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231. Memorandum From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Seignious) to Secretary of State Vance, Secretary of Defense Brown, Secretary of Energy Schlesinger, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Jones), and the Director of Central Intelligence (Turner)1


  • Comprehensive Test Ban: The Review Conference Issue

Last round we proposed that the multilateral review conference “consider the question of whether there should be future treaty arrangements, taking into account all relevant factors.” However, the Soviets continued to argue for a formula that referred to the possibility of extension and that cited testing by non-parties (i.e., China and France) as a factor affecting extension.

We must, of course, fully protect our option to resume testing after three years if required for national security. In my view this option is already well protected: the treaty will end automatically after three years; we will have a veto over any review conference decision on future restraints; the Senate will have to approve any follow-on treaty; and we will make it clear to the Congress and American people that we will resume testing if required for our security.

The problem, I believe, is that we have tried to use the review conference provision as still another means of protecting our options. We have chosen general terms like “future treaty arrangements” that were designed to reflect the broad range of options we will want to choose from in determining, within our own government, what should follow after three years. However, I believe we have lost sight of the fact that the review conference provision deals not with internal USG options but with the role of a multilateral conference. I feel that role should be very limited.

Clearly, it is not in our interest for the conference (and therefore a large number of non-nuclear and non-aligned countries) to get involved in decisions that vitally affect U.S. security—such as whether the CTB will be followed by a threshold ban. Presumably, we would not even want a multilateral threshold treaty, which would tend to legitimize low-yield testing by all parties. The most practical way of pur[Page 570]suing a new threshold measure would be to withhold our consent for a follow-on CTB at the review conference, thus allowing the CTB to terminate. We could then negotiate a new threshold treaty on a bilateral or trilateral basis.

As to verification, we are negotiating a separate trilateral agreement for the measures we consider essential, especially national seismic stations. If there is to be a CTB after three years, the verification changes we would want, such as more seismic stations in the USSR, would involve upgrading this separate agreement, not the verification provisions of the multilateral treaty—and this should be done trilaterally, with no interference from the multilateral conference.

For these reasons, the review conference language should not imply (as does “future treaty arrangements”) that the multilateral conference would have a broad mandate to shape the future of the treaty. Nor should it indicate (for example, by using the term “modifications”) that we expect the conference to deal with changes in the multilateral treaty—the normal amendments procedure would handle those.

Instead, the multilateral conference should serve essentially to affirm what we have decided prior to the conference. If we decide on no treaty or a new threshold ban, we would insist on treaty expiration at the conference, and our veto would guarantee that result. However, if we, the Soviets, and the British were all prepared to accept a comprehensive ban after three years, we would seek what would be certain endorsement by the conference. The review conference language should therefore authorize a very limited choice: letting the treaty lapse or having a CTB after three years.

On the basis of these considerations, I recommend the following package proposal:

—Instead of the Soviet term “extension” which implies continuous obligations, we would propose revised US language authorizing the conference to “consider the question of renewing” the treaty.

—We would insist that the Soviets drop their reference to testing by non-parties and accept a general formula like ours.

—We would propose a new provision specifying that a review conference decision to renew the treaty would enter into force when 20 states, including the US, the UK, and the USSR, have given notification of their acceptance of that decision. Under this provision, we could control when the renewed obligations became effective, and we would not permit entry into force until the Senate had approved.

—We would seek a provision in the trilateral verification agreement to the effect that, prior to the multilateral conference, the three parties would consider modifications of the agreement that would take effect if the multilateral treaty is renewed. This would give us a clear [Page 571]basis for making upgraded verification a condition for renewing the treaty.

I am attaching a text of what these review conference provisions would look like.

I feel that the approach I am suggesting promotes U.S. interests better than our current position, and I therefore recommend that we take the initiative in putting it on the table when the talks resume.

Text of Proposed Multilateral Review Conference Provision


1. This Treaty shall remain in force for three years.

2. During the third year after the entry into force of this Treaty, the Depository shall convene a conference of the Parties to review the operation of the Treaty and to consider the question of renewing it, taking into account all relevant factors. Any decision on this question shall be made by a majority of the Parties to the Treaty, including all Parties that are Permanent Members of the Security Council of the United Nations.

3. A renewal of this Treaty shall take effect, for those Parties accepting it, when the governments of 20 Parties, including the governments of all Permanent Members of the Security Council of the United Nations, have notified the Depositary of their acceptance.

Text of Proposed Provision for the Trilateral Verification Agreement

1. To promote the objectives and implementation of the provisions of the Treaty and of this Agreement, the Parties to this Agreement shall establish promptly a Joint Consultative Commission within the framework of which they will:

. . . Consult prior to the conference of the Parties to the Treaty provided for in Paragraph 2 of Article VII of the Treaty, review the operation of this Agreement and consider any modifications to this Agreement that may be desirable in the event of renewal of the Treaty.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 153, Folder 4, JEC IF and IFG 7901686–7903516. Secret. Copies were sent to Brzezinski and Ambassador Herbert York.