244. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

803. Subject: (S) US/UK CTB Consultations.

Secret—Entire text

1. Following the meeting on issues related to high yield testing, the UK asked for a meeting at FCO to cover broader CTB issues. UK side, led by Assistant Under Secretary Patrick Moberly and Ambassador Edmonds, included Dennis Fakley (MOD), Tony Reeve (FCO), Michael Warner (MOD) and Ivor Callen (FCO). US side led by John Marcum (OSTP), included Larry Finch (ACDA), Steve Steiner (PM/DCA), Jack Griffin (DOE), Col. Dick Thornton (JCS) and Embassy Pol-Mil officer.

2. Moberly stated that UK wished to cover four areas: The status of CTB in the light of Afghanistan,2 the UK–NSS issue, other CTB issues in 1980, and plans for future US/UK bilaterals.

3. Marcum said that in the course of deciding on actions US would take in response to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, USG had looked at whether CTB negotiations should continue. Decision was taken that negotiations should continue at a slow pace. Talks should continue because they are in the US and Western interest, and because they have an important international dimension, particularly with the NPT REVCON approaching in August. The US would, therefore, continue with its previous positions and current initiatives in CTB, and will not [Page 597] try to turn back the clock. In particular, US wants to continue bilateral discussions with the UK on the NSS question, pursuant to the Carter-Thatcher3 and Vance-Carrington4 talks in Washington, at which US undertook to look into possibility of providing equipment for 3 stations in UK dependent territories, while UK looked into possibilities for locating them. US and UK should work expeditiously to develop a common position on this issue, and then consult closely on the tactics of how and when to use this move with the Soviets in Geneva.

4. Moberly said UK ministers would regard this statement of USG policy as important. He said that although UK ministers had not specifically reviewed future of CTB post Afghanistan there was no intention to halt negotiation or to disengage from the talks as a result of the crisis in Afghanistan. He inquired regarding the meaning of the phrase, “proceed at a slow pace.” Marcum responded that US plans to continue with CTB, but expected that the agreement would not be completed prior to SALT II ratification. This meant that the work remaining would be stretched out over a longer period. Marcum stated that the US did not intend to halt progress in the talks, or to delay the talks. At present we believe the talks should resume on Feb 4 as scheduled. Also, in preparation for the NPT REVCON, negotiations should show some limited progress over the next few months, even though US forsees actual CTB completion in a much longer time frame. The essential thing now, he suggested, was for US and UK to make progress bilaterally as soon as possible, so the Soviets cannot exploit differences between us.

5. Moberly said Soviets may try to raise CTB in the CD and asked how we should respond. Both US and UK participants agreed that one should try to insure that CD has other issues to work on in order to keep pressure off CTB. UK side asked whether US could permit multilateral negotiation in the CD of the CTB preamble or review conference language. Marcum replied that while the preamble might be a possibility eventually, the review conference language is much more sensitive. UK side pointed out that even if we succeeded in holding off CD pressures, US and UK face a multilateral problem with the coming NPTRC. US side acknowledged this, and pointed out that it is therefore important for US and UK to be on the high ground in the talks.

6. UK/NSS issues: UK presented US with preliminary working paper on NSS issues.5 Moberly said NSS is not necessarily the key issue to get the talks moving and could possibly be saved for later. US side responded in general terms that US sees broad range of verification issues as crucial, and did not want separation of multilateral treaty [Page 598] from SVA issues. UK side then agreed that NSS is one of several important issues. Marcum pointed out that since this issue is the key question publicly known to be at stalemate, US and UK should concentrate on agreeing bilaterally on this issue on the basis of discussions during the Thatcher visit. US and UK should also consider the tactical aspect of the issue. For example, one might want to see what the Soviets put on the table prior to deciding how to play a new UK NSS position in Geneva.

7. UK side asked status of internal US deliberation on NSS financing issue and stressed that this would be important to decision by UK ministers. Marcum said work is in progress on whether US would be able to fund equipment for additional UK NSS stations, but USG will need more time to reach final position. It would be helpful to US in meantime to know how UK views the issue at this stage. Moberly replied that the UK paper demonstrates that the UK is looking seriously at possible sites in the Southern Hemisphere. He urged that US get its views to UK as soon as possible. US side agreed that it would do its best to get back to UK as soon as possible.

8. Marcum pointed out that NPT monitoring value—and prospects for US funding of equipment for additional UK NSS sites in Southern Hemisphere—could be enhanced if additional monitoring equipment such as acoustic and ionospheric sensors, ocean bottom seismometers, radiation detectors, etc., could be installed at these locations. He noted utility such sites would have had in context of problem of evaluating September 22 possible nuclear explosion in South Atlantic.

9. Prototype: Marcum said US also wished UK to look at possibility of participating in the NSS prototype program, and possibility of placing a prototype station in Southern Hemisphere UK site. Fakley (UK MOD) agreed that there would be a case for doing this in Southern Hemisphere, as it could provide helpful experience on stations on small island locations. While technically interesting, much will depend on whether UK ministers agree to the principle of NSS in dependent territories. Moberly asked whether the prototype question could be considered regardless of whether the UK were willing to accept 3 additional stations. The US side responded that the issue might be viewed independently, although it would be preferable to resolve UK NSS numbers issue at same time. Moberly said this was an interesting idea which UK would consider.

10. Next steps: Edmonds said it seemed unlikely that one would have both a firm US offer and a UK Ministers’ decision by Feb 4. Marcum agreed but said US would hope for further discussions before then or shortly thereafter. There would also need to be consultations between the two Delegations before the negotiations resume. Reeve said UK had explored NSS issue with FCO Minister of State Hurd in a preliminary way. It was clear that before UK could review its position [Page 599] the shape of the US offer must be clear. UK side undertook, however, to see how much further issue of sites might be reviewed at senior official level on basis of information now available. Marcum repeated that USG would also get back to UK with its views as soon as possible.

11. Other issues: Edmonds asked that US reconsider its refusal to discuss the preamble, as he felt current US position could not be defended at NPT REVCON. He expressed concern that this issue could be placed in a multilateral forum against US wishes if US was not ready to discuss it. Marcum took note of this and said US would review all open CTB issues, both on substance and tactics. On review conference, Edmonds acknowledged that ball is in Soviet court in formal sense and that this is more delicate issue than preamble. Marcum noted the US saw no need to reconsider its position on this issue and UK agreed. UK also asked that US look at presentation of CTB issues at NPTRC (and publicly if Soviets break ranks). UK agreed with US view that coordination on these matters would best be done in Geneva, with support from London and Washington.

12. On question of next bilateral, UK side suggested that US Delegation members and possibly some Washington officials come to London for consultations on Jan 30 or 31, prior to resumption in Geneva.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800019–0932. Secret; Priority. Sent for information to the Mission in Geneva and Moscow.
  2. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 25, 1979.
  3. See Document 242.
  4. Not found.
  5. Not found.