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

5176. USCTB. Subject: CTB Negotiations: Assessment of Round Ten. Ref: Interim Assessment, CTB 548.2

CTB message no. 575

(S—Entire text)

Summary. Although tempo increased somewhat in recent weeks, negotiations this round proceeded at a very slow pace and little progress was made on substantive matters. The ad hoc working group provided the principal negotiating forum, reaching agreement re[Page 609]garding the three technical characteristics of borehole seismic equipment deferred from last round.3 OSI working group also met frequently. The outlook for the next round is for further lack of progress, unless the general political climate improves so as to allow a concerted effort to reinvigorate negotiations. End summary.

1. This message contains Del’s final assessment of Feb. 4–April 5, 1980 round of CTB negotiations.

2. Since the Interim Assessment of March 7 (CTB 548), the negotiations moved forward somewhat. Nonetheless, negotiations during the round as a whole proceeded at a very slow pace and little progress was made on substantive matters.

3. Ad hoc working group: The major negotiating activity was conducted in the reconstituted ad hoc working group on NSS technical characteristics, which met between March 19 and March 26. The U.S. and UK Dels had repeatedly urged that the Delegations address the three technical characteristics deferred in the group’s report to the heads of Del last round (CTB 499).4 During this round, the group essentially completed consideration of all the technical characteristics proposed by U.S. Del concerning the seismic component of NSS borehole equipment. U.S. Del has also urged that reports of this group be promptly converted into composite ad referendum text of Article I of the technical annex to the separate verification agreement, and that the Dels begin negotiation of other outstanding NSS technical matters. Del notes that the group became somewhat less “ad hoc” in nature this round. This round, participants of all three Dels were led by spokesmen who have been on Dels for some time, instead of by special experts brought in from capitals. This trend is in U.S. interests. Soviet Del has, however, been unwilling to go so far as to call this group the NSS working group, in line with its policy that it will not institute NSS working group discussions until UK NSS issue is resolved.

4. OSI working group: The OSI working group continued to meet, addressing two topics. Bulk of time was devoted to consideration of text regarding technical characteristics of basic equipment to be used on an OSI. At Soviet suggestion, group also took up questions of local orientation of designated personnel within inspection area, particularly those concerning scale and stereoscopic nature of aerial photographs; these topics will be addressed further next round. Soviets continue to profess to want progress in OSI area, but have not put forward new ne[Page 610]gotiating positions. No substantive progress was recorded in the OSI working group this round.

5. Report to CD: U.S. and UK Dels prepared draft of trilateral report to be delivered sometime during next round to committee on disarmament. Report, with certain additions, was cleared by U.S. and UK CD and CTB Dels, and with London (CTB 5515 and 560).6 However, per guidance from Washington,7 we informed Soviet Del that a draft would be provided to them via diplomatic channels during the recess. It is expected that the process of obtaining trilateral agreement on this report will be a major activity in the next round.

6. Other CD activities: Throughout round Del consulted with U.S. CD Del in order to monitor CTB-related activities in CD. Proposals for CTB working group in CD and for other potentially harmful CTB-related activities have thus far been quashed. The CTB Del strongly supports U.S. CD Del’s efforts in this regard.

7. Negotiating issues: Question of numbers and locations of UK NSS was discussed infrequently, although Soviets insist it remains largest immediate hurdle in negotiations. At final plenary, Soviets repeated that solutions to other NSS technical matters would depend on progress on the UK NSS question and that the U.S. and UK desire to achieve a treaty would be judged by movement on this issue. No Del indicated any change in its position on this issue (CTB 533,8 535,9 543,10 [Page 611] 571).11 Question of U.S. December 5, 1979 proposals for NSS joint cooperative development program12 was carefully avoided by both sides in formal statements and informal discussion by Heads of Del, although it was raised several times informally by one member of Soviet Del. (Evidently, Moscow instructions to Soviet Del to avoid raising this topic are as firm and as explicit as ours. Del believes we cannot expect Soviets to address this issue until we explicitly raise the subject again.) We stated that all our proposals remain on the table and that the Delegations should proceed on that basis (CTB 525,13 531,14 541,15 556).16

8. Soviet positions and attitudes: Soviets were cautious and low-key throughout the round. They negotiated in a businesslike fashion, but did not put forward any new positions. They appeared to expect the U.S. and UK Dels to follow a similar course. They apparently believe that the negotiations will proceed at about the present pace until the overall political situation is altered. Soviets observe that negotiations are blocked in political and NSS working groups, and have increasingly urged progress in OSI working group, but have shown no sign of flexibility.

