US helped France go nuclear to keep Europe divided, documents show By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org | The government of the United States secretly helped France expand its nuclear arsenal, in order to promote its rivalry with Britain, according to newly declassified documents. The clandestine assistance to France, which tested its first nuclear bomb in Africa in 1960, began during the Richard Nixon administration, and was actively directed by Henry Kissinger, Nixonâ€™s senior National Security Advisor. The documents, which were obtained by researchers at the George Washington University and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, include a 1973 memorandum authored by Kissinger, in which he writes: â€œWe want to keep Europe from developing their unity as a bloc against us. If we keep the French hoping they can get ahead of the British, this would accomplish our objectiveâ€. Toward that goal, the US ought to provide the French with information that will make them â€œdrool but doesnâ€™t give [them] anything but something to study for a whileâ€. By doing so, Washington would be able to force Britain to stop â€œbehaving shittyâ€ and conform to American foreign policy objectives: â€œif they know we have another option, they might buck upâ€, writes Kissinger. Prior to Nixonâ€™s ascendancy to the presidency, the United States had been actively opposed to Franceâ€™s nuclear ambitions, because it feared that it would set off a dangerous nuclear arms race between West and East Germany. But Washingtonâ€™s longstanding policy was abandoned by President Nixon who, under Kissingerâ€™s advice, concluded that the US should exploit Franceâ€™s nuclear arsenal to keep Europe politically and militarily divided. U.S. Secret Assistance to the French Nuclear Program, 1969-1975: From â€œFourth Countryâ€ to Strategic Partner The Nixon administration secretly reversed a policy of opposition to, and non-cooperation with, the French nuclear program that began to emerge during the final years of the Eisenhower administration. After the French made a series of decisions to establish a nuclear weapons capability in the mid-1950s, U.S. government officials saw France as the most likely â€œfourth countryâ€ -- that is the next country likely to go nuclear after the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom.1 While Washington was divided over the degree to which a nuclear France posed a risk or a threat, before and after the first French nuclear test in 1960, key U.S. government officials did not want to do anything to assist it. Why they took this stance had a complex history, partly rooted in disputes with Paris over the organization of the Western alliance system, but in part senior officials worried that that a French nuclear capability could instigate an arms race in Western Europe or even â€œtriggerâ€ a nuclear war. Yet, by the end of the 1960s, high-level U.S. attitudes shifted. Equivocal about nuclear proliferation and open to the possibility of nuclear assistance to France, President Richard M. Nixon took a new course. Nixonâ€™s decisions stayed secret until the summer of 1989 when Princeton University political scientist Richard Ullman published an article in Foreign Policy magazine on â€œThe Covert French Connection.â€ 2 Drawing upon interviews with over 100 former officials, Ullman sought to puncture two myths: that the French strategic force [â€œforce de frappeâ€] was â€œentirely homegrown,â€ and that, owing to Washingtonâ€™s restrictive policy on the diffusion of nuclear technology, only the British had been a recipient of direct assistance. Supporting the decision to aid the French was the assumption, held by Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger, that making French nuclear forces more effective would strengthen the U.S. strategic position against the Soviet Union. As Ullman explained, Nixon and Kissinger â€œsought to make it clear that they did not oppose the French force, but that they appreciated the contribution it made to Western security.â€ Years after Ullman wrote his influential article, documents on the U.S. side of the nuclear arrangement began to trickle out of the archives, mainly from the Nixon Presidential Library but also State Department records at the National Archives and the Ford Presidential Library.3 The documents, some released only a few months ago, confirm the essential validity of Ullmanâ€™s account, if not all the details. After French President Georgeâ€™s Pompidouâ€™s meetings with Nixon in February 1970, the White House approved a series of measures, including aid to the ballistic missile program and advice on operational nuclear safety procedures. The documents partly confirm one of Ullmanâ€™s major revelations, that U.S. officials provided â€œnegative guidanceâ€ to help the French design more advanced nuclear weapons. That it, the executive branch would indirectly circumvent Atomic Energy Act restrictions against the transfer of nuclear weapons design information by telling them whether the steps they were taking or were contemplating were in the right direction. Recently declassified documents show that during the summer of 1973, French defense minister Robert Galley directly asked for â€œâ€˜negative guidanceâ€™ on the trigger for the French nuclear warhead.â€ (Document No. 47) While generally confirmatory, the documents go significantly beyond what Ullman could learn from interviews, possibly because his sources had faulty memories or were out of the loop on some key developments. Ulmmanâ€™s sources told him that 1973 was the starting point for U.S. strategic nuclear assistance, but Nixon made the fundamental decision in February 1970, after he met with Pompidou. Declassified documents also show how the program of assistance evolved, through fits and starts, with assistance relatively limited at first to improving the reliability of the then current generation of French missiles. Taking those steps was controversial within the government, but less contentious was a proposal for aid on nuclear weapons safety procedures. Assistance on safety was also limited, but as Kissinger explained to Nixon, by taking these steps, the U.S. was making a â€œpolitical gesture to Paris without involving us in a major change of nuclear policies toward third countries.â€ (Document No. 22) Initially, Washington sought no direct â€œquid pro quo,â€ but as Kissinger later argued, the â€œreal quid pro quo is the basic orientation of French policy.