115. Letter From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Foster) to Secretary of State Rusk1

Dear Dean:

It has just come to my attention that proposals for transferring enriched uranium to West Germany and Italy for military rather than civil purposes are under study in the United States Government. Since such transfers would seriously affect both our efforts to broaden the coverage of international safeguards in non-nuclear countries and our efforts to negotiate a non-proliferation treaty, I feel I should give you my preliminary views on these proposals. I suggest that before any decision is taken to negotiate such an agreement with West Germany or Italy, there should be full discussion of these ramifications at the staff level among the Department of State, ACDA, AEC, DOD, and any other interested agencies.

As you know, it is the current policy of the United States, as a key part of our efforts to curb nuclear proliferation, to endeavor to broaden the coverage of international safeguards on nuclear facilities in non-nuclear countries. As part of this policy, we are transferring U.S. bilateral safeguards to international safeguards and urging other countries to do the same.

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In my view, the United States should not enter into agreements with any non-nuclear country to supply nuclear material for military purposes until:

We have considered thoroughly the serious problems which would arise directly and indirectly from establishing such a precedent, including the effects on our efforts to persuade other supplier countries not to make analogous transfers, and the effects on our non-proliferation treaty negotiations.
We have thoroughly explored alternative ways of meeting the desires of the requesting countries. With respect to the specific requests now under consideration, there would appear to be possibilities for working out such alternative arrangements.

If, after consultation with all interested agencies of the government, it were to be determined that it is in the net interests of the United States to enter into any such military agreement with a Euratom country, I believe that we should carefully consider at least imposing a requirement that the transferred material be subject to the application of Euratom safeguards in addition to U.S. bilateral safeguards. While this would not eliminate all of the problems that such a military transfer would pose for the United States, it would somewhat reduce the extent to which the transfer would undermine our policy of promoting international safeguards on transferred nuclear material. While I recognize that Euratom safeguards now cover only non-military activities, I think we could probably persuade the country concerned to request and receive Euratom inspections designed to assure that the nuclear materials in question are not being used for the development of nuclear weapons. If this were not done, a precedent would be established for a troublesome “loophole” in the application of the Euratom safeguards system to non-nuclear countries.

I believe that both Euratom safeguards and other alternatives should receive our full study before a final decision is reached.


  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, JCS 383, ACDA/D Files: FRC 77 A 52, Memoranda to the Secretary of State, 1966. Confidential. Copies were sent to Secretary McNamara, Chairman Seaborg, and McGeorge Bundy.