68. Summary of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • State
  • Warren Christopher
  • Reginald Bartholemew
  • Defense
  • Charles W. Duncan
  • Lynn Davis
  • JCS
  • Lt. Gen. William Smith
  • ACDA
  • Spurgeon Keeny
  • Robert Mikulak
  • NSC
  • David Aaron
  • Jessica Tuchman
  • OMB
  • Bert Lance
  • Randy Jayne

The meeting opened with a brief review of CW diplomatic history by Keeny, who also reviewed verification issues. Our information base on CW is very poor: a result not only of a lack of access to Soviet activities, but also of a relative lack of effort devoted to CW intelligence collecting. An acceptable treaty should include more than national technical means of verification, since these are inherently inadequate for verifying production and stockpiling programs. A general discussion followed on the question of verification and whether accepting a CW treaty with relatively weak verification provisions might set any precedent for other more critical negotiations such as CTB and SALT. Aaron argued that this would not set a precedent, since what we insist upon is what is necessary for our security in each individual case. Several participants noted that we had accepted the Biological Warfare Convention with no verification provisions, because we believed that the risks [Page 156] of non-compliance were far outweighed by the benefits of the treaty both from the point of view of superpower activities, and to prevent spread of biological warfare programs to other nations.

Duncan briefly reviewed the US-Soviet military imbalance in the CW area. Compared to the Soviets we have virtually no CW offensive capability and our defensive capability is far inferior to theirs. Bartholomew raised the point that this was precisely why the Soviet interest in CW is so important. They know that we have a very inadequate capability, and that congressional and allied opinion are strongly against additional CW development, and yet, though the status quo is all in their favor, they are the ones who have been pushing for a treaty. One would have expected precisely the opposite. No one has the answer to why they are so interested in a treaty, but it is important to note. Duncan seconded this argument and made the additional point that with our small capacity now, we are at risk already, and that trying for a CW treaty can therefore only improve our position from the point of view of national security.

On the type of treaty desired, there was unanimous agreement in support of a comprehensive treaty. The proposed key elements of such a treaty were then reviewed. All agencies approved the proposed elements as written. Keeny noted however that a ban on defensive activities is not included in these elements. Such a ban has been studied in the past and thought to be politically impossible. It was agreed that it might be useful to look at this question again, but Christopher stipulated that this should not hold up the negotiations in any way. Duncan, Keeny and Smith strongly concurred.

Duncan opened the discussion of military options by saying that Defense was badly split. The Joint Chiefs and DDR&E support Option 12 while Secretary Brown, Duncan and ISA all support Option 3.3 General Smith said that the Joint Chiefs believe that construction of a new CW facility would provide us with additional negotiating leverage. Also, the JCS is concerned over the size of the Soviet CW capability, and believe that CW may play an important role in Soviet military doctrine. In expressing State’s support for Option 3, Christopher noted that our allies would be very upset if the US were to proceed with either of the force improvement options (Options 1 and 2). ACDA and OMB also support Option 3.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 86, SCC 015, Chemical Warfare Limitation and Programs, 6/8/77. Secret.
  2. Option 1 called for the “modernizing” of the chemical retaliatory stockpile. See “Talking Paper for the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the SCC Meeting, June 8, 1977,” undated, Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–80–0017, 370.64 CBR (June) 1977.
  3. Option 3 called for the retention of the current chemical weapons stockpile. (Ibid.)