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314. Memorandum From Charles Stebbins of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1

SUBJECT

  • Conventional Arms Transfers (CAT) Talks (U)

The Mini-SCC 2 agreed on the following gameplan at this morn-ing’s meeting:

—Reggie Bartholomew will meet with Mendelevich in Europe on September 25 to discuss a possible CAT V agenda—barring a deci-sion later this week to delay the meeting as a result of the situation in Cuba.3 (S)

—Reggie will press hard to get the Soviets to accept the earlier US position that discussions of restraint measures for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) or Latin America (LA) should be placed on the CAT V plenary agenda. He will again argue that: (1) CAT V must produce significant forward movement on the regions issue; (2) the only practical way to proceed on the issue is to tackle relatively non-controversial regions where there is mutual interest in restraining transfers; and (3) in the US view, the only regions that meet these criteria are SSA and LA. (S)

—If the Soviets cannot be persuaded to place SSA or SSA and LA on the CAT V agenda, Reggie will be authorized to agree to convene CAT V without any Soviet commitment on regions; but he will caution them that, against the discouraging backdrop of the current situation in Cuba, the US will not be able to sustain its CAT initiative without significant progress on regions at CAT V. (This approach, coupled with our earlier agreement to permit discussions of any regions in heads of delegation meetings only, will tell us whether the Soviet problem with regional discussions is substantive or procedural.) (S)

—Reggie will then propose that CAT V be convened in Helsinki in mid-January, claiming that the US needs several months to prepare for the round. If Mendelevich suggests convening earlier, Reggie will indi[Page 779]cate that the US doesn’t want CAT to complicate SALT, but if the Soviet desire for an earlier convening can be taken as an earnest of their good intentions on the regions issue, we might be willing to reconsider our position on timing. (S)

The CAT Working Group was tasked to take a new look at how Cuba should be dealt with in any CAT V restraint proposal for Latin America. Additionally, Marshall Brement is to prepare talking points for Reggie to use in chiding Mendelevich about the current situation in Cuba. (S)

RECOMMENDATION:

That you approve the above gameplan.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 120, SCM 083, Mini-SCC, CAT-Conventional Arms Transfers, 9/19/79. Secret. Sent for action. Copies were sent to Kimmitt and Brement.
  2. No other record of this meeting has been found.
  3. Reference is to the discovery of a Soviet combat brigade in Cuba. For more on this, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Documents 216, 217, 219, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227, and 228, and Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXIII, Mexico, Cuba, and the Caribbean.
  4. Brzezinski did not indicate his preference with respect to this recommendation.