174. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

9319. Exdis USCTB. Pass to DOE. Subject: CTB Negotiations: Recommended Strategy.

CTB Message No. 46.

For the President and Secretary of State from Paul Warnke.

1. Summary: I believe strongly that most effective and expeditious way of promoting concrete CTB negotiations on terms favorable to US is to (a) recess current round late next week (Nov. 3 or 4); (b) approach Soviets at high political level as soon as possible after recess to present package proposal designed to maximize pressure for Soviet acceptance of PNE ban; (c) begin a relatively brief round (about two weeks) at end of November or beginning of December to table US package formally and provide further explanation of it; and (d) resume more detailed negotiations in latter half of January. This message outlines reasons for this recommended approach. End summary.

2. After merely repeating previous positions in first weeks of present round, Soviets have recently made substantial effort to create impression that they are willing to compromise on some key CTB issues, particularly on questions of procedures for carrying out on-site inspections and of seismic stations on US and Soviet territory designed and operated to provide authenticated seismic data. They have also said they expect to present new position on question of nuclear weapon state adherence requirement for treaty entry into force. On central issue of Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE), however, they have continued to insist that exception be made for such explosions. On an informal basis, they have mentioned various schemes which they assert should meet our concerns about the military benefits of PNE, such as (a) US access to Soviet PNE designs and devices; (b) joint US-Soviet program for device development and production; and (c) US supply of devices for projects on Soviet territory. (It is not clear whether this last idea includes Soviet supply of devices for US and third countries.) Morokhov, head of Soviet Delegation, recently returned from consultations in

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Moscow to say he hoped to get positive new instructions on several questions by November 1 or 2 (see Septel).2

3. In my view, recent Soviet flexibility on such questions as verification and entry into force can be attributed, at least in part, to tactical judgment that their reasonableness on those matters may help persuade US to accommodate them on PNEs. They may reason that, by prolonging round and making progress on verification and entry into force, they can isolate question of PNEs and maximize pressure on our position. The three ideas they have floated informally for accommodating PNEs (para two, above) seem designed to entice US into a detailed technical exploration of means to exempt PNEs. While superficially attractive in terms of the level of intrusiveness involved, all are seriously deficient on non-proliferation grounds, all are of questionable practicability, and, as far as military benefits are concerned, they are at best capable of dividing those benefits between the USSR and US (ideas two and three) and at worst unable to eliminate unilateral Soviet benefits (first idea).

4. In my judgment, our immediate objective should be to get the Soviet leadership to come to grips with the reality that we are not prepared to pursue PNE accommodation schemes, that reaching agreement with us on a CTB will require a basic change of Soviet thinking on PNEs, and that, once the central issue of PNEs is resolved, it will be possible to find mutually acceptable solutions to remaining problems. In order to promote that objective, I believe we should (a) recess present round at end of next week, (b) soon thereafter (i.e. 7–10 days), make a high level approach to the Soviets, preferably at the Presidential level, to present US proposals on key CTB issues; (c) resume Geneva talks for about two weeks to give us an opportunity to table our substantive package formally and explain it; and (d) resume more detailed negotiations in latter half of January.

5. Substantive elements of an integrated package would be as follows: (a) provided the treaty bans all nuclear explosions, we could accept an obligation to keep under consideration whether PNEs should be carried out in future. The treaty would specify that PNEs could only be carried out pursuant to a treaty amendment, which would require approval by some percentage of treaty parties, including all nuclear weapon state parties. (b) We would call for an agreed number of automated seismic installations, or their functional equivalent, on US and [Page 411] Soviet territory, but without specifying a number at this stage. (c) We could then accept concept of “challenge” on-site inspections under which decision to carry out inspections would be made by mutual consent of requesting party and host party, provided procedures for carrying out such inspections are agreed in advance in legally binding form. (d) We would reiterate our position that the treaty should provide for entry into force without adherence by all nuclear powers. (e) We would also reiterate our position that, after five years have elapsed since entry into force and if all nuclear powers have not joined the treaty, parties would be able to withdraw without invoking the Supreme National Interests withdrawal clause.

6. Following are the principal reasons why I recommend the tactical and substantive approach outlined in paras four and five.

(a) The recommended date for recess will give US five full weeks of negotiations. We have been able to present our case fully, and continuing until the end of next week will enable US to receive and clarify any new positions the Soviets may take as a result of Morokhov’s recent consultations in Moscow. Prolonging the round to permit further detailed work on questions such as verification would, in my view, only put off the date when the Soviets will have to face the central PNE issue squarely. Moreover, announcing that parties plan to resume in about a month will ensure that no momentum will be lost and that the public perception of an impasse will not develop.

