246. Editorial Note

The issues of funding of National Seismic Stations (NSS) for the United Kingdom and the potential transfer of NSS equipment to the USSR continued during the spring of 1980. The Special Coordination Committee (SCC) scheduled a meeting for March 12, 1980, to discuss these issues.

Regarding the funding issue, an agenda for the SCC meeting prepared by the National Security Council (NSC) identified three options: The United States could (1) “inform the UK that we are willing to make a commitment to seek appropriate funding from Congress if they are willing to locate three NSS in their dependent territories in the Southern Hemisphere;” (2) “Defer decision and inform UK that this possibility remains under serious review;” (3) “Inform UK that we have decided not to fund NSS equipment for UK stations.” Secretary of State Cyrus Vance endorsed Option 1. No record of Vance’s recommendation has been found.

As for the technology transfer, an ad hoc group of the NSS SCC Working Group had begun to review “prototype equipment in order to identify elements of that equipment that could raise technology transfer questions. The group will then assess options for replacing those elements with others involving less advanced technology, taking into account any degradation of NSS performance, delays in the NSS program schedule, and implications for the CTB negotiating process.” Once this assessment had been completed, the SCC would decide “whether we should reconsider our willingness to transfer US NSS technology to the Soviet Union to gain information for CTB monitoring, and in particular, whether we should withdraw our offer to loan them an NSS prototype for joint testing and operation.” (Agenda: SCC Meeting on BW and CTB, March 12; Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 11, SCC 297, CTB, 4/3/80)

On March 13, NSC staff members John Marcum, Ben Huberman, and Jasper Welch informed the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski, that “we think funding of the UK equipment would be an acceptable outcome once we are prepared to [Page 608] move the talks ahead. It would help us achieve our NSS verification objectives and the Southern Hemisphere sites, although not contributing to CTB monitoring per se, would augment our NPT monitoring capability. Nevertheless, moving ahead with Cy’s proposal now might be viewed on the Hill as inconsistent with our general post-Afghanistan policy and belt-tightening on government expenditures.” Marcum, Haberman, and Welch recommended that the United States “defer Cy’s proposal at present.” They also contended that given “Thatcher’s personal opposition to CTB and our shared post-Afghanistan concerns, they would probably be amazed if we tried to close the deal at this time.” (Memorandum from Marcum, Huberman, and Welch, March 13; ibid.)

A March 13, 1980, memorandum from the Nuclear Test Monitoring Working Group to Stansfield Turner, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, restated the issues that would be discussed at the SCC meeting, which had been rescheduled for March 14. An unknown hand, however, twice changed the date for the SCC meeting, first to March 26, and then to April 1. No summary of conclusions or minutes of the SCC meeting, which likely occurred on April 3, has been found. (Ibid.)