180. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Instructions for CTB Negotiations

The CTB negotiations will resume on Monday, December 5, in Geneva for about two weeks, followed by a holiday recess until mid-January. The SCC has completed an analysis of Brezhnev’s recent proposal along with a Working Paper2 on the key elements of a CTB Treaty which we would plan to hand to the Soviets during the December session.

The SCC met3 on Friday4 to discuss the key issues in these negotiations. Agreement was reached on a recommended position on duration, PNEs, and internal seismic stations, but ACDA reserved its position on on-site inspection (OSI). To attempt to bridge the gap between our mandatory and the Soviet voluntary OSI positions, the Working Group had recommended that we propose a “challenge” OSI formulation that would require some justification for any decision to refuse an OSI request. I pointed out that in my view there would be little value in such a provision (it is really not a “challenge inspection” but just a right to receive an explanation) and suggested that we insist that in addition [Page 424] to justification for any refusal of OSI requests each party would be entitled to a small annual quota of mandatory inspections if it found such justification unsatisfactory.

ACDA (Spurgeon Keeny) opposed this approach, arguing that the Soviets would reject it and consider it a very negative step in the negotiations; however Harold Brown, Cy Vance, Frank Press, Jim Schlesinger, Stan Turner, and the JCS (Dave Jones) all endorsed this approach as a useful means of enhancing confidence in the treaty. Subsequently, Paul Warnke has sent you a strongly worded dissent by cable from Geneva, which Cy Vance has endorsed (Tab B).5 Paul argues that a mandatory quota of OSIs would be of little practical value; that the Soviets would strongly oppose it and harden their position on other negotiating issues, and that it could be a “political booby trap” in that it could increase the domestic costs of eventually moving to challenge inspection in order to achieve a CTB agreement with the Soviets.

While I do not rule out challenge inspection as an eventual acceptable outcome, I do not agree with Paul’s arguments. If a mandatory inspection quota really made no sense, then what would be the sense of “the right to challenge” or “producing a carefully constructed on-site inspection provision” . . . but one which the Soviets can completely refuse us the right to conduct? On the contrary, I believe there would be considerable value in a small annual quota of mandatory inspections; certainly fewer than might be needed, but enough to build confidence in the treaty and reassure likely Senate critics. Coupled to an obligation to provide adequate explanation, such a quota would help resolve uncertainties and give us higher verifiability.

As Paul notes, the Soviet negotiators will probably strongly resist a mandatory quota; however, its negotiability may be enhanced by our two track approach—e.g., the bilateral agreement would have the mandatory quota but the multilateral treaty would only require challenge OSI. Further, President Kennedy got Krushchev at one point to agree to a quota of two or three mandatory OSIs (and black boxes) per year,6 and it is by no means certain that you could not achieve a similar outcome. With regard to Paul’s argument that this could increase the domestic cost of eventually settling for challenge inspection, the Senate is well aware that we have insisted on mandatory OSI as a prerequisite for a CTB for over two decades and to abandon it at this stage without having made a determined effort at the political level could have even greater costs.

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As a final point, Cy Vance has noted that the UK might insist on going with challenge inspection; however, in our consultations with them, the British have indicated that they do not have a firm position on verification and will follow our lead on these issues. Consequently, I recommend that you authorize us to propose a small annual quota of mandatory inspections in addition to the obligation for explanation of any refusals. I have in mind that the quota might be perhaps two or three per year, but we will have the Working Group take a quick look at this to ensure that it is consistent with our needs.

As you know, Defense was anxious that tabling the Working Paper might prejudice our position on the sorts of experiments that could be conducted under a CTB, or the detailed nature of verification provisions we would need on on-site inspection and internal seismic stations. These issues are currently undergoing intensive interagency study and we will not be ready to discuss them in detail until January. However, the Working Paper was carefully drafted to avoid prejudicing these issues, and in the SCC discussion we agreed to some modifications which will further protect us on these issues, including an explicit caveat to this effect in your instructions to Paul Warnke. Harold would still prefer on balance to withhold the portions of the paper dealing with prohibitions on weapons tests or PNEs, pending further SCC review, but can accept tabling of the entire document subject to the agreed modifications and caveat in your instructions.

Following is a brief discussion of the other key issues, together with the SCC agreed recommendations:

PNEs. The Soviets have proposed that their three-year moratorium on PNEs be incorporated in a Protocol to the CTB treaty which would call for continuing negotiations on how to permit PNEs in the future. We would agree to having a Protocol on PNEs, providing that it is integrally linked to the treaty and would remain in force concurrently with the treaty. Rather than agree to continue negotiations on how to permit PNEs, we would simply offer to keep them under consideration and would insist that any subsequent agreement on PNEs would require an amendment of the treaty with our agreement.

Duration. Consistent with previous instructions, Paul Warnke would be authorized to indicate, while maintaining our position that the treaty should continue in force indefinitely without French or Chinese adherence, that each party should have the right to withdraw from the treaty with one year’s advance notice if it determined that continued testing by a non-party affected its security.

Internal Seismic Stations. The Soviets continue to object to our concept of “black boxes,” but have indicated that they would be willing to consider joint design of “national stations” in order to assure adequate authentication of seismic data. From a verification standpoint, it is un[Page 426]important to us whether these stations are automated, manned by Soviet nationals, or jointly manned, provided that our requirement for timely transmission of authenticated seismic data can be met. Consequently, we would indicate flexibility of labeling of the stations, which could result in Soviet willingness to agree to use of our equipment and consideration of a larger number of stations for this purpose than would otherwise be the case.

We have prepared a cable to Paul (Tab A)7 for your approval which is consistent with the above recommendations and would instruct the Delegation to table the modified Working Paper at Tab C.8 In my view, the tabling of this document with our movement towards the Soviet position on the PNE protocol, seismic stations and duration, even with the tough OSI position, constitutes a forthcoming response to the Soviet proposal, which maintains our essential requirements on duration and verification, and should facilitate the process of beginning negotiation of treaty language in January.


That you approve the position taken by NSC, OSTP, Defense, Energy and CIA by authorizing the cable to Paul Warnke at Tab A. _______

No, revise in the light of the State/ACDA position. ______9

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 6, Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB), 3–12/77. Secret. Sent for action. In the upper-right hand corner, Carter wrote “Zbig I agree with Paul/Cy—Keep black boxes & ‘right to challenge’ strong. J.”
  2. Telegram 290032 to the Mission in Geneva, December 5, contains the elements of the Working Paper. (National Archives, RG 383, Records of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Office of the Director, Standing Consultative Commission and Comprehensive Test Ban Files, Accession #383–98–0146, Box 1, CTB Working Papers on Permitted Experiments Under Test Ban, December 1977)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 179.
  4. December 2.
  5. Not attached.
  6. Kennedy and Khrushchev discussed the issue of inspections at the 1961 Vienna Summit. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. VII, Arms Control and Disarmament, Document 31.
  7. Not attached.
  8. Not attached.
  9. Carter did not indicate a preference with respect to the recommendation.