410. Record of Meeting0



  • State
    • Secretary Rusk
    • Jeffrey C. Kitchen
    • J. Robert Schaetzel
  • White House
    • McGeorge Bundy
  • Defense
    • Secretary McNamara
    • Deputy Secretary Gilpatric
    • John T. McNaughton
    • Henry S. Rowen

The Secretary remarked that first French reaction to the Nassau proposal was sour according to a report received indirectly from Foreign Office sources. In this connection, he thought we should, as soon as possible, allay French suspicions by making it clearly understood that all that was agreed at Nassau had been made public and there were no secret deals. We should seek to enter a dialogue with the French in which, in effect, we might say “You raise the questions. Which points do you regard as critical and which are those on which you need clarification?” Thus, we could gradually ascertain whether the French were going to change; if they were not, we should not get in a lather. If they were smart they would come to us and ask what a “similar” arrangement really meant.

Mr. McNamara interjected that he thought that as long as the French were willing to commit nuclear forces to a multilateral force under NATO, and if command and control arrangements were satisfactory to us, we should be prepared to supply submarines and war heads to the French. This should be an across-the-board offer provided the French reaction to our conditions was satisfactory. He saw our objective as being to minimize the cost to the Europeans of such nuclear forces; neither the UK nor French should expend funds in duplicating our technology but should shift this increment of military expenditure from developing of nuclear forces to improving and strengthening their conventional capabilities.

The Secretary replied that we should have available a complete framework of negotiating possibilities, backed up by a far-reaching staff review of the alternatives. For instance, he thought a good deal might [Page 1117] turn on the non-transfer provision. It might be possible initially to implement the multilateral proposal by utilizing a surface vessel on which a Polaris-type missile could be placed. The next question which might raise a problem with the French would be whether they had a war head which could be mated with a Polaris missile. Throughout any such discussion, we should attempt to steer them in the right direction and we should avoid being negative in the concept of our approach.

Mr. McNamara stated that our objective might become one of getting both the UK and France into an advanced nuclear posture if they met our two main conditions of multilateral and command arrangements. We should re-examine all that we have given to the British and consider whether it might not be cheaper over the long-run to furnish new equipment to the French and British rather than simply assist them in various technological processes. This would make them more dependent on us as a source of supply, thus enhancing indirectly our power to control final policies.

The Secretary stated that we have to give careful consideration both to present political issues and those which might arise in the future, and that we must check carefully any penalties we might pay by making premature offers of great dimension. For instance, it was generally agreed that we could not get DeGaulle to turn around on some of his policies which are most offensive to us. The question then becomes what France are we considering cooperating with? We could not set aside the fact that France was not cooperating with us in NATO, was not cooperating nor paying its share in the UN, was most frequently the difficult partner on Berlin, and had virtually sabotaged SEATO. The present French Government has shown an inclination toward abstention and veto on all major policy efforts and does not constitute a reliable partner.

Mr. McNamara said he should recognize that there might be benefits in leading France to rely upon US technology; by being forthcoming now, we might be able to turn the French in the direction we wanted.

The Secretary said he thought that NATO should get on with its business without letting France interfere but that we should simultaneously try to lead the French in the direction of our long-range goal of multilateralism.

Mr. McNamara said that perhaps a good idea could be achieved by getting enough agreement with the French so that we could get technical groups working together; in the course of these exchanges, we could get the sense of cooperation moved upward to the political level.

Mr. Kitchen said such working together implied an initial contact which developed some degree of understanding—including possible limitations. The problem for us is to obtain engagement so that we may [Page 1118] have a dialogue and, subsequently, one of timing and degree in stating what we will or will not do.

Mr. Bundy said he thought this was the heart of the matter and introduced the whole range of possibilities that had been mentioned. We wanted to open negotiations, but even developing an initial understanding or degree of cooperation might take all of 1963. Secretary Rusk said that in this latter connection, we should remind the French that the operational capability envisaged in the British agreement was 1967/68.

Mr. Rusk then directed attention to the list of sub-groups set up under the State–Defense Steering Group.


In connection with Sub-Group V (Jupiters),1 he emphasized urgency in getting ready a policy package on the removal of Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey. Ambassador Hare, who had arrived in Washington for consultation, was relatively relaxed regarding problems we would have with the Turks. The Secretary emphasized however, that, while we could achieve our objective of obtaining the removal of the missiles, a great deal depended on the manner and timing of dealing with this problem so that we did not damage our position with the Turks psychologically and politically.

Secretary McNamara said the President had asked him on Thursday what steps were being taken to obtain removal of the Jupiters. McNamara strongly favored action at the earliest possible date and wondered whether we could set April 1 as our deadline for beginning removal of the missiles.

Secretary Rusk replied that how and when we acted must be dependent on a time schedule to be established on the basis of the consultations we would have this week and next with Ambassadors Hare and Reinhardt. He pointed out that three basic papers dealing with providing a substitute capability for the Turks and Italians were now in preparation by elements of the joint State–Defense group. In this connection, Secretary Rusk said he wanted the Jupiter item removed from the immediate context of work being done by other sub-groups; as a more highly classified matter, it should be treated on a need-to-know basis.

