34. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Antisatellite Treaty


  • State
  • Warren Christopher Deputy Secretary
  • David Gompert Deputy Director, Politico-Military Affairs
  • Defense
  • Harold Brown Secretary
  • Walter Slocombe Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs
  • Herbert York Member, ASAT Delegation
  • ACDA
  • Spurgeon Keeny Acting Director
  • James Timbie Chief, Strategic Affairs Division
  • Robert Buchheim Head, ASAT Delegation
  • JCS
  • General William Y. Smith
  • General David Bradburn Member, ASAT Delegation
  • White House
  • David Aaron (Chairman)
  • NASA
  • Robert Frosch Administrator
  • David Williamson Assistant for Special Projects
  • NSC
  • Victor Utgoff
  • Robert Rosenberg
  • Charles Stebbins
  • OSTP
  • Frank Press Director
  • Arthur Morrissey Senior Analyst
  • CIA
  • Admiral Stansfield Turner
  • Sayre Stevens Deputy Director National Foreign Assessment Center

Dismantling the Soviet Orbital Interceptor. All agreed that complete dismantling of the current Soviet ASAT interceptor system could probably not be verified because the interceptors are small and could be easily concealed. Further, some participants felt that if we were to ask the Soviets to eliminate the boosters currently used for their ASAT system, and/or the associated launch facilities, we might have to pay an exorbitant negotiating price, because:

—the SL–11 booster they now use is also used to orbit their ocean reconnaissance satellites; and

—they have some 300 SS–9 boosters which we expect they would want to use in their space program that would have to be verifiably dismantled. (SL–11s are slightly modified SS–9s.)

[Page 77]

However, all agreed that we should not yet abandon the dismantling goal; rather the US should listen to and probe any Soviet dismantling procedure that is offered in response to the request we made during the first round of ASAT talks. The US should make no proposals of its own during this next round, since we have not yet found a proposal that would satisfy our concerns, and we must be prepared to live with any proposal we make.

The Text of an Initial Agreement. All agreed that an ASAT Treaty would apply during peacetime; however, there were questions whether an agreement should apply during crises or war:

During CrisesOSD and JCS expressed concern that a hostile acts agreement would prevent useful actions against Soviet satellites during crises—[1½ lines not declassified] It was agreed that insofar as treaty language is concerned, crises would be treated no differently than peacetime.

During WarDOD is also concerned that if the treaty language called for the agreement to remain in effect during war, Congress would be more likely to restrict funding for development of a US ASAT capability.

All agreed that the Interagency Working Group, with legal advice, should draft specific alternative formulations of the text of an agreement for discussion at the next SCC meeting.2

Prohibited Acts. All agree that an initial, hostile acts agreement should prohibit physical attacks on satellites of the other side, and prohibit the unauthorized displacement from orbit of satellites of the other side. Since the US space shuttle is the only near-term system of either side with the ability to displace satellites, and since the Soviets have already expressed their concern about displacement, the US should make maximum use of the negotiating leverage implicit in agreeing to prohibit unauthorized displacement. The US must be careful to ensure that treaty language allows the US shuttle to perform its normal duties (extraction of US satellite from orbit, close inspection, etc.) without such activities being labeled as ASAT testing.

[4 paragraphs (24½ lines) not declassified]

The Interagency Working Group was directed [1½ lines not declassified] for consideration in the next SCC meeting.

Interim Ban on Testing ASAT Interceptors. There was insufficient time to fully develop this issue. The agency positions that were expressed are:

OSD/JCS—Prepared to accept an unlimited duration high altitude test ban, leaving to the Soviets to propose the boundary between high and low altitude (per our request during the first round of talks). [Page 78] However, DOD noted that in order to eliminate the current asymmetry in low altitude ASAT capability between the two sides, we should consider the possibility of allowing the U.S. a limited number of low altitude tests. Additionally, DOD fears that adoption of a moratorium on low altitude testing would inhibit funding for the US ASAT interceptor.

State/ACDA—Prefer a full test ban at all altitudes at least until the US ASAT interceptor is ready for testing in FY 81–82. (ACDA leans toward a three-year test ban; State believes a ban should last at least one year.) Such a ban would provide the incentive needed for both sides to work toward a comprehensive agreement, and wouldn’t hurt us since we aren’t ready to test an interceptor anyway.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 99, Top Secret; Ruff; Talent Keyhole; [codewords not declassified]. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. See Document 35.