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


  • U.S. Position Regarding Anti-Satellites (ASAT)

On my previous memo to you regarding removal of the restriction on “operational or space based testing” you called for DoD and State comment (Tab A).2

[Page 50]

Both Harold Brown3 and Cy Vance4 have responded affirmatively to the proposal. Harold stated in his response that Congressional support for our budget requests are necessary if we are to maintain our option for flight tests by 1981. Further, and I believe a most significant point, he states that:

“If we are to achieve an ASAT interceptor capability of which we are confident, we must test against targets in space. Therefore, I view space testing as essential to the test and evaluation process and a necessary phase in the weapon development cycle. It would be preferable, then, that any authorization to test not contain a restrictive clause that limits tests to demonstration purposes, as may have been suggested in your memorandum. My concern is that development flight tests might be deemed not to be allowed.”

Cy, however, feels that our stance should be more cautious. While he supports the idea in principle, he suggests that the original decision memo (restriction highlighted at Tab B)5 be modified to read that the SecDef should plan on testing at the appropriate stage of development, “subject to further Presidential decision at that time.”

I would suggest that any such limitation would better be treated as an understanding between you and Harold, rather than lessen the impact of a very positive statement on testing at this time.6

I share Harold’s belief that removal of the restriction has the advantage of enhancing the likelihood of Soviet acceptance of U.S. proposals by indicating our firm intent to achieve a high performance ASAT capability as quickly as possible.

APPROVE Removal of Restriction (as per Brown) ______7

APPROVE, Subject to Cy’s Qualification ______


  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 20, PD/NSC–33. Top Secret. Sent for action. Carter initialed the memorandum.
  2. See Document 18.
  3. See Document 19.
  4. See Document 21.
  5. Tab B included a draft PRM and is not published.
  6. Carter underlined the phrase “understanding between you and Harold” and wrote “ok. Tell Harold” in the right-hand margin.
  7. Carter checked the “APPROVE Removal of Restriction (as per Brown)” line and wrote “J” at the end of the memorandum.