227. Options Paper Prepared by the Special Coordination Committee Working Group1


This paper considers options with regard to legal formulas that the US might propose for the CTB treaty’s review conference provision.


In May 1978, the President decided that the CTB should have a fixed duration, that there should be a review conference in the final year of the treaty to determine whether to negotiate a replacement treaty, and that any further agreement should be submitted to the US Senate (PD–38).2 To implement this decision, the US and UK Delegations in June3 proposed the following three sections of illustrative treaty text:

(1) This Treaty shall remain in force for . . . years.4

(2) During the . . . year5 after the entry into force of this Treaty, the [Depositary/Depositary Governments] shall convene a conference of the Parties to review the operation of the Treaty and to consider the question of whether there should be a replacement Treaty.

(3) Any decision on this question shall be made by a majority of the Parties to the Treaty, which majority shall include all Parties that are Permanent Members of the Security Council of the United Nations.

The Soviets have accepted the first and third sections, but in the August 10 plenary and subsequently, they have rejected the “replacement treaty” formulation. The Soviets say they recognize that the US is not willing or able to commit itself beyond the three year period, and that it must therefore keep all options open for that period. But they in[Page 560]sist that language be used which recognizes the possibility of extending the comprehensive treaty, under certain conditions.

Under the formulation that the Soviets proposed in July, 1978,6 the review conference would be convened to “review the operation of the Treaty and to consider the question of extending it, depending on whether any states not Party to the Treaty will conduct nuclear explosions”. Aside from the question of “extension”, the Soviet formulation is deficient in that it heavy-handedly points a finger at France and China, which we are unwilling to do on broad policy grounds, and it highlights one possible reason for discontinuing the treaty to the exclusion of reasons that might be more relevant, to U.S. security interests.

The Soviets have said that, just as the question of seismic stations is the most important remaining issue for the United States, the most important issue for them is finding a mutually acceptable formula for this clause (informal trilateral meeting, November 28). Soviet Delegation chairman Petrosyants stressed in the final plenary meeting in December that this issue is “also of great importance in terms of finding mutually acceptable solutions to verification issues, and in particular to the issue of national seismic stations”. Proposing a solution to the “replacement treaty problem” and the construction of a new review conference formulation at the beginning of the next round could, therefore, put us in a stronger position to insist that the Soviet Delegation respond to our proposals on the technical characteristics of national seismic stations.

In addition, the British have frequently criticized the “replacement treaty” formulation (they agreed only reluctantly to table it last June), and have urged the US to put forth a new formulation. The British Delegation that visited the US on September 14 requested that the US alter its proposal, and suggested a formulation referring to treaty arrangements following the period of three years. We said then that we would keep the British suggestion under review. In December, the British restated their belief that it would be necessary to propose a new formulation on this issue in order to induce the Soviets to be more forthcoming on verification. They said that a number of possible formulations could meet our needs, including one that authorized the review conference “. . . to consider the question of any future treaty arrangements”.


Our objectives are as follows:

to promote US national security by protecting all options for the period beyond three years. The President has decided to state his intention to re[Page 561]sume testing after the expiration of the treaty unless a vigorous safeguards program and studies indicate that resumption is not necessary. The review conference formulation therefore should not create a barrier either to having no treaty obligations beyond three years, to having different treaty provisions, or to having the same treaty provisions.

to permit the US to carry out the President’s commitment that any further agreement on testing limitations after the three year period would be submitted to the Senate for approval. We would insist on seeking Senate advice and consent on any subsequent treaty obligation regardless of whether other treaty parties would be required to obtain legislative approval in their countries.

to find a formula, consistent with these objectives, that is more likely to be negotiable with the Soviets and British. The Soviets have stressed that the language must at least provide for the possibility of extending the same comprehensive treaty.

to increase the prospects for adherence to the treaty by non-nuclear weapon states. Non-nuclear states may be less likely to join the treaty if the review conference formulation unnecessarily provokes questions about whether certain nuclear weapon states are already tilted against having a treaty after three years.

to avoid singling out the question of French and Chinese testing in relation to the function of the review conference. We might want to refer to factors affecting the concerns of individual nations, but if we did so, we would want to broaden the phrase to reflect other relevant factors.

In examining alternative review conference formulations, it is important to bear in mind the extent to which our interests are protected by provisions that have already been agreed in the negotiations. For example, by virtue of language to which the Soviets have already agreed, the treaty will have a three year duration. Therefore, US agreement would be required for any treaty obligation regarding prohibitions after that period, and we would only accept such obligations with Senate approval. In connection with the tabling of any new review conference language, we would reaffirm formally that such prohibitions would be submitted for a new approval by the US Senate.

In addition, it is already agreed that the review conference cannot take any decision on the period beyond three years without the approval of all parties that are Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council. Thus, it is clear that the treaty will simply expire at the end of three years and no new arrangement will follow unless the U.S. agrees to it. Before the review conference, we would conduct private consultations with the UK and USSR to coordinate a nuclear weapon state position. Regardless of the outcome of these consultations, we will have a veto over actions by the review conference.

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Our present review conference language (“to consider the question of whether there should be a replacement treaty”) is directly based on language used in PD–38. One approach is to stick with this formulation in the negotiations. Another is to hold to the present formulation but, at an appropriate time, to pursue an agreed understanding with the British and the Soviets to clarify that the intent of the treaty language is to assure that all options are open regarding the future of the treaty. Alternatively, we could decide to propose a new formulation, inserting one of the phrases listed below after the words “review the operation of the treaty and”.

Option “A”

“consider the question of extending its provisions”

Option “B”

“consider the question of subsequent treaty prohibitions”

Option “C”

“consider the question of whether there should be future treaty arrangements”

While there are many more possible variants, the above options represent a range of formulations which would demonstrate some movement if we decide to change our review conference proposal. Option “C” closely parallels the latest British suggestion (p. 4) and would involve the least change in the PD–38 language. On the other hand, Option “A” uses the word “extending” and represents greater contrast with the language used in PD–38 than do the other two options. Option “B” drops the conditional “whether” and uses the term “prohibitions” rather than the broader word “arrangements”.

The dependent clause

Regardless of which option is selected, there is agreement that it would be advantageous to propose a final clause to the review conference provision, as follows:

“, taking into account all relevant factors.”

The Soviets have proposed a final clause that refers specifically to the question of continued testing by non-parties. The clause set forth above is broad enough to reflect our stockpile reliability concerns and may simultaneously meet a Soviet need for some reference to testing by non-parties.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 101, SCC 128, CTB, 2/1/79. Secret. The paper was attached to a January 24 cover memorandum from the NSC Staff Secretary, Christine Dodson, to Vance, Brown, Schlesinger, Warnke, Jones, and Turner.
  2. See Document 200.
  3. The U.S.–UK illustrative treaty text is in telegram 9710 from Geneva, June 26, 1978. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780265–0119)
  4. It was subsequently decided that the negotiations would proceed on the assumption of a three year duration. [Footnote is in the original.]
  5. It was subsequently decided that the negotiations would proceed on the assumption of a three year duration. [Footnote is in the original.]
  6. The Soviet proposal is in telegram 11490 from Geneva, July 26, 1978. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780306–0771)