88. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

395. Please deliver ASAP the following message to the Foreign Secretary:

“Dear Michael: I am deeply concerned about the failure of our respective colleagues to reach a meeting of the minds on a draft proposal regarding the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“First of all, I am sure you and I could agree that both our governments are deeply preoccupied with and committed to the attainment at the earliest possible date of a satisfactory treaty to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. Our problems arise over questions of how best to reach that objective.

“After the most careful consideration of the draft treaty your government presented for our consideration,2 your government was informed in London and in Washington on July 19th,3 of suggestions for amending the draft treaty to a modest extent that would permit the US to support a United Kingdom initiative at the ENDC,4 after adequate consideration by the North Atlantic Council and, hopefully, with a united allied front.

“My colleagues attempted to make clear the United States understanding of your government’s domestic situation and its commitment to some form of early action with regard to a non-proliferation treaty. At the same time, they emphasized our equal desire to avoid any schism in NATO. In the latter regard, our suggestions took into account what we judged to be certain long-range but serious preoccupations of the Federal Republic of Germany.

“I have just been informed today of the rejection by your government of all of our suggested changes in the draft treaty and of your government’s intention promptly to table the draft at the ENDC, after NAC [Page 230] consultation apparently of only one day’s duration.5 In the circumstances I foresee, as virtually certain, results clearly contrary to your interests and ours. Following the sharpest of disagreements within the North Atlantic Alliance, in which the UK draft treaty could not receive support from at least the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, other even more unfortunate developments would be bound to occur. There could be no successful negotiation of the treaty at the ENDC without the support of the United States or the willingness of the Federal Republic of Germany to sign it. This would present a heaven-sent opportunity to the Soviets both to exploit allied differences and to rebuff United Kingdom efforts as unacceptable in view of the provision that would still permit some form of nuclear sharing within NATO. Only you could judge the political gains or losses for your government. But such developments could clearly not be regarded as advantageous to the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany in terms of its elections only two months from now. In my own country there would inevitably arise further doubts about the effectiveness of the NATO alliance.

“I am aware of your Prime Minister’s statements in the House of Commons on this subject, particularly those on December 16, 1964, that we should not have any new fingers on the nuclear trigger.6 I believe that the language that we have proposed—that there should be no increase in the total number of States and other organizations having independent power to use nuclear weapons—takes this consideration into account.

“Further, it seems to me that we should not anticipate too much the attitude of the Soviet Union in the forthcoming Geneva talks. They have indicated non-proliferation as a matter of high priority to them. We do not know whether they will amend their previous objections arising from possible NATO nuclear arrangements. We should face candidly, I think, the fact that Soviet objections are spurious and have nothing to do with the central problem of non-proliferation. They have strongly condemned the MLF, the ANF and now even the special committee suggested by Secretary McNamara. Gromyko finally confessed to me that their objections to MLF were not based solely upon non-proliferation. [Page 231] They clearly would like to block any increased cohesiveness in NATO and to create as much dissension as possible in NATO ranks.

“I felt that our counter proposals with respect to a draft which your government could table at NATO and in the ENDC were constructive and went a very long way toward meeting your needs. Some margins of dissatisfaction on the part of some of your colleagues seem to me to be offset by the disadvantage of tabling proposals which the United States could not accept. Our intimate cooperation in the nuclear field over the years would make such a divergence of view inexplicable.

“Given all that is at stake with regard to our mutual basic interests, I would be deeply grateful for a reply, hopefully before July 26, indicating that your government is prepared to adopt a position that we here could support.

“With personal regards,

“Sincerely, Dean Rusk”

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 294, Sec. Rusk/UK Officials 11/64-12/65. Secret; Nodis; Immediate. Drafted and approved by Rusk on July 22 and cleared by Alexander L. Rattray (S/S). The source text is stamped “Sec Def has seen. 26 Jul.”
  2. See footnote 2, Document 85.
  3. The conversation in Washington between British Ambassador Dean and ACDA Director Foster on the U.K. draft Non-proliferation Treaty is reported in telegram 302 to London, July 19, and in the memorandum of that conversation, including an attached British aide-mémoire of July 19. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-4)
  4. Telegram 299 to London, July 17, transmitted the text of the British draft Non-Dissemination Treaty as amended by the United States. (Ibid.)
  5. Telegram 313 from London, July 21, reported that Chalfont had just informed the Embassy of British Ministers’ rejection of U.S. amendments to the U.K. draft non-proliferation treaty. He said that in view of the U.K. position on an Atlantic Nuclear Force, it was not possible for political reasons to leave any options unsettled in any U.K. initiative. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-4) A memorandum from Foster to Bundy, July 21, stated that the British draft “excessively restricted the possible development of an MLF/ANF with a European clause.” Foster’s memorandum attached a draft message from Rusk to Stewart or from the President to the Prime Minister, much of which was included in the present message. (Washington National Records Center, RG 383, ACDA/D Files: FRC 77 A 52, Memoranda and Letters to the President, 1965)
  6. See footnote 10, Document 87.