300. Memorandum on the Substance of Discussion at a Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting0

[Here follows a list of participants.]

I. Italy

Ambassador Reinhardt stated that he welcomed the opportunity to meet with the JCS. He then opened his formal remarks by describing the current political situation in Italy under which the Socialists support the Government but are not a part of it. He said that the key people are good and that the composition of the government is satisfactory. The basic problem of the government is how to capitalize on this opportunity to enact modernization legislation involving taxation, administrative improvements, low-cost housing and expanded education. If this can be accomplished, Italy will be stronger, the government will have a broader base and an important by-product will be a reduction in the voting strength of the far left. The danger for the new government lies in its basic NATO-Western orientation which is in contradiction to the traditional neutralism of the socialists. However, the socialists would be faced with reaction from the military if they succeeded in pulling the government toward a neutral policy.

General Decker asked if the Ambassador felt optimistic about the future of this government. Ambassador Reinhardt replied that he could not really say yes or no since it is quite possible that nothing will change. General Decker asked if a change in attitude toward NATO was likely. Ambassador Reinhardt said probably not although there were many pressures in that direction. These include the socialist objective of neutralism, and Italian frustrations over their failure to be treated as a large power and many Italians who recall the sad history of Italy’s role in past wars question the advisability of belonging to NATO. However, Italy has done a good job in meeting its basic NATO military requirements and in meeting General Norstad’s requests for a military build-up to meet the Berlin crisis. Mr. Nitze asked if the Italians were inclined to move toward membership in a European military bloc of six nations. Ambassador Reinhardt did not feel that they would enter such an arrangement, particularly in light of their present disenchantment with the French. Mr. Amory asked if Fanfani would become the new President of Italy. Ambassador Reinhardt thought not since it is primarily a [Page 836]ceremonial office and Fanfani is too young, active and ambitious to agree to accept such a sterile position. There are three likely possibilities mentioned for the Presidency, Gronchi, Segori [Segni?] and Saragat. However, Parliamentary elections are extremely hard to predict, and it is very likely that someone other than one of these three will be elected.

General Decker inquired about the status of the NATO Atomic Stockpile Agreement, and Ambassador Reinhardt said that it had been signed in January although the implementing technical agreements still are not signed. Each service has a technical agreement to be signed and he and General C.D. Palmer had agreed that since the language in each agreement was quite similar, one standardized agreement should be drafted to cover all three services. Work had begun on this problem at EUCOM and the draft should be about ready for discussions with the Italians in Rome. In reply to a question by General Decker, Ambassador Reinhardt said that he did not foresee any difficulty in completing action on the agreement.

General Decker asked the Ambassador’s views on the continuation of SETAF in Italy under present arrangements. Ambassador Reinhardt said that U.S. military presence in Italy is very important. The Italians respond well to demonstrations of strength and friendliness and the great majority of Italian people are delighted at this guarantee of U.S. support. SETAF has a high value to the U.S. in political terms and any change in its organization or size should be gradual. This is particularly true in light of the present political situation. [3 lines of source text not declassified] He noted that the Italian relations with SETAF were unexcelled. Ambassador Reinhardt said that he had been most impressed by the cordial relations that exist between SETAF and the Italian Armed Forces.

General Decker asked what the Italian reaction would be to a phase-out of the UK Thor force. Ambassador Reinhardt said that this problem caused him great concern. There is a great deal of feeling among professional military and political people in Italy that the Jupiter program was not a wise one and that the Italians were hooked on a poor weapon. However, they feel that they must make the best of a bad situation. Undoubtedly, in time, this will become a public issue as will the question of the necessity of a follow-on weapon for the Jupiter. The phase-out of Thor might bring these problems out into the open sooner than under normal conditions. We must have some rationale for the Jupiter if we do permit the phase-out of Thor. The Italians do not have a position on the MRBM, but the Jupiter problem will make them focus on the subject. General Decker said that Jupiter is a first generation weapon and that the MRBM is presently under discussion and the USAF has been charged with developing a weapon. If the program is carried out then some weapons could be deployed to Italy. In reply to Mr. Johnson’s [Page 837]question, Ambassador Reinhardt said that the Italians view the presence of Jupiter both as a positive deterrent and as a lightning rod. General LeMay said that the MRBM is the only practicable replacement for the Jupiter, and he believed that we should go all out on the MRBM program including deployment of it to Italy. The Thor and the Jupiter will wear out in time, and we cannot logically replace them with Titan, Polaris or Minuteman. Thus the MRBM is the only answer. Ambassador Reinhardt said that if other missiles become operational in the Mediterranean area, the Italians probably will be agreeable to removal of the Jupiters. Mr. Nitze stated that the Thors will phase out in 1964 unless action is taken to extend them. General Decker pointed out that if the Thors are to go out in 1964 we can expect a leak when Parliament is informed. General LeMay said that the Thor program in the UK was entirely political; there was no military requirement for it and the RAF had never wanted the program.

Ambassador Reinhardt closed by stating that the Italians have an increasing awareness of space activities and they are very happy with our successes. Mr. Johnson noted that this is true throughout the world among nations friendly to us.

[Here follows the remainder of the memorandum.]

  1. Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 69 D121, Italy. Top Secret. A note on the source text indicates that it is a Department of State draft and not cleared with the Department of Defense.