â€ (Document No. 47) Kissinger did not spell out the problem of â€œthird countriesâ€ but it was very likely a major reason why the White House wanted to shroud nuclear aid to France in secrecy. If word got out that Washington was assisting France, it could complicate relations with other allies who might want similar largesse. Moreover, while the program of aid may not have been a violation of the NPT, because France had already tested the bomb, it would raise questions about U.S. good faith in ratifying the Treaty during Nixonâ€™s first year in office. Although Nixon and Kissinger were equivocal in their support for the cause of nonproliferation, the State Department and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency took the NPT seriously and worried that aid to France would have adverse implications for efforts to preserve West Germanyâ€™s non-nuclear status. The French credited the limited assistance that Washington provided with saving them â€œtime and moneyâ€ on their ballistic missile program, but they asked for more aid in 1972 and later. During secret talks with Kissinger and Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger in July and August 1973, Defense Minister Robert Galley brought up a variety of problems where the French wanted help, such as multiple reentry vehicles, hardening of reentry vehicles (RVs/warheads), â€œnegative guidanceâ€ for nuclear weapons design, and developing underground test sites so that atmospheric tests could end. The aid that the French were seeking would amount to assistance for a new generation of French missiles. As Kissinger aide William Hyland observed, this meant â€œcrossing a line that was observed during previous cooperation.â€ (Document No. 48) Galleyâ€™s request came at a time when U.S.-French relations were deeply troubled by Kissingerâ€™s â€œYear of Europeâ€ initiative. The new French foreign minister Michel Jobert saw the â€œYear of Europeâ€ as a design to put the EC down and to bring France and its nuclear weapons back into NATO.4 Worried that the European Community was a potential threat to U.S. interests Kissinger thought that strategic aid to France could help him manipulate the situation to U.S. advantage. He could â€œuseâ€ the French to break European unity, thus encouraging an â€œorientationâ€ that was more compatible with U.S. interests. The British-French relationship within the EC was already uneasy and Kissinger believed that he exacerbating Anglo-French nuclear rivalry could â€œkeep Europe from developing their unity as a bloc against us.â€ Aiding the French would make them feel that they might be able to â€œget aheadâ€ of the British, e.g., on MIRVs, but Kissinger only wanted to â€œkeep them even.â€ (Document No. 47) Not wanting to reduce White House leverage by giving the French too much, too soon, Kissinger wanted to â€œwhet their appetitesâ€ by going slow, making few commitments, and giving them only â€œtid-bitsâ€ in the short-term. Thus, to make sure that the program was not â€œtoo fast-paced and extensive,â€ Kissinger kept control over decisions on what information the French would receive and when. Consistent with this, NSC staffer Helmut Sonnnefeldt carefully monitored developments to ensure that Kissinger made final decisions on what the French would learn. Complicating matters was that the French disclosed to Pentagon officials some of their discussions with White House aides, a security breach that Sonnenfeldt tried to close. (Document No. 51, Document No. 54, Document No. 55) On â€œnegative guidanceâ€ on nuclear weapons design, Ullmanâ€™s sources go beyond what the documents presently available can show. The concept was controversial and no less so during 1975, with Sonnenfeldt telling French officials that that the Atomic Energy Act was a barrier to such indirect aid. While Delpech had believed that Scowcroft and Sonnenfeldt had approved â€œnegative guidance,â€ Sonnenfelt told one of Delpechâ€™s aides that that the White House had only said that it â€œwould look at the problemâ€ and that â€œwe could give no assurance of assistance in this area.â€ When â€œnegative guidanceâ€ on the booster trigger became available is not disclosed in the documents available to this editor. While the trend during 1975 was to foreclose this option, future declassifications may shed light on whether the Ford administration changed its mind or whether the Carter White House took the decision. The possibility exists that it was the Carter administration because Ullman makes the point that the â€œnuclear collaboration â€¦ was probably at its most intense when Jimmy Carter was in the White House and â€¦ Giscard dâ€™Estaing was in the ElysÃ©e Palace.â€ Yet, Ullman also notes that his interview subjects acknowledged that â€œthey had no confidence that anyone really knew what American scientists and engineers said to French colleagues over lunch and dinner once they had been given a basic license to talk.â€ 5 Thus, the actual conveyance of â€œnegative guidanceâ€ may have been a matter outside of White House control. Certainly much more needs to be learned about the U.S. program of assistance to France. Policy developments during the Ford administration have been only partly disclosed and decisions taken by the Carter White House need to be explored. So do developments during the 1980s and the mid-1990s when Presidents Jacques Chirac and Bill Clinton presided over a renewal of U.S.-French nuclear cooperation.6 As for French documents on the "covert connection," they are apparently wholly unavailable; according to sources in Paris, a French archival law has severely restricted access to records on nuclear weapons matters.7 As it took nearly 10 years to get some U.S. documents from 1973 declassified, it may be some time before a reasonably full account of the â€œcovert French connectionâ€ during the 1970s becomes possible. Documents 1-7: Opposition to French Nuclear Weapons In the wake of President Dwight D. Eisenhowerâ€™s â€œAtoms for Peaceâ€ initiative, his administration had to grapple with the reality that the diffusion of nuclear technology risked the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities. While Eisenhower came to understand the risks of nuclear proliferation, his thinking on the â€œfourth country problemâ€ was complicated by his favorable stance toward the dissemination of nuclear capabilities to key NATO allies. Understanding that the French sought nuclear weapons to reduce their reliance on the U.S. deterrent, Eisenhower was willing to share nuclear weapons technology with them, although the Atomic Energy Act prevented it. Other