191. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Summary of Telephone Conversation between the President and Prime Minister Callaghan

The following is a paraphrase of the conversation:

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]

Callaghan: May I raise the Comprehensive Test Ban for just a moment. Your experts and ours as well, I understand, are now saying that we will need a few controlled explosions once the treaty has gone into effect, in order to verify existing stockpiles. I hope you will look into that. I would need a lot of convincing that it made sense.

The President: There had been discussion here that perhaps after two, three, or four years, after the expiration of the treaty, then there might be a need for some explosions. But to have them during the treaty would short-circuit the basic thrust of the treaty.

Callaghan: Yes, I feel that way very strongly. But the experts are convinced that some explosions are necessary. What will be necessary is a political decision, and we will have to assess the risks.

The President: This question has not been brought to me. I know that Jim Schlesinger, who heads the Energy Department and is respon[Page 465]sible for these matters, has been concerned, from his time as Secretary of Defense. But Harold Brown has been willing to forego explosive tests during the time of the agreement. We have discussed the possibility of mutual monitoring after the agreement for a few tests.

Callaghan: That would be after the treaty expired.

The President: Yes. If I find something more on the technical issues, I’ll tell you.

Callaghan: Thank you. I mentioned the issue to Harold Brown. If we did have to include some explosions in an agreement, no one would think we were very serious about a test ban.

The President: I’ll follow the issue. It’s always good to hear from you, Jim. Please give my best to Audrey.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 36, Memcons: President: 4/78. Secret; Sensitive. Carter spoke with Callaghan by phone from the Oval Office. The memorandum is scheduled to be printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXVII, Western Europe.