304. Paper Prepared in the National Security Council1



A. Objectives

We continue to seek concrete steps toward international restraint in arms transfers. Toward this goal, we must move forward with the Soviets, with other suppliers, and with recipients simultaneously, but seek to avoid a lack of movement in one or two of these areas from precluding progress in the third. We want to avoid consideration of the sensitive areas of East Asia and West Asia and focus on regions where our strategic interests in terms of arms transfers are not directly engaged, such as Africa and Latin America.

B. Summary of Our Approach in Mexico City

We will press on two tracks: substantive and procedural. Each track should be compatible with the other, but capable of independent results.

1. Substantively, the Delegation should seek detailed exploration in CAT IV of interim arms transfer restraint measures (IRMs) for Latin America and Africa. Any interim agreement arrangement would limit new commitments, be of finite and relatively short duration, and could be subject to modification as others joined the dialogue. (Detailed guidance contained in regional sections.) [Because limitation on new commitments would permit delivery of pipeline items, the Delegation should insist that the Soviets advise us of their existing commitments to these regions.]

We expect Soviet regional proposals to focus initially on East Asia (PRC, ROK/DPRK) and West Asia (Persian Gulf). [Before the round begins, the US Head of Delegation should inform the Soviet Head of Delegation that concrete progress toward restraint in Africa and Latin America is in our mutual interest. He should also inform him that we are not prepared to discuss either East Asia or West Asia. He should state that if the Soviets press us on these two regions, the Head of the US Delegation will have to seek instructions from Washington before [Page 756] proceeding with this round.] (Detailed guidance on dealing with anticipated Soviet regional proposals is contained in regional sections.)

We are prepared to put forward a proposal on Africa and Latin America. We are willing to put forward the former alone but not the latter.

We also seek continued progress toward agreement on the criteria to govern arms transfers, which would form the basis of the overall framework for restraint. We need to ensure in this round that work proceeds on the military/technical criteria and on political/legal criteria consistent with our own policies. Also in this round, we should elicit a Soviet commitment to the establishment of, and detailed discussions of the nature of, the consultative mechanism through which restraint would be implemented.

2. Procedurally, we seek, over the long term, a series of supplier/recipient consultations, each organized for a different region. These consultations would discuss both the overall framework for restraint and interim restraint measures. Any US/Soviet IRM which previously had been agreed upon could be confirmed or modified as a result of such meetings. These consultations could precede more formal joint supplier-recipient conferences, and may themselves have to be preceded by discussions among recipients alone, and among suppliers alone. The latter could take the form of a series of US-other suppliers bilaterals. We will have to probe Soviet views on this question in Mexico City.

C. Other Suppliers

[It is neither desirable nor necessary to anticipate or plan our specific approaches to other suppliers until we have a clearer idea as to the nature and scope of possible US-Soviet agreements. In the discussions, the Delegation should not take issue with the principle that long-term comprehensive restraint measures require participation by all major suppliers. But it should maintain that certain interim US-Soviet restraints affecting particular weapons transfers to specific regions or sub-regions can make sense as bilateral measures and can provide a basis for broader and more durable arrangements involving other suppliers and recipients. The Delegation should stress that more substantial US-Soviet progress in moving toward concrete restraint arrangements is needed to help bring other suppliers along. If the Soviets press the argument that certain bilateral restraints could be circumvented by other suppliers, the Delegation could note that, in such cases, at the very least, we would seek their agreement to avoid actions that would upset such interim measures. The Delegation, however, should make clear to the Soviets in CAT IV that the US will not and cannot speak for our Allies on questions of arms transfers. If a specific bilateral agree[Page 757]ment is in sight, the Delegation should report to Washington so that appropriate consultations can be held with the Allies and so that the Delegation can receive instructions on how to relate such an agreement to the positions of the other suppliers.]

The Delegation should deal with the anticipated Soviet suggestion of holding a multilateral suppliers meeting by arguing that serious and systematic bilaterals between the US and the USSR and between each of us and our major allies would be the best way to proceed in the near term. These consultations would help ensure that suppliers would bring a reasonably consistent position into joint supplier-recipient conferences, build suppliers’ support for interim restraint measures, and develop a comprehensive framework for restraint based upon criteria and consultative mechanisms. (The Delegation should not rule out the possibility of a multilateral suppliers’ meeting following intensive bilaterals as a prelude to supplier-recipient consultations and a supplier-recipient conference.)

D. Further Negotiations

[Over the near term, we wish to sustain the momentum of US-Soviet negotiations during the coming year, so long as CAT is not exploited by the Soviets to disadvantage our sensitive relationships in East and West Asia. The Delegation should seek prior Washington approval before agreeing on a schedule for further negotiations, either at the Delegation or working level. In determining a future schedule, we should be mindful of the unique and difficult character of the initiative and should not establish unreasonable expectations for progress in the CAT IV round.]


