281. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • USUSSR Conventional Arms Transfer Talks

PARTICIPANTS

  • State

    • Dep Sec Warren Christopher
    • Mr. Leslie Gelb (Director, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs)
    • Mr. William Luers (Dep Asst Sec for European Affairs)
  • Defense

    • Mr. Walter Slocombe (Prin Dep Asst Sec for International Security Affairs)
  • JCS

    • Adm Patrick Hannifin (Director, JCS)
  • CIA

    • Adm Stansfield Turner
    • Mr. George Allen (National Intelligence Officer for Special Studies)
  • ACDA

    • Mr. Spurgeon Keeny (Acting Director)
    • Mr. George Allen (Asst Director)
  • White House

    • Mr. David Aaron (Dep Asst to the President for National Security Affairs)
  • NSC

    • Reginald Bartholomew
    • Jessica Tuchman
    • Leslie Denend

The SCC met to review the proposed strategy for talks with the Soviets scheduled to begin on December 14. Issues and conclusions that were reached follow:

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1. The Context: Our Overall Restraint Strategy

The US is pursuing talks in three interdependent forums: US-European; USUSSR; and, US-recipient. We have met with the European suppliers. They were cautious and skeptical. Their economic health depends to some extent on their arms industries, and particularly, on arms exports. They consider Soviet cooperation essential. In our first meeting with the Soviets, we intend to stress the mutual interest we share in arms transfer restraint including: better bilateral relations, a reduction in the likelihood of USUSSR confrontations, and a lessening of international tensions. At the UN Special Session on Disarmament next spring, we will sound-out recipient country concerns regarding arms transfer restraint and present the US case.

2. US Leverage and Soviet Reactions

Because Soviet continued participation is critical to our multilateral efforts, we must succeed in these talks in getting agreement for a second meeting. We will emphasize the difficulty of sustaining our unilateral restraint for very long if multilateral progress cannot be demonstrated. There is also the implicit threat of publicly casting the Soviets in an unfavorable light on an important disarmament issue should they refuse to continue the talks. We can expect the Soviets to remain cautious and, as they stated, respond to specific US proposals. We are moderately hopeful that they will at least agree to a second round of talks.

3. Substance of the US Strategy for These Talks

There was agreement that this first round should be exploratory and conducted for the most part on an illustrative basis. In reviewing our restraint policy as well as the guidelines discussed with the Europeans, we would present these as approaches for a discussion of possible ways to achieve multilateral cooperation. It is important during this early stage of talks which we believe will be lengthy and complex, not to raise fears among recipients of a USUSSR condominium.

Regarding the possibility of proposing specific regions of the world for supplier restraint, we will raise the issue of regions to define the problem of arms competition, and suggest that different cooperative agreements might well be required in different regions; however, we will not identify specific regions as candidates for supplier restraint.

Regarding the suggestion of specific weapons systems such as surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs) and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), we will take the view that outside of NATO and the major states involved in the East–West confrontation, there are areas where these types of weapons, because of their destructive power or susceptibility to terrorist diversion, should not be transferred. We [Page 695]will emphasize our mutual interest in restraining these kinds of arms transfers. While not amounting to a formal US proposal, these issues will be raised explicitly enough to give the Soviets something to think about and to respond to.

4. [1 paragraph (11 lines) not declassified]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 90, SCC 044, Arms Transfer Policy: US/USSR: 12/9/77. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.