148. Memorandum From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Foster) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Steps to Achieve a Non-Proliferation Agreement

As a result of the recent private discussions with the Soviets at Geneva, I believe it should be possible to negotiate a non-proliferation agreement which would not interfere with the “McNamara Committee”2 type of nuclear consultative arrangements and which would not require changes in our existing bilateral NATO nuclear arrangements. I am transmitting the text of such an agreement.3

Although this draft treaty does not expressly so state, I believe we can only negotiate it if we make clear to the Soviets that we are no longer holding open the option of transferring ownership of nuclear warheads to the Federal Republic of Germany or to an association of states through which the FRG obtains joint ownership of nuclear warheads. U.S. law presently prohibits the exercise of this option and both the Administration and Congress have made it clear that they do not favor a change in this legislation.

It is, of course, necessary to advise Chancellor Erhard of our thoughts on this matter and it might be advisable to do so prior to his visit at the end of this month. A draft of a possible letter from you to Chancellor Erhard is attached.3

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I recognize that there are other aspects of our relations with the Federal Republic which make this an unfavorable time to seek German recognition of the realities of the current situation but the passage of time will continue to make it increasingly difficult to clarify this matter. The Germans are undoubtedly aware that it is extremely unlikely that we will ever exercise this option and if we do not clear the matter up and are forced to reiterate at the time of the Erhard visit4 that we are keeping the option open, it may well cause increased doubts among Germans about U.S. frankness in dealing with them.

Once we have come to an understanding with the Federal Republic, the United States would be in the position to undertake serious negotiations with the Soviet Union in the conversations between Secretary Rusk and Gromyko. I recommend that those conversations be preceded by a letter from you to Chairman Kosygin. I have attached a draft of such letter.5

William C. Foster
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Non-Proliferation Treaty, 7/22/66, Vol. I, Box 26. Secret; Exdis.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 108.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard visited the United States September 24-27 meeting with President Johnson and other high officials, September 26-27. See Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, vol. XIII, Documents 207 and 208.
  6. Not printed.