183. Memorandum From the Acting Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Fisher) to Secretary of State Rusk1


  • Plan of Action for Non-Proliferation Treaty Negotiation

There are three immediate problems facing the United States in non-proliferation negotiations:

The first relates to the manner in which we make it clear that a non-proliferation treaty will not prevent the creation of a federated European state. The second relates to the development of an acceptable article dealing with the safeguards problem. The third relates to a variety of other problems, some dealing with NATO security arrangements but more dealing with competitive problems in the field of peaceful nuclear energy, some dealing with clarification of the proposed treaty but more dealing with U.S. intentions.


With respect to the first point, the objective which we wish to achieve is Soviet silence, or non-contradiction, when our allies and later the United States, state that the treaty would not bar succession by a new federated European state to the nuclear status of one of its former components. We cannot realistically expect the Soviets to say that they have agreed to the creation of such a new federated European state since they would have political objections to such a merger which transcend the problems of non-proliferation but we can expect them not to assert that this treaty bars it.

We have already agreed with the FRG on the broad outline of a plan to achieve this objective. We have given the Germans a Draft Summary of the Interpretations dealing with the effect of the draft treaty formulations on the problems of European unity.2 The Note stated that the draft treaty:

“… does not deal with the problem of European unity, and would not bar succession by a new federated European state to the nuclear status of one of its former components. A new federated European state [Page 446] would have to control all of its external security functions including defense and all foreign policy matters relating to external security, but would not have to be so centralized as to assume all governmental functions. It would bar, however, transfer (including ownership) of nuclear weapons or control over them to a new multilateral or other entity lacking the attributes of a federated state essential to bring into play the legal doctrine of succession.”3

In this Oral Note we also told the FRG that we would give our interpretations to the Soviets as soon as possible after we had agreed on the text of the provisions to be introduced into the ENDC. In the Oral Note we also stated that, pursuant to your discussions with Mr. Brandt we were agreed that it would not be desirable to request comments from the Soviet Union but that we would inform the Soviets that we are providing them with a summary in order to inform them of explanations we have given to our NATO allies in response to their questions.

This exchange with the FRG still leaves unresolved the time at which we should make such a statement to the U.S.S.R. and how such a statement should be made. Mr. Foster, as you know, believes that at this delicate period of the negotiations we should hold off raising this matter with the Soviets, unless they raise it with us and wait until a complete text is agreed upon and raise the federation question only at the time we submit the full list of interpretations to them. On the other hand, I am aware of your concern that we should not go through the arduous task of further negotiations and consultations with our allies on the treaty text if the Soviets are going to publicly challenge an interpretation which the treaty supporters in Europe will have to make public if they are to be able to support the treaty.

My own view on timing is largely influenced by the fact that, although Roshchin has not disagreed with Mr. Foster’s statement to him that the treaty would not bar a federated Europe, his principal assistant, Grinevsky, has raised this question twice with members of the U.S. delegation and stated that the Soviets would have to object once the U.S. stated its position on this matter. These statements, in my judgment, point in the direction of a prompt statement of our position to the U.S.S.R. I do not believe we should make this statement, however, until we have had an adequate opportunity to satisfy ourselves that the statement we propose to make will satisfy the concerns of our NATO allies—particularly the FRG. We should therefore request information of Ambassador McGhee on the point and, at the same time, ask him to point out if the [Page 447] discussions going on between Bonn and the U.S.S.R. have produced any information which would cause us to change our plan.

Once this has been done, I believe that in order to assure that the Soviets understand the seriousness of this matter an approach to them should be made simultaneously in Geneva and by you to Dobrynin. The approach would not ask for Soviet concurrence with our interpretation or with the desirability of a Federated Europe but would seek their assurance that they will not challenge our interpretation. This latter point would, I believe, alleviate most of the concerns expressed by Mr. Foster in Geneva’s 2467.4


Regarding Article III, I propose we proceed along the lines which the Delegation and USRO have recommended for NAC discussions of that article in the general discussion of a complete draft treaty text. We would plan, therefore, to circulate to our NATO allies (and also to Japan) those parts of the text which they do not yet have. This would involve the preamble (the receipt of which would be helpful in meeting concerns about peaceful uses and desires to have the treaty set in the context of a first step toward general disarmament), the text of the definition of a nuclear weapons state (which we have already told our allies we intend to insert in the treaty), and a revised Article III (which would clarify the present language to meet some of the concerns that have been expressed). We would plan to ask for early NAC discussion on the basis of this complete text with a view to obtaining a “no objection” acceptance by the Council to our proceeding to table the text with Article III with the Soviets as a joint recommendation of the Co-Chairmen, with the understanding that further discussions and consultation will continue as the text is discussed in Geneva.

