425. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1


  • Nuclear Discussion with Argentina and Brazil

During my visit to Latin America on November 21–23, I expect to discuss nuclear and non-proliferation matters with President Videla of Argentina and President Geisel of Brazil. I have asked Gerry Smith to accompany me on the trip to participate in the nuclear talks.

In Argentina, we will seek a public Argentine declaration of its decision to ratify the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Argentina may not be prepared to go that far, and we may have to settle for a declaration of Argentine intent to ratify, rather than a firm decision. We will emphasize to Argentine officials the need to apply full safeguards to its nuclear pro[Page 1070]gram as a requirement for continued nuclear cooperation with the US.2 It became clear during recent talks with Argentine nuclear officials in Washington3 that any success in achieving deferral of Argentina’s reprocessing program will depend heavily on what we can accomplish with the Brazilians.

Nonetheless, the postponement of your visit to Brasilia, and a number of other recent developments, lead me to believe that we should take a somewhat more attenuated and indirect approach in pursuing our non-proliferation strategy with Brazil than originally planned.

Schmidt’s unwillingness to support our ideas for resolving the Argentine/Brazil problem will stiffen Brazilian resistance, and Geisel is likely to reject out of hand any package of proposals we present at this time. France’s recent decision not to complete the Pakistani reprocessing plant and to press the FRG for a similar policy in Brazil, coupled with increasing disenchantment within the Brazilian scientific community with the FRG/Brazil agreement, suggest that the climate for a satisfactory solution may improve if these factors are given more time to work.

I believe that the best approach at this time is to avoid specific discussion of the FRG/Brazil agreement, to set out our ideas in the context of seeking Brazil’s views on how to deal with a hemispheric security problem, and to leave specific solutions for a later stage.4 The main elements of our thinking could thus be presented and left for Geisel to consider, without being prematurely offered as an American solution.

I attach a more detailed outline of this approach5 which I would propose to use as the basis for the Brazil talks if you approve.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, 1977–1980, Lot 80D135, Box 1, Latin America, November 1977. Secret. Copies were sent to the Office of the Deputy Secretary, the Bureau of Political Affairs, the Bureau of Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, the Bureau of Security Assistance, Science, and Technology, the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, the Bureau of Oceans and Scientific and Environmental Affairs, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Executive Secretariat.
  2. An unknown hand underlined this sentence.
  3. Not found.
  4. An unknown hand underlined the sentence “set out our ideas in the context of seeking Brazil’s views on how to deal with a hemispheric security problem, and to leave specific solutions for a later stage” in this paragraph.
  5. Attached but not printed.