figures, like Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, were uneasy and wanted to â€œdrag their feetâ€ on nuclear assistance issues. Thus, proposals that surfaced during 1960 to liberalize the Atomic Energy Act to permit nuclear sharing with France, met opposition. (Document No. 2) 8 When the Kennedy administration came to power, France had already staged its first nuclear test, but high-level opposition to aiding the French and to further nuclear proliferation to â€œ9th countriesâ€ was strong for a variety of reasons, including the possible impact on Germany. While some Pentagon officials were interested in helping the French, they met strong resistance from Secretary of State Dean Rusk. By 1964, the Johnson White House formalized that opposition in National Security Action memorandum 294.9 (Document No. 7) U.S-French relations became more and more difficult, reaching their nadir in 1966 when de Gaulle withdrew France from NATOâ€™s military structure. Document 1: Memorandum of Conversation between John Foster Dulles and Selwyn Lloyd, â€œAtomic Energy Items: (1) French Request (2) Test Limitation,â€ 23 March 1957, Top Secret Location of Original: National Archives, Record Group 59, Records of the Department of State [hereinafter RG 59], Executive Secretariat Conference Files, 1949-72, box 127, CF 861 Bermuda 1957 Memcons Document 2: Memorandum of conversation, â€œNuclear Sharing,â€ 24 August 1960, Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Records of Policy Planning Staff, 1957-1961, box 116, Atomic Energy â€“ Armaments 1960 Document 3: Department of State cable 5245 to Embassy United Kingdom, message from President Kennedy to Prime Minister Macmillan, 6 May 1961, Top Secret Location of Original: FOIA release Documents 4A-B: A: Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Foy Kohler, â€œSecretary McNamaraâ€™s Views on Nuclear Sharing,â€ n.d. [Mid-March 1962] Secret B: Memorandum of Telephone Message from Foy D. Kohler to Paul H. Nitze and Roswell L. Gilpatric, 9 March 1962, Secret Location of Originals: RG 59, Bureau of European Affairs NATO and Atlantic Politico-Military Affairs, Records Relating to NATO, 1959-1966, box 7, Def 12 Nuclear France 1962 Document 5: Memorandum by Edward Biegel, Bureau of Western European Affairs, â€œWE Answers to the Ball Questionnaire (Why the US Has Not Shared Nuclear Weapons with the French),â€ 28 May 1962, Unclassified Location of Original: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of European Affairs. NATO and Atlantic Politico-Military Affairs, Records Relating to NATO, 1959-1966, box 7, Ref 12 Nuclear France 1962 Document 6: Memorandum from Under Secretary of State George W. Ball to President Kennedy, â€œA Further Nuclear Offer to General De Gaulle,â€ 8 August 1963, Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Records of Undersecretary of State George Ball, box 21, France Document 7: National Security Action Memorandum 294, McGeorge Bundy to Secretary of State et al., â€œU.S. Nuclear and Strategic Delivery System Assistance to France,â€ 20 April 1964, Secret Location of Original: See Document 15 below.10 Documents 8-10: Nixon Moves Toward a New Approach When Richard Nixon became president one of his foreign policy goals was to improve relations with France. He took an important step in that direction during his first overseas trip as president, to Western Europe, where he met with French president de Gaulle, of whom he was a great admirer.11 The meeting quickly invited speculation whether the two had discussed military cooperation. British Defense Minister Dennis Healy made such a conjecture during a talk with Kissinger, but the latter denied it acknowledging, however, that the NSC would review the issue and consider it on the â€œmeritsâ€ â€œwithout prejudice.â€ Kissinger passed â€œtalking pointsâ€ for the Healey meeting to Secretary of State Roger telling him (misleadingly) that Nixon had approved them before the conversation. (Document No. 8a, Document No. 8b) Kissinger also did not tell Rogers that Healey and he had agreed that both governments would let each other know if either received an approach from the French on the question of nuclear assistance. This was a commitment which reemerged (and was reconfirmed) when Nixon met with Prime Minister Wilson during the summer. (Document No. 10) That Nixon was open to nuclear assistance came across in Kissingerâ€™s conversation with Ambassador Sergeant Shriver, although Kissinger did not claim to know exactly what Nixonâ€™s preferences were. A visit to Washington by President Pompidou, which the White House saw as a priority, would give Nixon an opportunity to focus his thinking on this issue. Document 8A and 8B A: Memorandum from Henry A. Kissinger to President Nixon, â€œGuidance to State and Defense Department on Our Attitude Toward Military Cooperation with the French,â€ 15 April 1969, Secret B: Memorandum from Henry A. Kissinger to William P. Rogers, U.S.-French Military Relations,â€ 22 April 1969, Top Secret Locations of Originals: A: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, National Security Council Files [hereinafter NSCF]. Box 681. Germany Vol. 1 through Apr 69 B: RG 59, Subject-Numeric Files, 1967-69, Def 4 FR-US Document 9: Memorandum of Conversation between Ambassador Shriver and the National Security Council, â€œConversation with Schriver on Pompidou Visit, Military Cooperation with France, and Middle East,â€ 27 June 1969, Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 675, France Vol. III Document 10: Memorandum from Theodore L. Eliot Jr. to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œBritish Position on Nuclear Cooperation with France,â€ 21 October 1969, Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Subject-Numeric Files, 1967-69, AE 1-1 Fr-UK Documents 11-12: The First French Request Shriver may (or may not) have passed a hint to the French, but by the end of 1969 the Armaments Ministry had filed a request with the Pentagon for assistance to their ballistic missile program, including information on reliability measures, star-tracker navigation (stellar inertial guidance), and re-entry vehicles. Kissinger aide Helmut Sonnenfeldt was â€œappalledâ€ that it took the Pentagon a month to report the contact, but the White House recognized that Secretary of Defense Melvin Lairdâ€™s organization followed its own compass. While Deputy Secretary of Defense David Packard (one of the founders of Hewlett-Packard) put the contacts with the French on hold, he provided Kissinger with a background study on French requests for military