55. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Vance-Gromyko Discussion of Joint Communiqué

PARTICIPANTS

  • U.S.
  • Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance
  • Dr. Marshall Shulman
  • Mr.Wm. D. Krimer, Interpreter
  • U.S.S.R.
  • Foreign Minister A. A. Gromyko
  • First Deputy Foreign Minister G. M. Korniyenko
  • Ambassador A. F. Dobrynin
  • Mr. V.M. Sukhodrev, Interpreter

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to anti-satellite systems.]

ASAT

The Secretary turned to the next item—to what would be said in the Communiqué about the ASAT negotiations. We could not understand why the language dealing with an issue of such major importance was still bracketed in the draft of the Communiqué.

Gromyko felt he had to tell the Secretary that on this question there was a substantial difference between the positions of the sides. It did not look as if this was something that could result in agreement here during the summit. Since this was so, what could they say about it in [Page 129]the Communiqué? The only alternative would be to say that the sides would continue to seek measures that would resolve this problem.

The Secretary asked what did Gromyko consider to be the substantive difference that we could not bridge?

Gromyko replied that, first, there was the difference on the question of prohibiting the destruction of objects in space. Then, of course, it was also a question of the ownership of such objects. To whom did they belong? Did they belong to our two states or to everybody? There was also a difference between our positions here. All this was not mentioned in the draft of the Communiqué. We did have ongoing negotiations on ASAT and could continue them.

The Secretary said that it followed that discussion should be continued, and that could be reflected in the text of the Communiqué. As for destruction of objects in space, we had no such plans and the Soviet Union had no such plans. Why not say so?

Gromyko thought that was too bold a statement to make. The two sides did have a difference in views and he agreed that they wanted to make progress, but this was not the time or place to discuss these matters.

The Secretary said that was unfortunate. Inclusion of a mention of ASAT in the Communiqué would have added strength in terms of reassuring the world.2

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to anti-satellite systems.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 9, Vance Nodis Memcons, 1979. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Krimer on June 26. The meeting took place at the Soviet Embassy. Vance was in Vienna from June 15–18, accompanying Carter at the U.S.–USSR Summit.
  2. The final communiqué for the U.S.–USSR Summit issued on June 18 ultimately included language on ASATs. Carter and Brezhnev “agreed to continue actively searching for mutually acceptable agreement in the ongoing negotiations on anti-satellite systems.” (“Joint U.S.–U.S.S.R. Communiqué,” Vienna, June 18, 1979, Department of State Bulletin, July 1, 1979, pp. 54–56)