425. Memorandum of Conversation0



  • Triangular Aircraft Arrangement


Following a brief discussion of the question of nuclear weapons for Canadian forces, the Prime Minister raised the matter of the triangular aircraft arrangement which Ambassador Merchant had discussed with him on May 11.1 [17 lines of source text not declassified]

At the President’s request, Ambassador Merchant reviewed the essential elements in the triangular proposal. He pointed out that in order [Page 1161]to be in a position to defend offshore procurement in Canada of $200 million worth of F104G’s in the face of a depressed aircraft industry in the United States and a balance of payments problem, it was essential to be able to demonstrate that the air defenses of both our countries were being improved by the transfer of the F101B’s to the RCAF, where they would be deployed northward on Canadian bases. The Ambassador said that the United States’ considered military judgment was that to make the transfer of these fighters currently in the USAF inventory and currently equipped with nuclear-tipped rockets would result in a degradation rather than an improvement of our air defense if they were armed with conventional rockets.

[1 paragraph (2-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

[9 lines of source text not declassified] The Prime Minister said that there was very widespread public opinion against all nuclear weapons. He referred to his mail, which was heavy on this point, and to various organizations, including a women’s committee which was strongly agitating on the point. [4 lines of source text not declassified]

[4 lines of source text not declassified] The Prime Minister said that he intended to speak across Canada this summer and fall on this issue and thought he could gain public support for the acceptance of nuclear weapons on Canadian soil as part of Canada’s defenses.

The Prime Minister went on to say that he hoped that the aircraft arrangements could proceed without awaiting a governmental decision on the matter of nuclear weapons for Canada.

The President again expressed perplexity at the fact that the difficulties were so great for Canada in taking this step.

The matter was left that the President would consider the points raised by the Prime Minister.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF1884. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by White and approved by the White House on May 23. See also Documents 421424.
  2. No other record of this meeting has been found.