410. Editorial Note

On April 7, 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced that after “an extremely thorough review of all the issues that bear on the use of nuclear power,” including his concern that nuclear materials ostensibly designated for peaceful purposes could be diverted into weapons, he had concluded that the United States must work with other nations to explore “a wide range of international approaches and frameworks that will permit all nations to achieve their energy objectives while reducing the spread of nuclear explosive capability.” (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, pp. 587–588)

A week later, Carter addressed the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States and promised to sign Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco. However, he said that “banning the spread of nuclear explosives does not require giving up the benefits of peaceful technology.” The United States, he assured his audience, would “work closely with all of you on new technologies to use the atom for peaceful purposes.” (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, pp. 611–616) The Department of State forwarded Carter’s remarks to all American Republic diplomatic [Page 1040] posts in telegram 85145, April 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770132–0029)

Alfonso García Robles, the Mexican diplomat who was “one of the principal architects” of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, “expressed great pleasure at” the announcement. (Telegram 2849 from the Mission in Geneva, April 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770135–0628) OPANAL Secretary General Hector Gros Espiell echoed those sentiments on April 20. (Telegram 3979 from Caracas, April 21; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770140–0286)

The Department of State also instructed the Ambassador to Brazil, John Crimmins, to tell the Brazilian government that Carter’s decision to sign Protocol I would hopefully lead to “full participation in the treaty by other states, including (although not singling out) Brazil.” Nevertheless, the Carter administration wanted to reassure Brazil that it did not “wish to reinforce any GOB suspicions that we are adhering to Protocol I specifically as a lever on Brazil.” The United States was “not only ‘preaching’ to others about nuclear risks,” but would “place some restraints on our own actions in furtherance of nonproliferation goals.” (Telegram 92303 to Brasilia, April 23; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840086–0918)