9. UK positions and attitudes: The UK Del gave no indication of any change in its position regarding UK NSS. They conveyed strong disappointment over inability to deliver draft of CD report to Soviet Del this round.

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10. Prospects: We believe the Soviets are not likely to initiate any significant new proposals on the major outstanding negotiating issues, especially those concerning verification, until they judge the overall political climate has improved and the chances are good that the U.S. and UK would reciprocate.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800166–0089. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Sent for information Priority to London and Moscow.
  2. Telegram 3746 from Geneva, March 7, provides an interim assessment of the tenth round of the CTB negotiations. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800118–0359)
  3. Equipment that drills hole into the earth where seismometers are installed to measure seismic activity.
  4. CTB Message No. 499, or telegram 17760 from Geneva, November 2, 1979, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790509–0695.
  5. CTB Message No. 551, or telegram 3886 from Geneva, March 11, contains the US/UK draft text of a trilateral report on the CTB negotiations to be delivered to the Committee on Disarmament in June. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800125–0431)
  6. CTB Message No. 560, or telegram 4481 from Geneva, March 19, contains the revised US/UK draft of the trilateral CTB report after the UK government suggested changes. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800140–0735)
  7. Not found.
  8. CTB Message No. 533, or telegram 2665 from Geneva, February 19, reported that Earle and Helman had met with Petrosyants on March 13 to discuss the UK NSS issue. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800087–0940)
  9. CTB Message No. 535, or telegram 2738 from Geneva, February 20, reported that after Edmonds “called for work on NSS technical matters,” Petrosyants said “the U.S. and UK Dels should reciprocate for past Soviet flexibility and abandon their unrealistic position on UK NSS. This would create the conditions necessary for progress on a broad front.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800089–1013)
  10. CTB Message No. 543, or telegram 3022 from Geneva, February 25, contains the text of two USSR plenary statements by Petrosyants. The first, made at the opening of the plenary, said that “the Soviet Delegation is prepared to continue in a constructive manner to seek possibilities for moving ahead along all the basic lines of the negotiations.” In the second, delivered after the U.S. statement, Petrosyants said “we expected much more from the U.S. and UK Delegations regarding the substance of the specific questions facing us,” in particular the issue of UK NSS. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800024–0168)
  11. CTB Message No. 571, or telegram 5133 from Geneva, April 1, reported that at the closing plenary, the “heads of Del formally accepted second report of ad hoc working group on NSS technical characteristics, calling it a useful contribution.” Nevertheless, “all three Dels expressed dissatisfaction with lack of progress this round, with U.S. and UK Dels criticizing Soviet position regarding technical characteristics of OSI basic equipment. Soviets described NSS question as all-important to conduct of negotiations, stating that U.S. and UK movement on this issue would demonstrate our desire to achieve a treaty.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800164–0551)
  12. See footnote 8, Document 245.
  13. CTB Message No. 525, or telegram 1986 from Geneva, February 7, reported that all three Delegations “made brief statements concerning the need for progress in our negotiations.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800066–0753)
  14. CTB Message No. 531, or telegram 2142 from Geneva, February 11, includes “an expansion of the report” concerning the December 15, 1979, US proposal for an NSS joint cooperative program. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800073–0784)
  15. CTB Message No. 541, or telegram 3031 from Geneva, February 25, reported that Petrosyants “said that further progress on NSS questions would be impossible until the U.S. and UK move ahead on the question of NSS numbers and locations.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800098–0232)
  16. CTB Message No. 556, or telegram 4389 from Geneva, March 18, reported that the heads of all three Delegations “welcomed the reconvening of the ad hoc working group to deal with the three technical characteristics of the NSS downhole seismic equipment that had been deferred in report completed last round.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800138–0985)