(b) We believe strongly that the best means of having an impact on the Soviet bureaucracy is to present our proposals in a formal, written way and to do so at a high secret political level. While the Soviets have already tabled a draft treaty, we have not given them any document that can serve as a focus for decision-making. Morokhov has formally requested that we provide such a document. Timerbaev (Soviet Deputy) has stressed to US privately that the best way of getting Soviet leadership to review its position is for US to make a formal proposal, and I believe he is right. As far as making our initial presentation at a high political level, this not only has the obvious advantage of underlining the seriousness of the proposal, but it also guards against any message presented in Geneva being distorted on its way to the Soviet leadership.

(c) We believe the modifications of our position on PNEs and on-site inspection will not damage our negotiating posture, but will in fact strengthen it in certain respects. On PNEs, there is now a degree of vulnerability in our present posture which could be misinterpreted as overly rigid and arbitrary—banning forever a conceivable application of science for peaceful purposes, a technology which the US viewed favorably a decade ago. A US proposal to include, together with an immediate ban, some reference to the possibility of future reconsider[Page 412]ation, would therefore seem entirely reasonable and prudent and, given the treaty amendment procedure, the possibility for reconsidering the PNE question would exist whether or not explicitly recognized in the treaty. Moreover, the treaty amendment procedure would give US an effective veto over any future proposal for exempting PNEs. In reality, acceptance of our modified proposal would amount to acceptance of a PNE ban. Far from being a US concession, it would reaffirm and formalize our position and put US on the strongest ground, in case we have to stand and fight on that ground for a sustained period. However, the sooner we can set forth this position, and present it in a formal and concrete way, the easier it should be for Soviet officials to pursue a serious reconsideration of the issue. Although we would not be making a concession from our standpoint, our new proposal could still be portrayed to the Soviets as a good-faith effort to meet their longer-range concerns.

(d) On the question of on-site inspections, it was concluded at the SCC meeting in September3 that “mandatory” inspections have little utility as a verification measure and, in any event, would create some serious practical difficulties if applied on US territory. Therefore, accepting the concept of “challenge” inspection is something we would wish to do on our own sooner or later. By playing that card now, we would undercut the argument by the Soviet Delegation (to US and to the Soviet leaders) that they have been reasonable on all other issues and now the US must be reasonable on PNEs. It would also show the Soviet leadership that, if they accept our PNE proposal, we are prepared to show flexibility in areas where they have in the past staked out strong positions of principle.

(e) By resuming detailed negotiations in mid-January, it would give US time to develop some of the detailed aspects of our verification position. At present, Delegation’s guidance on verification is mostly of a general character and would have to be fleshed out considerably in preparation for detailed negotiations.

7. We have discussed this approach with the British Delegation, and they strongly support both the tactical and substantive aspects, as well as the timing. British feel particularly strongly about recessing by end of next week and plan to make formal proposal to that effect on Oct 28. They anticipate no significant change in the Soviet PNE position and believe that prolonging the talks now would convey a signal of weakness in our PNE stand and would play Morokhov’s game by his rules.

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8. As indicated above, Morokhov will probably unveil modified Soviet positions on a number of issues next week. We would, of course, want to take his statement into account as we formulate and implement our approach. Nevertheless, I feel the basic course of action outlined here would be valid for dealing with most eventualities short of the announcement of a Soviet decision to accept a PNE ban. Such an unexpected development could permit prompt initiation of detailed negotiations. The exact nature of the less desirable but more likely new Soviet positions could, however, also affect timing. If, for example, the proposals amounted to substantial movement toward US positions, including that on PNEs, we might wish to demonstrate our interest by resuming soon after Thanksgiving (Nov 28) with only a little more than three weeks break, and begin detailed negotiations as soon as we have a detailed position to present. However, if their ideas are less significant, we could hold off until about December 5 and then meet for only one or two weeks for the limited purpose of tabling our proposal.

9. In order to facilitate the development of a package proposal, should this recommended strategy be approved, the US CTB Delegation will send to Washington separately a draft paper for possible formal presentation in December.

10. At present time, it appears that, subject to unexpected developments, we will recess at end of next week (Nov 3 or 4) and agree to resume in about one month. Decision on whether to agree to early (week of Nov 28) or later (week of December 5) resumption date, or whether to leave indefinite (“in about one month”) would be taken after Morokhov statement next week.

11. All US CTB Delegation members concur in this message.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770395–0558. Secret; Exdis; Immediate. Sent for information to London and Moscow.
  2. Telegram 9321 from Geneva, October 27, reported that Morokhov had told the Delegation that “he had just returned from Moscow and that he expected to receive new instructions about November 1 ‘give or take a day.’ Morokhov said he was certain that his instructions would be of great interest and value to US and UK Delegations and that they would enable him to make important statements on PNE as well as entry into force.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770395–0613)
  3. The SCC meeting, held on September 27, is available in Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 89, SCC 032, CTB, Negotiating Issues and Options.