344. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1
- Japanese Nuclear Talks—Negotiating Guidance
A Japanese delegation arrives for talks on June 2, 3 on the Tokai reprocessing issue. The memorandum at Tab A—prepared by the NSC Interagency Group on Proliferation—seeks your instructions for these talks.
This meeting is being held at Japanese insistence. The U.S. tried unsuccessfully to postpone it, feeling that very little has changed since the last round.2 Also, the timing of these talks is bad for us since, as you know, Vance has been discussing with Ambassador Gerard Smith the possibility of his assuming overall responsibility for proliferation negotiations. Smith’s presence would provide us with the negotiating expe[Page 881]rience that has been so noticeably lacking in previous proliferation talks.
This memorandum raises some issues not treated in the interagency paper, summarizes the views of the five lead agencies—State, Defense, ERDA, ACDA, and Schlesinger—and sets forth the options available to you.
OPTIONS AND ARGUMENTS
Option 1: Permit reprocessing at Tokai on a provisional, experimental, multinational basis involving IAEA participation to test safeguards.
As you know, Tokai cannot operate commercially without a prior finding of safeguardability by the U.S. We wish to avoid such a finding since our policy is based on the premise that reprocessing by its very nature cannot be adequately safeguarded. This option assumes that Tokai could be allowed to operate experimentally without the finding of safeguardability. However there is some question as to whether that could in fact be done without opening the USG to legal challenge. State and ERDA both believe that Option 1 should be authorized as a fallback option available to the U.S. delegation should Option 3 and 2 prove non-negotiable. ACDA and Defense disagree. Schlesinger believes that it could be seen as inconsistent with domestic policies.
We expect that the Japanese will table some version of this option.
Option 2: Explore through expert consultation the feasibility of alter-ing Tokai so that it could operate to test both reprocessing and partial coprocessing.
As you know, partial coprocessing produces a mixed product of uranium and plutonium “spiked” with highly radioactive waste products which make the mixture dangerous and expensive to handle.
State believes that this should be the second allowed position. ERDA agrees. ACDA on the other hand feels that in some respects Option 2 is the least preferable option, in that—unlike Option 3—it establishes a precedent for reprocessing. Nor does it have the advantage of Option 1 of avoiding discrimination of treatment between the Japanese and FRG (which also has an experimental reprocessing plant).3
Option 3: Explore the possibility of operating Tokai only with a modified process that does not produce pure separated plutonium (i.e., some form of partial coprocessing).
All agencies agree that some version of this option is most preferable but they differ in their expectations of its acceptability to the Japanese. Defense and ACDA believe that only this option should be au[Page 882]thorized for negotiations, while State and ERDA believe that fallback options will be necessary.
Also, both Defense and ACDA believe that the U.S. should not offer to provide plutonium for the Japanese breeder, as proposed in the interagency paper. ACDA has calculated that reprocessing of the British-supplied fuel from the Magnox reactor at Tokai can provide sufficient plutonium to meet Japanese needs.
Schlesinger supports, but did not choose between, some version of Options 2 or 3.
Option 4: Seek Japanese agreement to defer running the Tokai plant for a fixed period of time, offering an incentives package in exchange.
All agencies agree that this option is likely to be non-negotiable.
SUGGESTED U.S. STRATEGY
All agencies are agreed that we should seek agreement on Option 3. They differ over whether we should offer to provide plutonium, and as to how far we should fallback in this meeting. Our strategy clearly should be to avoid the political damage that would result if the Japanese prove adamant against Option 3 and the talks reach a deadlock. At the same time, we want to avoid damaging U.S. non-proliferation objectives through showing so much flexibility (i.e., interest in Option 1) that the Japanese return home encouraged to maintain a rigid position.
Therefore, I recommend that the delegation be instructed to negotiate with a view to reaching agreement on Option 3, as modified to bar an offer of U.S.-supplied plutonium. In addition, if no progress can be made, and the Japanese propose some version of Option 1, the delegation should be instructed to respond by drawing them out on the details of their proposal. Our delegation should make it explicit however that the Japanese should not read into our response any expectation of eventual U.S. approval of such an option.
1. Our Basic Position
Option 3 (State, ERDA) ______
Option 3—no plutonium (DoD, ACDA, NSC) ______4[Page 883]
2. Fallback—in order of increasing flexibility.
None (DoD, ACDA) ______
Respond to Option 1, but do not offer it (NSC) ______
Option 2 (State) ______
Option 2 and 1 (ERDA) ______5
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 4, PD–08 . Confidential. Sent for action.↩
- The most recent round of discussions lasted from April 5–15.↩
- With the appointment of Spurgeon Keeny, who was the director of the Ford/Mitre study, [on nuclear power and issues] ACDA now has a strong expertise on this issue. ACDA’s comments, which raise several important points, are attached at Tab B for your information. [Footnote is in the original.] Tab B is not attached.↩
- Carter did not indicate which option he preferred.↩
- Carter did not indicate which option he preferred.↩
- On April 7, Carter told reporters that he recognized that it “would be impossible, counterproductive, and ill-advised for us to try to prevent other countries that need it from having the capability to produce electricity from atomic power” and that the “one difference that has been very sensitive as it relates to, say, Germany, Japan, and others, is that they fear that our unilateral action in renouncing the reprocessing of spent fuels to produce plutonium might imply that we prohibit them or criticize them severely because of their own need for reprocessing. This is not the case. They have a perfect right to go ahead and continue with their own reprocessing efforts. But we hope they’ll join with us in eliminating in the future additional countries that might have had this capability evolve.” (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, pp. 581–586)↩
- On May 2, Carter told European journalists that he favored “the supply of adequate nuclear fuel to nations for power production” but was “heavily committed to the prevention of the capability of non-nuclear nations from developing explosives, atomic weapons.” (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, pp. 760–767)↩
- No record of this conversation has been found.↩