70. Presidential Directive/NSC–151


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
[Page 160]


  • Chemical Warfare

The President has directed that a United States Delegation under the direction of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency should immediately initiate bilateral consultations with the United Kingdom, France, the Federal Republic of Germany and Japan, to be followed by negotiations with the Soviet Union on the subject of a comprehensive treaty to ban chemical warfare.

Talks with the Soviet Union should seek to reach agreement on a joint USUSSR initiative to be presented to the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament along the following lines:2

—Definitions of important terms would be incorporated in the agreement.

—To the extent possible, low-risk, more easily verified actions would be undertaken at the earliest possible stage.

—Production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of chemical warfare (CW) agents and munitions would be prohibited.

—Development of CW agents or munitions would be prohibited, but development of means of protection against chemical attack would be permitted.

—Existing stocks of CW agents and munitions would be destroyed over a period of at least eight years according to an agreed schedule. All CW stocks would be declared at the time a State became a Party. As an alternative to destruction, dual-purpose agents could be diverted to peaceful purposes, subject to appropriate controls. Precursors would be treated in the same manner as agents.

—All facilities designed or used for production of single-purpose chemicals would be declared and immediately closed down. However, under appropriate controls such a facility could be used for agent/munition destruction operations. All declared facilities would be destroyed or dismantled within two years after stockpile destruction had been completed. Establishment of new production facilities would be prohibited.

—The disposition of declared facilities and the destruction of declared stocks would require on-site verification under independent, international auspices.

—The agreement would contain agreed procedures for the carrying out of an investigation by representatives of a Consultative Com [Page 161] mittee of treaty parties in the event that suspicious activities were reported.

—The following types of chemicals would be subject to the provisions of the agreement: lethal and other highly toxic chemicals, incapacitating chemicals, and precursors.

—The principal criterion for application of the provisions of the agreement to specific chemicals would be whether the specific activities in question are justified for peaceful purposes (“purpose criterion”). To assist in applying the purpose criterion, two supplementary toxicity criteria would be adopted.

—Transfer of CW agents or munitions to others would be prohibited, as would any other effort to help others obtain CW agents or munitions.

—Provisions would be included for confidence-building purposes.

—Any State Party would have the right to withdraw if it decided that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of the agreement, had jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. Appropriate notice would be required.

—All States would be eligible to become Parties.

The President has also directed that US chemical warfare forces be maintained without force improvement. This decision will be reviewed, beginning with the start of the FY 1980 budget cycle, on the basis of the progress made in arms limitation talks.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 86, SCC 015, Chemical Warfare Limitation and Programs, 6/8/77. Confidential.
  2. An unknown hand underlined the phrases “Talks with the Soviet Union should seek to reach agreement” and “the following lines.”