381. Minutes of a Special Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • Non-Proliferation Matters and Tarapur Fuel Licenses


  • White House

    • Mr. David Aaron
    • Ambassador Henry Owen
  • State

    • Secretary Cyrus Vance
    • Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher
    • Ambassador Gerard Smith (Ambassador-at-Large and Special Representative of the President for Non-Proliferation)
    • Mr. Frank Hodsoll (Deputy Special US Representative for Non-Proliferation Matters)
    • Ms. Jane Coon (Deputy Assistant Secretary) (Tarapur only)
  • OSD

    • Deputy Secretary W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
    • Mr. Walter Slocombe (Deputy Under Secretary for Policy Planning)
  • Energy

    • Mr. Worth Bateman (Acting Under Secretary)
    • Deputy Secretary John Sawhill
    • Dr. George Cunningham (Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy)
  • JCS

    • General David Jones
  • DCI

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • [name not declassified] (Special Assistant for Nuclear Proliferation Intelligence)
  • ACDA

    • Mr. Spurgeon Keeny (Deputy Director)
    • Mr. Charles Van Doren (Assistant Director, Non-Proliferation Bureau)
  • OSTP

    • Dr. Frank Press
    • Mr. Benjamin Huberman
  • OMB

    • Dr. John White
    • Mr. Dan Taft (Deputy Associate Director Special Studies Division)
  • CEQ

    • Mr. Gus Speth
  • Domestic Policy

    • Mr. Stuart Eizenstat
    • Ms. Kitty Schirmer
  • NSC

    • Dr. Lincoln Bloomfield
    • Mr. Jerry Oplinger
    • Mr. Thomas Thornton

Vance opened the meeting by stating that the objectives of the President’s 1977 non-proliferation policies remain valid. But do our assumptions about how to achieve those objectives? Our policies have not been as effective as we hoped, and have caused resentment with our Allies. We have to respond to their energy needs, and this could lead to a better non-proliferation regime. Smith’s proposals2 have been approved by DoE and ACDA, and we should try to agree to send the paper forward to the President as soon as possible. (S)

[Page 970]

Smith said that in preparing his paper, he did not want to demean the President’s 1977 policies. Those policies have greatly increased international awareness that the fuel cycle is a “dangerous beast.” Our successes include persuading the FRG and France not to export sensitive technologies, turning off dangerous developments in Korea and Taiwan, and cancellation of the reprocessing contract in Pakistan. INFCE came out better than expected. On MB–10 issues, while there has been a fair amount of static, we did not turn any down. Our failures include the FRG/Brazil deal, Argentina and our efforts to use organized sanctions in Pakistan. We have not made a dent on India, and have not made much progress with South Africa, although we probably did manage to abort a test. (S)

We now face the problem of the post-INFCE period and the NPT Review Conference. The law requires us to get consent rights over reprocessing in the USEURATOM agreement. Europeans have hinted that they might be willing to give us the juridical right if there were an implied understanding on how we would exercise it. The Japanese plan to build a large reprocessing plant; they want predictability in meeting their plutonium requirements. (S)

Smith said that we have essentially three options: to continue on our present course, which would not get us to our 1977 objectives; to follow the course advocated by the UK (a universal code of nuclear trade)3 which is dangerous, or to become more flexible and try to build a better regime. The proposals put forward would not require a change in the law, but he personally hoped that we would change it later. (S)

Smith defined the regime he seeks as including:

—full-scope safeguards as a common supplier requirement for new export commitments;

—deferral of thermal recycle;


—reaffirmation and perhaps extension of FRG and French policies not to export enrichment and reprocessing technology;

—enhanced cooperation in dealing with mavericks; and

—multinational auspices for sensitive facilities. (S)

Smith said that what he seeks now is approval of planning assumptions; i.e. authority to take soundings in some depth on the Hill and abroad, particularly on the central question of relaxing our MB–10 policy to permit generic approval of reprocessing and plutonium use in advanced countries. (S)

There was some discussion of which countries might qualify for this treatment. Would Korea, for example, qualify? Smith said that the [Page 971] scheme was intended to have an evolutionary character, if Korea and Taiwan want in, it would be hard to say no. (S)

Smith said that he also wanted to offer long-term fuel licenses; for NPT parties he would issue licenses for the life of the reactor. (S)

Smith said that if we fail to do something along these lines, our policy would begin to fall apart. Other countries are turning to the Soviets; Europe is currently doing more enrichment for Europe than the US. They are also building their own enrichment plants. He did not think that the changes would have any affect on domestic nuclear programs such as Barnwell and Clinch River. He had talked to Congressman Bingham and other staffers; we would run into some static, but there are other Congressmen who will believe the changes don’t go far enough. (S)

Owen asked exactly what the President is being asked to decide; would it be authority to open negotiations. Smith said it would be authority to go ahead with Congress and Japan and Europe, with the President’s approval to be sought before we get locked in. It is hard to define when he would come back to the President; perhaps before we give them specific proposals. But the President would be free to change the timing or substance as we go along. (S)

Smith said that no concessions would be agreed until everything in the package was agreed; the “deal” is a whole package. (S)

As for the risks of public perception of a major change, Smith said that is why he regards his proposals as planning assumptions. At the end of the negotiation, he felt that the public would accept the result. (S)

Asked about the acceptability of relaxing our MB–10 policy only for some countries, and not for advanced LDC’s like Brazil, Argentina and Taiwan, Smith said Argentina won’t be producing plutonium in quantities until the next decade. He could not predict the future, but full-scope would help to prevent new deals without adequate safeguards. (S)

Aaron said that what the US would give up is clear; it is not clear what we would require in return. There would be increased flow on plutonium, but the regime the flow goes into is not very clear. The goal of better cooperation for problem countries may become a constantly moving target; others will pocket our concessions but it is not clear we will get the desired return. (S)

Smith said that if we only succeed in getting an effective IPS, we would be better off than now. (S)

Eisenstat said he had real concerns on the signal this change would send with regard to our position on Clinch River and domestic reprocessing; he wanted to consider this further and take Congressional [Page 972] soundings. We have a great deal of water to carry on the Hill already with energy matters and the NRC reorganization plan. He did not want to set off a wave of indignation among those who have supported the President. He reserved his position. (S)

Keeny agreed that Smith’s proposals would be helpful to non-proliferation. We should be clear about the package of quids. Generic approval of MB–10’s should not constrain us in arguing against premature plutonium commitments, and IPS should not be taken as a green light for reprocessing. We should retain our bilateral approval rights in establishing an IPS. (S)

Speth said that the effect of the proposals would be to put the US stamp of approval on reprocessing and plutonium use. In the long run, the policy would be based on an explicitly discriminatory regime. He felt that the paper presented one point of view; the President needs to hear the contrary case. He felt this might be presented by the NSC. He was not optimistic that the line that we were not radically changing the policy would wash, and felt that Bingham, Zablocki and others would be very skeptical. (S)

Aaron said he had reservations about Congressional explorations. That could trigger newspaper stories about a major change in policy. He felt we need a systematic study of all options. Smith’s proposals may be better than other ideas, but the questions of quids, other options, and the effect on near-proliferators needed to be closely analyzed. He also felt it was important to look at the question of timing. (S)

Claytor said he thought Smith was absolutely right and it was time to move. (S)

Jones also supported Smith. (S)

Vance said a working group would be established to produce a full options paper in two weeks. (S)

[Omitted here is material related to Tarapur fuel licenses]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 79, PRC 137, Non-Proliferation, Tarapur: 4/9/80. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes devoted to Tarapur are scheduled to be printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XIX, South Asia.
  2. See Document 379.
  3. Not found.