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

6458. Subject: USUSSR Chemical Weapons Negotiations, Round Seven: Summary of Developments Between Feb. 13 and April 26, 1978. Ref: Geneva 24112 (CW Message No. 31).

CW Message No. 49

1. The final meeting of the seventh round of the USUSSR Chemical Weapons negotiations was held April 26, 1978. For tactical reasons, the official concluding date will be set to coincide with the end in early May of the spring session of the conference of the committee on disarmament. The negotiations, which began January 10, were relatively inactive between February 13 and March 31 while experts on both sides were in capitals for consultations. (Developments between January 10 (beginning of round) and February 13, 1978, are summarized Reftel.) After the experts’ return, the meetings were devoted to further presentation and exploration of positions. No drafting was undertaken.

2. The US Delegation put forward detailed views on treatment of irritants, procedures for challenge inspection, rights and functions of inspectors and the host party in connection with challenge inspections, quantities of toxic chemicals permitted for protective purposes, and the preparatory commission.

3. The Soviet Delegation responded to US presentations made during the first half of the round, but did not engage in extensive [Page 189]question-and-answer exchanges about recent US presentations. Generally speaking, they also did not commit themselves on details in areas where agreement in principle has been reached.

4. While there was progress on some secondary issues, there was little progress in resolving the central outstanding issues, i.e., those relating to on-site verification.3

A. On the positive side, the Soviets:

(1) Have agreed to accommodate the US interest in protecting the uses of riot control chemicals in defensive military modes;

(2) Have agreed in principle that provisions for supertoxic chemicals should be different from those for less toxic chemicals;

(3) Have agreed in principle to establish a ceiling on the quantities of super-toxic chemicals allowed for protective purposes;

(4) Have accepted the US proposal on timing of declaration of stocks (i.e., within 30 days after entry into force);

(5) Are willing to accept a provision that a party which refuses a request must provide a detailed explanation;

(6) Indicated they are willing to discuss (at a later stage) the US proposal for a bilateral exchange of general information on stocks; and

(7) Stated they are studying US proposals on destruction of stocks.

B. On the negative side, the Soviets:

(1) Have not responded to US requests for clarification of their position on declaration of “capabilities” or on retention of munitions;

(2) Continue to reject the US proposals regarding declaration and destruction of CW production and filling facilities, as well as on-site verification at such facilities, without presenting any suggestions for a compromise;

(3) Continue to reject the US proposal that super-toxic chemicals be prohibited for hostile military purposes not related to chemical warfare; and

(4) Insist that the important issues be settled in principle before details are discussed in areas where agreement in principle has already been reached.

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5. The tone of both the plenary and drafting group meetings continued to be friendly and workmanlike.

Vanden Heuvel
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780182–0373. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Moscow.
  2. See Document 82.
  3. The Mission in Geneva reported on April 19 that Likhatchev said that he had “always held that a refusal for an on-site inspection would not affect the effectiveness of the convention if such a refusal were accompanied by a convincing explanation as to why the request was deemed unfounded.” The Acting Head of the U.S. Delegation, Alexander Akalovsky, “noted with regret the absence of any Soviet movement on the issue of required on-site verification, to which the US attaches great importance.” (Telegram 5940 from the Mission in Geneva, April 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780168–0137)