2. Editorial Note

While the administration of President Jimmy Carter pondered its options for anti-satellite capabilities, it also tried to establish a “coherent” space policy. The President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski, “concluded that this issue is of a high priority nature warranting a timely, comprehensive review and statement of national policy.” In an undated draft Presidential Review Memorandum, he tasked the various departments involved in national security decision-making to weigh in on the administration’s strategy. In particular, he asked that the departments examine “the relative importance of the use of space for the different yet interrelated goals of our civil, military, and intelligence programs.” (Memorandum from Brzezinski to the Secretaries of State, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, the Directors of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Central Intelligence, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, March 5, 1977, and draft Presidential Review Memorandum; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harold Brown Papers, Box 22, 1977 Missiles and Space Policy)

On March 14, 1977, Director of Central Intelligence Stansfield Turner urged Brzezinski to create a Policy Review Committee devoted to space policy, which would be chaired by Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, and argued that “No policy initiative likely to have major effects, e.g. ASAT negotiations, should be permitted until those effects have been carefully assessed.” (Memorandum from Turner to Brzezinski, March 14; Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 41, Folder 3, PRM–23 [3])

Paul Warnke, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, concurred with Turner, and noted that “of particular concern to the arms control effort is that the policy options and recommendations delineate clearly what the impact of possible US actions might be on maintaining the free use of space and what effect changes in the operation of US satellite programs for military, intelligence and civil purposes might have on our verification capabilities.” (Memorandum from Warnke to Brzezinski; Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 41, Folder 3, PRM–23 [3])

Carter issued Presidential Review Memorandum/NSC 23, “A Coherent National Space Policy” on March 28, which included the determination of “the appropriate degree of system survivability, defensive, and offensive capabilities in space, and arms limitations initiatives.” The memorandum is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXV, Global Issues; United Nations Issues. (Ibid.)