107. Telegram From Embassy in France to the Department of State1

3210. Subj: (C) Allied Consultations on Chemical Weapons (CW) Issues: US-Soviet Negotiations. Ref: A) State 217642 B) 79 Geneva 14533.3

1. C—Entire text.

2. Summary: In quadrilateral CW consultations, US reps briefed allies on bilateral US-Soviet CW negotiations. Allies raised a number of detailed questions. Discussion centered around verification of a CW prohibition. End summary.

3. Quadrilateral (US-UK-FRG-France) consultations on Chemical Weapons (CW) issues were held in Paris on January 28, 1980. This tele[Page 235]gram contains report of US reps on discussion of the USUSSR CW negotiations. Septels report discussions of a CW working group in the committee on disarmament (CD) and of the reported use of CW in Laos,4 Kampuchea and Afghanistan.

4. USUSSR Chemical Weapons negotiations.

A. Akalovsky (US Del head) began by stating US desire to continue CW arms control negotiations and explaining reason for postponement of consultations. He said that in the course of reviewing the US relationship with the Soviets and deciding on appropriate actions to take in response to their invasion of Afghanistan, USG concluded that CW arms control should continue to be pursued. This decision was taken both because of the important international dimension associated with CW and because it is clearly in US security interests to pursue a comprehensive CW prohibition. We were sensitive, nonetheless, to the impression which could be created by resuming a security-related bilateral negotiation within days of announcing a series of retaliatory steps against the Soviets.5 Therefore, we proposed to the Soviets that the start of the next round of the bilaterals be rescheduled to correspond with the opening of the CD. The Soviets agreed to resume the talks February 11. US view, in light of the as yet unconfirmed reports that CW is being used in Afghanistan and the evidence that it has been used recently in Southeast Asia, is that it is now all the more urgent and important to continue to press on CW arms control and conclude agreement on a comprehensive and verifiable CW prohibition. In any event, US needed this extra time in order to prepare better for these consultations as there are other important CW-related matters which we felt should be discussed, including Southeast Asia-Afghanistan and the question of how to handle CW in the CD.

B. Drawing fully on wrap-up telegram from round ten (Ref B) Akalovsky outlined noteworthy aspects of most recent round of bilateral negotiations and summarized positive and negative aspects of the round. As instructed Ref A, he informed allies that in next round US Del will continue to give priority attention to major unresolved issues, particularly verification. Del will also seek to continue drafting to nail down points thought to be agreed. Akalovsky informed allies of key points in Del’s guidance, as given Ref A, para 5C.

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C. Kunz (FRG Del head) recalled strong German support for mandatory on-site inspection of civil as well as military chemical industries and asked for clarification of US views. He noted that effort to press Soviets on this issue could have tactical value but stressed that the FRG did not want to embarrass the US by having a stronger position on this particular question. The FRG would be prepared to drop its insistence on such inspection if the US wished. Akalovsky responded that while the US did not favor this form of inspection in a CW convention, it would be useful for the FRG to maintain its position for the time being to put as much pressure as possible on the Soviet verification position. Reeve, UK Del head, added that it was difficult to see how the treaty could operate without mandatory inspection of civil industry.

D. Kunz asked whether US expected momentum from end of round ten to be maintained in next round. Citing press reports to this effect, he asked whether the US planned to enhance its CW capabilities in order to put more negotiating pressure on the Soviets. Akalovsky said that while the end of round ten was active in comparison with the almost total inaction at the beginning of the round, this development should not be overemphasized. He noted that no funds for binary Chemical Weapons have been included in the new defense budget. The issue will be reviewed late this year. Progress in the bilateral negotiations will be one of the factors considered. Akalovsky added that there is growing concern in the USG that Soviets are stonewalling on verification in the knowledge that the US offensive CW capability continues to deteriorate.

E. Reeve (UK) asked a series of questions on relatively technical aspects of the US negotiating position in the bilaterals. In response to UK inquiry as to whether special verification provisions were necessary for binary Chemical Weapons, Akalovsky said that US believed that binaries were adequately dealt with by generally applicable verification provisions. He answered UK question on possibility of a separate verification agreement with limited participation (as in CTB) saying US did not envision such an arrangement.

F. Responding to UK question about need to allow ten years for destruction of stocks, Akalovsky said this period had already been agreed. Sanches (US) said US analyses showed ten years to be necessary. When Reeve inquired how many third world countries possessed CW stocks, Akalovsky responded saying he did not have this information immediately available, but that it might be possible to exchange such data through other channels.

G. Reeve asked whether US believed CW treaty could be adequately verified by combination of national technical means and on-site inspection. Akalovsky noted that no agreement can be foolproof, but [Page 237] that if all elements of the US verification position were accepted, adequate confidence would exist.

H. French also raised a series of detailed questions d’Aboville (French Del head) asked rhetorically if it might not be possible to have separate verification agreements for those parties which possessed CW stocks and those which did not. He also noted that Soviet position on verification contains internal contradictions which could be exploited by allies. In response to question about verification provisions for non-transfer, Akalovsky (US) said that no specific provisions had been proposed and that suspected transfers could be investigated using the challenge inspection provisions.

5. Akalovsky (US) said US would continue to brief allies in Geneva and offered to have quadrilateral consultations at the end of next round of US-Soviet negotiations, if that were generally desired.

6. Following completion of quadrilateral consultations, Mikulak and Sanches met with French experts, at their request, to clarify points of uncertainty identified in French comparison of US and Soviet positions.

[Omitted here is the list of participants.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800051–0597. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Bonn, London, the Mission in Geneva, USNATO, USUN, and Moscow.
  2. See Document 106.
  3. Not found.
  4. Telegram 3199 from the Embassy in Paris, January 29, reported the discussions on the use of chemical weapons. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800073–1105) The telegram discussing a chemical weapons working group in the CD was not found.
  5. Reference is to the debates within the Carter administration and NATO about whether or not to retaliate against the Soviet Union after it invaded Afghanistan. For more on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XII, Afghanistan.