86. Memorandum for the Files 0
By direction of the President, I made the following statement to Ambassador Dobrynin today:
“The President wants the Chairman to know that it is not expected that the Polaris missiles which he has agreed to make available for a small British submarine force to be assigned to NATO will become operational before 1969 or 1970. The President’s chief concern in making these missiles available was to prevent, or at least delay, the development of national nuclear capabilities. Failure on his part to provide a substitute for Skybolt missile would have meant a serious rift in British/American relations and would undoubtedly have resulted in British efforts to create their own missile, not tied into NATO controls.
“The British might have been obliged, because of costs, to have cooperated with the French in such efforts and there might have developed a separate German effort to do the same.
“The President believes his action in this matter has kept open the possibility of agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and has gained time for our further efforts in the field of disarmament. It is clear that real progress in disarmament would take priority over any such arrangements which were made in the absence of a disarmament agreement.”
- Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 77 D 163. Secret. Prepared by Thompson.↩