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412. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in the Federal Republic of Germany and Brazil1

92297. For Ambs from the Deputy Secretary; London for Nye. Subject: FRG/GOB Nuclear Agreement—Next Steps.

1. We are considering how best to take advantage of the meeting between President Carter and Chancellor Schmidt at the London summit2 to meet our concerns over aspects of the FRG-Brazil nuclear agreement.

2. The purpose of this cable is to give you our tentative thinking on the elements of a comprehensive settlement and to seek your views on the package as well as possible tactics by which to secure its acceptance.

3. It may be possible to proceed as follows.

—Just prior to the President’s meeting with Schmidt, Ambassador Crimmins would deliver a letter from the President for Geisel. The letter would contain appropriate preambular language referring to our mutual energy problems and prospects, the departure from previous US policy represented by our SALT proposals, comprehensive test ban policy, adherence to Protocol I of Tlatelolco, and deferral of domestic reprocessing. The letter would then propose the elements contained in paragraph four below, suitably phrased.

—The letter would be an attempt to wrench this subject out of diplomatic channels and raise it to the level of high statecraft. It might, or might not, make a specific proposal with respect to further discussions. The letter could be delivered through Silveria, possibly with backup duplicate through SRF/SNI channels.

—In his meetings with Schmidt the President would express disappointment that the Germans had issued initial licenses. He would inform Schmidt orally (and via a “Non Paper”) of the proposals he had just made to Geisel. The President would ask Schmidt whether he considered the proposals to be reasonable. If, as we hope, Schmidt responds in the affirmative, then the President would ask Schmidt to convey that view personally and explicitly to Geisel.

4. Elements of possible compromise settlement:

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A. Treaty of Tlatelolco

—Request Brazil to confirm publicly, consistent with the position taken by Foreign Minister Silveira, that it will act as if bound by the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and thus all of its nuclear facilities will be under IAEA safeguards.

—Over the longer term, offer to work with Brazil to bring the Treaty of Tlatelolco into full effect, with the result that all peaceful nuclear explosives would be precluded. (Brazil is committed not to use its present nuclear supply from the US and Germany for explosives.)

B. Expanded Nuclear Cooperation

—Offer to cooperate with Brazil in developing technology associated with high temperature reactors and the thorium fuel cycle, as part of the US-proposed fuel cycle evaluation program. Point out that we believe that these technologies could greatly aid Brazil in achieving energy independence; without reliance on the plutonium economy.

C. Enrichment

—Tell Brazil that we accept the contemplated initial steps toward the establishment of a multi-national enrichment facility in Brazil. (Licenses for a laboratory-scale facility utilizing the unproven Becker nozzle process are to be issued in 1979; subsequently a demonstration plant will be licensed.)

D. Reprocessing

—Ask Brazil to acquiesce in deferral of any further transfers of reprocessing technology pending evaluation of present and alternative nuclear fuel cycles in the fuel cycle evaluation program.3

Vance
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840086–0628. Secret; Nodis. Sent for information Immediate to London. Drafted by Denis Lamb (D); cleared by Steven Steiner (S/S); and approved by Christopher.
  2. The London Economic Summit, a meeting of the Western industrialized nations, took place on May 7–8. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. III, Foreign Economic Policy, Documents 27 and 28.
  3. On April 27, Crimmins reported in telegram 3330 from Brasilia that “the time has come to make the move” proposed by the Department of State. “The critical factor,” he cautioned, remained “our readiness and ability to exert persuasive influence and pressure on the FRG.” He also urged the administration to make sure that the Brazilians “understand what we are driving at; ambiguity on this point can only lay up serious trouble for the future.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840086–3330)