494. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

132087. Subject: Guidance for US Delegation to the UN Special Session Devoted to Disarmament, May–June 1978.

1. Summary. This message outlines the US objectives with respect to the UN Special Session devoted to disarmament (SSOD) and provides the US Delegation with general guidance. In addition, more detailed guidance is provided on major disarmament issues and on the final document which the SSOD is expected to produce (including sections on declaration on disarmament, program of action, and disarmament machinery). End summary.

2. US Objectives.

This administration is actively pursuing a number of specific arms control and disarmament negotiations with a view to enhancing US security interests and promoting international stability. The arms control and disarmament efforts of this administration are both a high-priority and a high-visibility element of its foreign and national security policy. During the course of the SSOD, the US will have an opportunity to present its position on all major disarmament issues currently under consideration and to outline what we see as appropriate tasks for the future. In general, what we are seeking as the main outcome of the SSOD is to sustain or accelerate the momentum of current disarmament negotiations and to lay the basis for realistic new programs in years ahead. With the foregoing in mind, the US objectives for the SSOD include the following:

—Enhance understanding of and support for our overall arms control objectives by other countries, and extend and improve our dialogue with important Non-Aligned and other countries which have not shared these objectives;

—Create a receptive environment and broaden support for the arms control agreements currently under negotiation with the USSR on high priority arms control issues (e.g. SALT, CTB, and CW);

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—Make the North-South dialogue on disarmament more constructive, winning greater Third World support and understanding for our goals—particularly in the areas of conventional arms transfer restraints and non-proliferation, endeavoring, in turn, to be responsive to Third World concerns about self-restraint by the nuclear powers and access to peaceful nuclear technology;

—Preserve the integrity of existing multilateral negotiating forums such as the CCD while maintaining flexibility with regard to proposals for procedural changes which may be proposed to meet Non-Aligned desires for a more substantive role;

—Establish, through the program of action to be adopted by the SSOD, a positive but realistic arms control and disarmament agenda for the next few years;

—Maintain a common position to the extent possible with our allies on arms control matters and if the opportunity arises, encourage a more forthcoming French and Chinese attitude to arms control initiatives of particular importance to US;

—To the extent possible, utilize the SSOD to give new impetus to arms control negotiations;

—Gain greater public support—in the US and abroad—for arms control and disarmament and better explain our various efforts and relate them to one another.

—To resist the initiatives of others that might be inimical to basic US security interests or to effective, practical, and verifiable arms control agreements.

—Counter Soviet efforts to use SSOD as a propaganda vehicle.

—Discourage and when necessary oppose impractical or misguided arms control initiatives which would not be in the interest of the United States, our allies or the international community.

3. General Guidance.

The US Del should promote the objectives set forth in para. 2 above seeking appropriate opportunities to do so in major policy statements, in negotiations on SSOD final document, and in informal meetings among Delegations. Del should continue to consult closely with the key players, and in particular with our allies. While the principal allied consultative mechanism will continue to be the Barton Group,2 the Western Group of CCD members (US, UK, FRG, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, Japan) will meet as required but has agreed to limit its agenda to machinery issues related to the CCD. The US should not object to discussing other issues in the Western Group if there is agreement to do so. In addition, Del should maintain close bilateral contact with UK, FRG and French. Consultations with the Soviets will also be important, particularly with respect to nuclear issues and other issues currently under negotiation bilaterally. While we should stay in close touch with the Soviets on issues related to CCD organization in general and the [Page 1219] co-chairmanship in particular, we should not take positions which are less flexible than we otherwise might be prepared to take just to maintain a common front with the Soviets. With respect to consideration of the SSOD final document, the US Del should make every effort consistent with basic US policy on arms control issues to ensure that consensus procedures are used and that voting is avoided.

4. Declaration on Disarmament.

The declaration is essentially a political statement by governments which outlines the problem of the growth of armaments and serves as a “call for action.” The US can support the concept of such a statement. At the same time, the US Del should seek to moderate any language which may be advanced which does not recognize that achievements have occurred in past negotiations, which questions our will for progress, which carries overtones of criticism of our alliances and overseas deployments or which is contrary to US policy in such areas as non-proliferation. US Del should work for a balanced declaration which can be adopted, preferably as a part of the final document, or separately, by consensus. Del may agree to language in the draft declaration on an ad referendum basis but should submit language to Washington for USG approval of substance. Del is authorized to accept minor editorial changes in final text which in Del’s judgement do not involve questions of substance and should report such changes for information purposes.

