245. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State0

Secto 24. Following based on uncleared memcon.1 Secretary in bilateral talks with German and Canadian Foreign Ministers today has drawn on following points in explaining rationale US policy toward nuclear sharing with France. Secretary also plans draw on same points in conversations with various other Foreign Ministers:

US policy is strongly opposed to nuclear sharing with France. The rationale for this policy is not based solely on opposition to the diffusion of nuclear weapons. Nor is it based mainly on our negotiations with the Soviets regarding non-transfer of nuclear weapons.
The major bases for our policy are the following considerations bearing directly on France itself. In the first place, the French Government has not asked the US for nuclear assistance at a high level. In fact, De Gaulle has made quite clear that he does not intend to ask for nuclear assistance. Lacking such an authoritative approach, we have no real basis for acting in any case, and no opportunity to discuss on basis of all the relevant issues, such as those noted below:
French today are making proposals in field of European integration which are being vigorously opposed by other members of Six. These French proposals run counter to concept of true integration which US has long supported.
French have made proposals for reorganizing NATO which run directly counter to concepts of other members of Alliance. French changes run in a nationalistic direction; US and other members of the Alliance support organization of NATO along lines of collective defense.
French continue to press vigorously and inflexibly for 3-power directorate concept. This is unacceptable to US and to other members of Alliance. It would also create obvious great difficulties for us in our relations with countries outside Atlantic area.
French by various actions have shown their contempt of NATO and UN, both of which are fundamental to US policy. Specifically in NATO they have withdrawn their Mediterranean fleet; denied US nuclear [Page 691] storage rights in France, made integrated air defense system less effective; and more recently refused to give us permission to establish tropospheric scatter link from low countries into nerve center at SHAPE.
French are not pulling their weight in difficult and dangerous questions of Berlin and disarmament.
France was paralyzed recently for several days by fear of military coup d’état; on other hand, France has large and powerful communist and extreme left group which is possible successor government.
French made clear that their purpose for establishing national strategic deterrent is not to cooperate with US and the Alliance, but to ensure France’s independence of US and Alliance.

For all these reasons, therefore, it would be most unwise for US to grant any kind of assistance to France for their independent nuclear capability. It is far more than question of whether or not France qualified under McMahon Act. There are whole range of other considerations which are main bases of our policy.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.5611/5–462. Secret; Limit Distribution. Also sent to the other NATO capitals.
  2. Rusk, who was in Athens for the North Atlantic Council meeting, May 4–6, met with the German and Canadian Foreign Ministers at 1 and 4:15 p.m., May 3, but the memoranda of their conversations do not deal with France. (Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2095. Regarding the Council meeting, see Documents 136 and 137.
  3. On May 4 Gerard Smith and Bowie sent a memorandum to Kohler stating that this telegram presented an inadequate rationale for the U.S. non-sharing policy. They believed it was “based on the principle that spreading national capacities” was “bad per se—not on expediency aimed at leveraging better behavior of an ally.” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2100)