44. Memorandum From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Smith) to Acting Secretary of State Richardson1 2


  • Signature of Non-Proliferation Treaty—ACTION


That you approve the attached telegram (TAB A).


Once the Non-Proliferation Treaty has come into force in early March, normal treaty practice would make it impossible for countries to follow a two-stage process of signing and, after a period of time, ratifying. Normal practice provides that after such a treaty comes into force countries wishing to become parties do so in the single act of acceding. While the possibility of an exception in this case theoretically exists, it is not likely to be made. It would require the consent of all three depositaries, and even should we wish to make an exception, the British have already given us a negative response on the question (when we were approached recently by the Japanese).

Since signature even without ratification has political consequences and since this option will in all likelihood shortly be closed, we believe we should utilize the period prior to early March to raise the subject once again with key non-nuclear governments which have not signed, calling to their attention the effect of the treaty’s coming into force. This consideration led the Japanese to accelerate their signature, and we have reason to believe the Australian government is weighing the question in the same light (exchange of cables with Canberra at TAB B). We have no [Page 2] grounds to be optimistic that many other states would respond in the same fashion, but the effort would be worth making if only one or two additional key signatures could be obtained. In the case of certain of these states, other recent signatures of the NPT may help induce a willingness to sign; the effect of the Japanese signature upon the Indonesian decision is an example.

The attached telegram for your signature (TAB A) makes this point in a low-key way to avoid an impression of arm twisting. It is addressed to our Embassies in most of the principal non-signatory states. The only important exception is Australia, which is being dealt with separately (TAB B). Guyana is included at ARA’s request because it is the only other Latin American government which has not signed,* and Saudi Arabia is included as the only Arab government (outside of Algeria) not having signed. The mention of constitutional considerations in the paragraph of the telegram intended specifically for Tel Aviv refers to the usual Israeli practice of making a decision to ratify before a treaty is signed.

Gerard Smith
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–1973, DEF 18–6. Secret; Exdis. The attachments are not published. The telegram at Tab A was approved and sent on February 11 as telegram 211405 to multiple posts. (Ibid.)
  2. Smith expressed concern over getting key non-nuclear governments to sign the NPT before it came into force. He attached a draft telegram to posts in most of the principal non-signatory states and proclaimed it as a “low-key way” to circumvent the U.S. policy against “arm twisting” reluctant governments into signing the agreement.
  3. In addition to those listed in the telegram (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile) and Cuba.