364. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1
- Non-Proliferation Policy Progress Report
The following non-proliferation progress report covers the period since your speech last October before the organizing conference of the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE).2
Where Are We After the First Year?
Your non-proliferation policy has challenged the conventional wisdom surrounding the nuclear fuel cycle and progress has been made towards key objectives. International attention to the proliferation risk of sensitive nuclear technologies has increased. A more cooperative assessment of the problems is underway. Opposition remains and tensions with some nations persist, but our intentions and actions are better understood, received with less suspicion and have greater credibility.
The London Nuclear Suppliers Group Guidelines were published in early January, publicly establishing minimum conditions for nuclear technology exports to which all Suppliers have agreed.3 By submitting them to the IAEA and publishing them we reduced institutional tensions between the Suppliers Group and the IAEA.
Following your opening of the INFCE, its constituent working groups have begun substantive work. The polemics we feared could hamper the Evaluation’s progress have been minor and a number of nations see real value in such a comprehensive examination of the nuclear fuel cycle. It will take time but our purpose is to develop a consensus, not to solve immediate problems.[Page 927]
The French decision to seek to amend the reprocessing plant contract with Pakistan moves France somewhat closer to your policy, but we are still uncertain about the firmness of the decision and the type of modifications the French are proposing. The FRG agreement to export to Brazil a complete fuel cycle remains essentially intact, but the size of the enrichment facility reportedly will be reduced, and there appears to be some dissension in the Brazilian nuclear community concerning the technological and economic value of the deal.
Your visit to India,4 while it did not lead to Indian acceptance of full-scope safeguards, reinforced the dialogue and underscored for Prime Minister Desai the importance you attach to non-proliferation measures. In Iran, your talks with the Shah5 resulted in agreement in principle on the terms for a new Agreement for Cooperation, but differences of interpretation of the agreement in principle still exist.
The new Non-Proliferation legislation6 tightens criteria for nuclear cooperation but does not call for moratoria on exports. Likewise, the Administration’s conditions for new highly enriched uranium (HEU) exports7 are stringent, but exports under existing agreements are not embargoed.
It is increasingly evident abroad that the United States has a long-term commitment to a stronger international nuclear community based upon a viable non-proliferation regime. We must recognize, however, that while we have sensitized the international community to the dangers of proliferation, we remain essentially isolated (with Canada and Australia) among the major industrialized states in questioning the inevitability of moving toward reprocessing and early commercialization of breeder technology. The prevailing attitude remains that non-proliferation goals can be pursued without conflict with perceived nuclear energy needs if reliance is placed on political and safeguards arrangements rather than limits on technology. The success of our policy will depend to a great extent on our ability to reconcile these differences. Cooperation towards this end is increasing. Our objectives will not be reached quickly but the strategy is sound.
Specific progress in key areas of the policy is outlined in the attachment.[Page 928]
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 123, Vance, Miscellaneous Communications With: 3–5/78. Secret. In the upper right-hand corner of the memorandum, Carter wrote “Good report. J.”↩
- On October 19, 1977, Carter told the INFCE Conference that the United States was “eager to cooperate as a nation which is a consumer and also as a supplier. We want to ensure that where there is a legitimate need and where there’s mutually agreed upon nonproliferation restraint, that there be an adequate supply of nuclear fuel.” (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, pp. 1812–1814)↩
- The updated Guidelines applied to nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes to help ensure that such transfers would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities. (Documents on Disarmament, 1978, pp. 7–25)↩
- Carter visited India January 1–3.↩
- Carter visited Iran December 31, 1977–January 1, 1978.↩
- The Carter administration submitted the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act to Congress in January. Carter signed it into law on March 10, 1978.↩
- The Carter administration established the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) Program in 1977 to develop the technical means to use Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) instead of HEU in research reactors, while ensuring no significant loss of performance.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 338.↩
- The French legislative elections were scheduled for March 12 and March 19.↩
- The proposal, which was actually first announced by Schlesinger’s aide John Ahearne during an October 18, 1977 press conference, would allow the U.S. Government to “acquire and store the spent nuclear fuel that’s piling up at the nation’s utilities.” (“President Proposes U.S. Acquire and Store Spent Nuclear Fuel,” Wall Street Journal, October 18, 1977, p. 19)↩
- Not found.↩
- Not found.↩
- Vance visited Latin America from November 20–23, 1977. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXIV, South America; Latin America Regional.↩
- Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco bound overseas nations with territories in Latin America—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands—to the terms of the treaty, which prohibited the manufacture, testing, storage, and use of nuclear weapons in Latin America.↩