297. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Peter Hermes, State Secretary
  • Guenter van Well, Political Director
  • Hans Lautenschlager, Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs
  • Dr. Heinz Weber, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Secretary Henry A. Kissinger
  • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor of the Department
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff


  • Nuclear Non-proliferation

Genscher: Following our conversation here on the offset matter I will not have had an opportunity to talk to the Chancellor, and therefore I would appreciate it if you do not raise the question with him later this afternoon. Now can we spend a moment on the nuclear issue?

Kissinger: Yes. I’d like to talk to you about the Iranian agreement.

Genscher: Perhaps I should let Hermes tell you where it stands.

Hermes: As you know, we have been negotiating for more than a year with Iran and I think the main outstanding problem has to do with a reprocessing plant which the Iranians want to have as a part of the agreement. The current status of the matter is that we would agree now not to include for the present a provision for a reprocessing plant, but that after a period of time we would be prepared to examine the question. What we would do would be to exchange letters which would say that when the economic conditions are right we would be prepared to examine the question to supply a reprocessing plant under conditions to be agreed.

Kissinger: How long a period would that be?

Hermes: At least 10 years.

[Page 912]

Kissinger: We have two problems. First, there is the question of agreed conditions. My people have three technical conditions that they want to hand over to you to include in the Iranian agreement, but I thought that they would probably leak and therefore lead to controversy which I would like to avoid. But if I stop it, it will probably also be leaked, so what I really want to do was talk to you first. Now that I have mentioned it to you, I will have them pass these three conditions to you and then we can discuss it further as a technical matter.

We are basically against the sale of reprocessing plants. During the discussions with Giscard in Washington I got the feeling that he would be prepared to say that they will not sell [reprocessing plants] any more. That is, they would agree to a moratorium for some period of time.

Genscher: That is a very difficult question.

Hermes: In other words, this would apply to the future and the Iran agreement, for example, but not to our agreement with Brazil.

Kissinger: Yes. I guess that is right. And there is not yet a formal understanding between us and France. We’ll have to have more technical talks.

Genscher: Were you present when Giscard made this statement? We will have to discuss it ourselves.

Kissinger: Giscard doesn’t want it in his bureaucracy. His bureaucracy is against it. How should we conduct this? Will the Political Directors meet in July?

Hermes: In London.

Sonnenfeldt: To get an enlargement of the suppliers conference.

Hermes: With the GDR, etc.

Kissinger: But how will we discuss it? I’d rather have the moratorium issue in a more restricted forum. If you talk with Vest about this issue, you should do it without delegations. Tell Sonnenfeldt what your position is.

Hermes: For London, we have no formal position.

Kissinger: That’s what we want you to tell us. Tell Sonnenfeldt and he will tell you how to proceed with it.

We’ll send you the aide-mémoire on Iran, which has nothing to do with the moratorium issue. Our people want to make binational an earlier part of the fuel cycle. We will pass this to you.

I can tell you, anything that looks like another German sale of a reprocessing plant will be a difficult political issue in America.

Sonnenfeldt: If you see Carter’s speech [of May 13 in New York]. . . .

[Page 913]

Kissinger: The more I think about regional reprocessing, the less I like it. Maybe we shouldn’t sell any.

Hermes: Is that being realistic?

Kissinger: How will they get them?

Hermes: In ten years, the need for reprocessing is there.

Kissinger: Binational plants don’t help because if they try to kick you out—Brazil, Iran—what can you do?

Genscher: It’s a question of confidence.

Kissinger: It’s very hard to predict what they’ll do.

Hermes: The controls are not just binational, but international.

Sonnenfeldt: But there is no sanction.

Genscher: That’s the problem—execution.

Sonnenfeldt: It’s a problem even with regional plants.

Kissinger: If Pakistan and Iran make them together, that complicates it. If Saudi Arabia joins, it will be worse. In Latin America, who do you trust? Who’s a brake on Brazil? If Argentina and Bolivia join, they may have a vested interest to kick you—or us—out.

Genscher: We’ll let you soon have our position.

Kissinger: A moratorium acceptance would help. Moratorium acceptance plus some of these three other things would help with your Iran agreement.

Hermes: On July 1, the time runs out for the contract for the reactors. If we don’t do it, the French will.

Kissinger: The French told us the opposite. That you were pushing them.

Genscher: Not without reason I asked you if you were present when Giscard said it.

Kissinger: I was present. They said you don’t have it yet. He said he would be prepared to entertain a moratorium. He didn’t say how long.

My idea is a moratorium and some of the additional safeguards as in the Iran agreement. All these safeguards Iran accepted in our agreement, so it’s not an issue of principle.

I did not want to submit the long memorandum without talking to you.

[To Sonnenfeldt:] You can tell Ikle he can submit the memo.

  1. Summary: Genscher, Hermes, Kissinger, and Sonnenfeldt discussed nuclear non-proliferation.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Helmut C. Sonnenfeldt, 1955–1977, Entry 5339, Box 5, Germany 1976. Secret; Nodis.All brackets are in the original. The meeting took place in the Sitting Room at Schloss Gymnich. In his opening comments, Genscher referred to a discussion with Kissinger concerning offset. No record of this conversation was found. Kissinger was in Bonn on May 23 to meet with Schmidt and Genscher. In a May 11 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt discussed the proposed nuclear agreement between the FRG and Iran. (Ibid.)