233. Telegram From the Secretary’s Delegation in London to the Department of State1

Secto 4025. Department for Christopher only. White House to Dr. Brzezinski for the President. Subject: Meeting With PM Thatcher.

1. Secretary Vance met for an hour with PM at No. 10; also present were Foreign Secretary Carrington; Lord Privy Seal and House of Commons Foreign Affairs Spokesman Sir Ian Gilmour; Brian Cartledge, P.M.’s Private Secretary for International Affairs, and U.S. Ambassador Brewster.

2. Topics covered were SALT; Begin and Middle East; C.T.B.; Turkey; Rhodesia and Southern Africa.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]

13. Discussion then turned to C.T.B. Mrs. T. indicated that she had private scientific advice, unknown perhaps to Carrington and Gilmour, that Soviet salt mines made it possible to defy detection; especially if timed to coincide with predicted earthquakes. Secretary said simply that our scientific advisors did not agree with hers and suggested that we send our most knowledgeable to talk with hers.

14. Mrs. T. then harked back to Eisenhower moratorium2 and the advantage this gave to Soviets who used moratorium to prepare for tests while we did not. Result, she said, would be spate of Soviet tests which left US behind. Secretary said this is why we would have safeguards program which would put US in position to respond quickly if Soviets took actions putting US at a disadvantage. He said we were satisfied we could plan tests and keep test scientists and engineers in alert status for that length of treaty and that the stockpile would not be denigrated during the three year period of the treaty. On the way out the PM asked Secretary who we could send over and he suggested Frank Press as an outstanding expert in this area. She was extremely pleased.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to a comprehensive test ban.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840171–0149. Secret; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis. Also sent Immediate to the White House. The conversation is scheduled to be printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXVII, Western Europe.
  2. On October 31, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and UK Prime Minister Harold MacMillan announced a one-year moratorium on nuclear testing, to which the Soviets agreed a few days later. (American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1958, pp. 1356–1357)