167. Memorandum From Secretary of Defense Brown to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Proposed Strategy for CTB Negotiations (U)

(U) The Department of Defense has reviewed the proposed strategy paper concerning the U.S. position in the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) negotiations.2 We support the general thrust of the paper but believe that some clarification and modification are required to minimize the potential impact on U.S. national security.

—(S) Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE). We must recognize that a treaty which does not ban all nuclear explosions by all nuclear powers is, by definition, not comprehensive. We do not view PNE to be acceptable in the long or short run; they must be discontinued to preclude military benefits from the testing of any nuclear explosive devices. We would expect the Soviets to continue their research, development, and engineering of nuclear explosive devices, and remain poised to resume testing at an opportune time. From this, they would be able to acquire military benefits the U.S. may deny itself. Because of this asymmetry, we feel that the PNE deferral proposal should contain some form of review after a specified period such as five years. Insistence on a formal review would better demonstrate that this issue will remain a major concern of the U.S.

(S) The tone of the memorandum to the President is more optimistic than is warranted. In that respect, I do not agree with the relevance or accuracy of the analogy attributed to a Soviet military official (page 5, second paragraph).3

—(S) Verification. A related issue is the need, in our CTB strategy, to address what concessions the Soviets may expect from us if they agree to terminating PNE. Some aspect of our verification proposal would be the likely target, since the Soviets would have little concern about the U.S. resuming a PNE program. The proposed strategy should specifically state that a technically adequate number of automatic and secure seismic stations inside the U.S.S.R. are a sine-qua-non of the U.S. [Page 398] position. The Dobrynin memorandum (on page 3 line 10)4 should also state “... a necessary number of secure automatic seismic observato-ries... ,” not “unmanned, unobtrusive seismic observatories.” The words “unmanned” and “unobtrusive” could complicate the negotiations. The proposed strategy should further state that on-site inspections, whether “mandatory” or “cooperatively arranged” remain an integral part of the U.S. position.

(S) While I fully appreciate the sense of urgency to take advantage of perceived opportunities in timing, I want to emphasize that an acceptable long-term resolution has the higher priority. On-going technical study and development of verification measures are essential but still incomplete; e.g., what nuclear experiments will be allowed, how should PNE be defined, what is the value of seismic monitoring, and what is the value of sub-kiloton testing? I also have reservations about presenting this package now from the tactical point of view. For example, by tabling this paper, we will be in a position of indicating some “give”—no matter how limited—on the crucial PNE issue. We would be compromising the on-site issue without assurance of Soviet acceptance of the requisite number of seismic stations. An alternative tactic might be to seek resolution with the Soviets of the verification, duration and participation issues, positioning the talks so that only Soviet insistence on PNE blocked agreement. At that point, we might have a better prospect of inducing Soviet acceptance by proposing the face-saving PNE deferral proposal. In any case, this is the kind of question which ought to be discussed at an SCC or an NSC meeting prior to presentation to the Soviets and not handled strictly on paper, since there are both substantive technical and tactical issues that should be addressed.

(S) Finally, I presume that action will be taken to consult with our British colleagues on this matter.

(U) My views on the above are shared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.5

Harold Brown
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–80–0017, Box 63, A–400.112 TEST BAN (Aug–Dec) 1977. Secret; Noforn.
  2. See Document 166.
  3. See footnote 8, Document 166.
  4. See footnote 2, Document 166.
  5. In a September 21 memorandum to George Brown outlining their views on the CTB negotiations. Slocombe and Joint Staff Director Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin discussed the proposed strategy for the CTB negotiations. A typed notation on the memorandum indicates that Smith initialed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s approval on September 21. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–80–0017, Box 63, A–400.112 TEST BAN (Aug–Dec) 1977)