Chapter 15 - Soviet Arms Treaty Violations

lic diplomacy centerpiece was Soviet Military Power—1981, initially drafted by the Department of Defense and then coordinated by NSC arms control and defense staff. By the 1983 edition, the report included both “red” (Soviet/Warsaw Pact) and “blue” (U.S./NATO) data. This series was provided in updated yearly editions from 1981 to 1988 and beyond. Soviet Military Power—1983 and Soviet Military Power—1987 are included among this book’s referenced documents available in its Internet Document Library. At the same time as Soviet arms control treaty violations were exposed by the administration’s investigations, ongoing public diplomacy reports were issued to draw further attention to the interrelationship of the Soviet military buildup and its arms control deceptions and violations. They strengthened the case for Reagan’s tougher arms control criteria and U.S. defense modernization but these proved controversial.

While the Administration early issued a series of public reports on Soviet violations of chemical and biological weapons treaties (Topic 2 above), other suspect Soviet noncompliance activities were being reviewed, albeit more slowly, by the arms control Interagency Groups (IGs) for SALT, START, ABM, Nuclear Testing, and conventional forces in response to Presidential tasking generated by the NSC. These initial studies shaped a consensus U.S. Interim Restraint Policy by which the United States stated it would for a time maintain U.S. defense modernization activities within existing treaty limits while it considered the broader implications of Soviet actions.

Strengthened NSC Authority—Late 1982 to Early 1983. While Reagan and his supporters inside and outside the Administration had a clear understanding that to be serious about arms control with the Soviet Union was to be serious about Soviet treaty compliance, their opponents did not agree with such linkage. Nor were Reagan’s critics supportive of his intentions to comprehensively evaluate Soviet non-compliance and to reject arms control provisions and proposals that could not be verified with high confidence. Internal disputes contributed to major bureaucratic delays throughout 1981 and 1982 and necessitated new organizational steps to assure NSC authority in coordinating such interagency assessments and their implications for U.S. arms control policy and defense capabilities. Steps taken by Reagan and his National Security Advisor Judge William Clark’s strengthened NSC authorities in late 1982 and early 1983. As a result, four new arms control groups were created and directed by NSC staff. The functioned alongside a dramatically reinvigorated a high-level presidential advisory committee with strong NSC ties, reviewed in the next chapter topic.

Senior Arms Control Policy Group (SACG). The first step was the creation of a new senior level interagency group as a mini-NSC to be supported by NSC arms control and defense staff. The Senior Arms Control Policy Group (SACPG), soon renamed the Senior Arms Control Group (SACG), met in the White House Situation Room, not at the Department of State or the Pentagon as did the arms control Interdepartmental Groups (IGs). It was chaired by the National Security Advisor or his NSC staff representative, not by the Assistant Secretaries of the Departments of State and Defense as were the IGs. The SACG quickly made substantial progress on the Administration’s far-reaching arms reduction proposals. It proved far more difficult, however, to make progress on Soviet violations issues, and this effort often became mired in verification issues, technical complexities, compliance policy dilemmas, and IG disputes. The focus of the latter work was therefore shifted to a new NSC-controlled verification committee and its subcommittees.

Establishment of Arms Control Verification Committee (ACVC). In view of evident verification and violations complexities and controversies, Reagan issued directive NSDD 65–Establishment of NSC Arms Control Verification Committee (ACVC) of November 10, 1982. The Committee, to be chaired by the National Security Advisor or his NSC staff representative (usually the Director of Arms Control), had two components that met regularly at the NSC to focus respectively on “technical” and “policy-oriented” issues. Each component was co-chaired by the NSC Director of Arms Control. The other co-chair for the technical group came from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. The co-chair for the policy group came from the Department of Defense.

Tasking of the Verification Committee. Early in 1983, the ACVC was assigned two major tasks. First, it was directed to evaluate and attest to the “effective” (i.e. certifiably high-confidence) verifiability of all Administration arms control proposals. Second, it was to prepare a comprehensive classified interagency report of major Soviet noncompliance issues for National Security Council and Presidential review. The resulting highly detailed analyses focused realistically on the Soviet violations of greatest concern and played a critical role in integrating the facts and policy insights gained as core elements in the Administration’s arms control and defense proposals. They were a significant element of Reagan’s comprehensive strategy to expose Soviet lies, strengthen U.S. and Western defenses, and win the Cold War.

[Book pg. 358]