295. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Conventional Arms Transfer Talks with the USSR and Security Assistance for Kenya


  • State

    • Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher
    • William Harrop, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa
    • Leslie Gelb, Director, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs
  • Defense

    • David McGiffert, Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs
  • JCS

    • Lt. General William Y. Smith, Assistant to the Chairman
  • CIA

    • Dr. Sayre Stevens, Deputy Director, National Foreign Assessment Center
    • George Allen, National Intelligence Officer for Special Studies
  • ACDA

    • Deputy Director Spurgeon M. Keeny
    • Dr. Barry Blechman, Assistant Director, Weapons Evaluation and Control Bureau
  • OMB

    • Edward G. Sanders, Deputy Associate Director, International Affairs Division
    • White House
    • David Aaron
  • NSC

    • Reginald Bartholomew
    • Jessica Tuchman Mathews
    • Leslie G. Denend

The SCC affirmed the continuing objective of these talks to move the Soviets toward concrete measures of conventional arms transfer restraint. Soviet refusal to establish a regional working group, one of three agreed upon at the last round, before arriving in Helsinki for the start of this round, has complicated the preparation of a U.S. strategy for the talks.

It was agreed that a decision on how to respond if the Soviet Delegation proves reluctant to establish the regional group or places unacceptable preconditions on its agenda, could not be made in advance since it should be based on the tone and substance of the Soviet posture in Helsinki. It was decided that the delegation should report to Washington, proposing either to return to Washington, to delay the start of the talks until agreement is reached, to include regional proposals in the plenary sessions, or some other possibility. Washington would then issue instructions. It was further agreed that while each delegation is always free to discuss whatever it wishes, the U.S. delegation should not take any action to lend status to the Soviet ‘neighbors’ proposal, including agreeing to place it on the agenda of a regional working group.

If the question of the regional group can be resolved satisfactorily and the talks proceed, it was agreed that the discussion of legal/political criteria which have been proposed by the Soviets will move in parallel with the discussion of U.S.-sponsored military/technical guidelines. The delegation will not agree to political/legal criteria without Soviet agreement on military/technical guidelines.

It was agreed that in discussing with the Soviets how restraint might be implemented, the U.S. position will be that suppliers should seek recipient acceptance of the agreed-upon restraint norms before implementation, but that recipients would not hold a veto over supplier restraint. In certain circumstances or for particular weapons systems the U.S. would be prepared to implement strictly supplier restraint.

On whether or not to inform key African leaders of the talks before they begin, ACDA expressed the view that given the uncertainties surrounding the talks and the future of the Regional Working Group in particular, prior consultations could only serve to raise African fears unnecessarily. State and Defense maintained that prior consultations are desirable to allay potential African concerns that outsiders are meeting to decide what is best for Africa. The SCC did not approve con[Page 732]sultations with the Africans before the talks begin but directed State to prepare the substance of what we would say to the Africans and circulate it for interagency review.

There was disagreement on which African states should be included in the U.S. regional proposal for Africa. ACDA felt strongly that we should stick with sub-Saharan Africa. DOD agreed but noted that they did not feel strongly on this. State feels that by confining our proposal to sub-Saharan Africa, we are running a high risk of having our restraint proposal perceived as discriminating between black versus white African states. All agreed that the introduction of the entire Middle East issue which would accompany the inclusion of Egypt and Libya must be avoided. State’s final position was that the delegation attempt to have the Soviets agree to the discussion of all of Africa except Egypt and Libya. David Aaron suggested that the delegation propose two regions to the Soviets—sub-Saharan and North West Africa. The issue was not decided.

It was agreed that Cuba should not be allowed to stand as an obstacle to achieving Soviet agreement to a proposal for restraint in Latin America. The U.S. delegation will make clear at the beginning of the talks that our discussion of restraint in Latin America includes all of the states of Latin America and the Caribbean, but we will not make the inclusion of Cuba a precondition for U.S. agreement on a Latin American regional restraint initiative.

The SCC also discussed possibilities for reprogramming FY 1978 and FY 1979 FMS credit to Kenya to finance an initial U.S. response to Kenya’s request for assistance in modernizing its military forces. The discussion pointed out the political difficulties of cutting FMS credits from any potential donors. The SCC did not reach a decision. Defense and State were directed to reach agreement on common data for the potential credit donors and develop formal agency positions. The survey team was directed to identify a less costly initial package which we might be prepared to offer the Kenyans.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Donated Material, Subject File, Box 12, Meetings–SCC 94: 7/78. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Brzezinski informed Carter of the results of the meeting in a July 11 memorandum. (Ibid.)