A. Latin America

1. Objectives. As a general strategy, the Delegation should discuss with the Soviet Union the emerging regional initiative, including: (1) Mexico’s key role since the merger of the two initiatives2 and the apparent development in Latin America of a consensus on the need for wide regional participation, (2) elements of restraint concepts devel[Page 758]oped at August Mexico City meeting3 (including both transfer restraints and other restraint-related measures), (3) importance of suppliers supporting this initiative and helping to keep momentum, (4) sensitivity of recipients to appearance of supplier-imposed restraints, (5) significance of our showing support for the prospective supplier-recipient conference as a means of establishing an effective restraint regime. The Delegation should be alert to avoid any discussions which could be understood as narrowing or undermining the 1962 US/USSR Understandings on offensive weapons in Cuba.4

2. Interim Restraint Measures

(a) Political/Diplomatic Measures

(1) Regarding the second Mexican note,5 the Delegation should propose that:

—the thrust of this reply should be to support in principle appropriate regional arrangements to restrain transfers of conventional weapons, while reserving the right to consider specific regional proposals which the Latin Americans may develop.

—replies should emphasize the need for progress on regional arrangements such that Latin American recipients will be ready for consultations in 1979 with suppliers as part of the preparatory work for a formal supplier-recipient conference.

—replies should mention the recent UN SSOD endorsement of supplier-recipient coordination of arms transfer restraint6 and indicate the importance of restraint to be considered in other appropriate regions as part of a global concept.

—replies should be through the vehicle of a private diplomatic note delivered before March 1979. The Delegation should indicate that we are prepared to go ahead with our note even if the USSR is unwilling to do so.

(FYI: Replies should not include endorsement of restraints on use of conventional weapons. Although a general reference could be given [Page 759] to the Geneva Conference on Special Weapons, that should not be the first nor the primary forum for issuing statements of support for Latin American restraint initiatives.)

(2) Regarding public support for Latin American restraint, the Delegation should propose language for a joint communique that:

—endorses the Latin American restraint initiative in the context of the UN SSOD Program of Action, noting the former’s origins in the Declaration of Ayacucho.

—expresses willingness in principle to honor regional restraint arrangements, in Latin America and in other regions.

(b) Interim Weapons Restraint Proposals

Regarding specific weapons restraint proposals, the Delegation should explore region-wide restraint possibilities. [After the exploratory discussions, the Delegation is authorized to table an ad referendum proposal, subject to consultations with other major suppliers. The Delegation should seek further guidance as to the content of a specific proposal. In addressing specific proposals, we should take into account the Mexican initiative for regional restraint.]

(c) Supplier Consultations

Regarding further suppliers’ consultations on Latin America, the Delegation should stress the need for sustained US-Soviet bilaterals and suggest that we each hold such bilaterals with our respective allies as a means of developing a consistent approach toward restraint in Latin America for discussions at a supplier-recipient conference or informal supplier-recipient consultations which could precede such a conference. The sensitivity of the region to multilateral suppliers’ meetings should be emphasized, but not so as to rule out the possibility of a suppliers’ conference.

B. Africa

1. Objectives

Our long-term goal is to see African disputes settled through negotiation and not by force of arms; we believe that the available resources of Africa and of its friends should be used for economic and social progress on the continent.

The current and projected levels of arms transfers to Africa work against these goals, and thus our objective is a meaningful agreement on arms transfer restraint. Specifically, we want to see a reduction in the flow of Soviet arms to Africa.

2. Overall Tactics

The Soviets see Africa as a place we want to discuss because the trend of events is running against us. During Round IV, they will try to [Page 760] condition further discussion of restraint in Africa on our agreement to discuss other areas of interest to them. Indeed, even if the Soviets come to agree upon meaningful restraint in Africa, they will probably look for trade-offs from us outside Africa, for the simple reason that our arms transfers to Africa are minimal.

[Thus, our key tactic at Mexico City must be to make the Soviets see that a restraint agreement in Africa is in our mutual interest—whether or not we agree to discuss the areas of primary interest to the Soviets.]

3. Courses of Action and Proposals

In addition to the general tactics outlined above and assuming that we are able to bring the Soviets to further discussion of Africa, the Delegation will propose the following courses of action.

(a) The Region Defined: Sub-Saharan Africa

Consistent with guidance for round III, an African proposal should cover sub-Saharan Africa. The Delegation should, as necessary, indicate that we would also be willing to discuss northwest Africa, but under no circumstances Egypt.

(b) Region-wide Interim Weapons Restraint Proposals

[The Delegation is authorized to explore interim restraint possibilities and to make a proposal for Africa. The Delegation should seek further guidance on what specific proposal to table. The Delegation should make clear that the US is prepared to implement such interim restraint measures bilaterally.]

(c) High Tension Areas

Along with Africa-wide interim restraint, the Delegation should press for discussion and eventual agreement on additional arms transfer restraint in certain areas of particularly high tension. The region-wide IRM may be viewed as the preliminary evidence of our mutual intention to restrain arms flows. The discussions on the high tension areas will give more substance to our region-wide undertakings and allow all parties to demonstrate that they are striving for meaningful agreements.

