197. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee and Presidential Review Committee Meeting1


  • CTB—Stockpile Reliability and Permitted Experiments


  • State
  • Cyrus Vance
  • Jerome Kahan Dep Dir, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs
  • Defense
  • Harold Brown
  • David McGiffert Asst Sec for International Security Affairs
  • Energy
  • Donald Kerr Acting Asst Sec for Defense Programs
  • JCS
  • General David Jones Acting Chairman, JCS
  • Maj Gen Edward Giller JCS Rep CTB
  • White House
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • NSC
  • Reginald Bartholomew
  • Benjamin Huberman
  • OSTP
  • Frank Press
  • John Marcum
  • CIA
  • Stan Turner
  • Sayer Stevens Dep Dir, National Foreign Assessment Center

The purpose of the meeting was to continue discussion of the issue of stockpile reliability and permitted experiments under a CTB. The discussions focused on a treaty of fixed duration as proposed by the British, and whether this would strike a better balance between military risks and foreign policy objectives than a treaty of indefinite duration.

In discussion of the fixed duration approach, there was general agreement that it should include a strong safeguards program, a requirement for Senate ratification of any extension, and a review conference in the fifth year to consider the future of the treaty. There was disagreement, however, on whether the term of the treaty should be three rather than five years, whether we should declare our intention to resume testing after five years or just preserve the option to do so if necessary, and the level of permitted experiments.

Defense and Energy generally argued in favor of a plan rather than option to resume testing. Secretary Brown noted that this would reduce problems in retaining laboratory personnel and would be more accept[Page 476]able on the Hill. In effect it would shift the burden of proof to those favoring extension of the treaty rather than those favoring resumption of testing. Defense and Energy also preferred the shorter term, but in response to Dr. Brzezinski’s query agreed that they could “live with” a five year term under a plan to resume. State and ACDA were concerned, however, that a declaration that we planned to resume testing could seriously undermine the non-proliferation benefits of the treaty although they acknowledged that this might be mitigated through careful wording of the statement. They were also concerned that a duration of three rather than five years would be viewed as an insufficient commitment and that the Soviets might refuse to let us install internal seismic stations during this period.

The permitted experiments issue was discussed at some length and JCS and Energy reasserted their views that experiments at three to five kilotons would be adequate for solving reliability problems. There was agreement, however, that permitted experiments even at very low levels (a few pounds or tons) would be useful for maintaining the laboratories and help resolve stockpile problems.

In the course of the meeting all, except JCS, agreed that they could support a fixed duration treaty with some concerns as noted above on the term of the treaty and the wording of the assurance regarding resumption of testing. General Jones indicated that in the JCS view a CTB was not in the US interest at this time due to concern about the adequacy of verification and the opinion of the weapons laboratory directors that they could not maintain adequate confidence in the reliability of our stockpile without testing.

General Jones acknowledged that the laboratory director’s comment was based on an indefinite duration treaty and it was agreed that the NSC would ask for their views on a fixed duration treaty with assurances and variations as noted above. Dr. Brzezinski concluded the meeting with the statement that we would summarize the issues for the President either asking for a meeting or his preliminary guidance on the issues (with a reclama session, if needed).

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 93, SCC 071, CTB, Permitted Experiments/Reliability: 5/2/78. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.