127. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State0

3972. During discussion about nuclear situation in NATO with de Gaulle yesterday,1 I pointed out the great nuclear strength of NATO and the current interest in a multinational nuclear force and finally the degree [Page 365] to which such a force would satisfy nuclear aspirations of non-nuclear nations, such as, for example, Germany.

He replied by saying that NATO was General Norstad, he was American, had American weapons, that he realized there were many nuclear weapons available to support NATO and that, in effect, they were American weapons. He then went on to say he did not see how making a multi-national force would make much difference because they would still be American weapons. He added that there would probably be some technical changes in their control but he did not, in long run, think this would make much difference. I did not want to talk about the costing formula or the control problems involved, at this time, and so did not continue the discussion beyond this point.

My own feeling is that as France gets closer to have a nuclear capability, she will be increasingly difficult to deal with on nuclear matters. Unless the US will relinquish veto control over the launch of a nuclear weapon, France will not seriously consider a NATO nuclear force. They are well informed on abundance and variety of nuclear weapons in US stockpile and of solemn intent of US to use weapons in defense of NATO. We seem to accomplish little in reiterating these facts. They still remain skeptical of US willingness to enter into a nuclear exchange with USSR if issue at stake is, for example, West German territory. They feel that survival of France, in final analysis, will very likely depend upon her ability to retaliate against Russia and now that they are approaching a nuclear capability, they will settle for nothing less than this.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 375/2–2162. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. For a report on other subjects discussed, see Document 239.