technology and the legal restrictions on U.S. assistance. Document 11: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œMemo from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense on Assistance to France on Ballistic Missiles,â€ 23 January 1970, Secret Location of Original: NSCF, Box 676, France Vol. IV 11/69-31 Jan 70 Document 12: Deputy Secretary of Defense Packard to Kissinger, 20 February 1970, enclosing â€œUS/French Interchange in Area of Ballistic Missiles,â€ Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 676, France Vol. V Feb â€˜70-Apr â€˜70 Documents 13-16: The Pompidou Visit and Nixonâ€™s Decision â€œTo be Forthcomingâ€ A visit by French President Pompidou to Washington during February 1970 provided the circumstances for White House decisions on strategic assistance. Although protests of French policy toward the Arab-Israel conflict cast a cloud over the visit,12 Pompidou may have found the meeting with Nixon worthwhile nevertheless. Both leaders wanted to re-start U.S.-French relations and were interested in discussing defense policy in particular. Rejecting the view that Paris and Washington had irreconcilable differences, Nixon called for a â€œnew spirit of Franco-American relations.â€ Pompidou agreed with Nixonâ€™s approach and both supported the notion of coordinating military policy. Acknowledging Franceâ€™s strategic weakness and the possibility that French missiles would not reach their targets, Pompidou did not quite ask for assistance, but he noted the moribund status of a U.S.-French steering committee on technological exchanges. Nixon later observed that the â€œnuclear questionâ€ could be a subject of talks on cooperation. Within a few weeks, Nixon had approved a request to Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Andrew Goodpaster to explore opportunities for greater cooperation with the French military; moreover, he signed off on a Kissinger memo to Laird asking for Pentagon advice on â€œcourses of action and difficulties associated with themâ€ that could be taken in the missile assistance area. Kissinger advised Laird that you â€œYou should be guided by the Presidentâ€™s decision to be forthcoming.â€ Document 13: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œFrench-US Military Relations,â€ 18 February 1970, Secret Location of Original: Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. NSCF, box 676, France Vol. V Feb â€˜70-Apr â€˜70 Documents 14A and 14B: A: Memorandum from Henry A. Kissinger to President Nixon, â€œSummary of My Conversation with President Pompidou,â€ 23 February 1970, Top Secret B: Memorandum of Conversation, Nixon and Pompidou, 24 February 1970, Top Secret Locations of Originals: A: Nixon Presidential Library, HAK Office Files (hereinafter, HAKO), box 852, Camp David Vol. II B: NSCF, box 1023, Memcons - The President and Pompidou Feb 24 & 26, 1970 Document 15: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œMilitary Cooperation with the French,â€ 28 February 1970, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 676, France vol. V 01 Feb 70-Apr 70 Documents 16A and 16B A: Memorandum from Henry A. Kissinger to President Nixon, â€œFollow-up Actions on Military Cooperation with the French,â€ 10 March 1970, Secret B: Memorandum from Henry A. Kissinger to the Secretary of Defense, â€œFrench Requests for Assistance in Connection with their Missile Program,â€ 16 March 1970, Secret Locations of Originals: NSCF, box 676, France vol. V 01 Feb 70-Apr 70 Documents 17-19: The Foster Mission and Some Doubts Responding to Kissingerâ€™s directive, Laird suggested that Washington could provide information to help the French improve the reliability of their missiles and also on re-entry vehicle materials. But on â€œstar tracker navigation technology,â€ Laird was dubious because it would help the French achieve a level of accuracy needed for counterforce targeting, which could have a negative international reaction if ever found out. To get a better understanding of exactly what the French needed, Laird proposed that Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering John Foster meet with Armaments Minister Jean Blancard in Paris for exploratory talks. Kissinger approved Fosterâ€™s June 1970 trip to Paris; the discussions resulted in a more specific wish-list from the French, who wanted to find ways to â€œsave time and moneyâ€ in developing land-based and sea-based missiles. For the land-based missiles they sought information on better fabrication techniques, more reliable solid-fuel engines, and material for re-entry vehicles that would be more resistant to nuclear effects (this also applied to sea-based missiles). Foster made it clear that Washington could not help with star-tracker technology, but inertial guidance for missile submarines could be explored. In the meantime, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director Gerard C. Smith, who shared a return flight with Foster, advised Kissinger: "please donâ€™t" help the French strategic program. Not only could it harm strategic arms talks with Moscow, it could "hurt our relations" with Germany. Not long after the Foster mission, Sonnenfeldt provided Kissinger with the state-of-play of nuclear cooperation, including talks between French and U.S. military commanders and a French request for Nuclear Planning Group studies. He also discussed the need for a "doctrinal basis" for U.S. aid to the French nuclear program. While a French nuclear force could "make life more complicated for the Soviets," aiding it was not necessarily consistent with SALT which aims at "creating a more stable relationship with the Soviets," although it would be some time before the French had forces that were "very threatening." The U.S. also needed to determine its stance toward a possible "Anglo-French [nuclear] combination." According to Sonnenfeldt, explicit "Presidential doctrine" was necessary before decisions on issues such as computer exports and missile assistance could be made. A clear "doctrine" appears not to have emerged, although Kissinger and Nixon may have developed one for their own purposes. Document 17: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œAssistance to the French Ballistic Missile Program,â€ 16 April 1970, Secret Location of Originals: NSCF, box 676, France Vol. V Feb â€˜70-Apr â€˜70 and Vol. VI May-Sep 70 Document 18: Letter from Gerard C. Smith to Henry A. Kissinger, 30 June 1970, Secret Location of Original: FOIA Release Document 19: Memorandum from Melvin R. Laird to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œAssistance