41. Memorandum From William Hyland of the National Security Council Staff to President Carter1
- Oral Message from Brezhnev to You
The Soviet Minister delivered an “oral” message from Brezhnev to you concerning South African nuclear weapons. The burden of the message is that the Soviets believe the South Africans are building nuclear weapons and preparing to conduct underground tests and are practically ready to begin. Brezhnev emphasizes that should this occur it would do great damage to the Non-proliferation Treaty2 and weaken international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and reduce the danger of nuclear war. The Soviet statement also emphasizes that all countries should undertake extraordinary, urgent efforts to prevent South Africa from conducting nuclear tests and building nuclear [Page 181] weapons. The message concludes by noting your personal interest in non-proliferation and asking for your views on what effective measures might be taken.
The Minister added that a public statement, roughly along the same lines, will be issued in Moscow on Monday3 and that similar messages from Brezhnev had been sent to London, Paris and Bonn. The Soviets do not plan to announce the fact of these messages, however. I told the Minister that I would relay the message immediately to you and that you would consider how and when to reply. I did note to the Minister that the Soviet information did not seem to be in accord with our own information on the imminence of the South African test but this was not my area of expertise.
I have informed Warren Christopher of this message and I will send you the full text as soon as it is translated. We will also send you a draft reply, though it is obvious that the Russians intend this primarily for propaganda since they intend a public statement on Monday.
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 48, Chron: 8/77. Secret; Sensitive.↩
- See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XV, Soviet Union, June 1972–August 1974, Document 122.↩
- August 8.↩
- Secret; Sensitive.↩
- Reference is to the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines, first published in 1978. The Nuclear Suppliers Group, established in 1975, was initially composed of seven nuclear supplier states that limited their export of nuclear materials to non-nuclear states.↩