97. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organizations0

Topol 778. Paris deliver Finletter 8 am November 22. USUN’s 1680 rptd Paris 228.1 Department believes negative vote on Swedish resolution2 is in best interest Alliance.

On surface Swedish resolution may appear well-intentioned attempt inaugurate UN inquiry into methods of preventing spread of nuclear weapons. However, terms of reference of inquiry itself strikes at heart of our present and prospective nuclear weapons arrangements within NATO. Language of terms of reference of inquiry refers to conditions under which countries would refrain from “acquiring” nuclear weapons and “refuse to receive” them in the future on their territories “on behalf of any other country.” This not only would prejudice our position on any possible future multilateral arrangement (which was our objection to original Irish resolution),3 but much more seriously is clearly directed against existing arrangements under which we make weapons available (under US custody) to the forces of our Allies and train their forces in the use of nuclear-capable weapons systems. It also would prejudice our arrangements for stationing US military units with nuclear weapons in non-NATO countries.

Coming on top of serious NATO split on “ban the bomb” resolution,4 affirmative vote for Swedish resolution by substantial number NATO countries would be regarded as further weakening of NATO’s resolve to support Western collective defense efforts based on nuclear deterrence. It would play into hands of those groups in Scandinavia which are attempting capitalize on fear of “resurgent German militarism” at time when we are endeavoring insure maximum support by all NATO countries for our Berlin NATO military build-up. And another split NATO vote might well lead Moscow to believe its current pressures against Finland bearing fruit.

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We also are concerned at apparent Swedish motives in putting forward resolution of this sort without consultation.5 We feel Swedes may be moving toward establishment of “non-nuclear club” made up of nations which reject not only national ownership and custody of warheads (which is all to the good), but which also will not allow warheads to be stationed on their territory nor apparently take part in any future arrangements for multilateral ownership and control of nuclear weapons. This could prejudice NATO strength (on which Swedish security ultimately rests, as well) and have divisive effect in NATO by making still more difficult position of Norway and Denmark as members of NATO who, despite their Alliance ties, will not accept nuclear weapons on their territory.

In light of preceding considerations, at November 22 NAC meeting you should make statement along following lines:

USG concerned at implications of Swedish resolution which, although limited to call for UN inquiry re methods prevent spread of nuclear weapons, will redound against Western Alliance by casting doubts on existing and future nuclear defensive arrangements, since it would prevent continuation of existing stockpile arrangements and exploration of future arrangements for multilateral ownership and control of nuclear weapons. NAC has previously heard US views on unfortunate repercussions of NATO split on “ban the bomb” resolution. To large extent, many of these arguments apply in case of Swedish resolution because Swedish resolution bound to play into hands of those who believe we can make progress toward disarmament by passing resolutions with high emotional content but little substance and which prejudice existing and possible future arrangements advantageous to NATO. Cumulative effect passage such resolutions, revealing differences among NATO Allies, bound to damage NATO cohesion.

US has consistently opposed and will continue to oppose spread of manufacturing capabilities and ownership and control of nuclear weapons. It has sought to control these weapons and to prevent this spread through mutually agreeable arrangements within NATO. At same time, we have supported efforts in the disarmament field to limit spread of national nuclear capabilities and to bring about general and complete disarmament under effective international control. As step in this direction, we have expressed our intention to vote for the Irish resolution and consider Irish resolution most satisfactory method handling this complicated subject. Swedish resolution serves no additional purpose but [Page 233] rather can serve to throw doubt on legitimacy of existing NATO arrangements, and can weaken NATO strength and cohesion and prejudice consideration of possible future multilateral arrangements, such as outlined in President’s Ottawa speech.6

Although Swedish resolution undoubtedly will pass by overwhelming majority, USG feels it should be opposed and hopes other members of Alliance would agree.

FYI. Our final decision on vote will in large part be determined by outcome discussion in NAC.7 End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 600.0012/11-1661. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Bonn, Copenhagen, London, Oslo, Ottawa, Stockholm, and USUN.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid.)
  3. For text of Resolution 1664 (XVI), passed on December 4 by a vote of 57-12-32, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, p. 693. Voting against were the NATO powers except Canada, Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, all of which voted in favor.
  4. See footnote 4, Document 83.
  5. For text of Resolution 1653 (XVI), passed on November 24 by a vote of 55-20-26, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, pp. 648-650. The Warsaw Pact countries and Cuba were among the supporters, which included many “neutral” powers. Denmark, Iceland, and Norway abstained; the other NATO members voted against.
  6. Rusk said, in the course of a telephone conversation with Stevenson on November 30: “the Swedes were wicked to do it without consultation with us.” (Memorandum of conversation; Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations) See the Supplement.
  7. For extracts from the President’s address before the Canadian Parliament on May 17, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, pp. 149-151.
  8. The Swedish resolution was discussed at several NAC meetings prior to its passage by the U.N. General Assembly on December 4. Information on these discussions is in Department of State, Central File 600.0012 for November and December 1961. Telegram 1831 from USUN, November 29, indicates that USUN had received final instructions by that date to vote against the resolution. (Ibid., 600.0012/11-2861)