101. Memorandum From the Acting Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Beam) to Secretary of State Rusk 1


  • Soviet Position on Nuclear Sharing

The following is in reply to your inquiry at the Nov. 4 Staff Meeting:2

To date the Soviet position on what forms of nuclear sharing might be permitted under a non-proliferation treaty remains unclear. Indeed, in the course of US-Soviet bilateral talks on their respective draft treaties, the Soviets have introduced new uncertainties rather than clarified specific issues. It thus appears that by deferring any final definition of an acceptable formula for nuclear sharing and still allowing for the conclusion of a treaty, the Soviet Union hopes to retain a focus on its objections to nuclear sharing in the broadest sense. Moscow apparently hopes to exert pressure on the U.S. and possibly other Western governments on the eve of FRG Chancellor Erhard’s visit to the United States and the forth-coming NATO Defense Ministers’ meeting.

This suggests that while wishing to keep the focus on MLF the Soviets may desire to leave open the option either of retaining some element of potential flexibility on nuclear sharing, or conversely, of challenging present NATO nuclear arrangements should they consider this expedient. The Soviets may have had the latter alternative in mind when on September 24 they proffered their draft treaty at the UN. The language of the draft not only ruled out MLF, but could have been read as prohibiting a Special Committee, existing nuclear arrangements in NATO and perhaps even some in the Warsaw Pact itself. (The Soviets could, however, interpret this language in such a way as to use it against the NATO Stockpile without incurring similar penalties.)

Subsequent conversations with Soviet officials conveyed an impression of a degree of possible flexibility on the subject of existing arrangements in NATO. That the Soviets might not be unalterably opposed to such arrangements was implicit in Soviet Ambassador Tsarapkin’s remark to ACDA Director Foster October 20 to the effect that the Soviet objections were not directed at the deployment of nuclear weapons by the United States in Europe. Pressing him further, Mr. Foster said that [Page 263] Tsarapkin’s statement seemed to clarify matters on this point, but Tsarapkin remained silent.

The issue of nuclear sharing also arose in the course of your talks with Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin on October 29.3 In emphasizing the futility of negotiations in the face of efforts to create an MLF, Dobrynin did not raise the idea of a Special Committee but merely referred to Soviet opposition to “any forms and means of dissemination” and to the plans for a NATO nuclear force “or other similar plans” to bring nuclear weapons “within reach of West Germany.” Though reluctant to talk about existing arrangements, he did state that if such arrangements provided for proliferation then the Soviet Union was against them. Thus, he again left open Moscow’s appraisal of whether a Special Committee or existing arrangements fit the Soviet structures or as something to be decided later.

The sum and substance of official talks with the Soviets, leaving aside the more casual encounters with officers of the Soviet Embassy, is that on the one hand the Soviets first stated that they oppose “new proliferation” only, and that if future plans do not contemplate such new proliferation or new access to nuclear weapons, the Soviets would not object; on the other hand most recently they have taken a harder line across the board, indicating that they would find unacceptable any arrangement providing for, or even implying, a form of sharing or participation by non-nuclear parties in policy determination regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Foster has told me he will wish to report to you in detail on his latest talks with Tsarapkin.4

J.D. Beam
  1. Source: Washington National Records, RG 383, ACDA/D Files: FRC 77 A 52, Memos of the Secretary of State, 1965. Secret; Noforn; Controlled Dissem. Drafted by James S. Bodnar (ACDA/IR) and Beam and cleared by Helmut Sonnenfeldt (INR/RSB), Raymond L. Garthoff (G/PM), Thompson (S/AL), and Vladimir Toumanoff (EUR/SOV).
  2. Not found.
  3. See Document 100.
  4. Foster met with Tsarapkin in New York October 26 and November 2 for discussion of their respective draft treaties on non-proliferation. Foster reported these discussions in telegram 1577 from USUN, October 26 (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-4), and in letters to Secretary Rusk, October 26 and November 2 (Washington National Records Center, RG 383, ACDA/D Files: FRC 77 A 80, Miscellaneous Papers).