196. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson 1


  • Proposed Tabling of a Non-Proliferation Treaty at the ENDC

The Federal Republic of Germany has objected to our proposal to table a Non-Proliferation Treaty jointly with the U.S.S.R. with the safeguards Article (Article III) left blank subject to further U.S.-Soviet efforts to achieve a joint proposal. They take the position that this might result in a safeguards Article which is harmful to the interests of Euratom. They also propose that we introduce a U.S. draft which would include our safeguards Article, with an additional clause to make clear that inspectors are to be drawn only from countries accepting safeguards inspections on their territory, and with certain other additions to the text which has been shown the Soviets.

On Sunday2 the Germans, acting on instructions from the Foreign Minister, changed the emphasis on this approach to indicate that, although their basic position is that they still favored tabling two separate complete drafts, they would accept as a fall-back the tabling of a joint draft with Article III left blank, provided we assured them [Page 478]

that we would obtain an understanding with the Co-chairman that we would attempt to negotiate out an Article III privately, and
that if the subject of Article III was nevertheless raised in the Plenary, the U.S. would state that it considered an Article III like that which we have been discussing with the FRG as an essential condition for Western approval.

In this fall-back position the Germans are now, in effect, asking that if, as is most likely, the Soviets won’t at this time accept the German-preferred Article III and we table a joint draft with a blank Article III, the U.S. would in any future discussion of safeguards in Geneva become the spokesman for the German position.

The fact that the Germans are backing off from their opposition to the tabling of a joint draft with Article III blank is in itself an encouraging sign. I believe a decision to table a separate U.S. draft treaty now would seriously jeopardize the prospect of achieving U.S.-Soviet agreement on a treaty. It would leave the Soviets free to introduce—or reintroduce—various ideas of their own which we and the FRG would find unacceptable. It is most unlikely that any worthwhile treaty could be concluded in the absence of U.S.-Soviet agreement.

Nor can we object to the first of their conditions, namely that the U.S. would obtain an understanding with the Soviets that we would attempt to negotiate out an Article III privately and that multilateral discussion at the Conference of safeguards would be suspended pending availability of language protecting Euratom interests to which the Soviets could agree.

My recommendation is that, if the Soviets will agree to this procedure—as I believe they may—we proceed to table a jointly-recommended draft in the ENDC with Article III, safeguards, initially left blank.

I have considerable difficulty with the second German condition. The German condition is based on a realistic assumption; it is certain that the Indians and others among the Eight will take an initial position that a safeguards Article should apply to the peaceful activities of all countries, both those which do and those which do not have nuclear weapons. We can accept this, but it will put great pressure on the Russians who will reject it.

There is no reason that this discussion should be to our disadvantage. The United States need not assume the responsibility for the fact that the ENDC is not considering such an Article. We are justified in making it quite clear that it is the continuing refusal of the U.S.S.R. to accept safeguards on its territory that prevents acceptance of a non-discriminatory article. We can use this position as a basis for establishing a consensus at the ENDC in support of the position recommended by the FRG that IAEA inspectors are to be drawn only from countries accepting inspectors on their territories.

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It is not clear that this tactical advantage would extend to obtaining general support for the relationship between regional inspection systems (in particular, Euratom) and IAEA which the FRG has in mind. We should make every effort to reach agreement on this point and we should tell the Germans that we will do so. However, we should not now lose all flexibility on this subject by promising that it will be our current draft of Article III or nothing. We should rather indicate to the Germans that if we fail to obtain agreement on this approach, we would have to reassess the entire safeguards issue if it continues to stand in the way of an otherwise worthwhile treaty. We should indicate that we will do so through full NATO consultation and taking into account the views of all our allies. We should point out that the purpose of this negotiation is not to impose a treaty on anyone but to reach a treaty which all governments can accept in good spirit. This will involve extended negotiations in the period ahead which will be carried on in full consultation with our allies both in NAC and in capitals. We will expect the Western Four in the ENDC to be fully alert to protect the interests of NATO.

The further point made by Minister von Lilienfeld on behalf of Chancellor Kiesinger to Walt Rostow was for a treaty of limited duration. The suggestion was that the treaty should either be limited to a period of 20 years or signatories should be able to accede for a limited period. The Italians have suggested an even shorter duration clause and I believe that other key countries will also want to limit the treaty’s duration.

It is most unlikely, however, that we could, at this time, negotiate a limited duration clause with the Soviets who would see it as the result of German pressure. This problem would be eased with the Soviets if it became clear that it was being raised by other countries. Moreover, the question of duration is closely linked with the amendment, review, and withdrawal provisions that are finally agreed upon. We, therefore, believe we should defer consideration of the duration issue until such time as we can see that a meaningful treaty is taking shape. If, as we expect, a number of other governments raise the duration issue, we ought to be prepared to think seriously about a treaty of limited duration provided it is long enough to accomplish the purpose of the treaty. We should not indicate to other governments anything specific on this subject at this time but rather indicate our willingness to consider all relevant questions with respect to the treaty, including the question of duration, in consultation with other governments and our own Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.

I recommend that you authorize me to convey these views to the FRG and, while recognizing the Chancellor’s political problems, to indicate that the possibility of achieving a mutually satisfactory resolution is increased if the idea of a treaty of limited duration does not appear to be a German initiative.

Dean Rusk
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Non-Proliferation Treaty, 7/22/66, Vol. I, Box 26. Secret; Nodis. The source text is undated; however, it was submitted to the President under cover of two May 16 memoranda both from Walt Rostow. The first memorandum, 11:05 a.m., informed the President that “Secretary Rusk will probably wish to raise this at lunch today.” The second, 4 p.m., requested that the President make a decision urgently in time for Secretary Rusk to send a letter to Foreign Minister Brandt explaining the U.S. position before the North Atlantic Council meeting scheduled for the following day, May 17. The approval block of this memorandum is checked.
  2. Presumably May 14.