Policy Plans & NSC Affairs)
    • Ms. Shelia Buckley (Director, Negotiating Policy)
    • JCS
    • General John Pustay (Asst. to the Chairman)
    • DCI
    • Ray McCrory (Chief, SALT Staff)
    • [name not declassified] (Office of Scientific Intelligence)
    • ACDA
    • Spurgeon Keeny (Acting Director)
    • Alan Neidle (Dep. Asst. Director for Multi-Lateral Affairs)
    • Charles Floweree (Chief, Intelligence Relations Division)
    • OSTP
    • John Marcum (Senior Policy Analyst)
    • White House
    • David Aaron
    • NSC
    • General Jasper Welch
    • Jerry Oplinger
    • Marshall Brement
    • Jim Rentschler

The mini-SCC met to review whether the U.S. should now agree to the formation of a CD Working Group to begin discussion of CW issues. (C)

Keeny reviewed the current situation. In the bilateral negotiation, progress has been very slow because of Soviet intransigeance on basic issues, above all verification questions. Our substantive position is clearly defined and we want a treaty on our terms, but the prospects are not now encouraging. Pressures have mounted for multilateral involvement; our allies and others strongly desire it and the Soviets support it. Our isolation on this question is politically costly and not helping to achieve our objective. ACDA believes we should agree to the formation of a CD Working Group with a one-year mandate to compile a list of topics to be covered by a treaty.2 This will put pressure on the Soviets on substantive questions. (C)

David Aaron asked what other matters are on the CD agenda this year. Floweree said they will be considering: 1) RW, 2) CW, 3) negative security assurances, and 4) comprehensive program for disarmament. (U)

Kahan reviewed the foreign policy considerations involved. The Soviets are stonewalling in the bilateral negotiation and exploiting our isolation on the CD question, making it appear that the U.S. is the intransigeant party. The Soviets are vulnerable on their positions, and also on their reported use of chemical weapons in Southeast Asia and

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Afghanistan.3 Thus, CD involvement can help to bring pressure on them in the bilateral. The allies have consistently indicated their strong desire for CD involvement, both before and since the Afghanistan invasion.4 They want serious verification provisions and will strongly support us. France has just entered the CD arena; French views and interests on this subject are similar to our own. By accommodating these allied pressures, we will gain political credit and improve our position vis-a-vis the Soviets. The nonaligned do not understand many of the issues, and this provides an opportunity to educate them and expose the weakness of the Soviet position; the majority is likely to support us. The PRC will take its seat for the first time this year, and has expressed an interest in CW; this provides an opportunity to work with them on an arms control issue. If we maintain our present position, the PRC will be frustrated and complain of superpower dominance. (C)

General Pustay said that the JCS views the problem in a military context; the Soviets are well ahead in CW capabilities and we can neither deter or respond in kind. Only the bilateral forum can provide a negotiated solution. If we yield now to pressures for multilateral involvement, we will create expectations for a treaty which may well be translated into later pressures for relaxation of our substantive position. It is better to take minimum losses now than larger losses later. The Joint Chiefs also believe that the U.S. should review our entire position on CW in light of the lack of progress, and reconsider the question of CW modernization. (C)

Davis said that the Secretary of Defense supports the Joint Chiefs on modernization and on the need to proceed with a binary facility. But OSD does not believe that the tactical question of CD involvement is linked to these issues, and need not prejudice them. (C)

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Aaron suggested that we take advantage of the upcoming consultations with allied and other western countries to build a strong consensus as a basis for US agreement to CD involvement. We would make clear that we have not yet decided, but are considering a shift in our past position if satisfactory assurances are received that we will have strong support to avoid expansion of the CD’s role or erosion of our position on verification. To reduce the problem of raising false expectations, we will emphasize that we would take this step because of the lack of progress in the bilateral, and need to be sure that it will strengthen, not weaken, prospects for a satisfactory bilateral outcome. We would then take a final decision before the opening of the CD session on February 6, in the light of responses to this approach. (C)

There was general consensus with this approach, except for the JCS representative who said that he was unable to concur. (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 81, Chemical and Biological Warfare, 1–6/80. Confidential. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. ACDA’s position is laid out in a memorandum from Davies to Brzezinski, January 22; Ibid.
  3. Reports that the Soviet Union’s ally Vietnam had employed chemical weapons against tribes in Laos and Cambodia had been publicized by the ACDA and the CIA on December 12, 1979. On December 20, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Resolution condemning such actions. (“Statement by the ACDA Assistant Director for Multilateral Affairs (Davies) Before a Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: Use of Chemical Weapons in Indochina, December 12, 1979,” “Central Intelligence Agency Paper: Chemical Warfare in Laos, December 12, 1979,” and “House Resolution 512: Use of Chemical Agents in Indochina, December 20, 1979,” in Documents on Disarmament, 1979, pp. 810–814, 820–821) Regarding the use of chemical weapons in Afghanistan by Soviet forces, telegram 20775 to Conakry and other posts, January 24, contains the text of Department of State Press Secretary Hodding Carter III’s statement concerning “unconfirmed” press reports that the Soviets had used chemical weapons in Afghanistan. He linked these reports to previous allegations about the use of chemical weapons by Laos and Vietnam. Carter said that if the reports were true, “such action would be an outrageous and inhuman act against defenseless peoples” and made the conclusion of a chemical weapons convention more “urgent.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800042–0556)
  4. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. Documentation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XII, Afghanistan.