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

4735. Subject: USUSSR Chemical Weapons (CW) Negotiations, Round Eleven: Summary of Developments.

CW message number 16

1. (Confidential—Entire text).

2. Summary. Round eleven represented continuation of pattern established in second half of round ten. Delegations met frequently. Despite active discussion of verification, Dels did not narrow differences on key issues in this area. Some progress was made on secondary issues and in drafting language for a joint initiative. End summary.

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3. Round eleven of the USUSSR Chemical Weapons negotiations, which began on February 11, 1980, ended on March 19, 1980. During that period eight plenary meetings and fourteen drafting group meetings were held.

4. Plenary discussions during the round dealt primarily with issues relating to on-site inspection, with problems of irritants and precursors, and with various declarations concerning chemicals used for permitted purposes. Work in the drafting group was devoted to discussion of provisions on definition of terms, non-transfer/non-assistance, permitted activities, declarations to be made within thirty days after a state becomes a party, and destruction of stocks.

5. The most noteworthy features of the round were: continuing active pace of meetings, better-focussed discussion of verification-related issues, slow progress in resolving substantive questions, drafting of additional elements for a joint initiative, and Soviet nervousness about CW discussions in the Committee on Disarmament (CD).

A) Continued active pace. Meetings were held frequently (4 days out of 5), continuing the pattern begun in the second half of the previous round. Atmosphere was business-like with no apparent indication that US-Soviet tensions were spilling into the bilateral CW negotiations. Both Delegations experienced considerable difficulty in working around schedule of other meetings (CD and the Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference).

B) Better-focussed discussion of verification-related issues. Soviets appeared more willing this round to enter into discussion of verification-related issues. This reflects pattern first observed toward end of previous round. Agreement between Dels to respond at the next plenary meeting, if possible, facilitated exchange of views. Verification-related discussions dwelt on agreed procedures for facilitating verification at declared production and filling facilities, as well as on nature of international participation in on-site inspections; procedures for challenge inspection were discussed briefly. As discussed below, while some progress was achieved on secondary issues, principal issues remain.

C) Slow progress in resolving substantive questions. Despite some progress on secondary issues, U.S. Del is disappointed that more progress was not achieved given the time and effort expended. In terms of resolving issues, this round was not much more productive than previous rounds. (Specific issues resolved are noted below). Soviets, however, appear not only comfortable with current pace but have also resisted our attempts at accelerating it.

(1) On the positive side, the Soviets:

—Agreed that herbicides should be excluded from the Convention;

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11 —Accepted U.S. proposal that production of small quantities of super-toxic lethal chemicals for protective purposes be limited to a single small-scale facility, the location of which would be declared;

—Suggested that representatives of the consultative committee be permitted to participate as observers during on-site inspections;

—Suggested a broad interpretation of the term “law-enforcement purposes” so as to cover those military uses of irritants the U.S. wishes to protect;

—Finally began to respond to April 1978 U.S. proposals on procedures for challenge inspections.

(2) On the negative side, the Soviets:

—Continued to oppose pre-agreed (i.e., mandatory) international on-site inspection;

—Continued to insist that coverage of precursors be limited to the final stage of agent production;

—Continued to oppose declaration of facilities at an early stage of the treaty regime;

—Took the position that teams carrying out challenge inspection could not bring own equipment, and that no data acquired by such teams without participation of host country personnel could be considered reliable.

(3) Entry into force. Final plenary statement contained the only Soviet reference during this round to Soviet proposal that ratification by all permanent members of the UN Security Council should be a requirement for entry into force. Reference was indirect; Soviets asked if U.S. had changed its position on entry-into-force question.

D) Drafting of further provisions for a joint initiative. Virtually all the effort in the drafting group was devoted to discussing and formulating provisions for a joint initiative. Work begun in previous round on definitions and non-transfer/non-assistance provision was continued. Ad referendum agreement was reached on several additional definitions and on the non-transfer/non-assistance element (texts being transmitted septels).2 As a result first three elements are virtually complete (element covering the basic prohibition was agreed in previous round). Work was started on elements dealing with permitted activities, with declarations to be made thirty days after a state becomes a party, and with destruction of stocks. Some progress was made in drafting language on these elements, but a number of substantive issues remain to be resolved.

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E) Soviet nervousness about CW discussions in the CD. Soviets, having cynically supported establishment of a CW working group in the CD, are obviously nervous about how it will actually function. They raised topic of CW working group in virtually every plenary meeting and sought to establish coordinated US-Soviet approach to nature of the group’s work, scheduling and chairmanship. U.S. Del assured Soviets that U.S. would avoid actions in the CD which would harm the bilateral negotiations, but avoided more specific commitments.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800150–0125. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Moscow.
  2. Not found.