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


  • Reply to Giscard

President Giscard has sent you (at Tab B)2 a letter on proliferation. (It is not really a personal letter but rather one prepared by the bureaucracy.) In the letter, he asserts that a misunderstanding occurred regarding the objectives of the nuclear experts meeting in Paris on June 8–9.3 He says he thought it was supposed to study the feasibility of the fuel cycle study; we and everyone else thought that issue was settled and used the Experts’ Meeting to draft terms of reference for the study.

Giscard’s letter suggests that the French now are going back on what appeared at the Summit to be a commitment to participate in our proposed international fuel cycle evaluation. He expresses his belief that the experts should meet again to undertake the preliminary study commissioned in London.

Attached at Tab A4 is a proposed response to President Giscard that urges the French to get back on board with respect to the evaluation, while making some accommodation for the apparent “misunderstanding.” It also takes advantage of Giscard’s opening to you to raise our two key issues with the French:

Adoption of full scope safeguards: We have made startling progress in the past two months on full scope safeguards: the Canadians already practice them unilaterally; the British, Germans and Soviets have stated clear support for them as joint supplier policy. The only remaining barrier to their formal adoption at the fall London Suppliers meeting is France.

The Pakistani deal: We want to take this opportunity again to bring up the Pakistan issue with Giscard. A complimentary reference to Giscard’s efforts to delay deliveries to Pakistan and mention of the potentially positive effect on Pakistan of the attitude of the new Indian [Page 894] Government should encourage Giscard to feel more like a partner in these efforts and would tie the Pakistan issue into the overall picture in a low-key way.

The French concerns, mentioned in paragraph 2 of your reply, refer to: French demands that for the duration of the fuel cycle study (1) the U.S. allow all reprocessing of U.S.-supplied fuel from third countries, and (2) the U.S. agree not to renegotiate the U.S.–EURATOM Agreement for Cooperation.5 While both of these positions are in conflict with your expressed policy, there is modest room for maneuver. Specifically, State and ERDA propose the following steps referred to in the response.

1. That we agree to begin renegotiation of those elements of the U.S.–EURATOM Agreement that are not controversial, and that we agree not to take up, for the period of the first two-year phase of the fuel cycle evaluation, the controversial elements relating to disposition of spent fuel within the European Economic Community, including both reprocessing and retransfer.

2. That we indicate that we are prepared to consider favorably U.S. approval for reprocessing sufficient amounts of spent fuel during the period of the evaluation to ensure that the capacities of existing French facilities are met, but not agree to any long-term contract for reprocessing of spent fuel (particularly from Japan) that would be used to finance the construction of new French reprocessing facilities.

Finally, I believe we can use the response to Giscard to good effect by noting that Gerry Smith will soon be available to meet with appropriate officials of the French Government to explain your views in greater detail. This reference to Gerry’s role should help open a useful channel of communications at a level between the technical experts and direct contact between you and Giscard. The French have been exploiting this gap up until now.


That you approve the draft response.6

That you approve the negotiating positions outlined here, to be proposed to the French by Smith as soon as possible.7

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 12, France: 1977. Confidential. Sent for action. Carter initialed the top of the memorandum.
  2. The Giscard letter was not attached but is available in telegram 147101 to Paris, June 23. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850056-2578)
  3. Not found.
  4. Tab A was not attached. Carter’s response is available in telegram 147101 to Paris. (Ibid.)
  5. On June 23, 1958, the Eisenhower administration asked Congress for the “early approval” of an agreement between the United States government and the six EURATOM countries—Belgium, France, the FRG, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands—to cooperate to produce and use nuclear energy in Western Europe. (See “President Asks for Congressional Approval of Agreement with European Atomic Energy Community,” June 23, 1958, in Department of State Bulletin, pp. 70–80)
  6. Carter checked the “Approve” option and wrote “as amended” in the right-hand margin.
  7. Carter checked the “Approve” option and wrote “Be firm—C” in the right-hand margin.