278. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Arms Control Issues: SALT, ASAT, Conventional Arms No. II of IV


  • US
  • The Secretary
  • Marshall D. Shulman
  • USSR
  • Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin

Dobrynin came in Monday afternoon, October 17, at the Secretary’s request. The meeting lasted from 4:00 to approximately 6:15.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to conventional arms transfers.]

[Page 690]

3. Conventional Arms Transfers and Sales—The Secretary noted that Gelb had raised this point with Bessmertnykh 2 and that Bessmertnykh had said that it might be a long time before a reply was received from Moscow. The Secretary said the President attaches considerable importance to this subject and urged Dobrynin to do everything possible to speed up a reply.3 Dobrynin replied that he would do so, but he went on to say, in what he described as an unofficial reaction, that the US was selling more and more arms around the world, including to some of the neighbors of the Soviet Union. In this connection, he cited sales to Iran. He noted the Administration’s declared intent to reduce arms sales and asked why the US had been speeding up the process. The Secretary said that many items had been in the pipeline, but an effort was being made to hold sales and transfers down. This was reflected in the fact that the total would come to about $9.8 billion this year, instead of the $11 billion originally projected. This includes some very expensive items, such as AWACS. There would be further reductions next year, he said. Dobrynin asked why not show some restraint as a good will gesture. The Secretary replied that restraint was being shown and that AWACS, for example, had a purely defensive function.

  1. Source: RG 59, Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Nodis Memcons 1977. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Shulman; and approved by David Anderson (S/S) on October 31. The meeting took place in the Department of State. The conversation is published in full as Document 53 in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union. Vance informed the Embassy in Moscow about Dobrynin’s visit in Telegram 251209 to Moscow, October 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840076–0427.
  2. Not found.
  3. In a September 23 meeting with Gromyko, Carter “expressed his concern over continuing arms sales around the world, and noted that in this respect we were guilty of excess to some extent, as was the Soviet Union. We were eager to cooperate with the Soviet Union on this subject and prepared to do so in the UNGA session.” Gromkyo replied that “both sides had sinned in this respect.” (Memorandum of Conversation, September 23; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Materials, Subject File, Box 35, Memcons: President, 9/19–9/30/77)