Dear General Foulkes:
I wish to thank you for referring to this department a copy of
your notes on certain aspects of the recent United States
proposal for NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The department
was also interested in Mr.Dulles' recent statement on this
did in fact prepare a paper on the subject for the Prime Minister on the
occasion of Mr.Dulles' visit to Ottawa. 16 A copy
of this department's paper is attached for your information. Unfortunately, your notes
reached us too late to be incorporated in our paper, but Ihave brought them to the attention of
our Minister, so that he may have a fuller understanding of the implications of the U.S. proposal
from Canada's point of view.
In this connection, your department and ours will presumably wish, in a not too distant future,
to have the U.S. proposal discussed on some interdepartmental basis, since it would appear from
President Eisenhower's17 and Mr.Dulles' recent statements that the United States authorities are
seriously considering developing further the idea of NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
Any comments therefore which you may have on the various considerations outlined in our
paper would be welcome, as an initial step towards interdepartmental consultations.
Secret Ottawa, July 26, 1957
NATO STOCKPILING OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The United States Proposal
There has been, in recent years, considerable pressure on the part of the smaller NATO
members for a share of the nuclear weapons which have now become available, and with which
some of the United States troops stationed in Europe are equipped. Numerous suggestions have
been made in the past for the establishment of some NATO pool of nuclear weapons, from which
member nations could draw their requirements. The United States government now appears to
have accepted, for the first time publicly, the possibility of NATO stockpiles of nuclear
At his press conference in Washington on July 16, Mr.Dulles revealed that the United States
defence authorities had been giving serious thought to the creation of NATO stockpiles of
nuclear weapons, through which such weapons could be made available to the members of the
Alliance. The following day, on July 17, President Eisenhower endorsed publicly the principle of
NATO stockpiling of nuclear weapons, and confirmed generally the information given by Mr.Dulles concerning the United States study of plans for the creation of such
stockpiles. The text of Mr.Dulles' remarks at
his press conference is attached as annexA to this paper.
The United States Secretary of State has explained that the United States had at present no
specific programme for carrying out the proposal, and indicated that in any case Congressional
sanction would probably be necessary before one could be worked out and implemented. The
United States Atomic Energy Act might also require amendments, since it permits at present
supply of nuclear weapons to allies of the United States only after war has broken out. Both the
President and Mr.Dulles have said enough, however, to suggest that the United States
authorities are now prepared to take concrete steps towards the establishment of such NATO
NATO Stockpiling and Disarmament
The publicly announced United States proposal for NATO stockpiling of nuclear weapons is
in harmony with U.S. policy in the current disarmament negotiations in London. In their latest
proposals on disarmament, the United States has indicated the intention to reserve the privilege
of deciding, in case of a disarmament agreement, to station their stockpiles of nuclear weapons
outside the borders of the United States, and further the privilege of training other than United
States troops in the use of nuclear weapons. TheUnited States proposal for NATO stockpiling of
nuclear weapons gives therefore a practical significance to the recent United States reservations
in the Disarmament Sub-Committee.
It is probably also designed to alleviate the fears of some of their partners in the Sub-Committee, especially the
United Kingdom and France, to the effect that agreement on the
suspension of nuclear tests, with an eventual halt in the production of nuclear weapons, might
leave these countries without real means of modern defence. If the temporary suspension of
nuclear tests were linked not only with the cut-off of production for weapons purposes, as the
U.S. plans envisage, but also with a prohibition of deliveries to allies, then such countries as the
United Kingdom, which is actually producing materials for nuclear weapons, and France, which
apparently is considering such production, might indeed be left in a position of having means for
the delivery of nuclear warheads, but inadequate supplies of such warheads. This is particularly
important for the United Kingdom which has just recast most of its defence policy on a basis of
nuclear as opposed to conventional armaments.
It remains to be seen, however, how the Soviet government will react in the Disarmament
Sub-Committee to this United States proposal for NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons. The
Russians are known to fear any dispersal of nuclear weapons among the NATO countries,
especially Germany. Discussion of the distribution of missiles (without atomic warheads) by the
United States to some Western European allies was sufficient, a few months ago, to prompt the
Soviet government to despatch to these NATO governments, at the risk of being charged with
interference in internal affairs of other states, letters of dire warning about accepting the
stationing of such weapons on their respective territories. A strong Russian reaction in the Sub-Committee to the
publicly announced United States proposal for NATO stockpiles should not
therefore be unexpected, and the course of the disarmament negotiations might in turn well
NATO Stockpiling and the Fourth Power Problem
The Bermuda conference earlier this year underlined the concern of both the United States
and the United Kingdom over the problem of production and of possession of nuclear weapons
by fourth powers. 18 The disarmament discussions have shown that the Soviet Union was no
less concerned with the Fourth Power problem, although their position might be somewhat
simpler, as they wish above all to ensure, for their own security reasons, that no fourth country
could secure possession of nuclear weapons either by transfer or manufacture. One of the main
conclusions which have emerged so far from Canadian inter-departmental consideration of the
Fourth Power problem is that renunciation of manufacture of nuclear weapons could only be
acceptable to countries which have the capacity to produce them, if in turn they can be assured of
the availability of such weapons in case of serious threat to their security. Canadian officials
have thus tended to view the question of attractiveness of renunciation of manufacture of
nuclear weapons as the more promising basis of a satisfactory solution to the Fourth Power
Mr.Dulles' proposal for NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons would, it seems, go a long
way towards making renunciation of nuclear weapons manufacture and of individual possession
a more acceptable proposition. The establishment of NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons,
under an appropriate system of control, would undoubtedly tend to save other NATO countries
the economic burden of developing themselves these expensive weapons. It would strengthen
NATO defence arrangements, underline the collective character of the military side of the
Alliance, and promote generally the feeling of solidarity within the Alliance. It would offer
within NATO, to every member government, including those which have been hoping to achieve
it through the production of their own nuclear weapons, the kind of nuclear protection every
NATO country has been seeking. It could well therefore constitute ultimately an important step
towards a limitation in nuclear weapons production, and perhaps strengthen the bargaining
position of the Western world in disarmament negotiations.
