469. Telegram From the Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State1

6609. Subject: (S) Possible Argentine Ratification of Tlatelolco.

1. S—Entire text.

2. During an informal conversation with a member of President Videla’s staff, I asked about recent Argentine press reports that the GOA is studying the ratification of Tlatelolco. The official said that the study was in fact completed and was now in the Presidency. We discussed at some length the specifics of the bureaucratic process the study had run through. With some apparent hesitation at his indiscretion, the official ventured the assessment that Videla would decide to proceed with the ratification. Ratification could not, of course, take place if perceived by the Argentine public as occurring in response to US pressure. For this reason, the step had not been seriously considered while Argentina was still negotiating the reactor/heavy water plant purchases with the FRG and GOS. One of the suggestions as to what a possible high-level Argentine emissary to Washington might do had been to let him carry the news of an affirmative decision.

3. Comment: The source was not clear about the timing of the decision and its announcement. Presumably, if taken at all, President Videla would wish to do this before leaving office. (It is also interesting to note that the study is ready for decision just before President Videla’s visit to Brazil.) The discussion also left unclear what pressures opponents of an affirmative decision might still bring to bear in these final stages of the review process, which falls into the period in which the three armed forces must make a final determination of the next President. A number of variables evidently will go into this final decision, among them (to an unknown degree) the evolution of US-Argentine relations over the next six months, both tone and substance. As to the existance of the study, I have no doubt. This is the second time the study has been mentioned in confidence by a high Argentine official, several months apart and under different circumstances. I see no reason to question their veracity at this juncture.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 383, Records of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Office of the Director, Lot 81D155, Box 9, Treaty of Tlateloloco—1979–1980. Secret; Immediate; Nodis.