47. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Rusk in Belgium1

Tosec 68. FYI. British Embassy informed Department June 3 that British Government will announce at June 9 meeting of ELDO its decision to withdraw from participation in ELDO once its current commitments have been met.2 This action based on British budgetary considerations and concern with poor cost effectiveness of launch vehicle ELDO producing. Since U.K. provides 38 percent of ELDO financing its withdrawal makes continuation of European multilateral space launching program most unlikely. Other members ELDO are France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Australia.

Department and other interested agencies had been concerned about this prospect because of implications of collapse of European multilateral organization at this time, our preference for multilateral launcher development programs in contrast to national programs, connection between space technology and European efforts to meet technological gap and potential for advantage to Soviets in collapse of ELDO. We also have in mind implications to British relationships to Continent in Common Market. These views conveyed to British Embassy here and to Sir Solly Zuckerman during visit to Washington early May.

On May 16 British Embassy suggested it would be useful if highest levels Department could mention to George Thomson U.S. hopes that U.K. would not withdraw from ELDO. Both Alex Johnson and Under Secretary did so. Interested U.S. agencies have been in process of developing U.S. position providing for U.S. cooperation with ELDO in event that proved relevant to ELDO’s continuation (see Deptel 1285 to Brussels).3

Other European members will be much aggrieved at British decision [Page 96] and reaction may be strong.4 Since all ELDO members now aware of British decision, it is possible that this subject may be raised with you in Brussels.

  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 Pollack on June 4, cleared by Percival (EUR/RPE) in substance and Alexander L. Rattray (S/S), and approved by U. Alexis Johnson. Secretary Rusk was in Brussels for a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, June 6–8. During this session, the Ministers agreed to move NATO headquarters to Belgium.
  2. Details of the British decision are in a June 3 memorandum of conversation between Pollack (SCI) and Faber of the U.K. Embassy. (Ibid.)
  3. Not found.
  4. In a June 14 memorandum to Frutkin, Ousley described the members’ reactions: “Stoltenberg can be credited (in Aubiniere’s mind) with providing the European arguments and support for the continuation of ELDO. During the ELDO Ministers’ conference, he effectively led the constructive discussions. Peyrefitte only summarized the other countries’ positions, never stating that of France. The Dutch were the most violent against the UK, with Italy weakly calling for the continuation of ELDO based primarily on European cooperation principles.” (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Historical Reference Collection, Files of the Office of International Affairs)