163. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1


  • Instructions for Trilateral CTB Negotiations

Following our bilateral CTB discussions with the British and Soviets, the SCC has reviewed remaining issues in preparation for trilateral CTB discussions, which begin next Wednesday2 in Geneva. This session is expected to last about two weeks, and there is general agreement that we should continue the exploratory approach you authorized for our bilateral talks,3 deferring firm decisions on verification and moratorium questions pending further exploration of Soviet flexibility on these issues.

This is particularly important in the verification area since we believe we should determine essential verification objectives and insist on accomplishing them, rather than using verification as a bargaining chip. If we establish excessive verification goals which would be relaxed in subsequent negotiation, we run the risk of generating criticism as to the adequacy of the agreement in a crucial area.

We have prepared a proposed letter from you to Paul Warnke at Tab A which is consistent with this approach and with your marginal comments on Warnke’s recent CTB report.4 You may wish to give it to him at your meeting on Monday.5

In addition, Harold Brown would like to add the proviso that we should reach agreement with the Soviets on verification before we would agree to a moratorium or a suspension of tests. State, Paul Warnke and I believe that in this exploratory stage when we do not yet have an official Soviet reaction on the question of a moratorium, it is premature to begin imposing conditions. We have not even decided we want one.

We believe you should keep your options open and reach a judgment on this question in the context of deciding on our overall position. Accordingly, the letter to Paul would have him stress the importance of [Page 381] verification but make no linkage one way or another to a moratorium. If you would like Harold’s condition included in the letter, we will revise it.

_____ leave as is6

______ revise

The other issues covered in Paul’s instructions enjoy a consensus in the SCC, at least at this stage.

Political Aspects. The Soviets can be expected to take advantage of any opportunities to use the CTB to drive a wedge between us and the Chinese and, to a lesser degree, the French. This is what lies behind their suggestion of an agreement that would expire after 18 months if France and China do not join. In view of the difficulties such a guillotine approach could generate, particularly as we try to normalize relations with Peking, we recommend that Paul Warnke be instructed to probe Soviet views more vigorously on this issue in the trilateral talks.7

Moratorium. Soviet Delegation Chairman Morokhov did not have instructions on this issue when Warnke raised it with him last month, and Paul is instructed to pursue it without commitment and subject to your decision (above) on linking it to verification.

Relationship to CCD and SALT. The Soviets were not very receptive to our approach of asking the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD) to negotiate the CTB treaty text as soon as trilateral agreement is reached on so-called “key elements.” However, since CCD involvement would be helpful in enhancing widespread adherence to the treaty, we recommend that we continue exploring this approach, but indicate that we would want full elaboration of all issues of national security importance prior to placing the negotiations before the CCD.8

We are also concerned about the linkage between CTB and SALT. The relationship of these two efforts will need to be considered in the context of possible expiration of the Interim SALT Agreement,9 but we recommend that Warnke keep the trilateral CTB discussions (and delegations) separate from the SALT and CCD discussions at this point.

Soviets Statements on PNEs. The Soviet suggestion on PNE verification could substantially reduce the military risks in permitting [Page 382] PNEs, but a treaty allowing any PNEs would lose much of its non-proliferation value. Since there is still a possibility that the Soviets eventually will yield on this issue, we recommend that we continue to press hard at present for a ban on PNEs while remaining attentive to Soviet ideas on PNE verification.

On-Site Inspection (OSI). Although OSI would have little technical verification value, a provision in the CTB treaty for on-site inspection is believed to have considerable political value. The Soviets have offered a voluntary provision, and there is general agreement that we should attempt to build10 on this provision with the objective of obtaining the strongest possible commitment from them in this area. We recommend that Warnke explore alternative formulations with this objective in mind prior to determination of our negotiating position.

Black Boxes. Our recommendation is that Warnke should continue at present to explore black boxes with the Soviets but that the SCC should more exhaustively explore their cost and utility, possible offsetting improvements in our national means, and the practicality of evasion scenarios, prior to making a final decision.11

The Next Stage

We anticipate that the principal outcome of this next round of exploratory talks may be a decision to begin formal trilateral negotiations. We can handle this in a way that either maximizes or minimizes the political impact. Paul will seek instructions on this point.


That you sign the instruction letter to Paul Warnke at Tab A.

[Page 383]

Tab A

Letter From President Carter to the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Warnke) 12

To Paul Warnke

In the trilateral CTB discussions which begin on July 13, I want you to continue the exploratory approach that I outlined in my letter of June 13,13 with the following specific objectives:

—Explore Soviet views on the political aspects of a CTB, with particular emphasis on avoiding a participation and review formulation that would be contrary to our bilateral interests with France and the People’s Republic of China. You may indicate that a shorter duration of perhaps three or four years would be acceptable if a satisfactory approach on this issue can be worked out.

—Determine whether the Soviets have an official response to your exploratory question regarding the desirability of suspending nuclear explosions at an early stage of the negotiations. I will want to review their response before making a decision on this issue.

—Indicate that in the US view, we should reach full agreement trilaterally on all issues of national security significance, before forwarding these key elements to the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament for negotiation of a complete treaty text.

—Continue to stress the importance the US attaches to adequate verification. In this context you should:

Reaffirm the US position that PNE’s should not be permitted under a CTB, and comment on Soviet PNE verification proposals.

Express the view the installations of internal networks of secure seismometers in the US and USSR could contribute to increased confidence in compliance with a CTB and seek Soviet views on that matter.

Explore alternative formulations to the Soviet on-site inspection proposal, with a view toward trying to get as strong a commitment from them as possible, and indicate that all rights and functions of the inspection teams should be agreed explicitly.

The SCC will continue its analysis of our CTB verification capability and requirements. I will want to review this analysis and the results of your discussions before making further decisions on these issues.

Depending on the course of your exploratory discussions, I would be prepared to enter into formal trilateral negotiations for the development of a comprehensive ban on nuclear explosions. You should con[Page 384]sider this issue with the British and the Soviets and seek instructions on the substance and timing of any announcement.

I am encouraged by the progress you have made and want you to continue to devote high priority to this effort. In this regard, you should ensure that our CTB discussions proceed separately from the ongoing SALT negotiations and the meetings of the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament in order to ensure adequate emphasis on this objective.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 20, PRM/NSC–38. Secret. Sent for action. In the upper right-hand corner an unknown hand wrote “All actions (Presidential annotations) completed per D.A.”
  2. July 13.
  3. Not found.
  4. Not found.
  5. July 18.
  6. Carter checked the “leave as is” option and wrote “But emphasize verification.” An unknown hand wrote “Done” in the right margin.
  7. At the end of this paragraph, Carter wrote “We need 3 years.”
  8. At the end of this paragraph, Carter wrote “I’m not sure about this. Cy should get PRC opinion on worldwide approach—informally from Huang.” An unknown hand wrote “Done” in the right-hand margin.
  9. The SALT I Interim Agreement, signed in Moscow on May 26, 1972, was scheduled to expire on October 3.
  10. Carter corrected the spelling of the world “built” here by writing a “d” over the “t.”
  11. At the end of this paragraph, Carter wrote “Check w/ Press.” An unknown hand wrote “Done” in the right-hand margin.
  12. Secret.
  13. Not found.