Telegram to the Prime Minister
Handwritten: “Vault, 3 of 24”
FM WASHDC JAN31/63 TOP SECRET NO RPT NO DISTRUBTION
To external 326 emergency
For Prime Minister and Minister
Nuclear Weapons: USA CDN NEGOTIATIONS
We were called to the state dept at 5:45 pm this evening and handed copies of a press announcement scheduled for release at 6:15 pm. Text in following tel.
- Willis Armstrong, after apologizing that it had not rpt not been possible to give us more advance notice of press announcement, said that he was under instructions to make certain supplementary comments, as follows.
- First, there had been four years of discussions on this problem. Every effort to solve it had proved abortive, and [quote] not rpt not really for technical reasons. [unquote]
- Second, the USA authorities had examined thoroughly the possibilities of storing components in USA on a stand by basis but had concluded that this was a contrived solution which no rpt not only might fail to strengthen continental air defences but might also create added confusion at times of growing emergency. Moreover, in USA view the stand by solution contemplated would mislead public opinion as to the state of air defences.
- Third, USA authorities did not rpt not see the relevance of refs to the Nassau Agreement in the context of the USA CDN negotiations on nuclear weapons for CDN forces in Europe. (Honest John and F104G) were designed for nuclear weapons. If they were to be assigned to a NATO nuclear force under the Nassau agreement they would be fully effective only if equipped with nuclear weapons.
- Fourth, with regard to the argument about the obsolescence of weapons systems, there was in USA view a difference between (a) cancelling weapons systems which were becoming obsolete and (b) immobilizing modern weapons by not rpt not taking parts which were …2
- Armstrong volunteered certain additional comments. He said that the purpose of the statement was primarily to set out in factual terms the status of the problem as USA admin saw it in the light of the PMs speech in the House on Jan 25. There had been much press comment and speculation, largely in CDA but some of it from USA, which in the USA view made it all the more necessary to state clearly USA side of the case. No rpt no ref had been made in the statement to the fact that the disclosure of the negotiations had been made in Ott without advance notification to USA but this factor had caused much concern in WashDC. He went on, however, to draw attention to the fact that the announcement was so drafted as not rpt not to preclude further negotiations.
- Armstrong said that it was realized that the publication of this statement would cause concern and controversy in Ott but he said that after consideration of all the circumstances they had decided that it was impossible to withhold comment.
- With regard to para5 above Armstrongs attention was called to the misinterpretation which he had implied in his comments on the PMs refs to the Nassau Agreement. Armstrong was also reminded of the views I had expressed on Jan 29 to Tyler asst sec for European affairs regarding (a) the positive possibilities of continuing negotiations, as set forth in the PMs speech of Jan 25. And (b) the unfortunate effects which a public statement by USA Govt would have in CDA. As to Armstrongs remarks on the substance of the negotiations, we said that we would withhold comment until we received instructions from you
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Essential to the full operational effectiveness of such weapons.