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17. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • ASAT Treaty

PARTICIPANTS

  • State
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • Jerry Kahan, Deputy Director, Office of Political/Military Affairs
  • Defense
  • Secretary Harold Brown
  • Deputy Secretary Charles Duncan
  • Walter Slocombe, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs
  • JCS
  • Lt Gen William Y. Smith, Special Assistant to the Chairman
  • ACDA
  • Spurgeon Keeny, Deputy Director
  • James Timbie, Head, Strategic Affairs Division
  • NASA
  • Robert Frosch, Administrator
  • Alan Lovelace, Deputy Administrator
  • OSTP
  • Frank Press
  • Ben Huberman
  • Arthur Morrissey, Senior Analyst
  • OMB
  • Bowman Cutler, Executive Associate Director, Budget
  • Randy Jayne, Associate Director, National Security and International Affairs
  • CIA
  • Stansfield Turner
  • Sayre Stevens, Deputy Director, National Foreign Assessment Center
  • White House
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski 2
  • NSC
  • Victor Utgoff
  • Robert Rosenberg
  • Charles Stebbins

Treaty Provisions and the Initial Approach to the Soviets

It was agreed that the following general provisions are acceptable as a framework for future negotiations:

—Prohibited (peacetime or war)

ASAT system testing in space or against objects in space.

—Use of ASAT systems or readying such systems for operational use.

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—Interference with the operation of any of the other side’s space systems, including (during peacetime only) electronic warfare (EW) against satellite systems.

Permitted

—Testing of EW ASAT systems in space and against space objects.3

R&D and ASAT testing short of space or ground-to-space testing.

However, the provisions will not be used in the early stage of negotiations. Rather, Secretary Vance will contact the Soviets informally, suggesting—as a first step—that the US and the Soviets negotiate an agreement that defines an attack on a satellite of the other side as a hostile act. Secretary Vance will also suggest that, as an indication of good faith, both sides should immediately forego further ASAT testing in space or against space objects. Appropriate Congressional leaders are to be briefed on the US initiative, but the initial approach to the Soviets will be informal, unpublicized and low-key, pending indications that these negotiations have reasonable prospects for success.

Relative Impact of a Treaty on Both Sides

The Interagency Working Group (IAWG) is tasked to prepare a study of whether it would be more advantageous to negotiate a Treaty that would accept the current US/Soviet ASAT asymmetry in favor of the Soviets, or let the ASAT testing continue on both sides until capabilities on both sides have become more symmetrical.

Verification

Recognizing the difficulties in verifying an ASAT Treaty using current national means, the IAWG is tasked to study whether the US should devise new systems and procedures allowing improved verification. Included in the study will be an examination of various satellite survivability techniques that the US might employ to improve verification of any ASAT Treaty provision that prohibits hostile actions against the other side’s satellites.

Press Releases/Public Statements

The IAWG will clear all press and public statements concerning ASAT negotiations, capabilities and other activities.

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Forum for Future Negotiations

Dr. Brzezinski, Secretary Vance and Secretary Brown will decide later, among themselves, what forum the US will propose for conducting ASAT Treaty negotiations.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harold Brown Papers, Box 82, Brown Files—General #1, ASAT Arms Control. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. In the right-hand margin, an unknown hand wrote “(Chairman)” after Brzezinski’s name.
  3. In the right-hand margin, Carter wrote “seems in conflict” and drew arrows pointing to be the first sentence under the heading “Prohibited” and the first sentence under “Permitted.”