143. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Department of State1

600. Subject: Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB): The NATO Perspective. Ref: State 24133.2

1. There are three areas on which we think we can usefully comment from NATO on Allied attitudes toward a CTB: the need for consultations, concern about US–Soviet bilateralism, and the implications for Allied security.

2. We can not emphasize strongly enough the need for full and timely consultations with the Allies at NATO on any US initiatives or changes in long-standing US positions regarding a CTB. While we leave to Washington’s judgement the manner and timing of consultations, we believe it would be helpful to the development of support for US initiatives if the Allies could be apprised promptly of the general lines of US thinking before final positions are worked out in Washington. Allied support would be greatly enhanced if we can convince the Allies that their views will be taken into consideration in the development of the US approach, and that they are not simply being informed about what the US intends to do after inter-agency study has been completed in Washington. If there are options being considered regarding such issues as verification, PNES, a possible moratorium, and who should be party to a treaty, we should make every effort to present these options to the Allies and to consider their views. The need for timely consultation is particularly evident when we consider the tacit support the Allies have generally accorded our long insistence on on-site inspections—even when in recent years not all Allies were convinced of the technical requirements for such inspections. The CTB is an issue political as well as military importance to a number of Allies. Hence, they must be brought sufficiently abreast of US thinking in order to undertake whatever internal consultations and adjustments they feel are necessary. In short, let us tell them as much as we can as early as possible, even if our initial presentations are brief and tentative.

[Page 313]

3. On modalities, we believe that the more technical aspects of a CTB can be dealt with at the level of NATO disarmament experts, whose next meeting is scheduled for April 21–22. However, to deal with the broader political and military implications of this issue, we propose instructed permrep discussions; and at an appropriate stage, a visit by an Assistant Secretary-level official to brief Allies on our views and to hear their reactions.

4. Concerns about US–Soviet bilateralism can be accommodated through effective consultations and by the way we proceed with the development of a possible CTB. While the Department will recall the strong cautionary statement of FRG Ambassador Pauls on US–Soviet bilateralism during the Vice President’s meeting with the council,3 we would like to point out that this problem transcends the simple question of whether we touch base with the Allies before negotiating with the Soviets. While the Allies will appreciate that bilateral US–Soviet negotiation must be an important part of the process of achieving a CTB, they will wish to be associated with the process of negotiations as closely as possible at all stages and, in some instances, to be seen publicly as participating in this process. Moreover, the handling of the question of which nuclear states must be parties, and whether non-nuclear states will be welcome to join, as well as other issues related to a CTB, will be judged by the Allies in terms of whether only US and Soviet interests are accommodated or whether the needs of individual Allies are also considered.

5. Allies security concerns, too, can be accommodated through consultations. The underlying concern, in our view, is likely to be a vague worry that a CTB might somehow affect, in technical or psychological terms, the long-range reliability of the US strategic and theater nuclear deterrents. The Allies will be interested, in this regard, in measures the US will undertake to maintain our major nuclear laboratories and our views on the relevance of the argument, sometimes heard, that top US scientists will be less interested in the nuclear program if they cannot test. Another concern will be the implications of a CTB for the possible development, at some distant time in the future, of a credible independent European nuclear deterrent.

6. Some Allies may also be concerned about the effect on Allied solidarity if strongly differing views are evidenced on certain aspects of a CTB. We will be interested in the views of other addressees on the attitudes of individual Allies. Our preliminary assessment is that the non-nuclear Allies will welcome any progress toward a CTB, although the Italians may have some minor lingering misgivings. The UK will [Page 314] likely see no security problem. The French, however, may feel under particular pressure regarding both the maintenance and development of their nuclear forces and the question of whether and how they might participate in negotiations. A suggestion of negotiations among nuclear states might appeal to the French, but it would have a wrenching effect, we believe, on the FRG and the smaller Allies.

6. In sum, a central US objective should be to proceed in this endeavor in a manner that will enhance, and not undermine, Allied solidarity.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, reel # N/A. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information Immediate to Bonn, London, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, USUN, and the Mission in Geneva.
  2. In telegram 24133 to Bonn, Paris, London, Rome, Tokyo, USUN, USNATO, and the Mission in Geneva, February 3, the Department solicited attitudes of a number host countries on the question of a CTB. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770058–0808)
  3. Not found.