352. Memorandum From William Hyland of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Assistance to UK Polaris Improvement Program

Deputy Secretary Rush informs you that the British government has now formally asked for assistance in the next phase of their Polaris improvement program (called Super Antelope, and involving a new warhead with a penetration aid package) (Tabs B and C). The request covers (1) allotting space for underground nuclear testing facilities; [Page 1031](2) flight testing of UK warheads on US ranges; and (3) use of US simulator facilities for weapons effects and RV system separation tests. Other related requests may be forthcoming.

This takes us beyond the Project Definition stage, which was approved by the President in NSDM 124 in July 1971.2 This does not yet mean the UK will go to full production, however. Last year the agencies were instructed that further assistance would be referred by the SRG to the President.3 Although this memorandum from Mr. Rush shortcuts the bureaucratic process, it creates no new problems since over the past year we have assured the British that we would continue cooperation.

There is some urgency in answering the British, since planning for the nuclear testing and fabricating warheads for weapons effects involves long lead times.

Rush informs you that he intends to authorize the necessary steps for implementing the British request unless he hears to the contrary within ten days. (In practice, they will wait for your reply.)

While this does take us qualitatively further than the initial decision, it is the logical next step implied in our assistance. There is no reason to curtail our cooperation or raise doubts in the UK about our assistance, especially in view of British uneasiness about the non-transfer aspects of SALT II.

Accordingly, Rush should be informed that there are no objections to his proposed response to the UK. A memorandum at Tab A will give Rush your concurrence.

(It might be worth your mentioning our willingness to continue this assistance to Sir Burke Trend.)

Recommendation

That you sign the memorandum at Tab A, concurring in Mr. Rush’s decision to proceed with further assistance to the UK program.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 729, Country Files—Europe, United Kingdom, Vol. VII. Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Initialed by Haig. The tabs are not printed.
  2. Document 345.
  3. No directive other than NSDM 124 was found. Documentation on U.S. policy toward British development of Super Antelope is in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 728, Country Files—Europe, United Kingdom, Vol. V.
  4. Kissinger signed the letter. A signed copy, dated July 31, is ibid., Vol. VII.