390. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in South Africa 0

349. Embtel 292.1 For Ambassador. You are requested commence negotiations with SAG for extension on open-end basis of present informal [Page 609] agreement for military research tracking installation. You should make clear US would desire now proceed with installation of programmed equipment as already informally discussed with SAG. In pre-senting foregoing, you should point out US space program requirements under continual review and that in this fast changing field both space programs and requirements for supporting them are subject to substantial change from year to year. For this reason US believes most satisfactory arrangement would be continuation of present flexible informal undertakings by new exchange of letters. You should also state USG desires continue use ports and airfields in connection long range missile tests, and would provide periodic schedules as heretofore concerning these tests. In explaining delay to South Africans you may wish point out well known fact new administration undertook very thorough extensive review of national space program, that of Department of Defense as well as NASA. During period this review present arrangements for military tracking station operated very satisfactorily. As indicated above, results this review show desirability of continuing flexible arrangements of present type of South Africa, subject cancellation by either Government within such reasonable period as may be mutually agreeable.

FYI. White House Science Adviser has reviewed with Defense requirement for military tracking stations South Africa. Conclusion is that loss this station would be “painful but not fatal.” Conclusion also supports Department’s attitude on which State-Defense understanding exists that we will not alter our basic national policy toward South Africa including our opposition to apartheid in order to retain station. Alternatives to South African station would require at best six months to two years to make ready. It therefore necessary for US seek extension of present facilities on present site for time being. As you know, Department of Defense is undertaking to prepare shipborne capability with view to having this ready by end of 1963.

Secretary’s discussions with Louw on 20th which is subject following telegram2 did not include subject of tracking station agreement though Louw referred to stations as tangible evidence SA desire cooperate with US. End FYI.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770X.56311/10-1261. Secret. Drafted by Wight, Gathright, and Hennes on October 23; cleared by Kitchen, Brubeck, William P. Bundy in substance, and Fredericks; and approved by Bowles.
  2. Dated October 12. (Ibid.)
  3. Document 391.
  4. On October 30, Ambassador Satterthwaite called on Foreign Secretary Jooste and left an aide-memoire containing the substance of the U.S. proposal contained in the telegram printed here. (Telegram 347 from Pretoria, October 30; Department of State, Central Files, 770X.56311/10-3061) On December 19, Satterthwaite reported that the South African Government had decided to grant a temporary 90-day extension of the exisiting missile tracking agreement. (Telegram 507 from Pretoria; ibid., 611.70X7/12-1961)