248. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1


  • SCC Meeting on CTB (U)

The SCC met on April 3 to review the UK national seismic stations (NSS) issue in the CTB negotiations.2 As a follow-up to his discussions with Lord Carrington during the Thatcher visit in December,3 Cy wants authorization to commit us to provide, at no cost to the UK, equipment for three additional NSS stations in exchange for the British finding suitable sites in the Southern Hemisphere and agreeing to offer four sites, vice one, on UK territory.4 You will recall that the Soviets have said they refuse to pursue further negotiations on NSS until the UK falls off its position. OSD and ACDA strongly supported this approach, but JCS and DOE opposed the proposal. (S)

DOE’s concern was that although the total cost of the added UK stations (about $8 million) is small, it would be difficult to defend on the Hill since they would contribute little to CTB monitoring. However, as Frank Press pointed out, these Southern Hemisphere stations would augment our NPT monitoring capability for events such as the Sep[Page 613]tember 22 possible nuclear explosion in the South Atlantic,5 particularly if other nonseismic detection equipment could also be installed at these sites. (S)

Dave Jones expressed more fundamental concerns. He stated that CTB is the most difficult arms control issue for the Chiefs, since they do not believe it is in our national security interest. As a result of recent verification concerns, such as possible Soviet testing above 150 KT and the suspect biological weapons incident at Sverdlovsk,6 he recommended a comprehensive review of CTB and other arms control issues before proceeding further. (S)

A comprehensive arms control review is clearly not a good idea in this election year. The UK NSS issue has stalemated the CTB negotiations for nearly a year and we need to show at least some progress before the NPT Review Conference. I believe Cy’s approach is the best bet for getting the British to agree to the four NSS that you have twice urged Thatcher to accept. This is unlikely to over-accelerate the negotiations but would enable us, if appropriate, to move to a more defensible position when the negotiations resume in mid-June. (S)

OMB noted correctly that the British were hiding behind the financial issue and warned that even this small expenditure could be viewed on the Hill as inconsistent with your budgetary constraints. To minimize these political disadvantages, I suggested that we explore funding offsets in other areas where we help the British, such as testing their warheads and providing fuel for their nuclear submarines. Chris thought this might be possible but wanted to close the deal with the UK on going to four NSS before engaging them in an offset discussion. (S)

On balance, I believe we should tell the British that we will need a pro forma UK payment for the three NSS, but that we will offset these costs in future US billings to the UK on other projects by the amount of the NSS cost. This approach will avoid a line item in the DOE budget, but will meet Cy’s desire to give the three additional sets of NSS equipment to the UK cost-free. If you agree, I will explore this possibility with UK Deputy Cabinet Secretary Robert Wade-Gery. If a satisfactory agreement is reached on this offset approach, we can then coordinate a message for Cy to send to Carrington. (S)


That you authorize us to proceed on this basis. (U)

APPROVE _______
OTHER _______7

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 11, SCC 297, CTB, 4/3/80. Secret. Sent for action. Carter initialed the top of the memorandum.
  2. No record of this meeting has been found.
  3. See Document 242.
  4. Telegram 25369 from London, December 21, noted that Vance and Carrington had agreed that “USG would consider problem of financing additional UK NSS while UK would consider additional locations, FCO was beginning to look again at various sites.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]) No other record of this meeting has been found.
  5. See footnote 6, Document 244.
  6. See Documents 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, and 122.
  7. Carter checked the “other” option and wrote “I see no justification for a monetary grant of $8 million to U.K. However, I think they should accept the 4 stations. J.”