115. Memorandum From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Earle) to Secretary of State Vance 1

SUBJECT

  • Congressional Consultations on BW Convention Compliance Question

I have now consulted with Senators Church, Javits and Baker and Congressmen O’Neill, Rhodes, Wright, Zablocki and Bloomfield2 on the subject of the question we have raised with the Soviets relative to compliance with the BW Convention. An appointment with Senator Byrd3 could not be arranged.

All the Members that I briefed were calm in their reactions and considered this to be a serious matter that should be pursued with the Soviets. Chairman Zablocki urged that our Allies get out in front on this issue, as it is just as much a concern of theirs and in Soviet eyes these days anything we do of this nature is suspect. Chairman Zablocki asked if the Review Conference couldn’t be extended until we had an answer. I undertook to consider these suggestions.

Chairman Church expressed concern over what we would do next, if we got a negative answer from the Soviets. He observed that in view of the U.S. press reports, the Soviets would probably believe that this was a deliberate plot by the United States. I replied that at this time we were awaiting the Soviet reply, considering what we should say in our plenary statement at the Review Conference and giving general consideration to any further steps.

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Senator Baker asked if there was any connection between this issue and the allegations of gas warfare in Afghanistan. I replied that the two were completely separate questions and involved different international agreements. Senator Baker asked whether there was anything he could do to help. I expressed the hope that the Congress would be restrained in its reaction and permit us time to review and assess the Soviet response and consider next steps. Senator Javits said that we should insist on a Soviet response prior to the close of the Review Conference and I said that we had indicated to them that the nature of their response would determine the character of our plenary statement at the Conference.

Congressman Rhodes said that we had enough difficulties of this type at this time and it was too bad we had another problem. Speaker O’Neill and Congressmen Wright and Broomfield listened closely and expressed appreciation for the briefing.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 83, USSR: 3/20–31/80. No classification marking. Copies were sent to Brown, Jones, Turner, and Brzezinski.
  2. Senators Frank Church (D-Idaho), Jacob Javits (R-New York), Howard Baker (R-Tennessee), and Congressmen and Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill (D-Massachusetts), House Minority Leader John Rhodes (R-Arizona), House Majority Leader James “Jim” Wright, (D-Texas), Clement Zablocki, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (D-Wisconsin), and William Broomfield (R-Michigan).
  3. Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia).