117. Editorial Note

British Prime Minister Wilson visited Washington December 16–18, 1965, primarily to discuss British defense commitments and Rhodesia. In a private conversation with President Johnson at 5:15 p.m. on December 16, the following exchange took place on nuclear sharing:

“The Prime Minister expressed warm appreciation for the attitude of the President a year ago on the MLF. When he came here for those discussions he had not known what to expect. He had understood that he would be faced with a ultimatum. Instead, we had acted with reason and with judgment and he thought that events had confirmed the wisdom of that position at that time. He thought all would now agree that it might not have been wise to move ahead rapidly with the MLF a year ago.

“The President reminded Wilson of the differences of judgment of the year before with respect to the attitude of the Germans on nuclear matters. He reminded the Prime Minister that the British had then said that the German desire was unreal and had been stimulated by the American proposals. The President had suggested that the British go and test German sentiment. Now a year had passed; what did the Prime Minister think now? The Prime Minister replied, as he had to Ball and McNamara in London, the British were still willing to support their own ANF proposal. They would put their submarines in if the Americans would [Page 285]put submarines in, and then the Germans could pay for a part in the undertaking. He thought it was all a bit unreal and he did not think we needed as many missiles as we already have in the Atlantic area. He himself thought we ought to consider using the British Polaris as part of some international security arrangement east of Suez. But he was ready for more discussion on the subject.” (Record of meeting by McGeorge Mr. Bundy; Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 347, CF 2567)