199. Circular Airgram From the Department of State to Certain Missions0

CA–13427. Subject: NATO Ministerial Meeting, Ottawa, May 22–24, 1963. Ref: Sectos 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18 and 19.1

[Page 588]

This airgram briefly summarizes topics discussed and outcome of the NATO Ministerial Meeting, held at Ottawa, May 22–24, and encloses texts of statements by Secretary Rusk and Secretary McNamara and of the final communiqué.2 A fuller record of the proceedings is contained in the referenced telegrams which have been pouched to all NATO capitals.

I. Defense Subjects


IANF. Without accepting the concept of a separate force, the Ministers approved: (a) assignment of the V-bombers and Polaris submarines to SACEUR; (b) establishment by SACEUR of a nuclear deputy; (c) arrangements for broader participation by non-Americans in nuclear activities in SHAPE and at Omaha; (d) more extensive nuclear information to be provided national political and military authorities.

The French, both during and before Ottawa, made it clear that they could not condone representing the organization of SACEUR’s nuclear forces as the creation of a new entity.

The above steps are significant in that they provide SACEUR with more nuclear power and make possible greater European participation in nuclear affairs.

MLF. Secretary Rusk outlined the status of discussions on the proposed NATO multilateral force and expressed the hope that the terms of reference for the treaty negotiations would soon be ready. The other Ministers informally noted the efforts of several countries in considering the possible establishment of a multilateral nuclear force. The UK indicated that it saw formidable problems in the MLF, particularly of cost.
Special Force Review. The Ministers agreed in principle to a special NATO force review to start during 1963 which would be designed to bring into closer alignment forces, strategies, and budgets. It is hoped that at the conclusion of this review a more satisfactory balance between nuclear and conventional arms will be achieved, and a more equitable sharing of the defense burden realized. The modalities of the review are yet to be worked out, and in this connection Sec-Gen Stikker has agreed to draft some concrete proposals for NAC consideration.
Consequences of Armaments Race. Although speaking on the subject of disarmament, Lord Home reverted to the question of NATO nuclear strategy by raising the question of the consequences of a nuclear armaments race and asking whether in building up its tactical nuclear forces “at back-breaking expense” the West was not preparing for a war which could not be fought because the “overkill” capacity of both sides [Page 589] would totally destroy both the West and the USSR. He suggested the possibility of establishing “a minimum deterrent.”

II. Political Subjects

Secretary Rusk discussed “State of NATO Alliance” making following points: (a) despite talk of “disarray”, NATO countries are united on basic purposes for which NATO founded, i.e., defense against USSR; (b) US continues to believe firmly in indivisibility of defense of Europe and US and in interdependence between two areas, including equitable burden-sharing; (c)NATO interdependence applies to economic and political field as readily as to military area; therefore, there is need for increased political consultation on emerging problems and potential crises outside treaty area; (d) US hopes European nations will participate fully in Alliance for Progress. Several of the Ministers, including those of Canada and the Netherlands responded positively to the invitation to share responsibilities in Latin America and other underdeveloped areas.
Several Foreign Ministers, including Martin of Canada, Home (UK), and Haekkerup of Denmark, stressed the importance of continuing to seek to reach an agreement in the disarmament field.
NATO–Warsaw Non-Aggression Pact. Following Secretary Rusk’s report that Dobrynin had shown considerable interest in the possibility of a NATO–Warsaw Non-Aggression Pact, Lord Home, seconded by Spaak (Belgium), suggested that the pact proposal had attractive aspects, provided the problem of recognition of East Germany could be overcome. Negative and cautionary views were expressed by Couve de Murville (France) Schroeder (Germany) and Averoff (Greece).
West German Foreign Minister Schroeder reported on Berlin and German-Soviet relations, explaining in particular the situation in East Germany and Eastern Europe, including West German-Polish Trade Agreement.
Couve de Murville (France) indicated that it was unrealistic to talk about equal partnership or burden-sharing between US and Europe because there was no such thing as European unity. Some progress had been made toward unity in economic field, but little progress in political or military areas.
Number of Foreign Ministers of smaller NATO countries endorsed Secretary’s comments on US-European interdependence and also supported Secretary’s views re closer political consultation. Turkish Foreign Minister Erkin emphasized problems in the Middle East and Greek Minister Averoff stressed need for greater external financing to assist Greek economy and to support Greece military burden.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, NATO 3 Can(OT). Secret. Drafted by Kranich and van Hollen (RPM) and transmitted to 22 missions and commands in Europe and to USUN.
  2. None printed; dated May 22–24, they summarized various sessions of the Ministerial Meeting. (Ibid.)
  3. The statements are not printed. For text of the communiqué, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1963, pp. 408–409.