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485. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Secretary of State Vance, Secretary of Defense Brown, Secretary of Energy Schlesinger, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Warnke), the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Jones), the Director of Central Intelligence (Turner), and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Press)1

SUBJECT

  • Study of Initiatives at the SSOD on Cut-Off and Transfer of Fissionable Materials for Use in Nuclear Weapons

In March of last year, the President pledged a strong and positive US contribution to the UN Special Session on Disarmament.2 In view of this commitment and the fact that several participants are likely to raise the issue of an agreement halting the production of fissionable materials which can be used for nuclear weapons (cut-off) and transferring highly enriched uranium from the weapon stockpile to peaceful purposes (transfer), it is important that we fully analyze the possible impacts and implications of such proposals on US national security interests, including our interest in nuclear arms control, and the desirability of possible US cut-off or transfer initiatives. Therefore, a study should be undertaken to include a discussion of the following:

—Review of past US cut-off/transfer proposals and the circumstances surrounding them;

—Assessment of US and Soviet special nuclear materials stockpiles and trends;

—The impact on future US nuclear forces (from projections of likely force levels to various high options);

—The impact on future Soviet nuclear forces;

—The impact on the overall USUSSR military balance;

—Relationship to other arms control activities;

—An assessment of possible verification systems and their adequacy;

—Possibilities for recovery of nuclear material from the current stockpile and the pipeline;

—Special problems (e.g., tritium production, naval reactors);

—Allied views and interests;

—Soviet attitudes; and

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—Views and actions of non-aligned and non-nuclear-weapon states (particularly in the SSOD context and from the perspective of US non-proliferation policy).

The study should be prepared by an ad hoc working group of the Special Coordinating Committee and should be submitted no later than April 28, 1978.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 118, Special Session on Disarmament: 2–5/78. Secret.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 473.