479. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron) to Vice President Mondale, Secretary of State Vance, Secretary of Defense Brown, and the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Warnke)1


  • Backstopping Committee for the UN Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD)

As you are aware, the United Nations General Assembly will be meeting in a Special Session on Disarmament from May 23 to June 28, 1978. Three meetings of the Preparatory Committee for the SSOD [Page 1188] (PrepCom) have already been held and a fourth is now going on, through the end of this month. A final PrepCom is scheduled to begin April 10, lasting about two weeks.

The United States has taken a positive approach to the SSOD both in private discussions and in public. In addressing the United Nations Permanent Representatives on March 17, 1977,2 President Carter said, “Working with other nations represented here, we hope to advance the cause of peace. We will make a strong and positive contribution at the upcoming Special Session on Disarmament (of the UN General Assembly), which I understand will commence next year.”

As the Special Session itself approaches, there is a need for the U.S. Government to develop positions on substantive issues now being debated in the PrepComs, and to formulate plans for U.S. participation in the SSOD, including initiatives that the United States may wish to put forward unilaterally. Therefore, there should be established under the NSC Special Coordination Committee an interagency committee to coordinate the U.S. Government’s activities with respect to the SSOD. You should designate a representative to this committee with a rank equivalent to and not lower than that of Deputy Assistant Secretary. The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency will be the lead agency for SSOD matters, and will chair the Backstopping Committee which will refer policy issues to the SCC for guidance.

I would appreciate your communicating to the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency the name of your representative on the SSOD Backstopping Committee at your earliest convenience. The NSC staff representative will be Samuel P. Huntington.

David Aaron
Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 383, Records of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, FRC #383–98–0143, Bureau of Multilateral Affairs, Chemical Weapons, Disarmament, and CTB Files, 1970–85, Box 3, UN Special Session on Disarmament, Working Paper on International Mechanisms for Disarmament, August 1976–July 1978. Confidential. Copies were sent to Gilligan, George Brown, and Turner.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 473.