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

SUBJECT

  • Anti-Satellite Limits

This will acknowledge your memorandum of October 132 on anti-satellite limits. I am happy to have your approval on pursuing this subject with the Soviets in the Standing Consultative Commission.

I understand and agree with your desire to strengthen the Moscow channel for exchanges with the Soviets. I believe, however, that it would be desirable at the same time to pursue this particular subject in Washington.

The way this issue was left with Dobrynin last summer, the next step is for the US to make a substantive proposal on ASAT limits after which a forum for further negotiations can be established. Our approach to the Soviets thus should include a brief exposition of our proposal to ban ASAT systems, our proposal for a prompt moratorium on testing ASAT systems while the talks are under way, and our proposal for conducting these negotiations in the Standing Consultative Commission. We will therefore be beginning a complex negotiation. The Soviets in all likelihood will ask questions, seek clarifications, and perhaps make counter-proposals because of the complexities of this subject. I believe that concurrent approaches in Washington and Moscow will avoid the difficulties and potential misunderstanding of handling these sensitive matters entirely by exchanging cables with Embassy Moscow.

This is, of course, a US initiative proposed by you to Gromyko in March.3 While we don’t know yet what the Soviet attitude will be, all signs point to an uphill struggle to achieve their consent to a comprehensive and verifiable agreement. The position adopted by the President is the one which State and ACDA recommended as a means of dealing with one of the more important arms control problems. It will help immensely to get these negotiations off to the best possible start and to convey to the Soviets the impression that we consider this to be an important issue, that our approach is fair and balanced as well as [Page 37]comprehensive, and that the best forum for pursuing these negotiations is the SCC. If possible, I believe you should take this up personally with Ambassador Dobrynin at the same time that Ambassador Toon talks with appropriate officials in Moscow. If your schedule won’t permit this, perhaps Marshall Shulman and Spurgeon Keeny, who follows this subject closely, might be designated to make the initial Washington approach.

Paul C. Warnke
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P770184–0491. Secret.
  2. Not found.
  3. See Document 3.