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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1988

MEMO, CONCERNING DRAFT AGREEMENT ABOUT THE OBSERVANCE OF THE ABM TREATY AND NON-WITHDRAWAL PERIOD

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    Memo describing Geneva negotiations between the United States and Soviet Union on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The two sides disagreed on the restrictions of the non-withdrawal period and the testing of ABM components or sensors in space.
    "Memo, Concerning Draft Agreement About the Observance of the ABM Treaty and Non-Withdrawal Period ," 1988, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/115463
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MEMO

concerning a draft agreement about observance of the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty, no withdrawal from it for an agreed period, and a draft protocol to it

The USSR and the US have reached an agreement to formalize the Washington agreement about observance of and non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in legally binding form as a separate agreement with a protocol attached to it, in the process of which a draft text of the agreement is to be constructed on the basis of the Washington formula and the protocol is to reflect the issues of monitoring the observance of the agreement, the forseeability of the development of the strategic situation, and other necessary provisions.

In talks between the delegations in Geneva the Soviet side proposed drawing up a joint draft of the text of the agreement on the basis of the wording of the Washington agreement. The American side declines to draw up a text in strict accordance with the Washington formula and is making attempts to include provisions in it distorting [pereinachivayushie] the meaning of the formula. These provisions are directed at obtaining unilateral advantages for the US and reflect fundamental differences in the positions of the sides:

1. The Soviet side favors an unconditional commitment about non-withdrawal from the ABM Treaty during an agreed period; the American side favors preservation of the ability to withdraw from the agreement and from the ABM Treaty during the non-withdrawal period.

2. The Soviet side understands the Washington agreement such that after the end of the non-withdrawal period only the right of the sides to withdraw from the ABM Treaty is restored in accordance with the procedures stipulated by the Treaty itself; the American side understands the agreement in such a way that after the end of the non-withdrawal period the sides can begin to deploy large-scale ABM systems, and on this basis is seeking the inclusion of explicit language [pryamye formulirovki] on this point in the text of the agreement.

3. On the issue of activity in the ABM area during the non-withdrawal period the Soviet side maintains the position of the traditional understanding of the ABM Treaty as it was signed in 1972 prohibiting, in particular, the testing of ABM systems and components in space; the American side maintains the position of a "broad" interpretation of the ABM Treaty, considering that any tests which become necessary, including in space, can be conducted during the non-withdrawal period.

The Soviet side considers tests in space possible only of those "information sensors" which according to their performance characteristics cannot be used to accomplish ABM radar tasks; the American side is proposing to permit the testing and deployment in space of any "information sensors" without any restrictions (on the basis of a "broad" interpretation of the ABM Treaty).

In the course of the work on the legal implementation of the Washington agreement a joint draft text of the protocol to the agreement was drawn up about observance of the ABM Treaty and non-withdrawal from it for an agreed period in which the positions of the sides about the situation at the present time were reflected in partially parenthetical form [chastichno v zaskoblennom vide].

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