237. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France0

3090. Paris pass Stoessel and USRO for Ambassador Finletter. Personal for Ambassador Gavin from the Secretary. I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of problem discussed in your 2542.1 Upon reflection here I believe that to furnish enriched uranium to France for military applications would lead to other French requests relating to production of nuclear weapons and would be in contradiction to US policies which we have already clearly decided and in part announced. We have made clear to all governments that we will engage in no activity and undertake no action which would be likely to assist any new nation to acquire or develop an independent nuclear weapon capability. Significance of present legislation in this respect is that it is designed to limit such cooperation to the one other country allied with us that had already achieved such capability.

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I also believe it is already clear to French that we will undertake no action likely to result in any direct or significant aid to France in developing or securing independent nuclear warhead or effective nuclear weapon delivery capability. As you have just reiterated to French Defense Minister, we otherwise stand ready to continue our mutual cooperation with France in scientific matters and in peaceful applications of atomic energy as well as in such mutual defense matters as recently signed 144(b) Atomic Cooperation Agreement with France.2 I believe French recognize that cooperation in mutual defense matters can proceed only in conjunction with full cooperation by France as NATO partner, and I recognize you will continue pursue this line with Messmer. We shall also press this point with him during his forthcoming visit here.

I believe you are already familiar from our earlier exchange of telegrams3 in this general field that we are profoundly convinced that not only would assistance along lines your 2542 confirm and encourage presently independent course followed by France but would lead to increased pressures in Germany and elsewhere for national nuclear programs. It would be divisive force within NATO. We consider best way to handle problem within NATO is through our multilateral MRBM offer, which I plan to renew at NATO Ministerial Meeting in December,4 and through possible other means to give Alliance a larger NATO nuclear role, if our allies so desire.

We all realize that our position on this subject may hamper development of closer relations with France and we are striving in other ways to overcome this handicap. You of course realize difficulties raised for all of us by French position on variety of important military questions affecting NATO security, and we fully endorse and support your efforts to bring greater measure of French cooperation in these questions.

In view of President’s great interest this general subject he has also reviewed this message and has approved it.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751.5/11–1461. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Beigel and Williams (S/AE) on November 22; cleared by Tyler, Owen, the President (through Bromley Smith), and the Department of Defense; and approved by Rusk.
  2. Telegram 2542, November 14, reported that Gavin, after the most careful consideration, believed that the United States should offer to provide France with enriched uranium for military purposes, (Ibid.) The previous day he had written along similar lines to the President. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, France) On November 15 and 20 respectively, Norstad and Finletter, for different reasons, opposed Gavin’s idea. (ALO 1074; ibid., President’s Office Files, France, and Polto 677; Department of State, Central Files, 751.5/11–2061)
  3. For text of this agreement, signed at Paris July 27, see 12 UST 1423.
  4. See Document 227.
  5. See Documents 116 ff.