92. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Slocombe) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Chemical Weapons

The Department of Defense has reviewed the working group draft of the response to PRM–372 and offers the following comments and recommendations. We are providing separately to your staff a marked up copy which offers improvement to a number of apparent editorial problems.

The PRM–37 draft response addresses all of the points in PRM–37 and provides negotiating alternatives and chemical weapons posture modernization alternatives which will require timely decisions. However, the document is too long and some key points are obscured.

In the sections which describe the current status of the negotiations (paras 11.A.3, 4, 5; pages 11–6 to 11–23), the methodology of presentation and the terminology tend to obscure where we stand on individual issues with the Soviets and the relative importance of those issues. For [Page 203]example, the draft response discusses the status of each of the PD/NSC–15 key elements but it is not clear on precisely what material the Soviets have apparently agreed or disagreed, nor is the depth of disagreement clear. For example, the draft response states that “most of the issues” on scope have been resolved, that the Soviets have accepted many of the “general points” within the U.S. key elements, and that various “aspects” of the U.S. position have been resolved, although most “details” which are “essential to give meaning to the ‘general point’ remain to be resolved” (pages 11–6, 7). The relative importance of “issues,” “general points,” “aspects,” and “details” is obscure. It is misleading to infer that we are making good progress when most “details” have not been agreed to. In fact, serious disagreements exist on key elements having to do with declarations of chemical weapons and facilities, and verification. The reference on page 11–20 to the U.S. proposal concerning challenge on-site inspections in the comprehensive test ban negotiations is misleading because technical data provided by on-site access would be indispensible to verifying an agreement.

The General Assessment of the negotiations (page 11–23) provides an inadequate wrap-up of the status of negotiations. It should point out, for example, that no agreement is possible unless one of the parties changes its basic position on such central issues as declaration, destruction and verification of stocks and facilities. The Soviets have given no indication that they are prepared to compromise on key issues.

The section “Rationale For Relying on Non-Chemical Means for Deterring Chemical Attack” (pages 111–12 to 111–20) presents analysis and argumentation which does not adequately address the military concerns expressed elsewhere (pages 111–3 to 111–5) and contains numerous assertions for which support is not provided.


An issues/discussion paper should be prepared for SCC review to resolve the question of whether to take measures now to improve the U.S. chemical retaliatory capability and, if so, which alternatives should be pursued. The SCC should also address the three suggested alternatives in the U.S. negotiating position addressed in the PRM–37 response.

An Executive Summary of the PRM–37 response should be prepared for common use by each agency. This summary should contain appropriate excerpts from the annexes such as the views regarding Soviet intentions (Annex B) and the Soviet assessment of U.S. capabilities (Annex D).

The main body of the PRM response should contain frequent references to particularly relevant material found in the annexes.

[Page 204]

Table 1 on page 111–25 should be deleted because there is insufficient analysis to support the data and the data are unnecessary for this PRM response.

The OJCS concurs.

Walter Slocombe Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense International Security Affairs
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–81–0201, Box 39, 370.64 CBR Oct 1978. Secret.
  2. Attached but not printed is an October 20 draft prepared in response to PRM/NSC–37.