Mr. McNamara said that we must move quickly because (1) he owed an early answer to the Italian and Turkish Defense Ministers, and (2) early action was necessary if we were to achieve anything like an April 1 removal date. Mr. Gilpatric said he thought we should have instructions [Page 1119] for the Ambassadors by January 3 or 4 so that they could return as soon as possible to Rome and Ankara and begin discussions with the respective governments. Mr. Kitchen inquired if it was still Secretary McNamara’s intention to go to Ankara for more extensive military-technical discussions after Ambassador Hare had returned to his post. Secretary McNamara replied that either he or Mr. Nitze would make the trip “if Ambassador Hare thinks this is necessary”.

Secretary Rusk said that the approach to the Turks should incorporate his conversations with the Turks on this subject in April 1961,2 but be conducted on a broader basis. Mr. Bundy said he thought we should take the line, both with the Turks and the world, that we are updating our entire defense strategy and positions of strength with weapons which are more modern and invulnerable.

Secretary Rusk observed that the timing of the public surfacing of these negotiations was very important, both in relation to the allies directly concerned and our other allies in NATO. Special attention should be paid to planning how the release would be made.

Secretary McNamara stated technical arrangements to be worked out with the Turks and Italians for command and control should not be confused with the technical arrangements being worked out for assignment of matching forces to NATO.

While they might be designed to be as complimentary as possible, they could be phased together later and the Jupiter removal not delayed. He thought command arrangements for the Polaris submarines would fall under SACEUR through CINCEUR and the Sixth Fleet. Thus, these boats would clearly be assigned to NATO and substitute for the NATO-assigned Jupiters which would be coming out. These arrangements should be simple and made as quickly as possible. In connection with the US-UK matching forces to be assigned to NATO, thought was being given to including them under a separate NATO nuclear command. Consideration of this latter concept should not have a high priority either in connection with the Jupiters nor in connection with the separate question of getting the matching forces assigned to NATO. In the latter case, it was highly desirable to get some nuclear capability assigned as quickly as possible in order to get the principle established.

Secretary Rusk next invited comments regarding the other Sub-Groups.

Sub-Group I

Mr. McNamara said he thought it would be desirable to have Sub-Group I consider all aspects of future nuclear relationships with Britain, Sub-Group III the same with France, and Sub-Group IV should give priority [Page 1120] consideration to the question of how we include Germany. Under Sub-Group I he thought an especial effort should be devoted to identification of waste in the UK nuclear program and determination of the extent to which we could reduce such waste by providing technology or end items.

Secretary Rusk agreed we should surface these considerations to see if they were worth the candle politically. In this connection we also should determine what assistance the British could give the French in the nuclear field. Mr. Schaetzel said that this had been looked into previously and it had been determined that very little was identifiable in the British program that was not tied down by the US-UK agreement of 1958. However, he said this would be looked into again, including reexamining the legislative authorization. Secretary Rusk remarked that one way to deal with the problem might be to seek to have existing legislation relative to the UK made applicable to France.

Secretary McNamara said one cost the British might have to contemplate at an early date might be for construction of new warheads for Polaris. In this connection he inquired when it was contemplated implementing conversations might begin with the British. Mr. Schaetzel said he had spoken with Ambassador Bruce about this and the latter thought that no British officials would be ready for definitive talks until after the Government had presented its proposals to Parliament—probably the fourth week in January.

Sub-Group II

There was agreement that considerations applicable to this Sub-Group had been covered in other remarks, but that emphasis should be on early assignment as a first step in firm establishment of the principle.

Sub-Group III

Secretary Rusk said that with regard to negotiations with the French, the first operational question would center around framing instructions for Ambassador Bohlen. This would be followed shortly by the requirement for instructions for George Ball whom we proposed should make a presentation to the North Atlantic Council on January 11. The idea is that Ambassador Finletter and Under Secretary Ball should assure NATO Secretary General Stikker, as well as the member countries, regarding our objectives in framing the Nassau Agreement. Our concept of three types of nuclear capable forces would be set forth, namely 1) national forces outside of NATO, 2) national forces assigned to NATO and 3) multilateral forces developed among NATO countries and assigned to NATO.

Discussion next centered around the exchange of memoranda between the President and Macmillan [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] [Page 1121] and our proposals to make a similar offer to the French and an offer of assistance to other nations in a multilateral context.3 It was agreed that the British should be approached right away with a view to making this exchange public and useable in NATO. It was also agreed that Ambassador Finletter should be recalled early in January for consultation prior to Under Secretary Ball’s presentation to the NAC.

