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122. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

109665. Subject: Consultations on Reported use of Chemical Weapons (CW).

1. (Secret—Entire text)

2. Summary: We believe the reports of Chemical Weapons (CW) use in Indochina and Afghanistan require greater international attention and that they should be investigated further by an impartial international team. We are planning to send out an interagency team to selected capitals to discuss the issue further. This message instructs action addressees to approach host governments to set up meetings for the team with appropriate host government officials. The request for administrative assistance in arranging the team’s trip will follow Septel. End summary.

3. The USG continues to be deeply concerned over continuing reports that Chemical Weapons (CW) are being used in Laos, Kampuchea and Afghanistan. These reports are sufficiently credible to warrant greater international attention to discourage such use and help ensure that Chemical Weapons are not used in any conflict, current or future, in any region of the world. We believe the most effective means of obtaining the necessary attention and action would be through an impartial international investigation.

4. Reports of the use of Chemical Weapons are not and should not be a matter of concern to the United States alone. To stress the seriousness with which the USG views this issue, to stimulate support for such an investigation, and to encourage other actions which could contribute to the resolution of the problem, we plan to send out a special interagency team of policy officials [less than 1 line not declassified] to se[Page 267]lected capitals. Other key nations will be contacted either in Washington or through our embassies (we will be sending Septels on this later.)

5. Mr. Mark Palmer (Director, State, PM/DCA) will head the team and will be accompanied by officials from the Department of Defense, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the State Department’s Legal Advisor’s Office. The trip and our separate consultations will have three specific purposes:

—A. To share the evidence we have collected to date, and to encourage others to join in pooling with us any evidence they may have or obtain.

—B. To describe the diplomatic steps we have taken to date, and to learn what actions other governments have taken.

—C. To present US ideas for further steps, to consider any ideas others may have, to obtain support in the evidence collection effort and to seek agreement on a common strategy which would include having an objective international investigation of the reports conducted.

6. Action addressees are requested to set up meetings for the team with appropriate host government officials concerned with arms control, security and foreign policy issues, and the regions involved. In approaching host governments and initiating these consultations, embassies may draw on points contained paras 3–5 above.

7. For Geneva: We will be in touch with mission by phone to discuss arrangements for team’s meetings in Geneva.

[Omitted here is the travel schedule for the Palmer team.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800206–0389. Secret; Priority. Sent Priority to Paris, Bern, Bonn, Rome, Brussels, The Hague, USNATO, Copenhagen, Stockholm. Sent for information Priority to the Mission in Geneva, USUN, Islamabad, Vientiane, Moscow, Bangkok, Ottawa, Canberra, Tokyo, the U.S National Military Representative to the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Belgium, and Wellington. Drafted by Murray and David Carlson (PM/CA); cleared by Oplinger and Brement, Jack Smith and Manuel Sanches (JCS), Alan Overmeyer (T), Peter Wilson (S/P), Robert Peck and Richard Norton (NEA/PAB), Avis Bohlen (EUR/RPM), Edgar Beigel (EUR/WE), Charles Hoettle (EUR/CE), Cameron Sanders and William Menold (IO), Mark Palmer (PM/DCA), [name not declassified] (CIA), George Gasberri (DIA), Merle MacDonald (OSD), Robert Mikulak (ACDA/MA/AT), Richard Combs (S/MS), Edmund McWilliams and Michael Gelner (EA/VLC), Martin Mclean (EUR/SOV), Neil Michaud, Richard Thompson, and Dennis Goodman (EUR/NE), Michael Matheson (L/PM), and Robert Martin and Gary Crocker (INR/PMA); and approved by Mark Palmer (PM).