62. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom1

35924. Subject: Geneva Protocol and Biological Weapons Convention. Ref A: State 0340142 B: State 034003 C: State 033992.3

1. Please inform appropriate Foreign Ministry officials that USG is approaching states which are not already parties to the Geneva Protocol of 1925 (Ref. A) and the Biological Weapons Convention (Refs. B and C), to encourage their adherence. We believe this is particularly opportune time in view of resolutions at recent UNGA urging states to become parties to these agreements.4

2. For London: You should note that the US welcomed the reference to the Biological Weapons Convention by Lord Goronwy-Roberts in his speech at the CCD on 1 July 1976: he stated that “my government feels they have a special responsibility—and I am sure my Soviet and United States colleagues agree—to work for greatly increased membership of this Convention.” You should inquire informally whether the UK has already made approaches to encourage adherence. If not, you should suggest informally that, in view of key British role, both in ne[Page 147]gotiation of the Biological Weapons Convention and as one of the three depositaries, UK may wish to consider doing so. You may inform them that we are also approaching the USSR on this question.

3. For Moscow: You should suggest informally that, in view of key Soviet role, both in negotiation of the Biological Weapons Convention and as one of the three depositaries, USSR may wish to make similar approaches to encourage adherence to the Convention. At your discretion, you may also suggest that USSR consider approaching states to encourage them to become parties to the Geneva Protocol.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770056–0861. Confidential. Sent for information to Geneva, USUN, and Paris. Drafted by Robert Mikulak (ACDA/NTB/WT); cleared by Tuchman, David Anderson (DOD), Homer Phelps (PM/DCA), Jon Glassman (EUR/SOV), John Shumate (EUR/NE), Floweree, John McNeill (ACDA/GC), and Peter Sebastian (S/S); and approved by Thomas Davies (ACDA/NTB).
  2. In telegram 34014 to Kabul and other posts, February 15, the Department of State reminded the ambassadors to some three dozen nations that their host countries had not ratified the Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare. The U.S. Government believed that adherence to the Protocol “would be a significant and constructive contribution to the broadly-supported effort to prevent chemical or biological weapons from ever being used” and directed the ambassadors to “approach host government at appropriate time and level to encourage adherence to protocol and then report reaction.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770054–0753)
  3. Telegrams 34003 and 33992, both dated February 15, reminded the ambassadors that their host nations had either signed but not ratified the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) Weapons and on their Destruction which entered into force on March 26, 1975 (Telegram 34003 to Buenos Aires and other posts) or not signed/acceded to the Convention (Telegram 33992 to Algiers and other posts). The instructions mirrored those of telegram 34014 to Kabul and other posts, and added that the United States wanted other nations to adhere to the Convention’s “requirement for destruction of existing stocks” of biological weapons. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770054–1034 and D770054–0986 respectively)
  4. Reference is to “General Assembly Resolution 31/65: Chemical and Bacteriological (Biological) Weapons,” December 10, 1976, Documents on Disarmament, 1976, pp. 908–910.