407. Memorandum From the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (Warnke) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco

ACDA believes that the military costs of US adherence to Protocol I—primarily the constraint on contingency plans for storing nuclear anti-submarine warfare devices in Puerto Rico—are modest compared to the benefits of improving our relations with Latin America and [Page 1036] strengthening international support for our global non-proliferation efforts. In addition, such adherence could increase the likelihood of a Soviet pledge not to deploy or store nuclear weapons anywhere in Latin America and a commitment by Argentina, Brazil and Cuba not to acquire nuclear weapons or permit them to be deployed on their territories.

We favor option two of the options listed in the decision memorandum.2 Announcement of our decision to adhere in a major Presidential address on April 14 would maximize the favorable impact of that decision on US relations with Latin America. Equally important, in our view, such an announcement would be a valuable means of strengthening international support for the Administration’s non-proliferation policies. Nonaligned recipients of nuclear technology, whether or not located in Latin America, would welcome US adherence to Protocol I as demonstrating our willingness to bear our fair share of responsibility for curbing proliferation and as balancing an approach to non-proliferation that has been criticized by some as requiring recipients to make the greatest sacrifices, especially in terms of foregoing access to nuclear technologies.

We also regard option two as a more promising means of achieving corresponding restraints by the USSR, Cuba and Argentina than if we made US adherence conditional on acceptance of restraints by those states. Making our adherence conditional on actions by others would, in effect, place us in a bilateral negotiation with each of them, with the risk that the Tlatelolco issue would get entangled with unrelated matters of bilateral concern and the strong likelihood that, forced to view the situation essentially as a bargain with the US, the other states would be reluctant to accept a bargain that clearly requires greater concessions by them than by the US. The result might well be continued impasse.

On the other hand, US adherence without conditions can be expected to stimulate Latin American proponents of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, who would be encouraged by enhanced prospects for early completion of the Treaty regime, to apply pressure on the remaining holdouts to accept their respective obligations. While there is of course no guarantee that such pressure will succeed, we feel that it will be more effective than the modest, and perhaps counterproductive, leverage we could bring to bear on the holdouts directly.

If the President decides to announce a new Protocol I position on April 14, we believe it would be important to brief key Congressmen in advance and to consult with the Governor of Puerto Rico. In addition, [Page 1037] in implementing such a decision, it would be necessary to develop a statement of understandings to accompany our signature and ratification of Protocol I that would place on record our interpretation that the Tlatelolco regime does not affect transit rights or freedom of navigation on the high seas.

Paul C. Warnke
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Subject, Treaty of Tlatelolco, Box 66, Brazil, 3–12/77. Secret. Copies were sent to Vance and Brown.
  2. See attachment to Document 406.