to the French Ballistic Missile Program,â€ 14 July 1970, Secret Location of Original: FOIA Release Document 19A: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry Kissinger, "Franco-American Military Relations" 3 August 1970, Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 676, France Vol. V Feb '70-Apr '70 and Vol. VI May-Sep 70 Documents 20A-B: NSSM 100 Interagency Review It took almost a year for the White House to make decisions on the French request, partly because it had asked the agencies to conduct a policy review of military aid to France, National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 100. Designed to produce some clarity on the reasons for U.S. aid to France, NSSM 100 also looked closely at various actions that Washington could take. Aid to the missile program was one of the actions covered in an analytic memorandum (Document No. 20B), but also on the agenda was the sale of high-speed computers and nuclear safety. The French had been seeking more powerful computers for some time which they needed to â€œproduce more reliable and effective nuclear weapons.â€ Earlier in the 1960s, the French had ended discussions of nuclear safety with Washington, but they revived the issue in 1970 and U.S. officials were responsive partly because they saw such talks as useful for improving knowledge of the French arsenal. Sonnenfeldt passed the "analytical summaryâ€ to Kissinger, noting that the study was â€œdeficientâ€ in its exploration of reasons for U.S. aid and that it was necessary to develop a better understanding, for example, was the purpose to â€œbring the French up to the British level, or the British down to the French, or both to an intermediate one.â€ Moreover, which purposes were most important, e.g. to improve bilateral or to help France fit into a larger project (e.g. Anglo-French nuclear cooperation)? These questions needed further exploration, as did how far the U.S. should go in providing aid because missile aid and the computer sales had been the subject of â€œheavy controversyâ€ within the executive branch. The drafters of NSSM 100 made no recommendations, but in Kissinger NSC-style provided options, e.g., ranging from no missile assistance (NSAM 294) to providing â€œlimited assistanceâ€ or to â€œbe prepared to expand gradually to sensitive areas.â€ Documents 20A and 20B: A: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œInterim Report on NSSM 100--U.S. â€“French Military Relations,â€ 9 January 1971, Top Secret B: Report of the National Security Council Staff, â€œNSSM 100 â€“ Military Cooperation with France (Analytical Summary),â€ n.d. [circa December 1970], Top Secret Locations of Originals: A: NSCF, box 677, France vol. VII, 1 Oct 70-Mar 71 B: Nixon Presidential Library, National Security Council Institutional Files [NSCIF], box 174, NSDM 100 (3 of 3) Documents 21-25: â€œMinimal Aidâ€ Missile assistance and advanced computer sales remained contentious in the executive branch, and extraneous problems, e.g., Laos, had slightly soured relations with Paris, but Sonnenfeldt and Kissinger agreed that a response was necessary. Doing nothing would be seen as a rebuff; it would be going against the â€œPresidentâ€™s expressed intention to Pompidouâ€ and Washington could not be â€œnegativeâ€ because it had initiated the missile talks in 1970. Thus, Kissinger recommended, and Nixon approved, â€œminimal aidâ€ as well as middle positions on nuclear safety and computer exports. (Document No. 22) The French would be told that there were â€œlimitsâ€ to U.S. aid: Washington would help them improve existing systems, but not develop new ones. Kissinger presented the three decisions to agency chiefs in National Security Decision Memoranda (NSDM) 103, which covered missiles and computers, and 104, which covered nuclear safety. The decisions remained highly contentious in the executive branch to the point where Kissinger, worried about delays in informing the French, told the State Department and the Defense Departments to inform the French what Nixon had decided (Document No. 24B). On 27 April, a month after Nixonâ€™s decision, Sonnenfeldt informed Kissinger that the State Department and the Defense Department had sent out letters and telegrams informing the French. Document 21: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œDecisions on Military Cooperation with France,â€ 19 March 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCIF, box 222, NSDM 103 [2 of 2] Document 22: Memorandum from Henry A. Kissinger to President Nixon, â€œMilitary Cooperation with France,â€ 25 March 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 677, France vol. VII, 1 Oct 70- Mar 71 Document 23: National Security Decision Memorandum 103, â€œMilitary Cooperation with France,â€ 29 March 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCIF, box 222, NSDM 103 [2 of 2] Documents 24A and 24B: A: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œFollow-up on Military Cooperation with France,â€ 8 April 1971, Top Secret B: Memorandum from Henry A. Kissinger to Melvin R. Laird and William P. Rogers, â€œMilitary Cooperation with France, NSDMâ€™s 103 and 104,â€ 15 April 1971, Top Secret Locations of Originals: A: NSCIF, box 222, NSDM +103 [2 of 2] B: NSCF, box 678, France vol. VIII, Apr-Dec 1971 Document 25: Letter from Henry A. Kissinger to John S. Foster Jr., Memos and Letters on Offers to French of Military Cooperation, 28 April 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCIF, box 222, NSDM 103 [2 of 2] Documents 26-27: â€œGround Rulesâ€ for Missile Assistance What followed Nixonâ€™s decisions was a visit by Foster to Paris to brief officials and then discussions in June 1971 on ways and means for Washington to help the French missile program within the White Houseâ€™s parameters. Reiterating that U.S. experience could help them â€œsave time and money,â€ the French participants asked for help to â€œimprove reliability and operabilityâ€ through assistance on technical problems ranging from propulsion to electrical connectors. The meetings produced â€œground rulesâ€ for meeting French requirements: they would send summaries of the technical problems, the U.S. would respond with advice, and follow-up talks would ensue. During the June 1971 meetings, the French took the U.S. team to Bordeaux to show them missile production facilities and the missiles themselves. Sonnenfeldt advised Kissinger that â€œa good startâ€ had been made and that the work plan â€œshould improve our general political relations if we make a sincere effort.