20. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Denmark 1

166783. Subj: Greenland—Nuclear Overflights and Storage. Ref: State 162867.2

[Page 32]
Ambassador Ronne, accompanied by Counselor Fergo, called on Assistant Secretary Leddy May 16. Ronne said he had just received reply from Fonoff on text and discussion of May 10 meeting.3
Ronne said Fonoff had noted the oral statement Leddy made May 10 re flight requirements in case of grave and sudden threat (para 4 State 162867).
Ronne repeated statement of May 10 that due to parliamentary and press pressures Danish Government will need to make a public statement. However, he said his Government accepts USG policy of not confirming or denying statements of this kind; that Danes would not request USG confirmation or mutual statement, but would rather issue unilateral one.
Ronne also confirmed Danish Government would treat exchange of notes as secret.

Ronne then presented following revised text prepared by Danish Fonoff: “The United States Government assures the Government of Denmark that in the exercise of its rights and duties in accordance with the provisions of the agreement of April 27, 1951 concerning the defense of Greenland it will not store nuclear weapons in Greenland or overfly Greenland with aircraft carrying nuclear weapons.

This note and your reply shall constitute an agreement between our two governments and shall be considered an integral part of the defense agreement.”

Ronne described Danish proposal as being minor changes in text and procedures of final exchange of notes.

Leddy said that Danish proposal would amount to an amendment of treaty that would prohibit absolutely nuclear overflights and storage. It made no provision, he noted, for a joint decision to institute nuclear overflights or storage.
Ronne said that article XIII (3) allowed for such a decision. Leddy pointed out that that article merely allows both sides to amend treaty by mutual agreement. Our aim, he said, was an agreement that provided flexibility by allowing nuclear overflights quickly, if both sides agree. Leddy pointed out that our May 10 text4 had left full control on overflights and storage with GOD. He asked Ronne what problem was with wording that did not allow nuclear overflights or storage without consent GOD. Ronne did not defend this aspect Fonoff text, stating only Fonoff evidently did not feel reference to joint decision was needed; that article XIII (3) covered such a possibility. He added he had received text only two hours previously and so had no chance to discuss with Fonoff its rationale on this point.
Leddy said that he saw no problem in replacing phrase “Notwithstanding the provisions of the 1951 Agreement on the Defense of Greenland” with wording “in the exercise of its rights and duties in accordance with the provisions of the agreement of April 27, 1951 concerning the Defense of Greenland.”
Leddy said that first para could be made acceptable by adding to last sentence words “without the consent of the Government of Denmark.” He did not see this as substantive change from US reference to a joint decision and would so inform DOD.
Re final phrase “shall be considered an integral part of the defense agreement” Leddy said there may be technical problems and he would have to consult Legal Advisor. He noted in this respect that 1951 agreement was subject to approval of Danish Parliament although as an executive agreement it was not subject to US Senate approval.
Ambassador Ronne said he would report quickly to his government which is under pressure to settle problem soonest. Leddy agreed to desirability of moving fast. He saw no reason for delay in exchange of notes if GOD could agree to his suggested change in para 1 and if second half of last para posed no problem to Legal Advisor.
Leddy said that in regard to oral statement (see para 2) we consider it as having been made. Ronne concurred.
At noon May 17, Ronne informed us by telephone that Danish Foreign Office had agreed to addition of phrase “without the consent of the Government of Denmark.”
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, DEF 17 US. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Klebenov on May 17, cleared by McKillop and in substance by Berlack (L/EUR), and approved by Leddy.
  2. Document 19.
  3. Summarized in telegram 162867.
  4. Attachment to Document 18.