241. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

19619. USCTB. Subject: CTB Negotiations: Final Assessment of Round Nine. Ref: A. CTB No. 491, 17 Oct 792 B. CTB No. 510, 14 Nov 793 C. CTB No. 515, 29 Nov 794 D. CTB No. 518, 5 Dec 79.5

CTB message no. 522

(S—Entire text)

Summary: Since previous assessments this round, agreement has been reached on complete ad Ref text for Article III of separate verification agreement. This, together with earlier report on agreed technical characteristics of NSS, constitutes modest progress this round. However, Soviets continue to refuse to negotiate NSS text before number of UK NSS is settled. End summary.

[Page 592]

1. As reported previously the Soviets agreed to limited technical discussions on NSS before the question of the number of UK NSS was settled (Ref A). These discussions resulted in a report agreeing on technical characteristics of the seismic portion of most of the NSS downhole package in which U.S. specifications and explanatory text were accepted by the Soviet side (Ref B). Three issues, the specification of linearity and noise level, and the recovery of the data “with fidelity” were not settled in the report, and remain to be resolved.

2. Additional progress was agreement in Article III of the separate verification agreement on the definition of designated personnel for conducting On-Site Inspections (OSI) and on the burden of costs of OSI. The Soviets also agreed to drop a bracketed paragraph in this article, making Article III complete, unbracketed ad referendum text (Ref C).

3. On the issue of UK NSS, the Soviets indicated early in the round that they could be flexible on their proposed number (ten), but have insisted the UK first move off its position of one NSS—a number the Soviets say is totally unacceptable. The UK has remained firm in maintaining that one NSS is the correct number for monitoring UK compliance with a CTB. The U.S. has firmly supported the UK position throughout the round.

4. The U.S. proposed in the final plenary a cooperative NSS development program to install and evaluate U.S. NSS in the USSR and in Alaska. The initial Soviet response was cool. They said that the proposal seemed to contain a number of preconditions, and would have to be studied carefully (Ref D).

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790563–0302. Secret; Exdis; Immediate. Sent for information Priority to London and Moscow.
  2. CTB message No. 491, or telegram 16934 from Geneva, October 17, reported that the Soviets had “taken two modest but potentially useful steps long urged by the U.S.: 1) they have indicated some flexibility regarding their previous position on the number of NSS to be located in the UK and dependent territories; and 2) they have formally agreed to begin ‘ad-hoc’ discussion of technical characteristics of NSS even before the numbers issue is resolved. Soviet negotiating strategy evidently is to try to trade movement on these two matters for U.S. and UK flexibility on the UK NSS numbers issue.” The ad-hoc meeting, the Mission reported, would meet for the first time on October 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790475–1023)
  3. CTB message No. 510, or telegram 18246 from Geneva, November 14, reported on the activity of the ad-hoc working group on NSS technical characteristics, which “provided the busiest and most productive period of the past year. The report of the working group represented limited, but useful, progress, which was unexpected at the start of this round, or at the start of the working group’s operation.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790524–0789)
  4. CTB message No. 515, or telegram 19217 from Geneva, November 29, reported that the Soviets had agreed to drop a provision in the Separate Verification Agreement of the proposed CTB treaty “which would have provided that the rights and functions of OSI designated personnel, and the equipment used by them, would be specified in detail in the consultations on the conduct of each individual OSI. The U.S. Delegation had opposed such a provision, maintaining that the fundamental OSI rights and functions should be arranged during these negotiations and spelled out in the SVA, not deferred for agreement on a case-by-case basis. Soviet agreement to drop this paragraph,” the Mission contended, “thus represents a useful move in our direction.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790549–0640)
  5. CTB message No. 518, or telegram 19583, from Geneva, December 5, reported that UK Ambassador Edmonds had called 1979 “a disappointing year for the negotiations, with little progress achieved.” York called 1979 “less than satisfactory. The foremost problem has been the Soviet unwillingness to proceed on other NSS issues until the UK numbers question is resolved. This Soviet position was not a useful one, and should not delay us further.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790561–0796)