138. Message From Secretary of State Muskie to President Carter 1

WH07366. Forwarded per request of Secretary Muskie. Please deliver as soon as possible. Subject: Muskie-Dobrynin Meeting: Follow-up to Gromyko Bilateral.

1. (S—Entire text).

2. Begin summary. Secretary Muskie met with Ambassador Dobrynin October 42 to take up several issues which time had prevented his raising with Gromyko in New York:3 Poland, the Sverdlovsk anthrax outbreak, the September 14 Soviet high-yield test, prospects for Madrid,4 including human rights issues, and a problem affecting continuation of construction of the new Moscow Embassy complex. He also responded to a question which Gromyko had raised during the New York bilateral on PD–59.5 In response, Dobrynin complained that most of what the Secretary had to say was negative, that there was nothing very positive about it. On the specific issues raised, Dobrynin said the Poles knew how to handle their problems without outside interference; there was no utility in continuing to discuss Sverdlovsk; he had no information as yet on the September 14 test; our plans for discussing human rights issues at Madrid would have a very negative effect; and he could understand that the construction problem was one that might bother us. The Secretary pointed out that the fact that we continued to set forth our views frankly, in an effort to lessen the differences between us, should not be regarded as “negative.” He also stressed the importance of resolving issues which would facilitate our efforts to achieve ratification of SALT II. End summary.

[Page 303]

3. The Secretary told Dobrynin he thought his talk with Gromyko in New York on September 25 had been very useful and that he had appreciated Gromyko’s frankness and relaxed tone. Despite the fact that the meeting had been extended beyond the agreed time, however, there were several subjects we had not had time to cover. He thought the best way to treat these was to set out our position on each of them in a Non-Paper, briefly and without any polemics, which Dobrynin could transmit to Gromyko. If there were additional subjects which Gromyko would like to bring to the Secretary’s attention in a similar manner he would be glad to consider them.

4. The Secretary then summarized each of the issues orally and at the end of his presentation handed Dobrynin the following Non-Paper:

Begin text:

Follow-up to September 25 meeting.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Sverdlovsk incident.]

On arms control matters, we wish to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to SALT II ratification and to the achievement of progress in CTB, MBFR, CW, and ASAT. We would also like to raise two matters which could have far reaching implications for the future of arms control negotiations in general and, in the near term, for SALT II ratification. First, the inability to find a suitable means of resolving the concerns expressed by the United States regarding the April 1979 outbreak of anthrax in Sverdlovsk raises serious questions concerning Soviet compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention. This is a problem that will not simply go away with the passage of time. We continue to believe that the best way to resolve our legitimate concerns in this matter would be to arrange for technical discussions among experts. Although we prefer to resolve this matter on a bilateral basis, the U.S. Government will also consider other ways to resolve our concerns in accordance with the terms of the Biological Weapons Convention—including possible multilateral action. Soviet cooperation in resolving this matter would be a very positive step.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Sverdlovsk incident.]

5. Dobrynin said he would of course report the Secretary’ remarks to Gromyko. Overall, however, his impression was that they, quite frankly, were not very encouraging. He then commented briefly on the individual issues raised as follows:

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Sverdlovsk incident.]

—The U.S. knows the Soviet position on arms control very well: The Soviets favor a continuation. But we have discussed Sverdlovsk “hundreds of times” and he doesn’t see anything useful in discussing it [Page 304] further. As for the September 14 Soviet nuclear test, he has no information as yet.6

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to the Sverdlovsk incident.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Box 5, USSR (General): 9/77–12/80. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only; Nodis. Sent from the White House Situation Room. The initial “C” written in the upper right-hand corner of the message indicates that Carter saw it. Carter spent October 4 and 5 in a fishing cabin in Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) The message is printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 304.
  2. For the Muskie-Dobrynin meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 303.
  3. Muskie and Gromyko met on September 25. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 302.
  4. Delegates of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe met in Madrid to discuss implementing the Final Act of the 1975 Helsinki Conference. For more on this, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. V, European Security, 1977–1983.
  5. Presidential Directive 59, “Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy,” was issued on July 25. PD 59 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. IV, National Security Policy.
  6. On October 27, Dobrynin presented an oral note from Gromyko to Muskie in response to the Non-Paper. Muskie’s claim that the U.S. wanted “normal relations” with the Soviet Union, the note said, was belied by the Secretary’s October 4 comments. “The choice of the questions and the way they are posed,” the note contended, “do not indicate a readiness by the US side to seek mutual understanding. We have no desire to engage in polemics for the sake of polemics. But we, understandably, cannot silently pass over statements and actions of the US side with which we cannot agree.” Regarding Sverdlovsk, the note said “We reaffirm our position on the question regarding an outbreak of anthrax in the area of Sverdlovsk.” (Telegram 287283 to Moscow, October 28; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P910096–1812)