â€ Document 26: Letter from David Packard to Henry A. Kissinger, Possible U.S. Assistance to the French Ballistic Missile Program, 25 May 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Numeric-Subject Files, 1970-73 Top Secret Files, box 5, DEF 12 FR Document 27: Letter from Melvin R. Laird to Henry A. Kissinger, with â€œSummary of Agreement for U.S. Assistance to French Missile Program; Understanding Between U.S. and France Concerning the Substance and Procedures of Ballistic Missile Cooperation Paper,â€ 29 July 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: FOIA Release Document 28: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œStatus Report on Missile Cooperation with France,â€ 10 August 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 678, France Vol. VIII April-Dec 1971 Documents 29-33: Nuclear Safety Talks The following documents highlight the opening phases of the safety talks, which took longer to get off the ground than the discussions of missile reliability. Nothing could happen, however, until the U.S. Congressâ€™s Joint Committee on Atomic Energy was brought on board, which required the cultivation of Chairman Senator John Pastore (D-RI) by key Pentagon and State Department officials. Once that had happened, in November 1971, guidance for the talks went out, which included instructions to not share Restricted Data on nuclear weapons design or Formerly Restricted Data (Document No. 29). As the latter included safety and storage information, a fine line had to be walked, for example, principles of permissive action links (PALs], used to lock nuclear weapons to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized use, could be divulged, but not their details. Nevertheless, a loophole (Document No. 31) suggested that some details of FRD would be divulged. The talks did not actually begin until June 1972, but they led State Department officials to conclude that the French were taking a â€œconservativeâ€ (that is, risk avoidance) view on safety. The British were kept apprised of the developments, despite an agreement with the French that neither side would tell â€œthird partiesâ€ about the talks. Document 29: Cable from William P. Rogers to American Embassy Paris, â€œMilitary Relations with France,â€ 15 November 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Subject-Numeric Files, 1970-73 Top Secret Files, box 1, AE 1-1 70-71 Document 30: Memorandum from Theodore L Eliot Jr. to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œJoint Committee on Atomic Energy Hearings on Projected Nuclear Safety Talks with the French,â€ 16 November 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 678, France Apr-Dec 1971 Vol VIII Document 31: Memorandum from Theodore L Eliot Jr. to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œBriefing the British Regarding Our Special Defense Programs with the French,â€ 7 December 1971, Top Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Subject-Numeric Files, 1970-73, Pol UK-US Document 32: Memorandum from Holsey G. Handyside, Director of Politico-Military Affairs, Office of Atomic Energy and Aerospace, â€œStatus Report on Proposed Nuclear Safety Talks with the French,â€ 3 May 1972, Top Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Numeric-Subject Files, 1970-73 Top Secret Files, box 1, AE 1â€“1 FRâ€“US 1973 Document 33: Cable from Holsey G. Handyside to Ronald I. Spiers, â€œGuidance on Nuclear Weapons Safety Talks with French,â€ 16 June 1972, Top Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Subject-Numeric Files, 1970-73, Top Secret Files, box 1. AE 1-1 FR-US 1973 Documents 34-35: The DebrÃ© Visit An official visit to the United States during July 1972 by defense minister Michel DebrÃ© was the public face of a new U.S.-French relationship.13 While the press speculated whether nuclear cooperation was discussed, DebrÃ© denied it and no word of the talks on nuclear safety and missile aid surfaced. During a meeting with Kissinger, DebrÃ© asked for intelligence information on Soviet ABM defenses; Kissinger responded positively but, suggesting he might have to work around the bureaucracy, advised against an official request from the French ambassador. Later in the conversation, DebrÃ© emphasized that West Germany should receive no nuclear aid; Kissinger agreed â€œthat we do not favor German nuclear weapons and would not consciously support Germanyâ€™s getting them. Of course, thereâ€™s always stupidity.â€ State Department officials were shut out of DebrÃ©â€™s White House and Pentagon talks, but their sources told them that the French had given Foster a new â€œwish listâ€ for information in more sensitive categories, including design assistance for the â€œnext generationâ€ of missiles, miniaturization of warheads (including the â€œphysics packageâ€), and the operation of ballistic missile submarines. (Document No. 34B) From what the State Department heard, Foster went further than he should have in promising more information and Laird had to undertake damage control measures to ensure that â€œno new departuresâ€ were taken, at least until before the 1972 elections. Apparently Laird told British Ambassador Cromer that the â€œFrench had repeatedly pressed hard for an unrealistic amount of technical assistance.â€ Documents 34A and 34B: A: Briefing Book, â€œMeeting of Dr. Kissinger and French Minister of State for National Defense,â€ 1 July 1972, Top Secret B: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œYour Meeting with Debre: Additional Points,â€ 6 July 1972, Top Secret Locations of Originals: NSCF, box 678, France Vol. IX January-July 1972 Documents 35A and 35B: A: Memorandum for the Record from Helmut Sonnenfeldt, â€œMeeting Between French Minister of Defense Michel Debre and Dr. Kissinger, Friday, July 7, 1972, 9:50 a.m. at the Western White House,â€ 11 July 1972, Top Secret B: Memorandum from Ronald I Spiers, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, to Under Secretary of State John N. Irwin II, â€œMilitary Cooperation with France: Outcome of the Debre Visit,â€ 28 August 1972, Top Secret Locations of Originals: A: HAKO, box 24, HAKâ€™s Germany, London, Paris Trip 9-15, 1972 Misc. cables & documents B: RG 59, Numeric-Subject Files, 1970-73 Top Secret Files, box 25, POL 7 FR Documents 36-39: Whether to Take Missile Assistance Further The French were apparently pleased with the results of the technical exchanges on missile programs that Nixon had authorized in 1971, but pressure for more information continued in the months following DebrÃ©â€™s visit. When Laird left office