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

6663. Subject: (C) USUSSR Chemical Weapons Negotiations, Round nine: Sixth (Final) Plenary Meeting, April 12, 1979.

CW Message No. 19

1. (C—Entire text)

2. Summary: Sixth and final plenary meeting of round nine was held on April 12. Both sides presented assessments of round nine. In US view, despite some progress on defining limitations to be placed on super-toxic chemicals not related to chemical warfare, little or no progress took place in key areas; at same time, there seems to have been an unraveling of understanding regarding toxins and safe irritants. The US remains convinced that it would be a mistake to make entry into force of the proposed convention contingent upon adherence of any specific third state and that Soviet attempts to link such adherence to specific provisions now under negotiations served only to interfere with the bilateral negotiations. SovDel, for its part, also concluded that key questions remained unresolved, citing both “objective” and “subjective” difficulties. Among the latter the SovDel had not noticed any steps by the US in round nine to meet their position. Concerning the question of riot control agents, SovDel observed that CS had not been specifically discussed and therefore no agreement could have been reached between the two Delegations. Moreover, while subdivision of irritants into “safe” and “not safe” categories had been discussed, agreement had not been achieved. Soviet position on adherence by all permanent members of UN security council was restated. Following plenary, an informal meeting was held to discuss how to deal with CW issue in the CD (septel)2 end summary.

3. The sixth and final plenary meeting of round nine was held April 12 at the Soviet mission. Amb Israelyan opened meeting with the suggestion that after a short exchange of views, the two sides should hold informal discussions on how to deal with problem of Chemical Weapons in CD. Amb Fisher agreed to this procedure (see septel) and then made statement presenting US assessment of round nine. He began with observation that frank exchange of views in drafting group had clarified respective positions on number of topics relating to decla[Page 219]ration and destruction of accumulated stocks of Chemical Weapons and that progress had been made on defining limitations to be placed on super-toxic chemicals not related to chemical warfare. However, Amb Fisher stated, not much progress has been made in areas we consider absolutely essential and even on questions of scope, we appear to have witnessed an unraveling of understandings in area where we thought there was agreement, i.e. toxins and safe irritants. Morever, the US remains concerned by continued Soviet rejection of US proposals to exchange of information on military activities related to protection against chemical warfare. Similarly the US continues to attach great importance to required international on-site inspection of both the destruction of Chemical Weapons stocks and the disposition of Chemical Weapon facilities. In this context, we view the declaration of individual facilities and their locations as absolutely essential to providing effective verification arrangements. No progress has been made on these crucial issues during this round. Ambassador Fisher ended his statement with a reiteration of US views that it would be a mistake to make entry into force contingent upon adherence by any specific third countries and that Soviet attempts to establish a linkage between adherence by specific states and various individual provisions of a future convention served only to interfere with the bilateral negotiations.

4. Amb Israelyan responded to Fisher’s assessment by asserting that while question of subdividing irritants into safe and “not safe” categories and relevant criteria needed to accomplish this had been discussed, agreement had not yet been reached in this area. Moreover, CS was not specifically discussed and therefore no agreement on CS could have been reached. Israelyan then provided his own general assessment of round nine, beginning with the observation that the key problems have not disappeared. In explaining the comparatively slow progress he first referred to “objective” difficulties inherent in negotiations on such a complex subject as Chemical Weapons which, he added, “is inextricably linked to other activities of state.” Turning to “substantive” difficulties, he noted that the USSR had taken a number of steps to bring the sides closer together, although we may differ on the significance of the steps. He had not noticed any similar steps by the US and hoped that the process of bringing the sides closer together would be a bilateral one in the next round. Nonetheless, he saw positive results in some areas such as composition of lists of super-toxic chemicals (on an illustrative basis). Finally, and most important, both sides confirm their intention to continue the negotiations and strive for further progress. Israelyan then departed from his prepared remarks to reiterate the Soviet position of participation of all permanent members of the security council, which he maintained is a question vital to the effectiveness of the convention and which is in the interests of all concerned, in particular the two negotiating states. He ended his remarks [Page 220]with the observation that the position paper presented earlier by the US 3 contained new formulations which would be studied carefully.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790180–0536. Confidential; Priority. Also sent to Bonn, London, Moscow, and USNATO.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.