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135. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Mini-SCC Meeting—Sverdlovsk (C)

A Mini-SCC on the possible BW incident at Sverdlovsk, USSR, was held from 1000–1130 on July 29, 1980.2 The purpose was to discuss possible options open to the U.S. in view of the recent Soviet rejection of the third U.S. request for information on this matter.

D. Aaron (Chairman) opened by asking for a review of the adequacy of the U.S. case, not from the perspective of what we believe happened but how well we could defend ourselves publicly on that case, especially if we decided to react by taking public steps such as submitting our case to the UN, withdrawing from participation in treaty, etc. S. Keeny (ACDA) led response, pointing out that we do have some problems with the case, especially regarding releasability of information [less than 1 line not declassified]. A classified white paper is being prepared in ACDA which will primarily consist of assertions without evidence. Keeny pointed out that soft spots in our case include

[5 lines not declassified]

Aaron summed up this phase of the discussion by noting that we do not have as much assurance as we would need that there was a BW violation; the most we can say with assurance is that the Soviets have failed to be forthcoming on a serious matter. Bartholomew (State) added that we can at least say we have enough evidence for legitimate concern; there was general agreement on this. W. Slocombe (OSD) argued that the focus of our case should be Soviet refusal to cooperate in resolving the problem.

The discussion shifted to what actions the U.S. should take. Slocombe argued that we should continue to press the Soviets along the line we have already, at least in the short term until the UNGA in September. The Soviets are resourceful enough to creatively change their line if we put them on notice that this is a very serious matter to us, that their stone-walling behavior jeopardizes further arms control agree[Page 294]ments, and that we take cooperation in verifying arms control agreements very seriously. Bob Barry (State EUR) said Soviets would never go beyond their current position. A discussion ensued about what we could realistically expect if we did cause the Soviet side to be more forthcoming, how much leverage we can hope to exert, and the options available for exerting such leverage. Consensus was that we want to deter Soviet pursuit of BW, avoid damage to arms control generally—and that a fuller explanation and corrective action would help on both scores, but that a good deal of damage had already been done.

Aaron summarized and cited tasks ahead.

—First, proceed with preparation of the White Paper (ACDA). We can then estimate its usefulness and decide what to do with it.

—Go to the British; get them to weigh in. (Also use presentation to them as a test case of the persuasiveness of our evidence to a sympathetic audience.) (State put together a proposal; will pass staff analysis to them as soon as possible [less than 1 line not declassified]).

—Pursue another démarche, either in Washington or Moscow, as described above. Emphasize we want an answer at the senior political level. (State to circulate proposal).

—[2 lines not declassified]

—Explore possibility of using the incident as a vehicle for proposing to amend and clarify the verification and permitted quantity clauses if we have to go multilateral. (ACDA).

Robert M. Weekley Colonel, USA
Assistant for Negotiations ODUSD (Policy Planning)
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harold Brown Papers, Box 82, Brown Files—General #1, Biological Weapons. Secret. Copies were sent to Komer, McGiffert, Slocombe, Davis, and Buckley. Prepared by Weakley; and approved by Slocombe. A hand-written note under the date reads “Walt—This is a good outcome. Well done—Lynn.”
  2. No minutes or summary of conclusions of this meeting were found.