In June 1963 the United States and the Soviet Union agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Direct Communications Link, known as the "Hot Line," for use in time of emergency. Each agreed to ensure prompt delivery to its head of government of any communications received over the Direct Communications Link from the other head of government. (See "Hot Line" section.) Eight years later, the "Hot Line" was updated by a September 30, 1971, agreement negotiated by a special working group of the U.S. and Soviet SALT delegations and signed by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Soviet Foreign Minister. This agreement provided for the addition of two satellite circuits to the "Hot Line." Those two circuits became operational in 1978. (See "Hot Line" modernization section.)
In May 1983 President Reagan proposed to upgrade the "Hot Line" by the addition to the existing equipment of a high-speed facsimile transmission capability. This proposal was recommended to the President following a study of possible initiatives for enhancing international stability and reducing the risk of nuclear war. That examination, which involved all concerned U.S. Government agencies, was mandated by the Congress in the Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1983.
As a result of this initiative, negotiations between the United States and USSR on improving bilateral communications links opened in Moscow in August 1983. Subsequent rounds were held in Washington in January 1984, in Moscow in April 1984, and again in Washington in July 1984. Those discussions resulted in an accord, signed on July 17, 1984, to add a facsimile transmission capability to the "Hot Line." This capability became operational in 1986. This agreement was subsequently updated by an exchange of diplomatic notes in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 1988.
The "Hot Line" consists of two satellite circuits and one wire telegraph circuit. Terminals linked to the three circuits in each country are now equipped with teletype and facsimile equipment. Facsimile machines permit the heads of government to exchange messages far more rapidly than they could with the previously existing teletype system. They can also send detailed graphic material such as maps, charts, and drawings by facsimile.
Agreement Between The United States of America and The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics To Expand the U.S.-USSR Direct Communications Link
Signed at Washington July 17, 1984
Entered into force July 17, 1984
The Department of State, referring to the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link, signed June 20, 1963; to the Agreement on Measures to Improve the Direct Communications Link, signed September 30, 1971; and to the exchange of views between the two parties in Moscow and Washington during which it was deemed desirable to arrange for facsimile communication in addition to the current teletype Direct Communications Link, proposes that for this purpose the parties shall:
1. Establish and maintain three transmission links employing INTELSAT and STATSIONAR satellites and cable technology with secure orderwire circuit for operational monitoring. In this regard:
(b) Operation of facsimile communication shall begin with the test operation over the INTELSAT satellite channel as soon as development, procurement and delivery of the necessary equipment by the sides are completed.
(c) Facsimile communication via STATSIONAR shall be established after transition of the Direct Communications Link teletype circuit from MOLNIYA to STATSIONAR using mutually agreeable transition procedures and after successful tests of facsimile communication via INTELSAT and cable.
2. Employ agreed-upon information security devices to assure secure transmission of facsimile materials. In this regard:
(b) The American side shall provide to the Soviet side the floppy disk drives integral to the operation of the microprocessor.
(c) The necessary security devices as well as spare parts for the said equipment shall be provided by the American side to the Soviet side in return for payment of costs thereof by the Soviet side.
3. Establish and maintain at each operating end of the Direct Communications Link facsimile terminals of the same make and model. In this regard:
(b) A Group III facsimile unit which meets CCITT Recommendations T.4 and T.30 and operates at 4800 bits per second shall be used for this purpose.
(c) The necessary facsimile equipment as well as spare parts for the said equipment shall be provided to the Soviet side by the American side in return for payment of costs thereof by the Soviet side.
4. Establish and maintain secure orderwire communications necessary for coordination of facsimile operation. In this regard:
(b) To coordinate the work of the facsimile equipment operators, an orderwire shall be configured so as to permit, prior to the transmission and reception of facsimile messages, the exchange of all information pertinent to the coordination of such messages.
(c) Orderwire messages concerning facsimile transmissions shall be encoded using the same information security devices specified in Paragraph 2(a).
(d) The orderwire shall use the same modem and communications link as used for facsimile transmission.
(e) A printer shall be included to provide a record copy of all information exchanged on the orderwire.
(f) The necessary orderwire equipment as well as spare parts for the said equipment shall be provided by the American side to the Soviet side, in return for payment of costs thereof by the Soviet side.
5. Ensure the exchange of information necessary for the operation and maintenance of the facsimile system.
6. Take all possible measures to assure the continuous, secure and reliable operation of the facsimile equipment, information security devices and communications links including orderwire, for which each party is responsible in accordance with this agreement.
The Department of State also proposes that the parties, in consideration of the continuing advances in information and communications technology, conduct reviews as necessary regarding questions concerning improvement of the Direct Communications Link and its technical maintenance.
It is also proposed to note that the Memorandum of Understanding between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link, signed on June 20, 1963, with the Annex thereto; the Agreement between the United States of America and the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics on Measures to Improve the Direct Communications Link, with the Annex thereto, signed on September 30, 1971; those Understandings, with Attached Annexes, reached between the United States and Union of Soviet Republics, Shall constitute an agreement, effective on the date of the Embassy's reply.
Kenneth W. Dean
Department of State,
Washington, July 17, 1984
1 Note: Soviet Charge d' affaires Isakov initialed the Soviet diplomatic note and the notes were exchanged on July 17, 1984.