US secretly helped French nuclear program.

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by A.V., May 26, 2011.

  1. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    WASHINGTON — The United States secretly helped France develop advanced nuclear weapons in the 1970s as part of a bid by the Nixon administration to sow divisions in Europe, declassified US documents showed.

    Henry Kissinger, the senior aide to President Richard Nixon and apostle of realpolitik, is quoted as saying that he wanted to make the French "drool" and think they could compete with Britain, weakening efforts for European unity.

    France first tested an atom bomb in 1960 in the Sahara, becoming the fourth nation after the United States, Soviet Union and Britain to go nuclear as President Charles de Gaulle tried to project France as a great world power.

    The United States under three presidents refused atomic cooperation with France as it worried about de Gaulle's foreign policy and feared he was setting off an arms race that would lead the divided Germanys to seek nuclear weapons.

    The declassified documents confirmed suspicions that Nixon quietly shifted course after entering the White House in 1969, concluding the United States could not stop France's program and should instead use it as leverage.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...f96fb6d5ee.cd1
     
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  3. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    Read on...

    Kissinger, then Nixon's nuclear security adviser, said the United States would give information slowly and vowed: "I will brutalize Galley."

    "What we want is something which makes Galley drool but doesn't give him anything but something to study for a while," Kissinger said in a 1973 memorandum.
     
  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Here is the source article from the wilson centre. You can also see the declassified documents on this website.

    Nuclear Proliferation International History Project : Publications : NPIHP Research Updates

    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 “fourth country” -- 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 “trigger” 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.

    Nixon’s decisions stayed secret until the summer of 1989 when Princeton University political scientist Richard Ullman published an article in Foreign Policy magazine on “The Covert French Connection.” 2 Drawing upon interviews with over 100 former officials, Ullman sought to puncture two myths: that the French strategic force [“force de frappe”] was “entirely homegrown,” and that, owing to Washington’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 “sought to make it clear that they did not oppose the French force, but that they appreciated the contribution it made to Western security.”

    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 Ullman’s account, if not all the details. After French President George’s Pompidou’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 Ullman’s major revelations, that U.S. officials provided “negative guidance” 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 “‘negative guidance’ on the trigger for the French nuclear warhead.” (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. Ulmman’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 “political gesture to Paris without involving us in a major change of nuclear policies toward third countries.” (Document No. 22) Initially, Washington sought no direct “quid pro quo,” but as Kissinger later argued, the “real quid pro quo is the basic orientation of French policy.” (Document No. 47)

    Kissinger did not spell out the problem of “third countries” 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 Nixon’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 Germany’s non-nuclear status.

    The French credited the limited assistance that Washington provided with saving them “time and money” 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), “negative guidance” 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 “crossing a line that was observed during previous cooperation.” (Document No. 48)

    Galley’s request came at a time when U.S.-French relations were deeply troubled by Kissinger’s “Year of Europe” initiative. The new French foreign minister Michel Jobert saw the “Year of Europe” 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 “use” the French to break European unity, thus encouraging an “orientation” 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 “keep Europe from developing their unity as a bloc against us.” Aiding the French would make them feel that they might be able to “get ahead” of the British, e.g., on MIRVs, but Kissinger only wanted to “keep them even.” (Document No. 47)

    Not wanting to reduce White House leverage by giving the French too much, too soon, Kissinger wanted to “whet their appetites” by going slow, making few commitments, and giving them only “tid-bits” in the short-term. Thus, to make sure that the program was not “too fast-paced and extensive,” 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 “negative guidance” on nuclear weapons design, Ullman’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 “negative guidance,” Sonnenfelt told one of Delpech’s aides that that the White House had only said that it “would look at the problem” and that “we could give no assurance of assistance in this area.”

    When “negative guidance” 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 “nuclear collaboration … was probably at its most intense when Jimmy Carter was in the White House and … Giscard d’Estaing was in the Elysée Palace.” Yet, Ullman also notes that his interview subjects acknowledged that “they 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.” 5 Thus, the actual conveyance of “negative guidance” 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 “covert French connection” during the 1970s becomes possible.

    Documents 1-7: Opposition to French Nuclear Weapons
    In the wake of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” 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 “fourth country problem” 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 “drag their feet” 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 “9th countries” 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 NATO’s military structure.
     
  5. Tronic

    Tronic Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Don't know if Nixon provided France with nukes or not, but the motive to sow discontent in Europe shows his low character. Nixon was an ass, and he deserved a worse end than what he got.
     
  6. Armand2REP

    Armand2REP CHINI EXPERT Veteran Member

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    Clearly not... the supposed assistance didn't begin until the seventies and France had already tested its largest bomb ever in 1968. France got nothing out of it just as Kissinger said.
     
  7. Tronic

    Tronic Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Not saying that France built its nukes due to US proliferation. I was simply pointing out at Nixon's ill intentions. Him wanting to make France "drool" and him wanting to weaken European unity, shows the man was a snake and not to be trusted. Watergate eventually exposed his true colours.
     
  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    @Tronic

    The US felt threatened by EU as emerging as another strong pole in competition with the US. So it would naturally undermine that. Another example if you look at US policy in the Arab world was Gamal Abdel Nasser. He is secular socialist Arab unity ideology was loathsome to the US and tried their best to undermine it.
    In this case as well, it won't be just a Nixon policy but a number of decision makers who would have decided on this path. Probably Kissinger was more influential in this decision than Nixon.
     

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