353. Memorandum from Acting Secretary of State Christopher to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Current Tokai Negotiations

Gerard Smith is now in Tokyo negotiating the conditions under which the Japanese prototype reprocessing facility at Tokai may reprocess US-origin fuel. His negotiating instructions are set forth in Attachment 1.2

Gerry Smith has obtained Japanese agreement to all the undertakings we requested with one exception: the Japanese have said they now can give us only an assurance of their intention to go to coprocessing after two years, because they cannot agree to a commitment which would require Diet ratification. Gerry has cabled us asking for authority to reach an ad referendum agreement on this revised basis this week (Attachment 2).3

With your approval, we would propose to cable Gerry tomorrow to modify his instructions along the lines he and Ambassador Mansfield have recommended, for the following reasons:

1. Japanese acceptance of our position on deferral of recycling of plutonium in light water reactors is an important support for our non-proliferation policy, and is particularly useful coming on the eve of the launching of the INFCEP program.

2. We believe that the commitments that the Japanese have made are more important than the question of when a technically marginal procedure such as coprocessing would commence at Tokai. We still retain the option to insist on coprocessing after two years.

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3. It is important to maintain a close working relationship with Japan in the nuclear area, and Ambassador Mansfield has warned that further delay may not work in our favor. Political developments could complicate our relationship and threaten gains already made.

You should be aware that Smith’s recommended solution may be criticized by some in Congress. However, the pending non-proliferation legislation would cause difficulties for any of our proposed solutions, and the problem may be exacerbated by further delay. In any case, consultations with Congress will be crucial. Ambassador Mansfield should be able to help.

ACDA agrees with this recommendation.

Attachments:

1. Memorandum from Dr. Brzezinski.

2. Telegram from Ambassador Smith.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Papers of Michael Armacost: Lot 89D265, Box 4. Secret; Nodis.
  2. See Document 354.
  3. Telegram 206967 to the White House, August 30; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, N770005–0443.