204. Memorandum From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Warnke) to President Carter1


  • Role of the CCD in a Comprehensive Test Ban

In the margin of my April 28 memorandum2 to you regarding the likely timing of a comprehensive test ban treaty, you asked why the product of the trilateral negotiations would be sent to the 30-nation Geneva Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD) for its consideration.

One of the most important benefits of a CTB, in terms of our non-proliferation objectives, is the opportunity it provides to get non-nuclear weapon states, especially those that have not joined the NPT, to undertake a commitment not to carry out nuclear tests. While some states are unlikely to sign the CTB at this time no matter how it is negotiated, we believe that in a number of important cases prospects [Page 494] for adherence would be significantly improved if the non-nuclear states have some sense of participation in the process of achieving an agreement.

In India, for example, where Desai could face strong internal pressures not to join and where considerations of pride and prestige are often controlling, the government could be disinclined to adhere to a CTB that it had no role at all in negotiating. The same could be said for several other borderline cases. The willingness of a number of key non-nuclear states to join the treaty could strengthen prospects for ratification, since it would demonstrate the treaty’s value as a non-proliferation measure and the importance of bringing it into force.

With these non-nuclear weapon state sentiments in mind, we have provided public assurances that we support a role for the CCD in achieving a CTB. In your message to the CCD in July 1977, you stated that the CCD “has set its priorities for future action and is now ready to prepare the way for negotiations on a comprehensive test ban and a chemical weapons prohibition. The U.S. shares these priorities and fully recognizes the essential role to be played by the CCD.”3

Sending the treaty to the CCD would of course involve some increase in the length of the negotiating process. And, since the text would become public when it went to the CCD, it would be available for public and Congressional scrutiny for a period of time while the negotiations were nominally still going on. However, the CCD countries are anxious to have a CTB in force, and would probably be receptive to expediting their multilateral consideration of it (perhaps 6–8 weeks or less). And although the text sent to the CCD will be a public document, this public exposure is not apt to evoke any greater Congressional interest in affecting the negotiations than is now the case. In addition, while some CCD members may suggest changes in the trilaterally negotiated text, they must recognize that the basic substantive elements worked out by the U.S. and U.S.S.R. will not be subject to alteration.

It should be emphasized that what we would be submitting to the CCD is the multilateral treaty text only, not the separate verification agreement. The latter, which would contain the detailed verification provisions that we would rely on and which we expect would be the primary focus of public and Congressional attention, would be completed by the U.S., U.K., and U.S.S.R., and would not be negotiated at the CCD at all.

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An alternative to sending the treaty to the CCD would be to complete and sign the treaty trilaterally, and then call on other countries to join. This was the procedure followed for the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty (but not for the NPT and the four other multilateral arms control treaties negotiated since then).4 It would permit completion of the process a little earlier and would avoid the possibility of having the CCD discussions engender public and Congressional reactions that might influence the multilateral negotiations. However, as indicated above, the CCD phase would probably be quite brief and, in any event, the only item left for CCD consideration—the multilateral treaty—is not expected to stimulate as much domestic interest as the separate verification agreement, which would have been completed.

Of more importance is the likelihood that the alternate approach would provoke considerable resentment among the non-nuclear states at their having been excluded from the process altogether. This could have a decisive impact on adherence decisions in a number of critical cases.

I therefore recommend that we maintain our existing position in support of sending the results of the trilateral talks to the CCD for final action on the text of the multilateral treaty. If trilateral agreement were to be reached at the time of a possible U.S.-Soviet summit meeting, announcement of the completion of the trilateral phase of the negotiations would be considered a major accomplishment of such a meeting.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 6, Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB), 1–12/78. Secret.
  2. See Document 195.
  3. Carter’s entire statement was not found. Telegram 5448 from Geneva, July 5, 1977, noted that Fisher read the statement to the CCD. Carter’s statement concluded “with the following words: ‘I have pledged my administration’s dedicated efforts to halting the nuclear arms race and achieving practical limitations on the world’s conventional armaments. I assure that the United States will work tirelessly to contribute to the success of the CCD’.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770238–0736)
  4. In the left-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “This seems better to me—No final decision.”