369. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, France, Canada, the Soviet Union, and Australia1

258208. Subject: Nuclear Suppliers Group: Policy on Transfers of Enrichment Technology.

[Page 938]

1. Embassies should present to appropriate host government officials the Non-Paper in para 2, drawing orally on background information in para 3. We are seeking preliminary reactions of key Nuclear Supplier Governments to our approach to and proposed language for clarification of the restraint in export of uranium enrichment technology called for in the Nuclear Supplier Group guidelines. Host authorities should be clear that we are not seeking to establish any forms of restraint beyond those already provided for in the guidelines. At the same time, you should stress that the US, for its part, has never transferred enrichment technology under its agreements for cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and does not foresee any circumstances likely to arise in the near future which would occasion a change in this policy.

2. Text of Non-Paper follows: Begin text: transfers of enrichment technology. In recent months, the US has held informal consultations with several Nuclear Supplier Group members on the question of adopting further restraints in the area of enrichment technology exports. We have found the view to be generally held that the relevant suppliers might usefully adopt additional restraint in this area. At the same time, we have concluded that a formal meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and formal amendment of the Nuclear Supplier Group guidelines would not be feasible at this time. Accordingly, we are considering adopting the following principle as US policy.

“In applying Article 7 of the guidelines, the Government of the US recognizes the need for special restraint in the transfer of enrichment technology and for early consultations before making any commitments in this field. As stated in Article 7, the US believes that any such transfer should be under arrangements that include supplier involvement and/or multinational participation, and believe it desirable to continue supplier consultations regarding the characteristics of such arrangements which will reinforce international safeguards.

“We would appreciate governments’ comments on this approach and indications of whether governments would be prepared to adopt similar policies for future commitments.” End text.

3. Following background information may also be drawn upon in discussing above presentation with host authorities. NSG guidelines call for “restraint” in export of sensitive fuel reprocessing and uranium enrichment technologies, but do not incorporate any understandings as to the circumstances under which such exports might be appropriate. With respect to reprocessing, several key relevant suppliers have additionally undertaken, unilaterally, further voluntary restraint on exports. FRG and France, for example, have publicly indicated their intention not to enter into new arrangements for transfer of reprocessing technology. The US is strongly of the view that similar policies are also [Page 939] necessary with respect to enrichment technologies. We have over the past months informally consulted with the governments of the UK, France, the FRG, and the USSR concerning the approach incorporated in the above note. On the substance of our approach to special restraint in enrichment exports, it should also be noted that: (a) restraint should cover all present enrichment technologies, and not only those mentioned in the NSG guidelines: (b) at the same time, we recognize that additional, more stringent, controls may prove necessary in the future regarding advanced isotopic separation technologies such as laser isotope separation: (c) supplier consultations would not be intended or used for commercial advantage. We would not intend to make any public announcement of this policy.

4. For Paris. We have made a particular effort to shape the above text to take into account the exchange Nye had with Bujon (CEA) and Louet (MFA) in late May.2 If the French question whether the proposed principle would apply to their chemical process, you should say that processes that are demonstrated to be particularly attractive with respect to difficulty of producing HEU and ease of material accountancy could be treated in a less stringent manner.

5. For Bonn. We have also sought to shape our approach according to the views expressed by Dittman, et al, when they met with Nye in Bonn in late May.3 If the Germans raise the question of transfer of enrichment technology under the FRG-Brazil deal, you should say that text does not envision any retroactive application of the proposed principle. Our previously-stated concern on the transfer of sensitive technologies under the FRG-Brazil deal remains unchanged.

6. For London. Proposed language of suppliers undertaking is that agreed upon by Nye and Moberly.4 British are thoroughly familiar with the proposed approach. You should share this instruction with FCO, to keep them informed of steps we are taking.

7. For Moscow. Our basic approach on this issue was discussed most recently with the Soviets in Vienna on September 19, when Ambassador Gerard Smith briefed Morokhov (Vienna 8485)5 subject was also discussed in May, when Nye met in Geneva with Timerbaev.6 Soviets seemed generally sympathetic to the need for further restraints on [Page 940] enrichment exports, and Timerbaev was particularly concerned that the NSG continue to show signs of life, preferably through a meeting of the 15. In the absence of an opportunity to convene such a meeting of the NSG, we see an advantage to early and positive action on the present proposal as an alternative means of demonstrating continued vigor of the NSG effort.

8. For Canberra. You should provide the informal note and background info for the GOA’s background only, noting our desire to keep the Australians fully and currently informed of supplier issues that impinge directly on their interests. With reference to recent US-Australian exchanges involving Nye on the subject of multinational enrichment ventures, you should ensure that GOA understands that our approach is consistent with the possibility of establishing a multinational enrichment plant in Australia and in no way seeks to undercut any Australian aspirations in this regard. Neither is this initiative intended to press GOA in any way for a public statement on multinational control of enrichment facilities (State 244023).7

9. Department would appreciate early initial reactions to this approach.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780417–0367. Confidential. Drafted by Allen Locke (PM/NPP); cleared by Marilyn Meyers (EA/J), Rust Deming (OES/NET), Carol Stocker (EUR/RPE), Frank Bennett (EA/ANZ), Charles Van Doren (ACDA), Ronald Bettauer (L/N), Robert Kelley (S/AS), and Marvin Humphreys (PM/NPP); and approved by Nye.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.
  4. Not found.
  5. Telegram 8485 from Vienna, September 20, reported that the head of the Soviet Delegation to the IAEA General Conference, Morokhov, “welcomed briefing by Gerard Smith on status of London Suppliers Conference, saying Soviet and US interests were ‘identical’ in non-proliferation.” Smith called this comment “significant.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780384–0286)
  6. Not found.
  7. In telegram 244023 to Canberra, September 26, the Department of State said it concurred with the Embassy’s judgment “not to push for a public GOA statement” favoring multinational control of enrichment and processing facilities “at this time.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780392–0928)