464. Telegram From the Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State1

2240. Subject: Call for U.S. Ratification of Protocol One of Treaty of Tlatelolco.

1. (Confidential—Entire text.)

2. OPANAL Secretary-General Ambassador Hector Gros Espiell presented memorandum to us, February 7, calling for prompt U.S. ratification of Protocol One of Treaty of Tlatelolco. (Protocol One ap[Page 1142]plies Treaty’s denuclearization provisions to territories for which signatories are de jure or de facto “internationally responsible” within the geographical zone of application of the Treaty. The United States signed Protocol One on May 26, 1977.)

3. Gros Espiell explained that the memorandum is worded somewhat peremptorily in hope that this will help U.S. process of ratification. He added that he will present a similar memorandum to the French next week urging Protocol One ratification to coincide with Mexican President Lopez Portillo’s planned visit to Paris in May. In reviewing memorandum with Gros, we noted that USG fully supports Protocol One and that U.S. ratification is question of legislative tactics, not of executive intent. Informal translation of OPANAL memorandum follows.

4. Begin text. President Carter signed Additional Protocol One of the Treaty of Tlatelolco for the United States on May 26, 1977. This protocol was sent to the Senate for approval prior to ratification in May 1978. The Foreign Relations Committee began its analysis in public hearings that received wide journalistic coverage. After this preliminary analysis, as far as we know, it has not returned to be an object of consideration of the committee.

5. The General Conference of OPANAL in its sixth regular period of sessions approved Resolution 121(VI) adopted April 26, 1979, which says in this regard, “2. Calls on the Governments of the United States and France to proceed as soon as possible to the ratification of Additional Protocol One.” The United Nations general assembly in its Resolution 33/58 adopted December 14, 1978 invited the United States of America, “. . . to make every effort to ratify as soon as possible Additional Protocol One of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Treaty of Tlatelolco.)”

6. The absence of ratification of Additional Protocol One by the United States of America, almost three years after its signature, deeply preoccupies the Latin American State-parties to the Treaty of Tlatelolco. This absence of ratification would appear to demonstrate little interest in the question of military denuclearization of Latin America. Such an attitude on the part of the United States of America—in certain form incompatible with the repeated declarations of President Carter and Secretary of State Vance of full and total support for the Treaty of Tlatelolco—prejudices Latin American efforts to denuclearize the continent militarily and affects all policy regarding peaceful use of nuclear energy in Latin America, reducing the force of United States’ efforts in this area and affecting negatively negotiations to obtain the signatures, ratifications, and waivers still lacking for the Treaty of Tlatelolco (Cuba, Guyana, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.)

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7. At a time in which the ratification of the SALT II Treaty has been indefinitely postponed,2 it is extremely important that the United States not reduce its support, so often proclaimed and invoked, of the Treaty of Tlatelolco. And, today, the only formally effective way of undoubted transcendence of realistically manifesting this support is in the ratification of Additional Protocol One. All the credibility of United States policy on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in Latin America is compromised, at the present time, if it does not proceed with urgency to ratify Additional Protocol One. End text.

8. Comment: While we believe the OPANAL memorandum is more a product of Ambassador Gros’ own making than a reflection of a ground swell of opinion among Latin American States, the Ambassador’s message provides food for thought. Gros indicated, incidentally, that he will be discussing with Mexican Foreign Secretary Castaneda next week (in addition to a possible reply to the U.S. statement on transit rights in connection with Soviet adherence to Tlatelolco Protocol Two)3 the possibility of a multilateral approach to Cuba on Tlatelolco signature. The possibilities for such an approach, he said, appear heightened in the wake of Nicaraguan and Jamaican endorsement of Tlatelolco signature by all states of the region in joint communiqués with the GOM, January 24 and February 6 respectively. Gros added, however, that U.S. ratification of Protocol One would appear to be a political, albeit not a juridical, necessity in order to undertake such an approach to the Cubans.

9. Action requested: please inform us of the current status of Protocol One ratification and provide us with text of reply, if Department desires to make one, to OPANAL’s memorandum. (Drafted: Jon D. Glassman)

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D800069–0006. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Paris, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, and the Consulates in Guadalajara, Hermosillo, Monterrey, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez (pouch), Matamoros (pouch), Mazatlan (pouch), Merida (pouch), and Neuvo Laredo (pouch).
  2. On January 3, Carter requested that the Senate delay consideration of the SALT II treaty after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (Public Papers: Carter, 1980–81, p. 12)
  3. Not found.
  4. On February 19, the Department of State replied that “it would prefer not to respond to OPANAL memorandum in writing. Please inform Gros Espiell that Department has received memorandum and will take appropriate opportunity to pass its substance informally to Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which as Gros Espiell is aware is considering ratification of Protocol.” While the United States remained committed to Protocol I, it could not guarantee quick ratification given the “number of other treaties which would be ahead of Protocol I on the Senate Calendar.” (Telegram 44793 to Mexico City, February 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D800088–0296)