341. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McAuliffe) to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld1


  • French Connection

(TS) The French complained to the NSC that DoD was being unresponsive to their requests to move forward on the nuclear cooperation [Page 1042] program. Under NSC guidance, a DDR&E official subsequently visited Paris and in effect renewed the discussion which had been suspended following your request for a review of the entire program.

(TS) The French have now asked Cotter and Walsh to visit Paris to open discussions on Soviet capabilities to counter French nuclear forces—a subject of extreme importance to the French and great sensitivity to us. I think it is imperative that the review you requested be completed before we agree to open these talks.

(TS) The events of the past few weeks suggest that unless the review is undertaken DoD will not be consulted on policy decisions in this area, and options which DoD might favor will not be fully considered. Thus, as best as I can tell, the decision to resume discussions was made by the NSC alone and probably linked to non-proliferation issues. This is a vital area but the question remains—could we have demanded and obtained more from the French.

(TS) The initial aim of the cooperation program as presented by Embassy Paris in 1969–70 was to use French interest and need for support in the area as a lever to move France into a defense relationship with NATO and the U.S. which would not only lead to de facto reintegration of French forces into NATO but to even closer cooperation in the strategic field than existed before the French pull out.

(TS) As best I can construct it, the French have made the following moves since the introduction of the cooperation program which may or may not be related in whole or in part to the program:

—Settled FRELOC claim with U.S.

—Prepared contingency plans with SACEUR for wartime cooperation of French forces with NATO. (Giscard has publicly referred to these arrangements and Mery has publicly adjusted French strategy to take them into account.)

—Prepared contingency plans with U.S. for operation of a wartime LOC in France. (We have not, to the best of my knowledge, reached any agreements with the French on prepositioning of selected stocks or holding exercises designed to test the LOC arrangements.)

(TS) I have heard references to discussions between General Haig and General Mery on contingency planning for tactical nuclear weapons, but have not been able to verify these. I have heard no reference to any US-French discussion on contingency planning in the strategic nuclear field. Thus, to the best of my knowledge, nothing has been done in these areas, making them at one and the same time both the most logical quids for the cooperation program and the most glaring absences from a listing of French moves in our direction.

[7½ lines not declassified]

(TS) As noted above, the original concept of the cooperation program was designed in part to help us overcome these problems, recog [Page 1043] nizing that sovereign nations will always retain ultimate rights in the area of self defense. The latest series of French requests open the way towards attaining this portion of those original goals.

(TS) In addition, we should complete the LOC planning to include French agreement to preposition such items as extra POL and compatible ammunition and spares at facilities which would be used by US forces and to arrange for squadron exchanges, port calls, etc. which would in effect allow us to exercise part of the LOC.

(TS) Hopefully the review will be completed before we respond to the latest French request. In any event, however, if we decide to continue the cooperation program, I strongly believe we should make our willingness to discuss Soviet capabilities against French nuclear forces and to provide further technical cooperation dependent upon a French willingness to broaden wartime contingency planning to include tactical and strategic nuclear plans. Moreover, I believe this can be made to appear a natural outcome of the cooperation program and not create any problems with French “sensibilities”.

(TS) If you agree, I will ask Mike Glitman to ensure that these points find their way into the review conclusions and, if accepted, into any subsequent discussions with the French, including via direct participation where appropriate.

Eugene V. McAuliffe Assistant Secretary of Defense
  1. Summary: McAuliffe discussed the review of the U.S.-French nuclear cooperation program.

    Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–0059, France 471.61, 1975. Top Secret. In a November 2 memorandum, Rumsfeld drew Scowcroft’s attention to the fact the review was still pending; he also noted that DOD could not “proceed beyond the scope and deliberate pace which we are now following” until the review was complete. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger-Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 13, France—Nuclear Matters (6) (11/20/75–12/2/76)) No final version of the review was found.