92. Editorial Note

Telegram Disto 2243 from Geneva, August 11, 1965, transmitted the text of a draft non-proliferation treaty negotiated by the American, British, Canadian, and Italian representatives of the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-4) By agreement among the four Western delegations, the United States would sponsor this text and table it at the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee meeting on August 17. (Telegram Disto 2251 from Geneva, August 12; ibid.) The Western Four fully agreed to a revised text (circular telegram 233 to 20 posts, August 13), except that the British intended to make an interpretive comment on Article I, indicating their intention not to relinquish their veto on any eventual NATO Multilateral or Atlantic Nuclear Force (circular telegram 232 to 20 posts, August 13; ibid.).

Article III of the draft treaty committed parties to the treaty to cooperate to facilitating application of International Atomic Energy Agency or equivalent safeguards to peaceful atomic energy activities. Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, who supported mandatory safeguards in the original American draft, expressed dismay with this provision in a letter to William C. Foster, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, August 13, 1965. (Johnson Library, [Page 236] National Security File, Subject File, Disarmament, Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee, Vol. I, Box 13)

At 1:40 p.m. on August 13, Seaborg called Foster in Geneva to tell him that he was sending him this letter expressing concern about dropping mandatory IAEA safeguards from the draft treaty. According to Seaborg’s record of this call, “Foster said it was this or nothing as far as our Allies are concerned. He said it has been made clear that the U.S. was accepting this deletion under protest. He said that it is the very definite intention of our delegation to push aggressively, in speeches, discussion, etc., in support of the basic idea of IAEA safeguards.” (Seaborg, Journal, Volume 11, page 189)

In an August 16 memorandum from Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., to McGeorge Bundy, transmitting a copy of Seaborg’s letter, Keeny stated that in deference to the Atomic Energy Commission, “Foster will say something about the importance of the strongest possible provisions for the IAEA safeguards in his speech presenting the draft Treaty.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Disarmament, Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee, Volume 1, Box 13)

On August 17, 1967, the U.S. Delegation to the Conference of the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee submitted the U.S. proposal for a treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. (Documents on Disarmament, 1965, pages 347-349) In his statement presenting the draft treaty to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee on August 17, Foster said that the draft treaty was the product of consultation among NATO countries represented at the conference and that it embodied “important contributions from Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom.” (Ibid., page 351) Foster explained the provisions of the treaty to the conference. Regarding Article III dealing with the application of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to peaceful nuclear activities, he said “this article does not set forth a precise or completely formulated obligation; but it does clearly indicate a line of policy which all parties undertake to implement; namely that they will help to bring about the application of such safeguards to their own peaceful nuclear activities and to those of other countries.” (Ibid.) He added that “we have drafted this provision to take account of the views of all countries; including those which are not prepared at this time to commit themselves to accept IAEA safeguards in all applicable circumstances.” (Ibid., page 352)

A memorandum from Keeny to Bundy, August 14, attached several copies of the draft treaty, a memorandum for the President which Bundy might use to send him a copy of the treaty (not in the file), and an ACDA draft of the Presidential statement releasing the draft treaty (not in the file). Keeny stated that the draft statement needed “to be improved a bit.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, NPT, U.S. Draft Nonproliferation Treaty, Box 27) A statement by President Johnson on the United [Page 237] States draft treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons was released in Washington on August 17, 1965. Among other things, it stated that Foster had presented the draft treaty to the Geneva disarmament conference on the President’s instructions. The President said: “This draft treaty would bind its signers in a pledge to refrain from actions which would lead to any further increase in the number of nations having the power to unleash nuclear devastation on the world … . It plainly demonstrates that a treaty can be drawn which meets the legitimate interests of nuclear and non-nuclear powers alike.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, page 890)