440. Memorandum from the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Secretary of Defense Brown1


  • Senate Ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco

I understand that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is currently planning to hold hearings on Protocol I of the Treaty of Tlatelolco in mid-August. I know that you are aware of the importance which the President attaches to ratification of Protocol I, and that you will ensure that the representatives from your Department and from the Joint Chiefs of Staff who will testify before the Committee will indicate their complete and unequivocal support for the Treaty.

You may recall that the President said that he would sign Protocol I in his Pan-American Day speech, April 1, 1977,2 and signed it on May 26.3 At least partly because of the President’s decision, the Argentines and the Soviets have both taken steps to ratify the Treaty. It would be ironic and perhaps a little embarrassing if we were one of the last holdouts, preventing the Treaty from coming into force sooner. There is little chance that the Senate would be able to ratify the Treaty this year if DOD or the JCS expressed any reservations to ratification. Indeed, unless DOD and JCS are aggressively supportive of ratification, the Senate may decide to put off consideration until next year. I don’t have to tell you that it would be a significant accomplishment of the President’s non-proliferation and Latin American policy if Protocol I could be ratified this year. Could you please have your staff inform mine who will be the representatives from DOD and JCS testifying at the hearings?

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harold Brown Papers, Box 74, General Files, Tlatelolco, Treaty of. Confidential. The memorandum was leaked to columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, who quoted from it in a Washington Post column. (Evans and Novak, “Retreat from an ‘Open Administration’,” Washington Post, August 28, 1978) The column elicited an official letter from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General David Jones, to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Sparkman (D-Alabama), which explained that the Joint Chiefs had endorsed the signing of Protocol I in December 1977. (Congressional Record, September 27, 1978)
  2. Carter actually made the announcement on April 14, 1977. See Document 410.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 414.