79. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission in Geneva1

4353. Subject: USUSSR Chemical Weapons Negotiations, Round Seven: Guidance for US Delegation. Ref: State 153939.2

State CW message no. 5

1. The seventh round of USUSSR bilateral negotiations of a joint initiative dealing with a prohibition on chemical weapons (CW) is scheduled to start on January 10, 1978, in Geneva. The US objective in these bilateral negotiations is to reach agreement with the Soviet Union on a common approach to an adequately verifiable prohibition of chemical weapons, which will enhance the security of the US and its allies. Once all the key elements (along lines presented during round four) are agreed, a joint initiative on CW would be presented to the CCD for elaboration into the actual convention. While it would be de[Page 177]sirable to complete work on the joint initiative at an early date (if at all possible prior to the UN Special Session on Disarmament (SSOD) scheduled for May/June 1978), we do not wish to set a deadline for completion of our bilateral negotiations. It is not clear how long it may take to resolve the differences between the US and Soviet positions on several important issues, in particular verification. While we are not unmindful of the potential political benefits which we and the Soviets would share if the joint initiative were completed by the time of the SSOD, our primary interest is in establishing the basis for an effective CW convention which will attract broad support and contribute to international security.

2. The Delegation should coordinate with the Soviet side the text of a press release, along the lines of previous releases, announcing the opening of the bilateral negotiations. Also, at the end of round seven, the Delegation should coordinate a joint press communiqué with the Soviet side on the results of the round.

3. Detailed guidance for this round is contained in the cleared position paper for round four as supplemented and amended in the cleared position papers for rounds five, six and seven.3 In addition, the Delegation may draw upon other interagency-approved documents, including those cited Reftel.

4. During round seven, the Delegation should continue to work with the Soviet side in drafting, on an ad referendum basis, language for the joint initiative in the form of agreed key elements which constitute the main provisions of a future convention in treaty-like language. Delegation should explore further the possibility of presenting supplementary provisions in a separate joint working paper that would be submitted to the CCD with the joint initiative.

5. Given the interest of the CCD members in starting multilateral negotiations on a CW convention during the 1978 spring session (beginning January 31), Delegation should emphasize the diligence with which the US is pursuing the CW initiative with the USSR. Delegation, therefore, should brief allies (both CCD members and non-members in Geneva who follow arms control issues), in general terms, on the progress being made in the bilateral negotiations, but should avoid specifying eventual format or exact timing of CCD submission of the joint initiative.

6. It is likely that round seven will continue after the CCD session starts. If the negotiations reach a point where there seems to be little prospect for further progress without additional review in capitals or reach a deadlock on one or more critical issues, the Delegation may [Page 178]propose that designated members, as appropriate, return to capitals for consultations. Delegation should brief allied reps in Geneva during course of round seven. In addition, consultations with the UK, FRG and France should be offered in London, Bonn and/or Paris as appropriate.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780011–0663. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Arch Turrentine (ACDA/MA/IR); cleared by Les Denend (NSC), Alan Neidle (ACDA/MA), Adrian Fisher (ACDA/D), Alexander Akalovsky (State), Avis Bohlen (EUR/SOV), Homer Phelps (PM/DCA), Robert Weekley (OSD/ISA), [name not declassified], Robert Mikulak (ACDA/MA), and Lawrence Finch (ACDA/MA); and approved by Thomas Davies (ACDA/MA). Sent for information to USNATO, Moscow, London, Bonn, Paris, and Tokyo.
  2. Telegram 153939, July 1, 1977, contained guidance for round four of the U.S.-Soviet consultations on chemical weapons limitations. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770236–0111)
  3. None of the position papers were found.
  4. U.S. representatives spoke with the British, French, and West Germans on February 3 in London. (Telegram 1775 from the Mission at Geneva, February 6; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780055–0991)