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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 25, 1991

MEMO, US PROPOSALS CONCERNING LIMITED NON-NUCLEAR SPACE DEFENSE AND MISSILE ATTACK WARNING SYSTEM

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Memo on Soviet-American consultations in Washington between November 25 and 27, 1991. The American side proposed discussion of limited non-nuclear missile defense and early warning systems, but the Soviet side refused to be drawn into lengthy discussions. The US also rejected the Soviet proposal to create joint missile attack warning systems.
    "Memo, US Proposals Concerning Limited Non-Nuclear Space Defense and Missile Attack Warning System," November 25, 1991, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Translated for CWIHP by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/115467
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MEMO

about US proposals concerning the issues of a limited non-nuclear space defense and missile attack warning system (Soviet-American consultations in Washington between 25 and 27 November 1991)

The Americans again raised for discussion their proposal about a limited non-nuclear missile defense. They are proposing to also examine the issue of early warning of a missile launch in the context of this problem.

As in previous consultations in Moscow on 6-7 October of this year the Americans argued the need to deploy a limited non-nuclear missile defense. It followed from their explanations that the abilities of such a US missile defense will be limited. It will be capable of defending American territory from a strike by "dozens of warheads of third countries or up to 200 warheads of Soviet ICBM's or submarine-launched ballistic missiles in the event of an unauthorized launch, for example, a submarine-launched ballistic missile with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles from a single submarine or an ICBM regiment with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles."

Without being drawn into a detailed discussion of this problem, we said that it needs to be examined in the nuclear and space weapons and strategic stability talks, and limited ourselves to just posing several clarifying questions. Replying to one of them, the Americans said that the scale of deployment of a limited missile defense system "not undermining the capability of the other side for retaliatory actions can be adequately monitored."

Concerning the issue of missile attack warning systems (SPRN) the Americans reject our proposal to create such joint systems with ground- and space-based elements. They are limiting cooperation in this sphere to an exchange of information between our countries, including the republics, about launches of missiles of third countries, measures to reduce false warnings in the SPRN, and a strengthening of the procedures for exchanging information about launches of Soviet and American ballistic missiles. R. Bartholomew said that such measures ought to be discussed together with the discussion of a non-nuclear missile defense, although he also does not preclude the possibility of a "parallel" consideration of these two problems.

In the next consultations the Americans intend to give a more detailed description of the possible areas of cooperation on SPRN.

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