Secretary McNamara said he envisaged that the work of Sub-Group I should concern itself with the entire range of questions which might arise in subsequent negotiations with the British. He thought that Sub-Group III should concentrate on negotiations with the French although he accepted this might include dealing with other NATO members as necessary. Sub-Group IV should give priority consideration to what type of proposal we intended to make to the Germans. Mr. Schaetzel pointed out that we also should consider how we will deal with the Italians because there is as much anxiety in Rome as in Bonn. Mr. Kitchen said Sub-Group I had been set up primarily as a legal group but that a device could be found for broadening its responsibilities if that was deemed desirable.

Mr. McNamara said the reason he had the Germans so much in mind was not only the political requirements to deal with them in a way that would relieve their concerns and take into account their interest in being a part of a multilateral force but, also, that if they shared in a nuclear force we could press them harder to take a more realistic contribution to conventional capabilities. Our basic objective should be to maximize the military efficiency of the nuclear forces at minimum cost to the Alliance as a whole and to obtain reallocation of the savings achieved to a strengthening of conventional capability.

The Secretary said that under Sub-Group IV we should work hard on the concepts of a future multilateral force as being our ultimate objective but, in the meantime, we had to tailor our policy so as to deal with existing realities. At the present time we could envisage three elements in the nuclear-strategic business. The first was SAC operating outside of NATO. The second would be US, UK and French forces working under assignment to NATO, and the third would be multilateral mixed-manned forces which we should continue to regard as our ultimate objective, but which we cannot realize immediately because neither the French or British are favorably inclined toward its immediate creation. Ultimately, the first two types should wither away and the third type should become the basic force.

[Page 1122]

Mr. McNamara said he regarded a sea surface-borne force as highly vulnerable. He said the British had definitely reached that conclusion and would not accept a multilateral force based on the vulnerable merchant ship concept. If this is correct, we should stop advancing that mode as being our leading concept for a multilateral force. A multilateral force could be developed either on a sub-surface basis or on land in either hardened or mobile configurations. If it were a sub-surface force, there would be limited interest in multilateral mixed-manning but that we may eventually get a multilateral force by developing it through a series of bilateral force arrangements. Thus, subs might be jointly manned by the US and respective European countries and assigned to NATO. We could start with such bilateral arrangements with the nuclear powers and try to advance the principles in each case of a non-nationally manned vessel. These were concepts that should be examined. Returning to the possibility of a land-based system, Secretary McNamara said we could place considerable reliance on the Permissive Link. One concept would be to have a multilateral “receiving” command under NATO. This would be multilateral in the upper command levels with ultimate decision to release the weapon still resting with the President, but nationally manned as far as the individual weapons are concerned, controlled by a Permissive Link. The command decision level thus would be multilateral.

At this juncture Secretary Rusk was called from the room.

There was discussion of the state of development of the Permissive Link and Mr. Bundy undertook to check with the Sandia people and perhaps have them come to Washington to make sure they understood not only what was desired mechanically but to give them a better idea of the concept of employment, particularly in a multilateral context.

Mr. McNamara said that in dealing with the West Germans we should require that they raise their strength on an acceptable schedule to a point where they were spending approximately seven percent of their GNP comparable to that now being expended by the British and French. We should make clear that the Germans must get their Army personnel up to level of at least 270,000. Mr. Gilpatric emphasized that there was no use in the US keeping the equivalent of six divisions in Europe with supplies and ammunition for 90 to 120 days of continuous fighting if their flanks were in effect bare because European troops were too few and ill-supplied. The Germans should be brought to choose between a genuine capability or the prospect of American withdrawal.

Secretary McNamara then made a lengthy restatement of his position that we should make clear that we were making fair offers on an across-the-board basis. He reiterated that if the French accepted: 1) multilateral force commitment under NATO and 2) agreed to satisfactory command and control arrangements, we then should be very forthcoming [Page 1123] in offering them nuclear technology of all types in order to minimize costs for them and thus reduce waste in the over-all Western defense effort. With regard to Committee V on Jupiters, which was now reached for the second time in the discussion as a result of following the Committee outline, Mr. McNamara said that he hoped our objective was to get the instruction to the Ambassadors by the end of next week so that our dialogue with the Turks might begin no later than January 10.

In the course of the entire foregoing discussion there were several expressions of concern regarding what could and should be said publicly regarding the aftermath of the Nassau Agreement. It was agreed that initially there would be no briefing or backgrounding for the press without checking with Mr. Bundy. Secretary Rusk requested that an agreed guidance for backgrounding the press be developed which would indicate what could and could not be said by officials. In particular he thought we should make clear we were not looking for “crash” results and foresaw long, deliberate negotiations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2217. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Kitchen on December 29.
  2. On December 27 the Steering Group on Implementing the Nassau Decisions held its first meeting under Kitchen’s chairmanship. Established to review, advise, and recommend policies and programs emanating from the Nassau agreements, its work was divided into the sub-groups described below. Records of meetings and copies of papers and related documentation are ibid., CF 2217–2219 and Central File 611.41.
  3. Not further identified.
  4. For texts of these minutes (Memoranda) dated December 20 and 21, respectively, see Supplement.