162. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McNaughton) to Secretary of Defense McNamara1



  • Discussions on Nonproliferation Treaty

I understand that Secretary Rusk has prepared a Memorandum for the President on a nonproliferation treaty which he hopes he may be able to discuss with you and the President some time this weekend, possibly this afternoon (Saturday).2

[Page 395]

Attached (Tab A) is Article I, recommended and drafted by Secretary Rusk.

Tab B is a short summary of the events leading to this draft.

Comments on Presidential Memorandum

The memorandum advises the President that this formulation:

Would not disturb existing arrangements.
Would not affect NATO’s decision to go to war, or the establishment of any NATO nuclear planning committee.
Would not prevent assignment of additional Polaris or other US weapons to NATO.
Would not rule out the establishment of a multilateral entity in which non-nuclear weapon states participated and contributed so long as this entity did not obtain ownership of the warheads.
Would not bar succession by a federated European state to the nuclear status of one of its former components.

Note:—The ownership question is implicit, not explicit.


I recommend you support the Rusk memorandum.

John T. McNaughton

Tab A3


Each nuclear-weapon State Party to this Treaty undertakes not to transfer nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosives directly or indirectly to a non-nuclear-weapon State, either individually or by virtue of its membership in a military alliance or group of States; not to relinquish its control over its nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosives; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State [Page 396] to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosives.4

Tab B5


Monday Evening (10 October). At dinner Gromyko made it clear that continuation of present AEC law on ownership would meet the Soviet condition on ownership and transfer.6 Secretary Rusk clearly said that we would be willing to accept an obligation to retain ownership of our warheads. At the end of the dinner, Secretary Rusk asked Mr. Foster to have instructions drafted reflecting these discussions.7

Thursday Evening (13 October). Because of differences of view, a meeting was held with Secretary Rusk, Eugene Rostow, Butch Fisher and [Page 397] Bob Bowie attending.8 The present article was debated and personally drafted by Secretary Rusk. (Secretary Rusk, Ambassador Thompson and Mr. Fisher support this formula. Eugene Rostow and Bob Bowie are opposed.)


Bill Foster discussed this problem at some length with Art Barber on Thursday. His chief points were:

Gromyko made it absolutely clear that the earlier Foster-Roschin text9 was acceptable to the Soviet Union without change.
Any text which met three basic conditions would be acceptable to the Soviet Union. These conditions were:
No transfer of nuclear warheads to non-nuclear states.
No transfer of nuclear warheads to alliances made up of nuclear and non-nuclear states.
No transfer of warheads to alliances of non-nuclear states.
Gromyko, in his discussions with the President and Secretary Rusk, made it quite clear that the Soviets consider a non-proliferation treaty a major objective of Soviet foreign policy which will be pursued despite Vietnam and other difficulties.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 70 A 4443, 388.3, Non-Proliferation, September, 1966. Secret. The source text bears the stamped indicator, “15 Oct 1966, Sec Def has seen.”
  2. No record of the proposed memorandum for the President or of the discussion under reference has been found.
  3. Secret.
  4. In a telephone call to President Johnson in the early evening of October 16, McNamara mentioned that on the previous day he and Secretary Rusk had given him a paragraph on non-proliferation for the President’s approval. President Johnson believed, however, that Secretary Rusk had said that he was going to prepare a paper giving the arguments for and against the paragraph. The President then read this paragraph, which he had in front of him. McNamara twice told him that the key sentence concerned the provision restricting the transfer of collective ownership of the warhead.

    When the President asked what the Germans will think, McNamara said that they will grumble. McNamara continued that he and Rusk favored the paragraph but thought Robert Bowie, Department of State Counselor, was opposed. As for the Soviets, it was not the language Gromyko had proposed, “but we think there’s a reasonable chance they’ll either accept this or suggest a relatively minor modification of it.” The President said he wanted a memorandum from Secretary Rusk giving the pros and cons of the language, and McNamara said he would speak to Rusk about it. (Johnson Library, Records and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation between President Johnson and Robert McNamara, October 16, 1966, 7:03 p.m., Tape F66.29, Side A)

    In a telephone conversation with Secretary Rusk a few minutes later, President Johnson inquired about the non-proliferation memorandum, and the Secretary responded that he would have it for the President to read on the plane the next day. (The President was going to give a speech in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.) He also said he favored the language, but there was “not one chance in a hundred that the Soviets will buy it.” In reply to the President’s question about Bowie’s position, Rusk said that Bowie was for it too and had helped to draft it. “Well, OK, that’s fine then,” replied President Johnson. “If you’re for it, you give me the memo and I’ll try to decide.” (Ibid., Recording of Telephone Conversation between President Johnson and Dean Rusk, October 16, 1966, 7:14 p.m., Tape F66.29, Side A) This memorandum has not been found, but in an October 18 memorandum to the President, Rostow presented in some detail the pros and cons on the non-proliferation language. (Ibid., National Security File, Rostow Files, Non-Proliferation, Box 11)

  5. Secret.
  6. Reference presumably is to Section 92 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended; 42 USC 2122.
  7. Not found.
  8. No record of this meeting has been found.
  9. Not the one attached (it included the word “ownership”). [Handwritten footnote on the source text.]