402. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Mexico1

32669. Subject: US Position on Protocol I2 of Treaty of Tlatelolco. Ref: Mexico 1413.3 Pass to Ilene Heaphy, Saturday4 a.m.

1. Department is aware that General Conference of Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (OPANAL), at its April 1975 session, adopted resolution calling on US, France and USSR to adhere to protocols to Treaty of Tlatelolco (Protocol I in case of US and France, II in case of USSR) and declaring that if such adherence is not achieved by February 14, 1977, OPANAL would “submit the situation created” to the UN Security Council. Presumably, one of the reasons for upcoming extraordinary session of General Conference, scheduled on February 14 deadline (which is tenth anniversary of opening for signature of Treaty of Tlatelolco), is to draw attention to [Page 1026] non-compliance of nuclear powers with above resolution and to consider further action on issue, perhaps decision to bring matter to Security Council.

2. As Embassy knows, we have taken the position toward Protocol I that neither the Virgin Islands nor Puerto Rico could be included in the nuclear-free zone because the Virgin Islands were part of US Territory and Puerto Rico has a special relationship with the US. However, we have held that Guantanamo could be included if Cuba joined the Treaty and that the Treaty would apply to the Canal Zone when jurisdiction over the Zone returned to Panama under the Treaty currently being negotiated.

3. The new administration is presently conducting a thorough, interagency examination of US non-proliferation policy, and we would expect, in this connection, to review US attitude toward Protocol I, which has not been reviewed since the mid-1960s. Therefore, while no decision has been taken to alter our Protocol I position as described above, we would hope that it would be possible, in connection with the upcoming General Conference, to avoid taking a posture that could convey to OPANAL members the impression that we were overly rigid and unresponsive to their appeals that we reconsider the matter. Such an impression could encourage the members to proceed with any plans they may have to bring the protocols adherence issue to the UN Security Council. We strongly want to avoid such an action, not only because it might appear to raise questions about our commitment to non-proliferation, but because it could bring the sensitive issues of the Canal Zone negotiations and US-Cuban relations to a highly visible and politicized forum.

4. Embassy is therefore requested to convey the following points to OPANAL officials in manner deemed most appropriate (we would not object to circulation by OPANAL of any written communication to OPANAL members):

A. The US Government wishes to express its continuing support for the Treaty of Tlatelolco, as evidenced by its adherence to additional Protocol II of the Treaty,5 and its hope for the widest possible adherence to the Treaty and its additional protocols, by Latin American states and states located outside the region.

B. With respect to the appeal contained in Resolution 74 (IV), adopted April 17, 1975 by the General Conference of OPANAL, the US Government wishes to state that it is presently conducting a thorough [Page 1027] examination of its nuclear non-proliferation policy, which will include a review of the question of US adherence to additional Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

C. The US Government intends to maintain close contact with OPANAL on this question.

5. Embassy should not speculate on the outcome or timing of US review. It is likely that question of possible US adherence to Protocol I will be handled in more extended time frame than general non-proliferation review.

6. Embassy is requested to report as soon as possible on any developments regarding possible move to bring Protocol I question to Security Council.6

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770051–0353. Confidential; Immediate. Sent Immediate for information to USUN and the Mission in Geneva. Sent for information to all American Republic diplomatic posts. Drafted by Robert Einhorn (ACDA/NTB); cleared by Oplinger, Tuchman, Michael Congdon (ACDA/IR), John King (ARA/RPP), George Falk (ARA/MEX), Giles Harlow (DOD), David Macuk (IO/UNP) and Edward McGaffigan (T); and approved by Charles Van Doren (ACDA/NTB).
  2. 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.
  3. In telegram 1413 from Mexico City, February 5, Ambassador Jova told the Department of State that Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo might raise the subject of non-proliferation during his forthcoming meeting with President Carter. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770041–0835)
  4. February 12.
  5. Protocol II calls upon nuclear-weapon states to agree to respect the obligations set forth in the Treaty and to promise not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against Contracting Parties to the Treaty. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Arms Control and Disarmament, 1964–1968, Document 226.
  6. Ambassador Thompson reported that his presentation to OPANAL, including the administration’s decision to review the question of Protocol I, “was well-received and the most noteworthy event of the session.” (Telegram 1826 from Mexico City, February 15; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770053–1212)