37. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

3636. Ref: NATUS 3605.2

Embassy sounding French reaction to President Johnson’s proposals for space collaboration and will submit assessment of probable French reaction and implications for US-French relations. Meanwhile: following are some initial views, particularly regarding relationship of Franco-Soviet space cooperation.
Embassy would agree that there is an element of psychological threat to US and Atlantic concept in both current and potential France-Soviet space cooperation. However, we believe that even Gaullists are not at present seriously considering extensive partnership with Moscow as alternative to present arrangement and prospect of greater cooperation with US (paragraph 4 reftel).
French consider US generally ahead of USSR in overall space technology and thus are concerned about maintaining and extending cooperation with US. Soundings made by Embassy during recent Franco-Soviet space talks tend confirm that French aware that talking up the Moscow option may not be compatible with developing space cooperation with US.
French also aware that Soviets unlikely to share technology in areas having military implications. This emerged clearly from such information Embassy was able to obtain on Franco-Soviet space talks in October.
In short, while de Gaulle may in future make gestures to the East—and ones which are more damaging to Western solidarity than those undertaken in past—we believe institution connections (both governmental and commercial) will limit French freedom in exploiting Moscow option in field of space technology.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, SP 1–1 EUR-US. Confidential. Passed to NASA for Webb on December 28.
  2. Document 36.