5. Program of Action.

Previous work on the draft program of action indicated a considerable divergence of views. The US Del should work for a realistic program which is applicable to the years ahead. We wish to avoid raising expectations on issues which are clearly not ready for active negotiations. The CCD has been given the task of preparing a longer-range comprehensive program of disarmament. The USG believes that the CCD is the most appropriate body to carry out this talk and is prepared to participate actively in such work. US Del should resist efforts to set fixed timetables in a program of action for future negotiations. US Del may accept giving primacy to nuclear issues and setting as our ultimate goal the complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the arsenals of states. However, it should also be recognized that this process must be carried out in a way that increases stability and makes the likelihood of conflict less. US Del should seek to ensure that it is recognized that the reduction of nuclear arms by nuclear weapon states is not an isolated process but there must also be conventional arms reductions by both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. However, Del should not concede the necessity of a specific link between nuclear and conventional arms reductions. Del should encourage support for recognition of conventional arms restraints, especially with respect to arms transfers, in the program of action. The general US objective with re [Page 1220] spect to the program of action is to reach consensus agreement on a document that will be realistic, supportive of our arms control policies, and at a minimum, will not disrupt a reasonable negotiating agenda for the next three to five years. US Del may agree to inclusion in program’s various sections, in addition to more immediate tasks, reference to longer term goals as long as they are consistent with US policy. US Del may agree to language in the draft program of action on an ad referendum basis but should submit all language to Washington for USG approval.

6. Disarmament Machinery.

One section of the final document to be adopted by the Special Session will be recommendations for changes to the international machinery dealing with arms control issues. At present, this machinery consists of the following elements:

—The Conference of the Committee on Disarmament (CCD),

—The UNGA First Committee,

—The UN Center for Disarmament, and

—The UN Disarmament Commission (dormant since 1965).

At the PrepCom meetings, several proposals have been made for modifying disarmament machinery:

A. Restructure the CCD to accomplish the following objectives:

(1) Abolish the USUSSR co-chairmanship, removing the primary symbol of super-power condominium in the CCD, and replace with another system to be agreed;

(2) Enlarge the membership;

(3) Provide for increased participation in the CCD by non-member states;

(4) Strengthen the relationship of the CCD to the UN.

B. Consider only disarmament and security issues in the UNGA First Committee, and pass other First Committee items (e.g., outer space) to the Special Political Committee.

C. Reconvene the UN Disarmament Commission to follow-up on SSOD and UNGA decisions and recommendations.

There have also been other, primarily cosmetic, proposals for changes in the disarmament machinery, including enhancing the role of the UNSYG and the UN Center for Disarmament; establishment of an international institute for research on disarmament; and creation of an international verification agency. Separate guidance will follow on French and Dutch proposals for the creation of an international satellite observation/verification agency.

In addition to these specific proposals, some fundamental changes have been suggested by the French, including the dissolution of the CCD and its replacement by a new body directly subordinated to the [Page 1221] UNGA, which would have a slightly larger membership and a Chairman appointed by the UN Secretary-General. However, most members of the CCD are of the view that the French will not actively participate in any multilateral negotiating body, regardless of its structure of procedures, until after work on a comprehensive test ban treaty has been completed.

The most significant and contentious proposals are those dealing with the CCD. The impetus for the proposed changes comes from several states, including both the Non-Aligned and our allies, who are interested in providing for wider participation in the work of the CCD and increasing the role of individual members in the negotiating process vis-a-vis the co-chairmen. Also, there is a general desire to facilitate participation by France and the PRC in the future work of the Committee. (France is a member of the CCD, but has never participated in the work of the Committee.) There is widespread support for the abolition of the co-chairmanship which most countries regard as anachronism. The co-chairmanship is one of the stated obstacles to French participation. The US position is that we should be flexible but should preserve the CCD’s ability to function as an effective negotiating body. We attach importance to gaining French participation in the CCD and facilitating the PRC’s joining at some future time. We could accept recommendations for a limited enlargement of the Committee’s membership and constructive recommendations for changes in CCD procedures, so long as the Committee retains control over its work and continues to operate by consensus. We would also be willing to consider ways in which non-member states might participate, in a limited way, in the work of the Committee. We would oppose any attempt to alter CCD procedures to conform with UNGA rules of procedure. We would not be opposed to proposals designed to acknowledge the relationship between the UN and the CCD such as giving the SYG’s representative a more active role. In the context of achieving a satisfactory package of recommendations regarding changes to the CCD, we would be prepared to give up the co-chairmanship, if a generally acceptable alternative can be found.

