448. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

69906. USIAEA. Subject: Supply of Heavy Water Production Technology to Argentina (C). Refs: A) Vienna 1944;2 B) Moscow 6645;3 C) Buenos Aires 1787.4

1. (C) Entire text.

2. In response to Morokhov’s questions posed Reftel A concerning sale of heavy water production technology and heavy water to Argentina, Embassy should convey the following comments to Morokhov (if he has returned to Moscow) and other appropriate Soviet officials. (These can also be used to answer Komplektov, per Reftel B.)

3. As Assistant Secretary Pickering informed Morokhov in February,5 Argentina is currently shopping for heavy water production technology and has discussed sale of this technology with several suppliers, but principally with Canada and the FRG.

4. Both Canada and the FRG are fully aware of our position (which we believe is shared by the USSR) that such sensitive technology should not be transferred as a general rule; and, failing this, our view that any transfer to Argentina of heavy water technology should be conditioned on Argentine ratification of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, [Page 1115] conclusion of an NPT-type full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and indefinite deferral of its reprocessing plans.

5. Morokhov asked about the other suppliers’ conditions for the sale of heavy water to Argentina for use in its Atucha II reactor. In the spirit of the suppliers’ guidelines, the US is attempting to remove non-proliferation considerations from the area of commercial competition by offering to supply heavy water to Argentina for Atucha II in connection with the FRG reactor sale on the condition that, should the FRG win the bid for the Atucha II reactor, the FRG will require NPT-type full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply. We understand that Canada will require NPT-type full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply of heavy water for Atucha II. We hope the USSR would also adopt the same conditions for supply of heavy water to Argentina for Atucha II.

6. We intend to continue to emphasize our concerns in this matter. We believe close consultation between suppliers is very important, particularly in light of the number of suppliers with whom the GOA is discussing transfer of nuclear technology and material. We appreciate consultations with the Soviets on these matters.

7. FYI. Neither the Canadians nor the FRG has yet decided whether to proceed with the sale of heavy water production technology to Argentina. In addition, there are indications that Argentina may not insist that the nuclear sales package include heavy water technology at this time, although it would still plan to acquire the technology at some future time. End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790131–0131. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information Priority to Buenos Aires, Bonn, Vienna, and Ottawa. Drafted by Anne Stefanas (OES/NET/NEP) and Michael Matheson (L/PM); cleared by Charles Salmon (T), Robert Kelley (S/AS), George Suchan (PM/NPP), Robert Sloan (L/N), Richard Williamson (ACDA), Benglesdorf (DOE), Carol Kay Stocker (EUR), Kent Brown (EUR), Charles Brayshaw (ARA), and George Jones (ARA); and approved by Michael Guhin (OES/NET/NEP).
  2. Telegram 1944 from Vienna, February 28, reported that the Soviets “had had reports to effect that Argentina was insisting in its negotiations for purchase of heavy water from FRG that this sale should be accompanied by a sale of heavy water technology” from the United States. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790096–0500)
  3. Telegram 6645 from Moscow, March 17, reported that the Soviets again asked whether or not the United States would supply heavy water technology to Argentina. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790123–0235)
  4. Telegram 1787 from Buenos Aires, March 6, reported that “Canada and Germany are expected to present final proposals on Atucha II reactor and related nuclear components to the GOA by March 15. Both proposals will include commercial heavy waters plants and related technology. It is possible that Germany will also propose fast breeder reactor technology in exchange for Argentine uranium.” Most notably, the Embassy noted that “neither Canada nor Germany are expected to include any provisions in their proposals excluding reprocessing.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D790104–0017)
  5. See footnote 2 above.