11. Telegram From the Embassy in the Republic of China to the Department of State1

904. Subject: ROC Nuclear Activities. Ref: State 32728.2

1. Dinner February 15 unfortunately offered only limited and not very appropriate opportunity talk privately with Premier. Nevertheless, I was able to convey basic elements of message contained in instructions reftel.

2. First I thanked Premier for assistance provided to visiting nuclear team and said we are now awaiting its report. Once this was in hand, I believed we would want to arrange for further discussions on this issue.

3. I then emphasized prime importance which President Carter attaches to the dangers of nuclear proliferation and said that I had been asked to call this specifically to the Premier’s attention. In this connection, I emphasized the importance of his government’s carrying through fully on what it has agreed to. Otherwise, our cooperation in the nuclear field will be jeopardized and cooperation in other fields could also be in danger.

4. Premier Chiang said as he has on several occasions in the past that we can depend on the GROC following through on its word. He referred to the closing down of the reprocessing laboratory in response to our wishes and said that we should inform him of whatever other things we wished to have halted and he will carry out our wishes.

5. On preceding evening, at dinner at home of Vice Minister Foreign Affairs Fred Chien, DCM and I had opportunity convey same message. In effect Chien’s responses were like those of Premier although he made plea to have us keep confidential U.S. role in such matters as closing down of reprocessing lab and also hoped we would permit con[Page 41]tinuing nuclear research provided it had no proliferation connotations. He also said Premier had asked him whether US had taken similarly tough line with other countries, for example those who have also been interested in acquiring reprocessing capability. Chien put considerable emphasis on difficulty which practical-minded political officials like himself faced vis-à-vis Chinese scientists at home and overseas and others who were preoccupied with national security, prestige, desire to keep abreast with world in scientific progress, etc.

6. We avoided any detailed discussion with Chien, saying that this would be in order in all likelihood once we have instructions. With regard to other countries, I referred to discussions with Republic of Korea, Pakistan and Brazil which are matters of public knowledge.

7. I also recalled to Chien DCM’s conversation with him (Taipei 209) and our concern that GROC apparently failed to follow through on what it had said it would do.3 In conclusion Chien again stated he and political officials recognize it is essential that GROC work with us on this and that moreover any intention to go ahead with nuclear weapons is “suicidal” but he again cited problems faced with other powerful and influential groups here and among overseas Chinese.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840076–1288. Secret; Cherokee; Priority; Nodis.
  2. In telegram 32728 to Taipei, February 12, the Department instructed Unger: “We want you to take advantage of February 15 private dinner with Premier to discuss seriousness of nuclear issue. You might introduce subject by referring to recent nuclear team visit, expressing appreciation for ROC arrangements for team and noting that before long we will wish to discuss nuclear issues at appropriate level. During the discussion you should state that you have been instructed to impress upon the Premier President Carter’s determination to do everything in his power to prevent nuclear proliferation. We are counting on complete ROC cooperation in this effort and unqualified compliance with the assurances we have been given. Anything short of this would not only prevent any further US cooperation in Taiwan’s nuclear power program but would also have a most adverse effect on other aspects of our relations.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840083–0395)
  3. On January 11, DCM Roger Sullivan called on Vice Minister Chien to discuss alleged ROC nuclear activities. (Telegram 209 from Taipei, January 12; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770011–0752)