316. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


Attached is the memcon of Schlesinger’s meeting with Galley.

Note Schlesinger’s concern on item 4, “negative guidance” on nuclear warheads. This apparently is the most urgent need of the French at the moment and the one which will save them the most time and money. It is an area which involves legal restrictions on Restricted Data, however, and Defense is concerned about proceeding without a formal Presidential Determination.

As I understand it, Schlesinger does not plan to go further on “negative guidance” at least without word from you. Defense now plans further exchanges, therefore, only on items 1, 2, 5, 6. However, according to Defense the meeting requested by the French for 10 October (which we have postponed until after 18 October) was sought by the French for the sole purpose of talking about item 4. If we are not willing to go further on this point, we should at least tell them there will be a delay.


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Memorandum for the Record From the Deputy Director of the Office of Strategic and Space Systems, Department of Defense (Walsh)

Washington, September 26, 1973.


  • Meeting with Minister Galley

On September 24, 1973, a meeting was held between Secretary Schlesinger and French Minister of Defense Galley, in Secretary Schlesinger’s office. Also attending were:

Lt Gen Vernon A. Walters

Dr. John S. Foster, Jr.

Mr. Helmut Sonnenfeldt

Mr. John B. Walsh

Maj Gen John Wickham

Capt F.A. Carrier

The meeting commenced at 0945. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, Secretary Schlesinger opened the meeting by reviewing the six areas in which agreement to cooperate was tentatively reached in the September 10 meeting in Paris:

1. The methodology of missile effectiveness analysis.

2. Warning, and its relevance to the effectiveness of strategic forces.

3. Feasibility assessment of the French MIRV program approach and schedule.

4. “Negative guidance” on nuclear warheads.

5. Underground testing assistance.

6. Penetration aids.

As he listed these the Secretary stated that in four of the areas we were prepared to provide assistance; however, two of them, MIRV-related assistance and warhead assistance, posed some difficulties which required elaboration. He also added that the need for closely holding this information would result in only one file being maintained in the U.S.—in Gen Wickham’s office.

He stated that the degree to which we can assist in a true MIRV development had not yet been determined, because it requires Presidential guidance. We have no authority for all-out assistance. However, he thought we would be allowed to assist by examining the proposed S–3 (1980) MIRV program to determine if it were soundly constructed and to assess the likelihood of it being accomplished on schedule.

[Page 977]

With respect to assistance on warheads, the President has only limited authority, inasmuch as he is specifically constrained by legislation and treaty: the Atomic Energy Act and the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Atomic Energy Act, in order to permit communication of Restricted Data to an ally, requires a Presidential determination that this will not constitute an unreasonable risk, and that such nation “is participating with the U.S. pursuant to an international arrangement by substantial and material contributions to the mutual defense and security.” (The Secretary read the pertinent passage.)

The constraints of the NPT are obscure as we read the legislation. The problem that may exist (“and I say it very carefully”) is that if following such assistance tests were conducted in the atmosphere, some persons would frown. However, he added, I do not believe this to be a major barrier.

Thus, we must watch these two aspects of the law with care. Nonetheless, we can probably give “negative guidance” without running into the legal issue, but it is a delicate matter.

In response M. Galley, after assuring that the existence of any exchanges would be treated with the utmost circumspection, expressed his strong thanks for the improving attitude of the U.S. toward France and for the assistance already given by Dr. Foster and his organization. That assistance was extremely useful, and the forthcoming assistance is expected to be more so. President Pompidou is fully aware of its value.

With respect to future French atmospheric testing, there will be another series of atmospheric tests in 1974, but subsequent testing is expected to be underground. However, the French are making no public announcement of this, lest it stimulate public pressure to abandon the 1974 atmospheric series, and because there are still technical problems which might delay going underground (i.e., calibrating yield).

He stated that the French would be willing to present all their atomic data in order to obtain “negative advice,” adding that it was a sign of their great trust in Dr. Foster.

Secretary Schlesinger noted that if a U.S.-French association on nuclear matters became public, it would be advantageous for it to be known that it was to facilitate French tests going underground; M. Galley responded that except that they are buying drilling rigs from U.S. companies, any other cooperation will not become public knowledge for years.

The Secretary reiterated that if we are accused of helping French atmospheric tests it will be a source of unnecessary embarrassment. Moreover, the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy is likely to be very aware of the phrase in the law which refers to “substantial contribu [Page 978] tions to the common defense,” and we would hope to be in a good position with respect to the emerging cooperation.

Mr. Sonnenfeldt noted the extreme delicacy of the matter of assistance in MIRV development, which the President wants to study very carefully in all its phases before authorizing any assistance. This was made quite clear by Gen Walters in his translation. Dr. Foster suggested that as a preliminary step we should hold exchanges on the analysis of targeting and penetration, as a prelude to MIRV technology assistance.

M. Galley then paused to express the French philosophy—in French, “to express himself clearly” and in a spirit of great frankness.

Although the French attitude will change as this cooperation develops, the basic policy is unchanged. Faced with either buying missles from the U.S. as the British do, or continuing to play the card of independence—with France itself manufacturing everything necessary for the defense of France—they chose the latter course. However, to save the time, resources and money resulting from false starts, they are dependent upon American assistance. However, recognizing the need for delicacy, there will be no written trace of what assistance is given.

The French view their needs in priority as follows:

1. Assistance in choosing the proper of three warhead (primary) approaches; we would not ask how to design a warhead if we had never designed one, but we believe you would give advice under the circumstances.

2. Assistance on MRV’s and MIRV’s.

3. Assistance on missile design, with particular emphasis on nuclear hardening.

4. Penetration aids.

5. Intelligence on Soviet ABM’s.

He acknowledged that it was easier to give assistance in some areas than in others, but stressed:

1. Only “negative advice” appeared feasible legally and would be invaluable in warhead design.

2. For the present, only general information is needed on how to proceed with MIRV’s, although with the expectation of greater information as we go down the line.

“Putting myself in your place, I would do it that way.”

Secretary Schlesinger recapitulated by stating that although the President had considerable latitude under the law in all except the warhead area (where the Atomic Energy Act of 1958 and the NPT governed), we still did not have full authorization for MIRV assistance.

After some inconclusive discussions on arrangements to carry out the approved exchanges, the meeting ended at 1100.

John B. Walsh
  1. Summary: Scowcroft sought Kissinger’s instructions on U.S.-French nuclear cooperation.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger-Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 12, France—Nuclear Matters (1) (8/15/72–12/6/74). Top Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. At the bottom of the memorandum, Scowcroft wrote four options: “Tell Defense to proceed,” “I will talk to Schlesinger,” “Have Foster say we cannot yet proceed,” and “Hold for now.” Kissinger initialed his approval of the option, “I will talk to Schlesinger.” In a September 24 memorandum to Kissinger, Sonnenfeldt asserted that the scope and pace of the proposed six-point cooperation program “appears to fit what you said in San Clemente.” He also recommended, and Kissinger approved, that Schlesinger be told that U.S.-French nuclear cooperation “must be an operation totally controlled as to pace and scope by the President and you” and “that no meeting must go forward at any level without prior notification and approval” from Scowcroft or Sonnenfeldt. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 679, Country Files, Europe, France Vol. XI (2 of 2))