416. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • President Carter’s First Meeting with the President of Venezuela During His State Visit

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Jimmy Carter
  • Vice President Walter Mondale
  • Secretary of State Cyrus Vance
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Terence A. Todman
  • NSC Staff Member Robert A. Pastor (Notetaker)
  • President Carlos Andres Perez of Venezuela
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramon Escovar Salom
  • Minister of State for International Economic Affairs Manuel Perez Guerrero
  • Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons Valentin Hernandez Acosta
  • Minister of Finance Hector Hurtado Navarro
  • Minister of Information and Tourism Diego Arria
  • Permanent Representative to the United Nations Simon Alberto Consalvi Bottaro
  • Ambassador to the United States Ignacio Iribarren Borges
  • Ambassador to the OAS Jose Maria Machin

President Carter opened the conversation by saying that since the United States and Venezuela shared so many goals and values, he was looking forward to seeking President Perez’s advice on the many bilateral and multilateral issues of concern to the two governments.

President Carlos Andres Perez thanked President Carter for his generosity and said that “what you attribute to me is precisely what you are.” He said that because he identified fully with many of President Carter’s policies, he felt that coordination of policies would be easy. President Perez said that he would not only try to relate the Venezuelan view of issues, but also the views of Latin America and the entire developing world.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to nuclear non-proliferation.]

On the issue of nuclear energy, President Perez said that he thought that a Latin American organization like OLADE (a Latin American Energy Organization set up by a Venezuelan initiative) or OPANAL (responsible for implementing the Tlatelolco Treaty) would be one way of approaching the problem of developing nuclear energy, and he suggested SELA 2 as a possible channel or perhaps as an organization that could manage a reprocessing plant. On reprocessing, he said that Brazil was basically using the need for a reprocessing plant as an excuse to obtain a nuclear weapons’ capability, which it wanted for reasons of status.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to nuclear non-proliferation.]

President Carter reiterated his strong opposition to the creation of nuclear explosives capabilities in the Hemisphere, and said that Mrs. Carter had made this point with many leaders, but particularly with Brazilian President Geisel.3 In addition, we continue to put maximum pressure on Germany and Brazil to try to get their agreement modified. Our general policy will remain that we will continue to provide nuclear fuel for these countries which do not have reprocessing capabilities.

The President said that Geisel had claimed his intentions were peaceful, but Mrs. Carter had warned that his successors may not be so peaceful. Speculating on Brazil’s motives, the President thought that [Page 1052]the capability to produce nuclear weapons probably held a certain status for Brazil and represented greater equality in power.

Nonetheless, Mrs. Carter encouraged Geisel to bring the Treaty of Tlatelolco into effect. The US has also asked the Soviets, and if Argentina could ratify it, that would remove Brazil’s excuse. The President said that Argentina’s apparent desire to build a reprocessing plant caused him some concern. He had signed Protocol I as an indication of his commitment. He asked whether Venezuela would use its influence to encourage Argentina’s ratification of the Tlatelolco Treaty.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to nuclear non-proliferation.]

President Perez then told of his recent and very frank conversation with a representative from French President Giscard . President Perez told him that France was setting a bad example in Latin America in its reluctance to sign the Tlatelolco Treaty and its non-proliferation policies,4 and that Venezuela supported President Carter’s initiatives in this area. President Perez said that President Videla of Argentina made a commitment to try to have Argentina subscribe to the Tlatelolco Treaty, but Videla couldn’t give Perez complete assurances until he examined the issue with the rest of his government.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to nuclear non-proliferation.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 85, Venezuela, 1/77/–12/78. Confidential. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room. The memorandum of conversation is scheduled to be printed in full in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXIV, South America; Latin America Regional.
  2. The Sistema Económico Latinoamericano y del Caribe or Economic System of Latin America and the Caribbean, a regional organization dedicated to promoting economic cooperation and social development.
  3. See Document 415.
  4. Giscard had told Carter on May 9 that “France sees that it is impossible and unjust to prevent many countries from getting the benefits of atomic energy.” In particular, he noted that Brazil wanted the “full system, particularly for dignity and independence.” Nevertheless, he agreed that “[w]e must avoid transfer of technology that is not needed for peaceful purposes.” (Memorandum of Conversation, May 9; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Meetings File, Box 75: Subject: Box 1 (II))