If region-wide restraint is deemed insufficient, our aim will be further and more specific arms restraint in certain areas, with the ultimate aim of reducing tensions and avoiding possible confrontations. The priority areas for such discussions are Angola/Zaire and Ethiopia/Somalia and at some point North Africa and Southern Africa. In each of the priority areas we would point to our own restraint and suggest the Soviets take reciprocal measures. If the Soviets choose to raise other countries, we would be prepared to consider them as long as they fit with our overall objectives.

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(d) Political/Diplomatic Initiatives

The US should not make demarches to African states until we see the Soviet reaction at Mexico City. However, the Delegation could agree to the issuance of a joint public statement at the end of the session that would encourage regional initiatives.

C. Asia

1. East Asia

The Soviets have made it clear they intend to raise the question of China within the context of their East Asia proposal. [Prior to the official start of the round, the head of Delegation should reiterate what we have told the Soviets informally—namely:

—That as far as we are concerned, East Asia is not an appropriate topic for the talks, and we will have no comment to make;

—state that to address East Asia in the CAT context would be too much of a burden for CAT and would doom the talks to failure; and

—firmly refuse to discuss the subject, ask no questions, make no proposals, and not agree to inclusion of this area on the agenda. Tell them that if they persist, the US Delegation will have to seek instructions from Washington prior to proceeding with the formal discussion.]

The same applies to both China and Korea.

2. Southeast Asia

The Soviets have indicated that they will not raise the Southeast Asian sub-region. However, if they reverse their position and do so, the Delegation should:

—listen to what the Soviets have to say and ask questions to clarify the proposal; and

—not offer any US counter-proposals.

3. West Asia

Particularly because of the current delicate internal situation in Iran, but also due to other factors, it is not in the US interest to raise the West Asian area at this time. However, we can expect that the Soviet side will raise the area for discussion.

[Prior to the round, the head of Delegation should inform the Soviets that it is not appropriate to discuss this region at this time, and take the same position as on East Asia.]

4. South Asia

The Soviets have indicated they will not raise the South Asian sub-region. However, if they reverse their position and do so, the Delegation should:

—listen to what the Soviets have to say, ask questions to clarify the proposal, but not offer any US counter-proposals.

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A. Military/Technical Criteria

The Soviets have stated that they will table their own military/technical criteria at Round IV. We should be prepared to discuss these criteria in conjunction with the eight military/technical criteria which the US side tabled in Round III, with the aim of reaching agreement. We should also be prepared to discuss such supporting measures as controls on retransfers, arms sales promotional activities and physical security, as appropriate. Controls on the transfer of weapons manufacturing technology7 should be sought as necessary to prevent circumvention of other agreed restraints on transfers of weapons themselves. Thus, co-production controls should be sought only for weapons whose transfer is restrained pursuant to military/technical criteria.

B. Political/Legal Criteria

With respect to political/legal criteria, the Delegation should continue the discussions which began at the third round on the parallel US and Soviet drafts. To the extent consistent with the position paper on political/legal criteria prepared for the third round,8 the Delegation should work with the Soviet side to develop mutually acceptable criteria. However, these efforts should be coordinated with the pace and tenor of the discussions on the other CAT issues, particularly the military/technical criteria, so that agreement on political/legal criteria does not take place prematurely.

C. Consultative Mechanism

The Delegation is authorized to build upon the presentation in Round III to seek agreement on the establishment of, and the functions of, a consultative mechanism to refine and implement the understandings arrived at by the two sides in the CAT rounds. The Delegation is also authorized to present, for purposes of discussion, illustrative examples of how such a mechanism might be structured and to seek Soviet responses in order to refine our own approach to the question. In particular, the Delegation should seek Soviet thoughts as to the best way to structure multilateral consultations. Any consultative mechanism should be designed to implement agreed restraint measures.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 123, Vance, Miscellaneous Conversations With: 10–12/78. Secret. Sent as an attachment to a November 29 memorandum from Brzezinski to Christopher. (Ibid.) All brackets are in the original.
  2. Reference is to the June 17 pledge by Carter and Presidents Lopéz Michelsen of Colombia, Quirós of Costa Rica, and Pérez of Venezuela, the Chief of Government Omar Torrijos of Panama, and Prime Minister of Jamaica Manley to combine their support for the Treaty of Tlatelolco with their support for the Ayacucho Declaration to limit the supply and purchase of conventional arms. (“Joint Statement by the United States and Latin America: Treaty of Tlatelolco, the Organization of the American states, and Arms Transfers [Extract],” Documents on Disarmament, 1978, p. 391)
  3. A report on the Latin American and Caribbean Conventional Weapons meeting held in Mexico City is in telegram 14169 from Mexico City, August 28. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780351–1056)
  4. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis ended when the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw all offensive nuclear weapons from Cuba. The United States in turn agreed not to invade Cuba and withdrew offensive nuclear weapons from Turkey.
  5. Not found. Telegram 17638 from Mexico, October 24, reported that a second major note to major arms suppliers “would be made available to the U.S. Thursday October 26.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780438–0614) The first note, also not found, was sent in August. (Telegram 260203 to Mexico, October 14; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780420–0885)
  6. See Document 299.
  7. Defined as co-production, licensed production, or co-assembly. [Footnote is in the original.]
  8. Not found.