334. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1


  • Comments on Jim Schlesinger’s Memorandum of March 31 Regarding PD No. 8

I have no fundamental problems with Jim Schlesinger’s thoughtful comments (Tab A). More specifically:

1. Regarding constraints on non-nuclear weapons states, it seems to me that the distinction between nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states is an important fact; in some circumstances this fact should be treated differently when it involves in one case an ally and in another case a non-ally, and our diplomacy should reflect this additional distinction.

2. With respect to the phrase “demonstrably acquires a nuclear explosive device,” [2 lines not declassified] Thus I believe you retain the needed flexibility, though otherwise Jim’s point is well taken.

3. Unless I am profoundly mistaken, I think that the first interpretation given by Jim to the phrase “emphasize alternative designs to the plutonium breeder” is correct.

4. I share Jim’s concern that we do not overdo our efforts given our interest in good trilateral relations. I believe your present efforts at consultations take that consideration into account. The question which is really at issue here is one on which the government is deeply divided: should the fuel cycle evaluation program include reprocessing, or just alternatives to it? The first section of the attached summary of the PRC meeting on proliferation (Tab B)2 will give you some feeling for the different positions.

[Page 844]

Tab A

Memorandum From the President’s Assistant (Schlesinger) to President Carter 3


  • Problems Raised by P.D. No. 8

In accordance with your suggestion,4 I outline below the four problems that I see created by the precise wording of P.D. No. 8.

1. The all-inclusive constraint on non-nuclear weapons states. The P.D. imposes a definitive barrier between the nuclear weapons and non-nuclear weapons states in terms of the handling of nuclear power technologies. Some non-nuclear weapons states, notably Germany and Japan, will regard this barrier as highly discriminatory. Both at the time they were urged to ratify the NPT and in bilateral negotiations both countries were assured that they would not be subjected to discrimination by remaining in the status of non-nuclear weapons states. (It has been the continuing desire of the United States Government to avoid creating any incentive to become a nuclear weapons state.) Reprocessing facilities in Germany, Japan, and also Belgium and Italy were established under these understandings. These nations must be persuaded to join with the United States in the effort directed toward the control of weapons-useable material. But they will not accept being treated as in the same category as Pakistan, Iran, or Brazil. To avoid unproductive controversy and to provide the proper incentives for collaboration, the line of distinction will have to be drawn someplace other than the non-nuclear weapons states.5

2. Termination of nuclear cooperation. The difficulty in the phrase “demonstrably acquires a nuclear explosive device” [2½ lines not declassified] The political difficulties are obvious. Consequently, you may desire to put more flexibility in your policy position before going public.6

3. The U.S. breeder program. If the phrase “emphasize alternative designs to the plutonium breeder” implies that new money and the high growth rates will go to alternative designs, that is readily accom[Page 845]plished. If, however, it were to imply that aggregate spending on and program size of the alternatives will be larger than for the LMFBR program, it would imply either the dismantling of the LMFBR program or waste in the other programs or both. We will need, I believe, to maintain an adequate base program for the LMFBR. We should avoid plowing ahead with commercialization. But we must continue our R&D on the LMFBR because in the 21st Century it may be an essential fallback—if none of the other energy alternatives materialize. We cannot afford, as the Ford Foundation study emphasizes,7 simply to back away from R&D on the LMFBR. We can defer commercialization, but it will remain an essential fallback option.8

4. The larger diplomatic problem embodied in the P.D. No. 8 is one requiring your careful analysis, to assure that substantive benefits exceed diplomatic costs. Briefly other nations will be reluctant to follow us on reprocessing and even more reluctant to follow our lead on defering the breeder. The starker (and purer) our diplomatic position on these matters, the less likely is it that we shall gain the necessary acquiescence of the Germans and Japanese, let alone the French. But ultimately we must have the collaboration of the other supplier countries. Thus, the question for your determination is the amount of diplomatic capital that you wish to expend in staking out a position which has the virtue of logical clarity but has the deficiency of forfeiting the necessary foreign support.9

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 4, PD–08 [1]. Secret. Carter initialed the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum.
  2. See Document 328.
  3. Secret. In the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum, Carter wrote “Zbig—Comment. J.”
  4. Not found.
  5. In the right-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “I agree.”
  6. Carter underlined the words “before going public” and wrote “not going public with this” in the right-hand margin next to this paragraph.
  7. Not found.
  8. In the right-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “I agree.”
  9. In the right-hand margin next to this paragraph, Carter wrote “I agree.”