76. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

9346. Subject: Briefing of Allies on USUSSR Arms Control Working Groups on Chemical Weapons and Radiological Weapons. Ref: Geneva 91302 (Notal).

[Page 172]

1. Summary: On October 25 and 26 US Reps briefed allies in Geneva on present rounds of USUSSR negotiations on chemical weapons and on radiological weapons. End summary.

2. On October 26, Ambassador Fisher (head of USDEL) briefed CCD western group (FRG, Italy, the Netherland, Canada; no reps from UK and Japan were present) on present round of USUSSR negotiations on chemical weapons (CW) and on radiological weapons (RW).

3. Fisher presented points on RW along lines of Reftel, stressing that the Soviet proposal to include reduced blast/enhanced radiation weapons (the so-called neutron bomb) in the definition of radiological weapons was unacceptable to the US side. He said that other than the RB/ER weapon issue, which the Soviets had introduced late in the game, the two sides were very close to an agreement on an RW joint initiative. He noted that no date had been set for the resumption of negotiations on RW, but if after the UN disarmament debate it appears useful to continue talks, it would be possible to do so in the margins of the USUSSR negotiations on CW when they resume on January 10.

4. With respect to the CW negotiations, Fisher said that both sides had made a full presentation of positions and that a drafting group had been established and had started its work on a joint initiative for the CCD.

5. On the scope of prohibition of a possible CW convention, Fisher said that the two sides were not far apart except for three issues:

A. Irritants—the US side does not want to include irritants used as riot control agents in the prohibition; the Soviet side does.

B. Precursors—the US side would like to have the convention apply to chemical substances extending back down the production chain from the actual production of chemical agents; the Soviet side would like to have the concept of precursors apply to chemicals used in the final stage of production of chemical agents.

C. Carcinogens and teratogens—the Soviet side has proposed specifically including chemicals causing cancer and birth defects in the treaty; the US does not think such chemicals would be suitable for chemical warfare purposes and would be covered by the general purpose criterion without being specified.

6. Fisher said that the key difference in the US and Soviet positions is in the area of verification. Perhaps the toughest question is the verification of the destruction of declared stocks of CW and of the disposition of declared facilities. The US side is insisting that there be mandatory on-site inspection; the Soviet side is suggesting that there be inspection by national committees (self-inspection).

7. Fisher noted that the Soviets have accepted the concept of a consultative committee, but that they have a problem with the committee [Page 173] requesting an inspection. The Soviet side has insisted that any request for an on-site inspection come from a state party. However, he said that the Soviets may not have any problem with the consultative committee carrying out an inspection if a state receiving a challenge invites it to do so.

8. Fisher said that the two sides have not agreed to the final format of the joint initiative. The common language being developed is not treaty language, but is not too far from treaty language. With respect to entry into force, he noted that the Soviets have apparently come off of their earlier position that all permanent members would be required, by indicating that this issue would present no problem once everything also is settled.

9. Fisher stressed the importance of taking into account how a future CW convention might impact on industry. He indicated the importance of consulting with the chemical industry on the question at an early date.

10. In response to a question about the trilateral (US, UK, USSR) negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear test ban (CTB), Fisher said that he understood that the issues regarding PNE’s, verification, and treaty versus moratorium still remain to be resolved. He said that after the current round of CTB negotiations the US and UK will probably be briefing the allies at NATO rather than in Geneva.

11. On October 25, alternate head of USDEL (Turrentine) gave similar briefing to group of allies who are not members of the CCD (Denmark, Norway, Greece, Belgium, New Zealand and Australia).

Vanden Heuvel
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D77039–0960. Confidential. Sent for information to Athens, Bonn, Brussels, Canberra, Copenhagen, London, Moscow, Oslo, Ottawa, Rome, The Hague, Tokyo, Wellington, USNATO, and USUN. The United States and the Soviet Union held ten meetings on chemical weapons between September 26 and October 21. A record of these meetings is contained in telegrams 8239, September 27, 8375 and 8400, October 3, 8461, October 5, 8607, October 11, 8637, October 12, 8823 and 8825, October 17, 8930, October 19, and 9121, October 24, all from the Mission at Geneva; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770352–0102, D770359–1142, D770360–0444, D770363–0202, D770370–0599, D770371–0707, D770380–1262, D770380–1372, D770384–0415, and D770391–0110 respectively.
  2. This October 25 telegram from the Mission at Geneva informed USNATO about the state of discussions between the United States and the Soviet Union on radiological weapons. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770391–0585)