The Soviets are more attached to the co-chairmanship than we and are likely to hold out until late in the Session before giving way on this point. Both the US and the USSR will use it as bargaining leverage to insure that any recommended reforms to the CCD emerging from the SSOD are satisfactory.

On the aspects of the machinery question not directly related to the CCD, we have fewer problems. We have no objection to having the First Committee deal solely with disarmament and related international security issues, nor do we object to some strengthening in the staff of the UN Disarmament Center so it might carry out technical [Page 1222] studies and research on disarmament issues. While we are not enthusiastic about proposals to revitalize the UN Disarmament Commission, should momentum build behind such proposals we would not oppose it provided its mandate were clear and limited.

The Soviets will continue to press for a world disarmament conference as a follow-up to the SSOD. The US continues to believe that the conditions which exist now or in the foreseeable future do not justify setting a date for a world disarmament conference. However, the US will announce support for a second SSOD to be held in several years.

US Del may agree to draft language on disarmament machinery ad referendum and should report such language to Washington for approval in substance. Del may accept minor editorial changes on final text, but should inform Washington of all changes.

7. Possible Soviet initiatives.

We anticipate that USSR will offer a number of initiatives when Foreign Minister Gromyko addresses the SSOD. Such Soviet initiatives are likely to include the following:

A. Negotiations on an agreement to halt production of nuclear weapons;

B. A treaty banning all new types of mass destruction weapons (MDW);

C. Assurance of non-use of nuclear weapons except in case of aggression against USSR or its allies by another nuclear power;

D. Negotiations on renunciation of “nuclear neutron weapons”;

E. A halt to development and production of new and highly destructive conventional arms;

F. A freeze by permanent members of the Security Council and their allies on their armed forces and conventional arms.

US Del should report all Soviet initiatives in detail and may indicate that the USG is giving them appropriately careful study. Guidance will be provided subsequently on how US Del should respond to each Soviet initiative.

8. Specific Issues.

A. SALT. US Del should seek to work out language with the Soviets on SALT to propose for the final document; along lines of the language discussed at last PrepCom. While others, in particular the Mexicans, may wish to leave their mark on such language, it is particularly important that we not permit others to force a split between the US and USSR on this issue. Language on SALT issue should be consistent with language of UNGA Res 32/87.3 US Del may agree ad referendum to [Page 1223] language on SALT issue but should report all such language to Washington for approval.

B. CTB. Since negotiations on a CTBT initiative are at a sensitive stage, US Del should carefully coordinate any language on this issue with USSR and UK Dels. Del may accept language which stresses importance of completing negotiations as a matter of urgency, but should not accept setting any specific deadlines or target dates. If joint language proves possible, US Del should seek to retain language along lines discussed at last PrepCom, otherwise we would prefer language explicitly stating US view that CTB should ban all tests of nuclear explosive devices whether for peaceful or military purposes. US Del should discourage any proposals for a moratorium on nuclear testing.

C. Cut-Off. US Del should report any proposals regarding a cut-off of the production of fissionable materials for nuclear weapons use. Guidance on US response to such proposals will be provided subsequently.

D. Non-Proliferation. As background to nonproliferation discussions US Del should acknowledge responsibility of nuclear weapons states to reduce their own arsenals—pointing to SALT, CTB, and President Carter’s pledges to work towards nuclear disarmament. The US should emphasize those aspects of our non-proliferation policy that have generated considerable international support (e.g., NPT, INFCE, Treaty of Tlatelolco, IAEA, NUF) and should seek to avoid being drawn into contentious issues like the nuclear suppliers group. Del should use suitable opportunities to welcome or encourage action by particular states on the NPT or Treaty of Tlatelolco. Relevant sections in the non-proliferation background paper4 identify appropriate countries.

