457. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Tarnoff) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Non-Proliferation: Proposed Public Statements on Swiss and FRG Contracts with Argentina


  • Your Memorandum to Secretary Vance of October 18, 19792

We have carefully considered the action proposed in your memorandum of October 18 in the context of further diplomatic efforts we are contemplating to influence the safeguard conditions to be applied by Switzerland and the FRG to nuclear sales to Argentina. Our judgment is that we should hold off public statements until it is clear that our diplomatic efforts have been unsuccessful. We plan to undertake the following next steps:

—We will consult as called for by the London Suppliers Guidelines with Canada, the FRG, the Swiss and possibly the UK on the safeguard requirements. The FRG has already agreed in principle to such consultations. Gerard Smith, when he is in Bonn this week for post-INFCE discussions, will say to Genscher that we wish to consult with the above states on Argentina. We expect Genscher will assent to this. We will then contact the Swiss and other participants to arrange the consultations.

—In these consultations we will emphasize that Argentina is an exceptional case in order to avoid a debate about the merits of requiring full-scope safeguards on a generic basis: sensitive heavy water technology as well as reactor sales are involved; Argentina has split its order among a number of suppliers in part to avoid the full-scope safeguard requirement; and suppliers have a shared responsibility to prevent this “divide and conquer” strategy from succeeding.

—We are considering letters from the Secretary to Genscher and Swiss Foreign Minister Aubert to reinforce our concerns on this matter.

We believe our diplomatic efforts have some chance for success and would be endangered by going public now with our concerns. Upon Gerry Smith’s return about November 8 we will assess whether [Page 1128] diplomatic efforts are still worth pursuing and how and when to make this matter public.3

Peter Tarnoff
Executive Secretary
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Country File, Box 1, Argentina: 8–12/79. Confidential.
  2. See Document 456.
  3. On November 5, Brzezinski replied “The President desires a public statement on this matter in the near future, focusing on the sensitivity of the Swiss heavy water technology transfer to Argentina and the differences between the safeguard requirements attached to that transfer and those sought by Canada. I would appreciate it if the State Department would release a factual and analytical public statement, cleared by the NSC staff, by November 9.” (Memorandum from Brzezinski to Vance, November 5; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Country File, Box 1, Argentina: 8–12/79)