The United States has charged that the Soviet Union is implicated in the use of chemical weapons in Afghanistan and of chemical and toxin weapons, including the toxin known as "Yellow Rain," in Laos and Kampuchea (Cambodia). These charges raise two significant sets of issues: First, issues surrounding the evidence that has been presented to show: (a) that such weapons have been used and (b) that the Soviet Union is implicated in this use. Second, issues connected with the implications of Soviet involvement, if proven, in chemical and toxin warfare.
In 1979, a time of clear downturn in U.S.-Soviet relations over such sensitive issues as SALT, Soviet troops in Cuba, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Carter Administration moved ahead with a series of measures designed to improve relations with Moscow's major adversary in Asia, the Peoples Republic of China (P.R.C.). The purpose of this report is to provide background for and summarize current developments in U.S. - People’s Republic of China (PRC) relations, including current and pending congressional actions involving the PRC.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has raised a number of serious issues and choices for the United States. The train of events seem likely to have an important influence on overall American foreign policy in the 1980s. Reassessment of Soviet motives and of U.S. roles in the world are already in progress. Emerging American attitudes, in turn, will shape more specific policy decisions on several issues, which this issue brief discusses.
Date: May 2, 1980
Creator: Library of Congress. Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division.