Regarding the dispute over access to nuclear technology our objective should be to develop among the Non-Aligned a better understand-ing of the US position and to work for language consistent with US nuclear export policy. It is US policy to continue a substantial program of international nuclear cooperation and the initiative to be announced at the SSOD will give further evidence of that commitment. US should not be defensive about its past record in this area—both bilaterally and through the IAEA. Any language worked out should strike a balance between our willingness to provide the benefits of nuclear technology to the developing world and our responsibility to ensure that any such exports are not misused. Such goals should not be viewed as contradictory. Specifically, the US can support language that argues for “the right of access” as long as appropriate non-proliferation concerns are [Page 1224] also recognized. “Unhindered access” to technology is unacceptable because it is US policy not to export certain sensitive technologies (e.g., reprocessing). Any implication that IAEA safeguards alone is a sufficient control measure should be avoided because US must legally require other assurances (e.g., physical security, vetos on retransfer/reprocessing) and because the US has raised serious questions about the safeguardability of reprocessing plants. Our negotiating strategy should focus on developing supplier state consensus and working principally with Yugoslavia and other NPT parties (e.g., Iran, Mexico, Nigeria) to encourage Non-Aligned compromise—emphasizing that only through close supplier-recipient cooperation (e.g., INFCE) can such issues be resolved.

E. Disarmament/Development Link. The US cannot accept an automatic link that would commit savings which may accrue from disarmament to increases in development assistance. However, the US is prepared to acknowledge that development assistance is a high priority objective which deserves serious consideration in the reprogramming of savings which may accrue from disarmament. The US Del should express general support for a multilateral effort to define criteria which would permit the preferential use of development aid to favor states that make significant arms control and disarmament efforts. Such use would, of course, have to be weighed against the other US criteria for the allocation of development aid.

F. Military Expenditure Reporting and Limitations. The US supports Swedish proposal for a field test by small but representative group of states of Military Expenditure Reporting (MER) matrix. We believe that development and general use of such a standardized reporting instrument is a prerequisite of Military Expenditure Limitations (MEL) agreements. Along with several other Western States, we have announced that we will submit US military expenditures data for field test in the interest of greater openness of information about military spending. However, we have largely deferred to Swedish (and to a degree Mexican, leadership in carrying case for Non-Aligned support and participation in test. In view of failure to date of any announced LDC participation, Del should approach Swedish Del early in the session to suggest coordinated efforts to persuade group of fence-sitting states (possibly India, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia) if possible simultaneously, to announce their participation.

G. Reduced Blast/Enhanced Radiation Weapons. The Soviets are likely to continue their propaganda campaign against RB/ER weapons. In responding, US Del should rely on points contained in State 110723.5

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9. Issues Papers supplementing these instructions have been prepared on the following topics:

A) Conventional Arms Transfers

B) Stabilizing and Confidence-Building Measures

C) Eyes and Ears of Peace

D) Nuclear Weapons Free Zone

E) Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation

F) Non-Proliferation

G) Cut-Off.6

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780219–0805. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information to Belgrade, Bonn, London, Rome, The Hague, Ottawa, Tokyo, Paris, Moscow, Stockholm, New Delhi, Mexico, USNATO, USUN, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council. Drafted by Arch Turrentine (ACDA/MA/IR); cleared by Lyall Breckon (EUR/RPM), Williams (DOE), Thomas Miller (P), Adam Yarmolinsky (ACDA), Robert Putnam (NSC), Allen (CIA), John Marcum (NSC), Roger Fritzel (JCS), Steven Steiner (PM/DCA), Susan Flood (DOD/ISA), Alexander Shakow (AID), Robert Reis (EB), John Joyce (S/MS), David Macuk (IO/UNP), and Cameron Hume (S/P); and approved by Gerald Helman (IO).
  2. The Barton Group was a group of Western nations who met to consider arms control and disarmament policy in anticipation of the SSOD.
  3. UN General Assembly 32/87 G, December 12, 1977, called for the United States and the Soviet Union to limit and then reduce the number of nuclear weapons in their respective stockpiles.
  4. Not found.
  5. Not found.
  6. None of the Issues Papers were found.