340. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher)1


  • Presidential Decision on Proliferation

The President has decided that the international fuel cycle evaluation program should include paper studies but not operational demonstrations of reprocessing. He feels that there is no reason why every nuclear facility in a participating country must be a part of the program. He does not want any American funding—direct or indirect—of reprocessing activities, other than paper studies. He believes that many of the key questions concerning reprocessing—the economic value of reprocessing in a non-breeder fuel cycle, the availability of uranium resources, future nuclear energy demand, etc.—can be debated and decided on paper. Other key concerns, particularly the development of spent fuel storage capabilities, will be operationally studied. He views this option as a compromise position between a rigid American posture against reprocessing on the one hand, and encouraging the further development of reprocessing by including it in the evaluation program, on the other.

He has further decided that a clear showing of need should be a strict prerequisite to granting of U.S. approvals of requests to retransfer for reprocessing. This is basically the interagency recommendation—retaining flexibility—but with a stronger presumption against approval of these requests. Under this option, reprocessing in the UK and France would be viewed as a last resort, to be avoided if at all possible.

He has approved the bilateral formulation favored by State and Defense for full scope safeguards, with the explicit provision that this be regarded as an interim measure, and the understanding that we will continue to press for supplier acceptance of a requirement for formal recipient commitment to full scope safeguards, preferably through adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On the question of Presidential flexibility, he has approved the option which provides for exception by Presidential determination for both new and existing agreements.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Global Issues, Oplinger/Bloomfield File, Box 52, Proliferation: Reprocessing, 4/77–8/80. Secret.