As I indicated at your staff meeting, I think it would help overcome the fears of the FRG and others that safeguards would hinder peaceful nuclear programs and involve risk of industrial espionage, if we would indicate that we are considering an offer to invite IAEA to apply safeguards on a broad scale to U.S. peaceful nuclear facilities at such a time as IAEA safeguards are applied to non-nuclear weapons states under a treaty calling for mandatory safeguards on their nuclear activities.

[Page 448]

The offer would be made after determining that it would significantly facilitate acceptance of our safeguards article by key non-nuclear weapons states. We have already had positive indications that it would do so.

This matter is sufficiently important so that I recommend that we not initiate this course of action without the approval of the President. I have sent you, under separate cover, a memorandum to the President on this subject.5


With respect to the other articles of the treaty we would anticipate that the Oral Note which Ambassador McGhee gave Kiesinger on February 22 will meet most German requirements. There are various other German concerns and requests which were contained in the presentation which Minister von Lilienfeld made to me on February 22; some of these we can probably meet although some of them, such as the request for a simultaneous U.S.-German treaty assuring the Federal Republic of American supplies of fissionable material, we cannot meet but they were probably not put forward seriously. In any event, resolution of most of the additional points which the Germans wish to discuss with us need not be obtained before tabling the draft treaty but rather would have to be resolved before the Germans were faced with the question of ratifying a final text. What we will need to nail down with the Germans in order to obtain their “no objection” to our tabling a draft will be the question of whether the interpretations of the treaty which we have given them are satisfactory. We therefore will seek an early German response to our Oral Note.

I believe that the question of whether the Italians can be persuaded to acquiesce in the “no objection” formula will be dependent upon whether we have the Germans on board at that time. The Italians are not likely to object if, at the time of the NAC discussions, they are the only holdouts. In any event, a letter from you to Fanfani might be in order.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 383, ACDA/D Files: FRC 77 A 52, Memoranda to the Secretary of State, 1967. Confidential. A handwritten notation on the source text reads: “Secretary Saw.”
  2. On February 21, Ambassador McGhee was instructed to give Kiesinger a draft summary of interpretations. McGhee received these instructions in telegram 141946 to Bonn, February 21. This telegram has not been found. The following day, February 22, Fisher discussed these interpretations with Charge von Lilienfeld in Washington.
  3. This was the sixth and last paragraph of the Oral Note. The full text is printed in the ACDA historical study, The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency During the Johnson Administration, Vol. II (1969), pp. 125-126.
  4. Foster sent this telegram from Geneva, February 23, in which he emphasized, among other things, his belief that the United States should not push the Soviets to agree or disagree with the U.S. position on this issue. Foster suggested that “If it should be deemed necessary to challenge them [Soviets] on this issue, it would seem to us far preferable to do so after they had committed themselves to tabling agreed draft text.” (Department of State, S/S-I Files, Exdis/Limdis Telegrams/Airgrams, Reel 147, February 11, 1967-February 28, 1967)
  5. A handwritten notation at the end of this paragraph indicates that this memorandum from Fisher to the President was clipped to the source text; however, it is not attached. On February 28 Fisher wrote a memorandum to Rusk preparing him for his luncheon that afternoon with the President. In this memorandum, Fisher reminded Rusk that he had sent separately to the President a February 25 memorandum in which he recommended that the U.S. Government put U.S. peaceful nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. (Washington National Records Center,RG 383, ACDA/D Files: FRC 77 A 52, Memoranda to the Secretary of State, 1967)