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81. Presidential Directive/NSC–281

TO

  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director of Central Intelligence
  • The Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • The Director, Federal Preparedness Agency

SUBJECT

  • United States Policy on Chemical Warfare Program and Bacteriological/Biological Research Program (C)

Following consideration by the National Security Council, the President has decided that:

1. The term Chemical and Biological Warfare (CBW) will no longer be used. The reference should be to the two categories separately—The Chemical Warfare Program and The Biological Research Program. (U)

2. With respect to Chemical Warfare:

a. The primary United States objective will be to negotiate a comprehensive treaty to ban chemical weapons. U.S. policy on these negotiations is contained in PD–15.2 The objective of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Program will be to deter the use of chemical weapons by other nations and to provide a retaliatory capability if deterrence fails. (C)

b. The renunciation of the first use of lethal chemical weapons in accordance with the Geneva Protocol of 1925 is reaffirmed. (U)

c. This renunciation is also applied to incapacitating chemical weapons. (U)

d. This renunciation does not apply to the use of riot control agents or herbicides. Executive Order 11850 provides guidance on authorized uses.3 (U)

e. Existing overseas stockpiles of chemical weapons can be maintained without additional consultations. If the matter is raised by the FRG, we will agree to consultations about the future of stockpiles located in Germany. (S)

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f. The Secretary of Defense shall continue to develop and improve controls and safety measures in all chemical warfare programs. (C)

g. The Director of Central Intelligence shall continue to maintain surveillance of the chemical warfare capabilities of other states. (S)

h. An Ad Hoc Committee chaired by the NSC shall conduct a periodic review of United States chemical warfare programs and public information policy, and will make recommendations to the President. (C)

3. With respect to Biological Research:

a. The United States renounced the use of all methods of bacteriological/biological and toxin warfare in accordance with the terms of the Biological Weapons Convention.4 (U)

b. The United States has destroyed all stockpiles of bacteriological/biological and toxin materials and associated weapons systems. (U)

c. The United States bacteriological/biological programs will be consistent with the provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention. (U)

d. The Secretary of Defense shall continue to develop controls and safety measures in all defensive biological research programs. (C)

e. The Director of Central Intelligence shall continue to maintain surveillance of the bacteriological/biological warfare capabilities of other states. (S)

f. An Ad Hoc Committee chaired by the NSC shall conduct a periodic review of United States biological research programs and public information on policy, and will make recommendations to the President. (C)

NSDM 355 is hereby rescinded.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 19, PD–28. Secret. Carter wrote at the top “ok J.C.”
  2. See Document 70.
  3. In this April 8, 1975 Executive Order, President Gerald Ford renounced “in certain uses in war of chemical herbicides and riot control agents.” (http:://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/1975.html)
  4. The draft text of the Biological Weapons Convention is available in Department of State Bulletin, November 1, 1971, pp. 508–511. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union signed the Convention on April 10, 1972, and it entered into force on March 26, 1975.
  5. National Security Decision Memorandum 35, “United States Policy on Chemical Warfare Program and Bacteriological Research Program,” November 25, 1969, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–2, Documents on Arms Control and Non-proliferation, 1969–1972, Document 165.