in early 1973, he advised Nixon that the missile assistance program had reached its limits and that the White House needed to decide whether to expand its scope into more sensitive areas. He suggested several possibilities: information on nuclear effects simulators and the sale of small simulators, hardening technology for missiles and reentry vehicles, and intelligence on Soviet ABMs, but with quid pro quos (e.g., settlement of U.S. financial claims against France). U.S. defense attachÃ© in Paris Vernon Walters had already provided information on the last category which meant there already was â€œmomentum,â€ Sonnenfeldt informed Kissinger (Document No. 37). In early March, Nixon authorized the dissemination of information in the four areas and the new Secretary of Defense Elliot Richardson duly informed his counterpart, Defense Minister Robert Galley (who had taken over from DebrÃ©). Subsequently, Foster met with Blanchard in Paris in May for extended discussion of the new guidance and the problem of â€œwhere to draw the lineâ€ between existing missile programs and a new generation (Document No. 48, 21 May 1973 attachment at end of PDF). Some consideration was also being given to a future phase of assistance. For example, Foster suggested the possibility of providing information on warning systems so that the French could have a launch-on-warning option supposedly to strengthen the deterrent value of their nuclear force. That could be accomplished by tying the French to US missile warning systems, although that risked an adverse reaction from the British and others. Document 36: Memorandum from Ronald I Spiers, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, â€œUS â€“ French Military Cooperation: Status Report,â€ 24 January 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Top Secret Subject-Numeric-Files, 1970-73, box 1, DEF Document 37: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œMissile Assistance to France -- New NSSM,â€ 3 February 1973, Secret Location of Original: NSCIF, box 222, NSDM 103 (2 of 2) Document 38: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œU.S. Assistance to the French Missile Program,â€ 19 April 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 679, France Vol. X Augu 72-Apr 73 Document 39: Memorandum from Richard T. Kennedy to William G. Hyland, â€œJobert Meeting: US-French Nuclear Cooperation,â€ 27 June 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 960, France Vol XI April 73-31 December 1973 Documents 40-48: Meetings with Galley: Discussing the Next Stage Richard Ullmanâ€™s sources told him that a meeting between Kissinger and Foreign Minister Michel Jobert in late June 1973 was decisive for the history of the U.S.-French nuclear relationship. No record of this meeting has surfaced, but Galley told Kissinger that Jobert was â€œnot in thisâ€ discussion of the new stage of missile/nuclear assistance. (Document No. 41) In any event, what may have been decisive was Pompidouâ€™s request, during talks with Nixon and Kissinger at Reykjavik, Iceland in late May 1973, to go beyond the discussions on missile technology into the realm of nuclear weapons technology. That led to decisions to send the new Defense Minister Robert Galley, to the U.S. for secret meetings with Kissinger and the new Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger.14 These discussions remained secret for years; although State Department officials determined that Blancard had made a surreptitious visit (Document No. 44), the Galley visits in July and August were not in their radar screen. Before the first Galley visit, the Defense Department had completed its part of a major study on the problem of expanding nuclear assistance to France (the NSSM 175 study); document 40 includes a massively excised version of the report (still under appeal with the Nixon Library). While the agency recommendations remain obscure, other documents disclose the types of information that the French were seeking. As Galley explained to Kissinger, there were several basic (overlapping) categories: 1) missile penetration, including hardening of RVs, penetration aids, and multiple warheads for submarine missiles, 2) weight/size of booster triggers, and 3) assistance with underground testing. (See Document No. 48 for the French lists) Blancard later acknowledged that what the French wanted to do was go beyond the 1971 agreement by getting help for â€œdeveloping the next generationâ€ of ballistic missiles. Getting U.S. advice on nuclear weapons development was a tricky issue. The possibility of â€œnegative guidanceâ€ was a central theme in the late August Galley-Kissinger discussion. It would be interesting to know where the concept originated, but both Galley and Kissinger had the same understanding. As Kissinger put it, the U.S. could â€œinformation and guidance on the wrong and the right road.â€ That is, â€œwe can critique what you are doing. We can say, â€˜Thatâ€™s the wrong way.â€™â€ Such a method, Kissinger believed, did not require the consent of Congress, apparently because it was not the direct transfer of information regulated by the Atomic Energy Act. That was fine with Galley, who asserted that â€œchoosing between two ways of triggering doesnâ€™t need Congressional approval.â€ During their private discussions, Kissinger, Schlesinger, and Foster candidly reviewed strategy and tactics. Bluntly asserting that the French had the â€œworst nuclear program in the world,â€ Foster believed that the â€œrate of progress could be speeded up.â€ 15 While Kissinger wanted France to have a â€œgood deterrentâ€ and not â€œduplicate our mistakes,â€ he wanted to control carefully the rate at which Washington doled out information. Taking an especially manipulative approach, to further his European diplomacy, Kissinger wanted to make Galley â€œdrool,â€ but not give him anything for a while. (Document No. 42) The talks with Galley should look like a â€œstep forwardâ€ but it should only be an â€œimpression.â€ This was related to Kissingerâ€™s desire to use military aid to tie France closer to the United States, despite the difficulties over the â€œYear of Europe.