391. Memorandum From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Earle) to President Carter1


  • Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference

The NPT Review Conference completed Sunday2 was a difficult, contentious process, and it was not possible to reach agreement on a substantive declaration satisfactory to all participants.

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There was no controversy over the NPT itself—which was supported by all speakers (with no suggestions for amendments or protocols and no withdrawals from the Treaty). There was, however, widespread resentment on the part of many of the non-nuclear weapon parties at the disparity between their self-denial and the dearth of concrete achievement by the nuclear weapon states in limiting their nuclear armaments.3

Most participants made clear that they considered greater progress by the nuclear weapon states on nuclear arms control—as contempated by Article VI4 of the Treaty and consistently advocated by you—to be basic to the NPT bargain. This led to strong pleas from all quarters for prompt ratification of SALT II and early initiation of SALT III. But it also led to bitter denunciations of the failure to have achieved a comprehensive test ban—which was the step most clearly desired—not only by the neutrals and non-aligned but also by a number of our allies.

Your approval of a contingent offer by the U.S. to establish a CTB working group in the CD—even though it was not successful in achieving a consensus document—helped to head off an acrimonious ending of this particular Conference. But the underlying discontent and resentment still remain. Unless we succeed in achieving significant limitations on nuclear testing in the next few years it is clear from this Conference that the NPT, and the non-proliferation regime of which it is the principal pillar, will be in serious jeopardy.

Ralph Earle II
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues, Oplinger/Bloomfield File, Box 50, Proliferation: Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, 9–11/80. Confidential. Copy sent to Muskie. Carter initialed the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum.
  2. September 7.
  3. Carter bracketed this paragraph and wrote “I agree” in the left-hand margin.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 211.