76. Action Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs (Spiers) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Porter)1 2
Registration of Space Objects
Following your approval of the proposal to introduce a new US draft Space Registration Convention early in the March 26–April 20 session of the UN Outer Space Legal Subcommittee (LSC), action officers in PM, IO, L and USUN have informed interested governments of our intentions and sought support for the US draft. In particular, we have taken pains to be open and forthright with the Canadians and French since their draft Registration Convention (which contains provisions unacceptable to the USG) is currently before the LSC.
We have also instructed USNATO and our Embassies in NATO capitals to make a pitch. This tactic was adopted as a means to alert the political-military officials in NATO capitals to the military/intelligence implications of the Space Registration Convention and to generate support by NATO allies both in and outside the LSC for the US draft. That this gap needed to be bridged became apparent after our first encounter with the Canadians. Follow-up consultations with the Canadians have insured that the military/intelligence officials in the Canadian Government, who share our concerns re the extensive reporting requirements in the Canadian-French draft and who understand how such requirements might jeopardize US military space interests, are aware of our proposal and will make an input in the Canadian policy making process.
There is a very good chance that the same lack of internal interchange we discovered in Canada exists in the case of France. To date the Registration Convention issue appears to have been handled primarily by the lawyers in the French Foreign Ministry, with the concurrence of the Service des Pactes. If we are to obtain a sympathetic, or perhaps even favorable response to the US draft from the French, we should seek support from the French Defense Ministry which may some day face the same security issues now confronting us.[Page 2]
Recently, the French Minister of Defense, M. Debre, said that future French defense interests will require a military reconnaissance satellite capability. Possibly the Defense Ministry would share many of the same defense-related concerns that the USG has with regard to the Canadian-French draft Registration Convention, and might be persuaded that the US draft is more in tune with overall, long-term French national security interests than the present Canadian-French proposal.
That you call in the French Ambassador, M. Kosciusko-Morizet, immediately after the US tables its draft Registration Convention on March 27, and ask him (along the lines of the attached talking points) to make sure that M. Debre and other senior French officials concerned with broad national security considerations are aware of the problems posed by the current Canadian-French draft Registration Convention to military space programs in general. You should, on the basis of these points, solicit French support for the US draft (which, incidentally, borrows heavily from the Canadian-French text).
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, Box 2960, SP 16. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Archelaus R. Turrentine and Holsey G. Handyside (PM/AE); and concurred in by EUR/WE, IO/UNP, L/UNA, IO/UNA, IO, and EUR. In the margin next to the third line in the third paragraph, written in an unknown hand, is “now confirmed.” Written in an unknown hand under the Approve/Disapprove lines is “Due to Ambassador Porter’s departure to San Clemente, demarche made by PM Acting Director Pickering to Fr. Counselor Masset 4/5/73.” Michel Debre’ was French Minister of State for National Defense. Tab B is published in the Department of State Bulletin, May 28, 1973, pp. 712–715. Attached but not published at Tab C is Canadian telegram 4643 from Paris to Ottawa, December 18, 1972. Attached but not published at Tab D is a memorandum from Porter to De Palma and Acting Legal Adviser Charles N. Brower, approving the U.S. negotiating position regarding registration of space objects.↩
- Spiers recommended consultation with French officials to request reconsideration of military and intelligence concerns arising in negotiation of the Space Registration Convention.↩