309. Memorandum From Denis Clift of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1


  • SRG Meeting on NSSM 175 Response

We have received the interagency response to NSSM 175 on US-French nuclear defense cooperation. The question arises as to whether or not Mr. Kissinger will wish to hold an SRG meeting on this very complex issue in the few days between his return from Paris and his departure for the President’s Reykjavik talks with President Pompidou. It theoretically would be desirable as a basis for agreement on what [Page 946] might be put forward by the US side at the Reykjavik talks. There is an on-going and forthcoming program now being pursued by DOD. But given the present state of play, complexity of the issues, and strong agency views, it is doubtful that a positive result further advancing the program can be achieved in a single meeting.

—The response notes that as a result of Mr. Kissinger’s memorandum of March 9, Defense has just advised the French that we are willing to enter into four new areas of cooperation: information on nuclear effects simulators, sale of small simulators, general hardening technology and information on Soviet ABMs. Defense estimates that this newly authorized assistance will carry the program forward for at least six more months while the longer-term alternatives for cooperation are being considered within the US government.

—The response raises several serious questions about the desirability of agreeing to more advanced and intensive missile assistance cooperation with the French—questions relating to French motivations and the stability and reliability of French Government, problems this will pose for NATO, for other important US allies such as UK and FRG, problems this would pose in terms of US compliance with Limited Test Ban Treaty, the need for consultation with the Congress, and the known Congressional opposition to such cooperation with the French.

—An SRG meeting has been tentatively scheduled for May 24 on the NSSM 175 response. Considering the issues raised in the response, the need for Mr. Kissinger to give careful attention to these issues before taking them up with State, Defense, the Joint Chiefs and CIA, and the near-certainty that the questions raised cannot be resolved in a May 24 SRG, it seems neither desirable nor realistic to plan on holding the meeting before the Reykjavik talks with Pompidou. With regard to the Reykjavik talks, the United States will be in a very strong and positive position as Defense has just informed the French of our willingness to move ahead in the new areas of cooperation identified above.

Accordingly, we recommend that you send the cable at Tab A to Mr. Kissinger reviewing the considerations outlined above, recommending that an SRG meeting on NSSM 175 be postponed until after the Reykjavik talks and requesting his guidance.

Dick Kennedy and Bill Hyland concur.


That you approve the TOHAK message at Tab A.

  1. Summary: Clift discussed the studies prepared in response to NSSM 175, U.S. Nuclear Defense Policy Toward France.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–198, Study Memorandums, 1969–1974, NSSM–175. Top Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Sent for action. Attached but not published is Tab A, message Tohak 106 from Scowcroft to Kissinger, May 19; at the bottom of the message is a checkmark next to the option to postpone the meeting. Richardson forwarded Part I of the study prepared in response to NSSM 175 to Kissinger under cover of a May 11 memorandum, and Director of the Bureau of Politic-Military Affairs Ronald Spiers forwarded Part II of the study to Kissinger under cover of a May 15 memorandum; both documents are ibid. No record of a SRG meeting on these studies was found. Citing the U.S. interest in an independent French, as well as British, nuclear capability, Nixon offered Pompidou U.S. assistance for the French nuclear program on June 1; Nixon noted that his offer carried no “political price, with nothing attached to it.” Pompidou agreed to send French experts for discussions in Washington. (Memorandum of conversation, June 1; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 26, France Meetings, 1973, May–June (Reykjavik, Iceland))