285. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Department of State1

1375. NATUS. Subj: Harmel follow-up.

This is summary outcome of private NAC meeting January 17 on follow-up to Harmel work program:
Full agreement, after mild Dutch grumbling, that upgraded POLADs, under NAC as its own Steering Committee, is proper venue for European security and German question. Special responsibilities of quadripartite four explicitly recognized without disagreement. First step will be presentation of proposed topics for study to be approved by NAC. General agreement these might well begin with analysis of contemporary relevance of staff work done in 1958–60 period.
Similar agreement on institutional arrangements for general subject of arms control and disarmament with disarmament experts group closely geared to Harmel follow-up work, beginning with February session. Considerable sentiment for engaging experts group at this session in consultations on future POLADs work program on this subject. Broad support, in a few cases subject to approval in capitals, emerged for U.S. suggestion that one of first topics for POLADs and experts should be “after NPT, what?” How to handle mutual force reduction study put aside until French make up their minds whether and how to participate, with PermRep Seydoux indicating he would have answer by next week.
Discussion of Mediterranean degenerated into classical exercise in obfuscation on scope of study (Mediterranean or Middle East), content of study (military vs. political) and nature of discussion itself (procedural vs. substantive). This after Italian PermRep de Ferrariis, without instructions, rehashed trepidations about impinging on UN prerogatives vis-á-vis Middle East and Seydoux warning of “complexity” and “delicacy” of whole subject. In end, after Cleveland proposed special NAC meeting as next step follow-on to previous SHAPE briefing, group agreed to meet again in two weeks to look at written text of updated SHAPE briefing, a paper which Brosio undertook to produce, and any other papers offered by delegations. If these papers are not available one week in advance, meeting would be postponed another week. Purpose of that meeting would be to determine whether substantive papers helped clarify unresolved procedural issues.
In opening remarks Brosio included “other areas” as fourth item of work program. Cleveland welcomed this, though U.S. has no specific subjects to nominate at this time. Seydoux intervened to plead French understanding that work program limited to three subjects. Others pointed out members have inherent right to raise any subject under this heading at any time under normal consultative procedures. Discussion fizzled out in apparent recognition that this is non-issue in practice.
Septels will provide Dept with USNATO thoughts about where we go from here.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 4 NATO. Confidential. Repeated to the other NATO capitals.