467. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Federal Republic of Germany1

79756. Subject: Vance/Genscher Letter on Argentine Supply.

1. Entire text confidential.

2. We continue to believe that it is extremely important that the FRG not relax its safeguards conditions for nuclear supply to Argentina. The failure, thus far, of the FRG and Argentina to reach agreement on safeguards has increased pressure within the FRG for such relaxation, and we understand a decision was made at a meeting of the Nuclear Cabinet to go ahead with the reactor sale to Argentina, trying to obtain the best safeguards conditions possible. Accordingly, the Ambassador is requested to call on Genscher as soon as possible and deliver the following letter from the Secretary:

3. Quote: Dear Hans-Dietrich: I am writing you about our common goal of limiting the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation which remains an objective of transcendent importance. Since we last discussed this issue it has been the subject of continuing contact between our two governments, and I wish to underline my support for the strong position which I understand your negotiators have been taking in their discussions with the government of Argentina.

However, I must tell you quite frankly that I am concerned over the information which Ambassador Hermes gave Ambassador Smith March 192 regarding the decision by the Nuclear Cabinet to weaken your position. Let me stress my conviction that your posture on safeguards conditions should remain firm. We believe that a policy of patient firmness is correct, realistic and in our common non-proliferation interest.

I am asking Ambassador Stoessel to deliver this letter personally and to stress our desire to cooperate with you in this effort. We will also [Page 1151] keep you informed about our discussions on nuclear matters with the government of Argentina. Sincerely. Cyrus Vance. Unquote.

4. In delivering this letter, Ambassador is requested to make following points:

—I know you are aware of our concern about FRG requirements for nuclear supply to Argentina. We have not raised this concern recently at a high level while your negotiators have been discussing the matter with GOA officials. Naturally, we are anxious to learn as soon as possible of any Argentine response to your proposal, which we were gratified to learn, included the issue of Argentine adherence to the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

—The Secretary also has written to Federal Councillor Aubert on this subject.3 Although we have had no formal reply to the letter, we understand that Sulzer signed a contract with the Argentines on March 14.

—In light of the Swiss decision, it is all the more important that the FRG holds to the strongest possible safeguard conditions.

—I understand that the FRG Nuclear Cabinet met last week and decided to continue nuclear negotiations with Argentina, during which it would seek the best possible safeguards conditions. (FYI: FRG Ambassador Hermes called Ambassador Smith March 19 to report this. In subsequent conversation with Department officer, FRG Embassy Science Counselor refused to go beyond Hermes’ report, other than to say that no deviation from position expressed by Lambsdorf to Smith February 15 was intended.4 Department assumes FRG position to be that expressed by Lambsdorff, i.e., that FRG has resolved to complete reactor sale and will settle for best safeguards conditions obtainable. End FYI.)

—In addition, Ambassador Gerard Smith will be visiting Buenos Aires March 24–25. He will be discussing a range of subjects, following up on General Goodpaster’s earlier visit. He does not intend to discuss the subject of Argentina’s negotiations with other nuclear suppliers. We wish to assure your government the US will insist that Argentina confirm that all of its facilities are safeguarded as a condition of any nuclear supply from the United States. As mentioned in Secretary Vance’s letter, we will continue to provide you additional details concerning our position through your Embassy in Washington.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800153–0662. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information Priority to Bern, Buenos Aires, and Ottawa. Drafted by Anne Stefanas (OES/NET/NEP) and Erwin Von Den Steinen (EUR/CE); cleared by Pickering (OES), Allen Locke (S/AS), William Salmon (T), George Suchan (PM/NPP), Charles Van Doren (ACDA/NP), L. Paul Bremer (S/S), Ronald Bettauer (L), George Jones (ARA), Robert Galluci (S/P), John Whitman (ARA/ECA), and Ward Barmon (EUR/RPE); and approved by Vance. Stoessel delivered the letter on March 28. (Telegram 6079 from Bonn, March 28; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800157–0130)
  2. The information Hermes provided Smith is in telegram 75515 to Bonn, March 21. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800145–0474)
  3. Vance’s letter to Aubert is in telegram 45004 to Bern, February 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800088–0863)
  4. Not found.