â€ Nevertheless, he believed that the aid should be meaningful when it was provided so that the French would be â€œover the humpâ€ by 1976. Document 40: Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, â€œSupplementary Checklist for Meeting with French Defense Minister," Top Secret, 26 July 1973 Location of Original: NSCF, France Vol XI April 73-31 December 1973 Document 41: Memorandum of Conversation, 27 July 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: HAKO, box 56, French Exchanges (2 of 2) Document 42: Memorandum of Conversation, â€œFrench Nuclear Discussion,â€ 9 August 1973, Secret Location of Original: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, National Security Advisor, Memoranda of Conversation, box 2, 8/9/73 Kissinger Schlesinger Document 43: Memorandum of Conversation, â€œVisit of French Defense Minister Galley; Strategic Programs,â€ 17 August 1973, Secret Location of Original: Ford Presidential Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, box 2, August 17, 1973 Kissinger, Schlesinger, John S. Foster (DOD) Document 44: Memorandum, from Holsey G. Handyside, Director of Politico-Military Affairs, Office of Atomic Energy and Aerospace, to Seymour Weiss, â€œSpeculation: Possibility of High Level Contact Between U.S. and French Governments,â€ 24 August 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: RG 59, Numeric-Subject Files, 1970-1973. Top Secret Files, box 5, DEF 12 FR Document 45: Brent [Scowcroft] to Henry [Kissinger], 30 August 1973, enclosing material for Meeting with Galley, Including List of Requirements, Outline for Meeting, and Fosterâ€™s Points, no classification marking Location of Original: HAKO, box 56, French Exchanges (1973-1974) (1 of 2) Document 46: Memorandum of Conversation, 31 August 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: HAKO, box 56, French Exchanges [2 of 2] Document 47: Memorandum of Conversationâ€”Kissinger and Schlesinger, 5 September 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: Ford Presidential Library, Gerald R. Ford Papers, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, box 2, September 5, 1973 â€“ Kissinger, Schlesinger Document 48: Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, â€œNuclear Cooperation with France -- Gallery-Schlesinger Meeting, September 25, 1973,â€ 24 September 1973, Top Secret Location of Original: NSCF, box 960, France Vol XI April 73-31 December 1973 Documents 49-50: Status of Missile and Nuclear Safety Talks Galley and Schlesinger met on 25 September 1973, but a record of meeting has not surfaced, although it may have been a rehash of the talks in July and August. During the following year, missile assistance under the March 1973 program expansion went forward, and talks on nuclear safety had also continued. Progress on the new topics (â€œnegative guidanceâ€ etc.), however, had â€œlain essentially dormant,â€ a senior DDRE official told Schlesinger at the close of 1974. With Kissinger favoring a dilatory approach to providing sensitive aid, the fact that relations with France took a rocky course may have strengthened that inclination. After the 25 September meeting, U.S. relations with France, and with Western Europe generally, soured because of disagreements over the October War. Kissingerâ€™s fury was evident in his comments to French ambassador Koskiusko-Morizet (Document available at the National Security Archive) on 25 October: â€œour experience in this crisis with the Europeans is that they have behaved not as friends but as hostile powers.â€ 16 That missile assistance continued, for example, advice on hardening reentry vehicles for SLBMs, suggested that Kissinger did not want to exacerbate tensions with Paris. Document 49: Memorandum from Donald R. Cotter, Assistant to the Secretary for Atomic Energy, to Major General Wickham, â€œNuclear Safety Talks with France,â€ 1 April 1974, Top Secret Location of Original: HAKO, box 56, French Exchanges (1 of 2) Document 50: Memorandum from John B Walsh to the Secretary of Defense, â€œBallistic Missile and Nuclear Safety Program,â€ 6 December 1974, Top Secret Location of Original: HAKO, box 56, French Exchanges [1973-1974] [1 of 2] Documents 51-55: â€œFootdraggingâ€ Galleyâ€™s wish-list from mid-1973 had become â€œdormantâ€ when the French started to inquire about slow progress in early 1975. Then Jean-Laurens Delpech, Blancardâ€™s successor as Minister of Armaments, wrote to Deputy National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft about the possibility of updating the 1971 Blancard-Foster understanding. When Delpech met with Sonnenfeldt, the latter discouraged talk of updating and claimed that the delay was not â€œdeliberate policy,â€ but reflected a need to conduct a â€œdetailed technical analysis.â€ With respect to French interest in using the Nevada Test site to conduct underground tests, Sonnenfeldt observed that the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty complicated that possibility. Indeed, Ford soon ruled against such assistance, although on 23 June 1975 he directed the study of ways and means to help the French conduct underground tests. (Document No. 52) On the same day, 23 June 1975, President Ford issued a directive to Secretary of Defense Schlesinger (Document No. 53 ) authorizing an expanded program of assistance to France to â€œimprove the operability and reliability, and decrease the nuclear vulnerabilityâ€ of its strategic missile forces. The program would include RV and missile hardening, information relating to multiple reentry vehicle (MRV) technology (as long as it did not contribute to capability to target warheads independently), and â€œbasic knowledgeâ€ of â€œmaterials behavior related to nuclear weapons design.â€ Restricted data would not be provided nor would the French be allowed to expose RV materials at the Nevada nuclear test site. Apparently, the assistance flowed at a leisurely rate because a few months later French president Valerie Giscard dâ€™Estaing brought up the slow pace of nuclear cooperation with Kissinger and Ford saying, with reference to MIRVs and submarines, â€œif you could tell more to our people negatively, it would help.â€ Kissinger said there was â€œfootdraggingâ€ at the Pentagon and that Congress would give the White House a â€œhard timeâ€ if it approved the export of advanced computers. (Document No. 54) Decisions on computer exports lingered for some months, but assistance moved forward on underground testing technology, on MRVs, and submarine vulnerability. While the French kept pressing for negative guidance for the French booster trigger, Sonnenfeldt explained that the White House had not issued its approval because of concern about a possible violation of the Atomic Energy Act. More Info: US helped France go nuclear to keep Europe divided, documents show | intelNews.org Nuclear Proliferation International History Project : Publications : NPIHP Research Updates Old news, But i hope no one posted it on DFI before ?