357. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US
  • The Secretary
  • Under Secretary Philip Habib
  • Ambassador Arthur A. Hartman
  • Assistant Secretary George S. Vest
  • James F. Dobbins, EUR/WE (Notetaker)
  • Louis de Guiringaud Foreign Minister
  • Francois de Laboulaye Political Director

Pakistan and Non-Proliferation

de Guiringaud related that, in a meeting on September 8 with Pakistani Foreign Minister Aga Shahi, he had told Aga Shahi that France had a contract to furnish Pakistan with a plant which was capable of reprocessing used nuclear fuel in a manner that would enable it to be used again to fuel reactors. He had then proposed to have plans for this plant restructured, along the lines de Guiringaud had earlier discussed with Ambassador Hartman. De Guiringaud told Aga Shahi that the French government would, in due course, open conversations with Pakistan to rewrite certain parts of the agreement.

Aga Shahi had been very surprised, de Guiringaud said. De Guiringaud had been forced to endure an hour-long series of complaints about discrimination against Pakistan, vis-a-vis India, in the nuclear field. Aga Shahi had talked about the Canadian and US assistance to India in the nuclear field, including assistance on breeder technology. He claimed that India had been able to become a nuclear power as a result of such assistance. He had insisted that Pakistan must receive treatment comparable to that given India. Something must be done for Pakistan or assistance to India must be cut back.

De Guiringaud said that he had, as a result of this conversation, initiated a study of France’s nuclear relationship with India. The Secretary said that he would have a paper prepared for de Guiringaud outlining the current state of the US nuclear relationship with India. He said that the United States had agreed to provide a certain amount of fuel for the Tarapur reactor. The United States had also talked to India about the need to accept full-scope safeguards. The Indians had agreed to consider this seriously. Habib added that there had been some gen [Page 912] eral discussion on this issue with Desai who had indicated that the Indians would not conduct further nuclear tests. The Secretary said that Desai personally had been clear on this, and that he rejected testing. De Guiringaud noted, however, that not all of Desai’s subordinates were in agreement with his position, nor was Desai necessarily capable of controlling these people.

De Guiringaud said that Aga Shahi had asked, during the period before the Pakistani elections, that the French government not do anything to give the impression that the contract was not going forward without change. De Guiringaud had agreed to this request. He agreed that if it became known that pressure was being applied on Pakistan this would become an election issue which Bhutto might well make use of. (De Guiringaud also said that Aga Shahi had conveyed a clear impression that he felt that some of the charges against Bhutto, including one of murder, were not without substance.)

De Guiringaud asked that the contents of this conversation with Aga Shahi be kept absolutely confidential. The Secretary promised to do so.

De Guiringaud recalled that Ambassador Hartman had asked whether there had been any transfers from France of equipment for the Pakistani reprocessing plant after August 4. He said that the French government had last authorized transfers of such equipment on July 16. Such authorizations were valid for six months, and there was no way of determining within that period when items authorized were shipped.

The Secretary expressed the hope that the French government would continue to consider agreeing to full-scope safeguards at the London Suppliers Meeting. De Guiringaud replied that this issue had come before France’s Foreign Nuclear Policy Council, but no decision had been made to date. There would, he said, be another meeting of the Council at the end of September. He assured the Secretary that the French government was aware of US concerns in this matter.

De Guiringaud inquired about the status of the Brazil/German reprocessing contract. The Secretary replied that the US position had not changed. The US had indicated to Brazil that it wished to continue to discuss this matter. President Carter would be sending a letter to Brazilian President Geisel in the near future. In his letter he would suggest follow-up discussions. The Secretary said he would be going to Brazil the end of October to meet the Foreign Minister.

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De Guiringaud asked whether the US was also working with Argentina. Vance said it was. He had spoken to the Argentine Foreign Minister and would be visiting there when he visited Brazil. The Argentines had explained their need for nuclear power but seemed quite cooperative.

de Guiringaud asked whether the US was aware that Germany had concluded an agreement to supply Brazil with conventional arms. The Secretary said he was not, but would check. De Guiringaud also raised the activities of the German company which was constructing a missile test site in southeastern Zaire. He asked whether the US had any information on the range of these missiles. The Secretary said that he would check and provide the French government with what information was available. De Laboulaye noted the coincidence between the location of the German test site and the area of the recent problems in Shaba.

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

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 10, NODIS Memcons, 1977. Secret; Nodis. Approved by David Anderson (S/S) on October 11. The meeting took place in Vance’s office.