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436. Telegram From the Embassy in Chile to the Department of State1

3612. For NRC. Subject: Chile Will Sign NPT and Accept Total Safeguards on All Nuclear Installations in Chile in Exchange for U.S. Assistance in Nuclear Field.

1. Summary: Reports reaching Embassy indicate Chile might be willing to sign the NPT, accept total safeguards on all Chilean nuclear facilities, and waive requirements for entry into force of Tlatelolco Treaty in exchange for an assured nuclear fuel supply and technical assistance from the USG. Ambassador will shortly be invited by CCEN for discussion on the subject. Chile’s strategy will be to first attempt to obtain nuclear fuel and technical assistance from U.S. without making concessions; second, attempt to obtain nuclear fuel and technical assistance from U.S. by placing La Reina reactor and facilities under total safeguards but only the fuel supply at Lo Aguirre under safeguards; and finally, agree to sign NPT, accept total safeguards, and waive requirements for entry into force of Tlatelolco Treaty in exchange for an assured nuclear fuel supply and technical assistance from the U.S. in event previous alternatives fail. End summary.

2. Embassy Science Officer was told by a member (protect) of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCEN) on 11 May that Chile would be willing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), accept total safeguards on all Chilean nuclear facilities, and waive requirements for entry into force of the Treaty of Tlatelolco in exchange for a agreement with the United States government to provide Chile with a dependable supply of nuclear fuel and other undefined nuclear technology assistance. This decision was reached, along with a preliminary negotiating strategy, during a 10 May meeting of the CCEN Advisory Board.

3. During the meeting on the CCEN Advisory Board, CCEN President General (R) Jaime Estrada L. told board members that he had received inquiries from both the Chilean Foreign Minister Hernan Cubillos Sallato and Defense Minister General Raul Benavides as to why Chile should not sign the NPT. Estrada stated that he had been opposed to Chile signing the NPT and accepting total safeguards over all CCEN installations. He was, however, beginning to realize that Chile would not be able to continue operating its two experimental nuclear [Page 1093]reactors. Moreover, the GOC would be forced to cancel plans for building a 600 mw nuclear electric power plant slated to go on-line in 1987, all due to inability to obtain nuclear fuel to operate the facilities. Estrada said that CCEN had dispatched Dr. Max Von Brandt to France in February of this year to attempt to obtain 90 percent enriched uranium for CCEN’s experimental reactors. However, the French informed Von Brandt that due to heavy pressure from the USG, they would no longer be able to supply Chile with highly enriched uranium. Chile was now without a nuclear fuel supply, said Estrada, and would have to find some means of changing this situation. After consideration of all available facts, the Advisory Board recommended that Estrada invite the U.S. Ambassador to CCEN headquarters for a discussion of the problem and offer to sign the NPT, accept total safeguards and waive requirements for entry into force of the Tlatelolco Treaty in exchange for nuclear assistance from the U.S. Estrada reluctantly agreed to the recommendation but insisted on the following graduated negotiating strategy:

A) CCEN would first attempt to arrange for a U.S. nuclear fuel supply and technical assistance without making concessions toward NPT.

B) CCEN would secondly attempt to arrange for a U.S. nuclear fuel supply and technical assistance in return for placing the La Reina reactor and facilities under total safeguards but limiting only the fuel supply to a safeguards agreement at the Lo Aguirre reactor; and

C) Failing the above alternatives, CCEN would finally agree to sign the NPT, accept total safeguards on all nuclear facilities, and waive requirements allowing the Treaty of Tlatelolco to enter into force in exchange for a firm U.S. commitment to provide CCEN with an assured supply of reactor fuel and other undefined nuclear technical assistance.

4. Comment: The above represents a possible breakthrough in our attempts to encourage Chile to sign the NPT. Department guidance on a proper response to CCEN, if and when Ambassador is summoned, would be helpful as well as an indication of U.S. willingness to negotiate a nuclear assistance pact with CCEN in exchange for Chile signing the NPT and accepting total safeguards.2

Landau
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780203–1070. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Buenos Aires.
  2. In telegram 141207 to Santiago, June 3, the Department of State called the news of Chile’s impending decision “very positive events for overall US non-proliferation efforts if we can secure them.” The Department remained concerned, however, that its hope for “a rapid restoration of democratic institutions in Chile” might conflict with the goal of non-proliferation. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780233–0061) The Embassy replied on June 9 that “the conflicts between USG human rights and nuclear objectives are more apparent than real.” (Telegram 4371 from Santiago; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780244–1349)