376. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Tarnoff) to Denis Clift of the National Security Council Staff1


  • Status Report on Current Non-Proliferation Issues

In response to your request,2 we have prepared the following brief summary of current non-proliferation issues. Please let me know if you wish further elaboration on any of these issues.

Pakistan (Secret/Nodis)

Pakistan continues to pursue a nuclear explosive capability, including development of enrichment and reprocessing facilities to acquire weapons useable material and development of the non-nuclear elements of a nuclear explosive device. We believe that Pakistan will not be able to accumulate enough fissile material from its enrichment and reprocessing activities for a nuclear explosive for at least two to three years, but there are recurring reports that Pakistan might test a device within the next six months, perhaps with material acquired from abroad. We cannot exclude this possibility.

We have terminated foreign assistance to Pakistan in accordance with the Symington amendment3 (PL–480 continues), and we have repeatedly told high levels of the Pakistan government that we will not be able to respond to its legitimate security and economic development needs as long as it continues its present nuclear activities. Some of our allies, the PRC and the Soviet Union have also expressed their concerns to the GOP.

Foreign Affairs advisor Agha Shahi will be in Washington next week for consultation on security questions, including the nuclear issue. We are also consulting with our allies with a view to developing a common approach to the Pakistan problem.

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[Pages 2 and 3 of this document are missing] conclusively what has taken place. We have informed key Allies of these indications and are now attempting to verify the indications by independent means. This information is being very closely held.

This development complicates an already difficult situation in regard to South Africa’s nuclear activities. South Africa has not moved forward with a package settlement we proposed last year by which it would place its enrichment facility (which is capable of producing weapons-useable material) under safeguards and adhere to the NPT in return for resumed US supply of fuel for its research reactor and fulfillment of our commitment to supply fuel for the two power reactors it is acquiring from France.

We have prodded South Africa toward resolutions of the nuclear issue and have also discussed the problem with France, the only other state with leverage in the nuclear area with South Africa. France has informed South Africa that it will not undercut the position we have taken. We are now considering internally additional steps that might be taken.

Harmonization of Policies with Key States on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle (Confidential)

The International Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE) will formally end next February but most of its reports have been written. INFCE has played a useful role in developing a basis for fuel cycle decisions, but it is a technical study, not a negotiation, and as such will not, in itself, resolve differences on fuel cycle issues. It has, however, provided for a pause and a number of useful conclusions from a non-proliferation point of view.

We have begun informal consultations with key countries (primarily France, UK, FRG and Japan) on developing common approaches to outstanding nuclear issues. The key issues involve ground rules and institutions for sensitive nuclear facilities and material, particularly reprocessing plants and plutonium. Most of the other major countries are also now looking for ways to resolve remaining issues, and we need to accelerate our discussions if we are to have maximum impact.

We are seeking a consensus including (1) plutonium use is appropriate in breeder and advanced reactor development in states with large electrical grids; (2) recycle of plutonium in light water reactors should be avoided because it is only marginally economic and poses a serious proliferation risk (it could result in early separation and use of plutonium in any state with a reactor); (3) development of new reprocessing capacity should thus be limited to the requirements for plutonium for breeder and advanced reactor R&D and development of both [Page 957] enrichment and reprocessing facilities should be related to international capacity rather than strictly national needs; and (4) sensitive facilities be subject to appropriate institutional arrangements and incorporate feasible technical barriers to misuse and improved safeguards.

We are making progress, but key issues remain to be resolved. Ambassador Gerard Smith is planning shortly to begin consultations with key countries on a post-INFCE framework. We hope to reach agreement on elements of such a framework before the seven-nation Summit next summer in Venice.

Peter Tarnoff4
Executive Secretary
  1. Source: Carter Library, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Box 2, Talking Points for Foreign Policy Breakfasts: 7/79–12/79. Secret; Nodis; Eyes Only.
  2. Not found.
  3. The Symington amendment introduced by Senator Stuart Symington (D-Missouri) required the President, when furnishing development assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and making sales under the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, to take into account (1) “the percentage of the recipient or purchasing country’s budget which is devoted to military purposes, and (2) the degree to which the recipient or purchasing country is using its foreign exchange resources to acquire military equipment.” (The Foreign Assistance Act of 1967, P.L. 90–137, approved on November 14, 1967; 81 Stat. 459)
  4. Tarnoff signed the memorandum “Peter.”