355. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Summary of the President’s Meeting with French Prime Minister Raymond Barre


  • President Jimmy Carter
  • Vice President Walter F. Mondale
  • Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary of State
  • Arthur A. Hartman, U.S. Ambassador to France
  • George Vest, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Robert Hunter, NSC Staff Member (Notetaker)
  • Alec Toumayan, Department of State Interpreter
  • Raymond Barre, Prime Minister of the French Republic
  • Louis de Guiringaud, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Jacques Kosciusko-Morizet, Ambassador of France to the United States
  • Francois de Laboulaye, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Jean-Claude Paye, Advisor to the Prime Minister on International Affairs

The President and the Prime Minister met alone in the Oval Office from 11:06 a.m. until 11:33 a.m., and together with the others in the Cabinet Room until 12:50 p.m., as follows.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to non-proliferation.]

The President said that this is a legitimate reason. He appreciates France’s taking part in the fuel cycle evaluation. There had been some problems, and he hopes that we have accommodated to France’s concerns. When the U.S., Canada, and Australia decide on a policy, he wants to understand France’s needs. We never try not to let others get the breeder reactor. We are working on one, too. We should share experiences on questions like the origin of uranium ore, and how to minimize the “refining” of it for explosives. It would strengthen our hand in the proliferation field, and our decision will not affect France adversely. The fuel cycle meeting will be on October 21.

The Prime Minister said that the French position was decided in their nuclear council by Giscard last October, and in December we knew about it; Giscard talked about it clearly. France appreciated the discussions to prepare the evaluation program. But they have some conditions. First, there should be useful discussions with the Soviet [Page 909] Union. Second, the study should be more at the level of experts than an “integral” conference. That is, not governments—they have already talked about it.

Third is this: there is a need to keep up freedom of supply, to all countries, for specific purposes. Therefore, renewing the EURATOM-Canadian agreement would be useful.2

There are long-term problems. France is against the military uses of atomic energy. It will take all measures to avoid proliferation. If it works on breeders, it is because energy progress is essential: they have no coal, oil, or gas. They are the fourth largest importer (of oil?) in the world. They cannot maintain the correct working of their economy without energy progress: including new forms of energy, breeders, and reactors for electricity. They will take all measures to avoid diversion to military uses.

The Foreign Minister said that when the fuel cycle program next meets in Washington, it will be a governmental meeting, to evaluate progress. After that experts should meet, in different groups, with different ideas—such as waste products, breeders, etc. They would like one group in Paris: reprocessing. (Both the President and Secretary Vance said “uh huh.”)

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to non-proliferation.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 12, France: 1977. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room.
  2. Canada and EURATOM signed an agreement similar to that of the U.S.–EURATOM agreement on October 6, 1959.