43. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany 1

1919. 1. Department concerned about speculation that future of ELDO is uncertain. We see advantages in multilateral framework for launcher development. In such framework rocket programs tend to be more open, serve peaceful uses, are subject to international control and absorb manpower and financial resources that might otherwise be diverted to purely national programs. National rocket programs on other hand tend to concentrate on militarily significant solid or storable liquid fuel systems, are less open, and less responsive to international controls. Any breakup of ELDO might lead to some national programs tending in latter direction.

2. In order to assist us in review current ELDO situation, request your evaluation of ELDO’s future viability and interest host governments in continuing ELDO programs. Department particularly interested in UK intentions, French interest in continuing ELDO, and your assessment of significance ELDO Council meeting later this month.2

3. We have been giving preliminary thought to possibility of U.S. cooperation with ELDO which would involve supplying [Page 91] non-storable liquid-fueled rocket technology. This might be attractive to ELDO and we believe cooperative offer could be designed and implemented in such manner as not conflict with current U.S. non-proliferation objectives and guidelines. In fact, as indicated above, such cooperation might assist in non-proliferation effort by channeling resources down non-storable liquid-fueled road rather than solid fuel or storable liquid roads, which are much more significant in military terms.

4. In addition to comment on points mentioned para 2 request addressees evaluation of likely reception such offer of U.S. cooperation and likely effect in terms strengthening ELDO.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, SP 11 ELDO. Confidential. Drafted by Percival (EUR/RPE), Milner (SCI), and George (G/PM) and cleared by Jerome H. Kahan (ACDA), Murray (DOD) (informed), Hausman (NASA) (informed), and Howard Meyers (G/PM) in draft. Also sent to Brussels, Canberra, London, Paris, Rome, and The Hague; and repeated to Geneva.
  2. According to telegram 4981 from London, April 22, the United Kingdom, which was funding the largest share of the ELDO bill, was unenthusiastic about the organization in light of its fiscal difficulties. (Ibid.) Telegram 893 from The Hague, April 22, indicated that the Netherlands strongly supported the ELDO and was seriously concerned about its future, but that confidential Netherlands sources had indicated that the “French military would be happy with ELDO breakup so that French ELDO contribution could be channeled into national programs, mainly military.” (Ibid.) The Embassy in Bonn reported that the Federal Republic of Germany also wanted to preserve ELDO as a vehicle for advancement and cooperation: “The FRG would strongly support U.S. cooperation of any kind with ELDO.ELDO would be materially strengthened in FRG eyes by firm U.S. endorsement through an offer to cooperate.” (Telegram 3458 from Bonn, April 26; ibid.)