164. Information Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Rodman) to Secretary of State Shultz 1


  • NST Issues—Follow-on after Geneva

I read Paul Nitze’s memo on next steps with great interest and am comfortable with most of his recommendations. It is not too soon to begin tackling some of the difficult issues.2

However, I have serious reservations about his proposals for dealing with the issue of French and British forces. As we all know, there is enormous potential for intra-Alliance tension on this issue and we should consider the risks very carefully before proceeding. Specifically my concerns are that Paul’s approach would not work, that even raising it with the French and British at this point would needlessly create suspicion and tension, and that we do not need to propose a solution to this issue now:

—I see no reason for the U.S. to take the lead on this issue. It is a Soviet demand. The arguments put forward by you at Geneva as summarized in paragraph 1 of Paul’s memo are valid ones. We should simply refuse to deal with this issue until and unless it is clear that an agreement so advantageous to U.S. security would be forgone by not dealing with this issue. We are not yet at that point and the prospect of a separate INF agreement is not inducement enough.

—We would obviously not want to express our support for the participation of the French, British, and Chinese in future negotiations without prior consultation with them. We are, however, almost certain to get a flat no from the French and Chinese and possibly the British as well.

During the INF debate, the French stated that they would be willing to participate in strategic arms limitation discussions once there had been significant strategic reductions by the superpowers but also provided a number of other conditions were met: an improvement in the conventional imbalance in Europe, no improvement in the strategic defenses that French forces would have to overcome, and finally, elimination of the CW threat in Europe. While this last condition is somewhat spurious, the first two are obviously relevant to France’s security. In [Page 734] sum, the French want to undertake no commitment at this point but to maintain their freedom of action. Moreover, even in the unlikely event that Mitterrand wanted to adopt a more flexible attitude, his precarious political situation between now and 1988—the challenge from his right—would preclude this.

The British also have made their participation in future talks dependent on no improvement in strategic defenses as well as on substantial superpower reductions. It is possible they would be more flexible than the French at the end of the day, but they too would probably want more to show for it than the Soviets have offered us at present.

In addition, there could be considerable cost to even raising this issue with Paris and London, where there has long been the suspicion that the U.S., its protestations notwithstanding, would one day raise the issue. The French and British are extremely apprehensive of being put in the position of being obstacles to an agreement, which not only opens them up to pressures from other Allies but also plays into the hands of their domestic left. In the long run, it is simply not in our interest to weaken these countries’ independent commitment to nuclear defense, strengthening the already-considerable anti-defense forces in Western Europe.

Finally, the Chinese would be a no less difficult if somewhat different problem. We would not need their consent to raise the issue, but neither could we commit them to future participation. This raises the immediate question of whether Paul’s approach will satisfy the Soviets. It also raises the deeper question of what conclusion the Chinese will draw about our relationship if we seem to be colluding with the Soviets to limit Chinese military strength.

In sum, while I think Paul’s formula of deferral to a future negotiation (and possibly indefinitely) is probably the best we could come up with if we had to, it will not be cost-free and we should make sure that what we are getting in return is worth it. In any event, I do not think there is any need to raise it now.

  1. Source: Department of State, Ambassador Nitze’s Personal Files 1953, 1972–1989, Lot 90D397, November–December 1985. Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Bohlen.
  2. See Document 162.