59. Summary of Conclusions of a Mini-Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • ASAT (U)
  • State
  • Reginald Bartholomew, Dir., Bur. of Polit.-Milit. Aff.
  • Charles Henkin, Dep. Asst., Polit. Milit. Aff.
  • Stephen Bond, Asst. Legal Advisor for United Nations Affairs
  • JCS
  • BGen Joseph Skaff, Dep. Dir. for International Negotiations
  • Col Frank Jenkins, Chief, Strategic Negotiations Div. (J–5)
  • NASA
  • Phil Culbertson, Asst. for Special Transportation Systems
  • Gen. Frank Simokaitis, Dir. of the DOD Affairs Division
  • David Aaron
  • OMB
  • Al Burman
  • OSD
  • Walter Slocombe, Dep. Under Secretary for Policy Planning
  • Kent Stansberry, Staff Analyst
  • Edward Melanson, Dep. Dir. for Intel. Policy (Intl. Negotiations Foreign Intel. Exchanges)
  • ACDA
  • Spurgeon Keeny, Dep. Dir.
  • James Timbie, Strategic Affairs Division Chief, Intl. Security Programs Bureau
  • Amb. Robert Buchheim, Head, ASAT Delegation
  • DCI
  • Ray McCrory, Chief SALT Support Staff
  • [name not declassified], ACIS Staffer
  • OSTP
  • Ben Huberman
  • Art Morrisey
  • NSC
  • Jasper Welch
  • Victor Utgoff
  • Michael Berta

A Mini-SCC was held to discuss what we might do in another round of ASAT negotiations with the Soviets that might lead to making some progress. The first question discussed was: Should we consider making explicit exceptions in treaty coverage for satellites engaged in activities one or both sides might find unacceptable? (TS)

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After a short discussion of various ways for defining what would be covered and our own possible interests in taking defensive actions against clearly unacceptable satellite activities such as dispensing noxious gasses into the atmosphere, the chairman asked for agency views on this issue. (TS)

OSD said it found the idea of a general formula defining exceptions without legal reference attractive. ACDA argued that the agenda option2 (no coverage for space objects causing significant physical injury, destruction or damage to a party to the agreement) protects what we want. The chair questioned the precise meaning of significant physical injury. OSD, NASA, JCS, and the head of the ASAT Delegation expressed concerns about the difficulties involved in constructing lists precisely defining what was covered and what was not. (TS)

The chair then summarized the group’s apparent position as follows: (1) we recognize for ourselves the principle that seems to be bothering the Soviets, (2) we must know for ourselves what we want to protect and what we are willing or interested in having protected, (3) whatever specific formula we choose must be tested against such understanding, and (4) there is useful work to be done on this issue in another round of negotiations. There were no objections. (TS)

The chair then opened up discussion of the second agenda question: Should we consider broadening the test suspension from ASAT interceptors only, to all means for damaging space objects? After a short discussion of various techniques for broadening the suspension, the chair asked for agency views on this question. (TS)

State favored expanding the suspension to include lasers on the basis that we aren’t going to be doing any laser testing in the next year to 18 months, while the Soviets might. State noted that its concerns about limits in our capability to monitor Soviet laser ASAT testing were largely offset by the intelligence community’s judgment that the Soviets would not likely be motivated to cheat during the short suspension period being considered. JCS expressed concern about our low confidence in monitoring a laser test suspension, and added that it hated to rule out tests for an unknown period (the starting date of the 12–18 month suspension is uncertain). JCS admitted, however, that it would have no laser ASAT program requiring tests for at least the next several years. OSD noted that adding a laser test suspension actually toughens our position in principle—but noted his concerns over the [Page 137] verification issue and said it needs more analysis. State noted the possibility of adding a collateral constraint to prohibit launch of ASAT test satellites. The chair expressed interest in this idea and called for development of a short paper summarizing the monitoring issue. (TS)

The group reaffirmed our current position on the shuttle, and agreed to the chairman’s suggestion of January 1, 1982 as a more meaningful ending date for the test suspension. Finally, the JCS noted that the PD-50/ASAT analysis3 should be coordinated to reflect completely the views of all agencies. (TS)

In summary, the group agreed that useful work could be done in another round of negotiations with the Soviets, certainly on the first main issue, and possibly on the second. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 123, SCC 131, Mini-SCC, ASAT, 6/10/80. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. Not attached.
  3. Not found.