11. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Secretary of State Vance, Secretary of Defense Brown, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (McIntyre), the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Warnke), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Brown), the Director of Central Intelligence (Turner), the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Frosch), and the Special Advisor to the President for Science and Technology (Press)1


  • Arms Control for Antisatellite (ASAT) Systems

The President has reviewed the subject decision paper submitted by the Chairman, PRM/NSC–23 Policy Review Committee,2 and has approved Approach Four as the desired goal for our negotiations with the Soviets. This approach seeks a relatively comprehensive agreement which would ban all ASAT capabilities except electronic warfare. The ban would prohibit testing in space or against objects in space, deploy[Page 34]ment, or use of any ASAT for physical attack on satellites. The current Soviet orbital interceptor would be dismantled.3

Further, the President has directed continuation of our own research and development (R&D) on ASAT systems pending an agreement. These programs should be vigorously pursued with a comprehensive R&D program short of operational or space-based testing, carrying to production only those elements which we cannot get the Soviets to include in a treaty. Beyond that, some R&D should be continued as a hedge against Soviet breakout. The policy for public release of information on U.S. ASAT development will be to enhance the likelihood of Soviet acceptance of the U.S. proposals.

Finally, the President directs that the U.S. Government insist on strict terms in any agreement regarding discontinuance of testing, use and dismantling of projected or current Soviet ASAT capabilities. Emphasis is to be placed on the verifiability of the specific agreement to be proposed pursuant to this directive, with vigorous pursuit of a program to insure the capability to verify agreements reached. The first order of business with the Soviets should be to seek a prompt end to their ASAT testing.

An SCC Working Group including members from ACDA and DOD should develop detailed terms of reference and negotiation work packages for Special Coordination Committee review.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 41, Folder 3, PRM–23 [3]. Top Secret.
  2. See Document 6.
  3. Reference is to the Soviet missile that could be targeted against low-altitude targets such as reconnaissance aircraft and, potentially, satellites. See memorandum to holders of National Intelligence Estimate 11–3–71, “Soviet Strategic Defenses,” August 19, 1971. The text of the memorandum is in the CIA FOIA Electronic Reading Room (www.foia.cia.gov).