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

12636. Subject: Chemical Weapons Negotiations: Consultations With Allies. Ref: State 204929.2

1. Summary: US reps held bilateral consultations on Chemical Weapons limitations with the UK in London on August 15 and quadrilateral consultations (US, UK, FRG, France) on August 16. Allies generally supported US position on exchange of information on chemical protective measures, on conversion of chemical agent production facilities, and on value of consultations later in the year on certain questions related to declaration of Chemical Weapons stockpiles. British also raised matter of resolution on CW at coming UNGA. In bilateral session, they discussed preparations for Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference including need for UNGA resolution which they [Page 197]are drafting for possible sponsorship by depository powers. End summary.

2. US and UK representatives held bilateral consultations on Chemical Weapons limitations in London on Tuesday, August 15, 1978. Salient points are summarized below:

A. In response to questions from UK Del about outlook for round eight of the US-Soviet Chemical Weapons negotiations, US reps reported that Russians do not expect to have much new material to present. However, there has been no evidence of a deliberate Soviet slowdown. The US Del will put emphasis on resolving outstanding issues and on drafting common language in areas of agreement.

B. British Del head (Burns) inquired whether US had considered submitting partial initiative to the CCD which left verification section blank. He said that pressure from other CCD members might force Russians to make concessions on verification. US Del head (Flowerree) responded that US had no plans for such a partial initiative and considered it important to resolve verification issues before submitting an initiative to the CCD.

C. US reps outlined proposal to be made to Soviets for confidence-building measure involving exchange of information on chemical protective activities. They also indicated that Washington agencies were considering possibility of allowing conversion of chemical agent production and filling facilities to peaceful purposes, under appropriate safeguards.

D. After Burns raised question of an agreed estimate of Soviet CW stocks, US reps conveyed suggestion for quadrilateral consultations late in year as instructed Reftel. US reps said that US envisioned participation of political, military, and intelligence representatives. Burns stressed importance of USUK intelligence conference scheduled to begin in late October, but agreed that quadrilateral consultations would also be useful and said he could support US proposal for such consultations.

E. Burns said that UK had no plans to make statement at the CCD during informal CCD meetings on Chemical Weapons week of August 21–25. Looking ahead to UNGA, UK had prepared draft CW resolution along lines of last year’s resolution (text septel).3 He thought that as in past it might be appropriate to ask Canada and Poland to act as sponsors of resolution.

F. British presented further information on former UK chemical agent production facilities. There would be no objection to having inspectors walk through former production buildings owned by Imperial [Page 198]Chemical Industries (ICI). These buildings are now used only for storage. ICI would also be willing to have inspectors walk through surrounding chemical complex and look into “from the doorway.” At the site (Springfields) used by British Nuclear Fuels (BNF), there are two former production buildings which are not in use. While destruction would not appear to be a problem at the BNF site or another site (Valley) used by the Department of the Environment, razing the ICI buildings would be more difficult but not out of the question. It was mainly a question of deciding who would pay for the work of dismantling. (Comment: It appears that British can now accept US position that CW agent production and filling facilities should be destroyed. End comment)

G. Burns also pointed out need for UNGA to pass a resolution establishing a preparatory committee for the Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference to be held in 1980. The UK is preparing a draft resolution and will provide it to us in the near future. Burns said Dutch believed that whether convention covers military applications of genetic engineering would be a controversial issue at the Review Conference. He asked for US comments on Dutch suggestion that CCD experts group be set up to review this issue in an attempt to defuse it. US reps responded that such a group could be counterproductive since issue, which arose several years ago, now appeared quiescent. UK reps agreed that establishing such a group of experts in the CD appeared undesirable.

2. Quadrilateral consultations (US, UK, FRG, France) on chemical weapons limitations were held in London on Wednesday, August 16, 1978. Salient points are presented below:

A. As at bilateral session, US reps outlined prospects for round eight, reviewed the US proposal for exchange of information on chemical protective activities, and discussed a possible change in the US position in order to permit conversion of chemical agent production facilities to peaceful purposes under appropriate safeguards. There was general acceptance that the negotiations will be slow and general support for the US proposals on exchange of protective information and on conversion of facilities.

B. The British expressed a strong preference for using 1940 as the cutoff date for facilities to be declared. FRG Del head (Von Arz) said that 1940 was certainly acceptable to the FRG, although the 1947 date would be “optically nicer”. French representative (De Bellescize) said he had no specific instructions, but that the more comprehensive the agreement, the better. He [said] France would therefore prefer the 1940 date.

C. Von Arz discussed FRG invitation at the UN special session on disarmament to government experts to visit the FRG to see that verifi[Page 199]cation of non-production of chemical weapons was possible. He said the details of the visit are being worked out by the German federation of chemical industry and that an announcement would be made at the coming UNGA session. The visit will be modeled on a 1977 Pugwash visit to a German chemical plant and will probably take place in the spring or summer of 1979. Von Arz promised to stay in close contact with the US Embassy in Bonn as plans are developed.

D. US reps outlined suggestion for quadrilateral consultations later in the year on stockpile declarations and estimates with participation of political, military, and intelligence reps. Burns stated that it would be best to discuss this matter among the four before raising it in NATO. (Germans had suggested at an earlier meeting that stockpile estimates be discussed in NATO.) There was no immediate German comment on the US suggestion, but during the luncheon that followed, German reps eagerly sought further details on proposed consultations.

3. As in previous quadrilateral sessions, French sent Embassy representative but did not participate actively. French representative said, however, that in Paris interest in the CW negotiations is increasing. He indicated informally that the French might send a technical expert to the next session.

[Omitted here is the list of participants.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780338–0732. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Bonn, London, USNATO, and Paris.
  2. See Document 87.
  3. Not found.