NATO Stockpiling and Canada's Defence Policy
The President of the United States, in endorsing the plan for NATO stockpiles of nuclear
weapons, remarked at his press conference that such a move would be exactly logical and that
to defend themselves against nuclear attacks, the countries of the Atlantic Alliance ought to
have the right, the opportunity and the capacity of responding in kind. Mr.Dulles pointed out
that such stockpiles would assure allied countries that if war came, they would not be in a
position of supplicants for the use of atomic weapons. It would not be a healthy relationship, he
said, to have allied nations wholly dependent on the United States in this respect. The United
States leaders seem also to have recognized the desirability of approaching the problem in the
NATO forum, rather than attempting to draw a distinction between individual allies. Mr.Dulles
saw the possible concentration of nuclear weapons in Europe as an act of confidence which
would strengthen the fellowship of the North Atlantic Community. Canadian officials concerned
with defence matters and who have been following NATO developments would generally agree
that on the whole, implementation of the United States proposal for NATO stockpiles of nuclear
weapons would carry these advantages, and be beneficial to the security of the Atlantic
Implementation of the proposal would nonetheless present the Canadian government with
important problems. As the proposal, in its latest context, is really new, it would seem premature
to talk in terms of a Canadian policy. A number of considerations of direct interest to Canada can
however be advanced at this stage.
It is assumed that, in the event of the creation of NATO stockpiles, under conditions
permitting access to them by the NATO members, its supplies would be available to Canadian
forces on a basis of equality with forces from all other NATO countries. It is also assumed that
such stockpiles would be located, at least at the outset, in Europe. In theory, the ability of
Canadian contingents in Europe to use these weapons should not give rise to serious difficulties.
Most of the agreements which Canada has with countries such as France and Belgium for the use
of airfields provide that Canadian contingents stationed at those bases would only be armed with
conventional weapons. These governments, however, would presumably agree, in the event of
the establishment of stockpiles of nuclear weapons, to the working out of appropriate agreements
permitting Canadian forces equipped with such nuclear weapons to be stationed on their
Canadian officials have been inclined however, so far, to consider that Canada's armed
forces in Europe, as well as in North America, did not, in practice, have any immediate
requirement for nuclear weapons, although within a few years, would require certain specific
modern defensive weapons, sometimes referred to as tactical weapons. The United States Air
Force is already using one such small weapon in the air defence of North America, and has
been given authority to use it over Canada. For technical reasons, the R.C.A.F. does not at
present wish to adopt this particular weapon.
Although there has been no reference to this possibility so far, the United States proposal
could also of course envisage the establishment of NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons in
Canada. Canada, like the United States, is in principle an integral part of the NATO area. Most
of the agreement negotiated with the United States regarding the use of bases in Canadian
territory by United States forces took place at a time when nuclear weapons meant only mass
nuclear deterrent, and when defensive weapons were still at the planning stage. There are
therefore in the United States Leased Bases Agreements no reference to U.S. forces being
equipped with nuclear weapons, and in fact no distinction between conventional weapons and
others. Recent agreements with certain European countries concerning the use of airfields by
Canadian forces contain however clauses stipulating specifically that Canadian forces stationed
there would be armed only with conventional weapons. Although there are, strictly speaking, no
provisions in the U.S. Leased Bases Agreements preventing U.S. forces to be equipped with
nuclear weapons, it is evident, in the light of recent precedents, that fresh agreements would
have to be negotiated before NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons could be established on
Canadian territory, as would be the case for most western Europe countries.
Control over NATO Stockpiles of Nuclear Weapons
The question of control over stockpiles of nuclear weapons constitutes the most important
aspect of the United States proposal. It is desirable that the NATO Alliance be permitted to
develop its full military potential by arming itself with the most modern weapons. But it is
unlikely that this objective could be successfully and effectively reached unless it is done under a
control system which could minimize the Fourth Power problem while, at the same time,
reducing and softening the differences in status between the two nuclear powers in NATO and
the other members of the Alliance.
It will seem equally essential to ensure that the establishment of NATO stockpiles of nuclear
weapons will not enable any NATO power to embark unilaterally on a war against any other
power, or accidentally to provoke a situation which could lead to preventive or retaliatory action
by a major power. We can be certain in any event that the Scandinavians, for instance, would
look with the greatest concern upon a situation where the Greeks and the Turks could, in a
moment of over-estimated danger, and ensuing national panic, let go an atomic attack, thereby
bringing into the fray the whole of the NATO Alliance. Likewise however, the small members of
NATO would see little advantage in the creation of NATO stockpiles of nuclear weapons if the
control over them were left exclusively to SACEUR and to the President of the United States.
Such arrangements would, in any case, likely defeat the purpose behind the proposal of
cementing NATO's solidarity, and of decreasing the dependence of each of the NATO members
upon the present United States monopoly of the nuclear deterrent.
An initial form of control, therefore, might well consist in having the proposed stockpiles
under the formal custody of SACEUR. They would be used only in accordance with the specific
military directions of SACEUR, which in turn would be given only in accordance with general
directives of the NATO Council regarding the use of such weapons. This policy would be in line
with the interpretation made by the NATO Foreign Ministers, including Mr.Dulles, and by
General Gruenther, of MC-48, the report of the Military Committee of NATO on the most
effective pattern of NATO military strength over the next few years. This report was approved
by NATO at its ministerial meeting in December 1954, and the so-called principle of civilian
control reaffirmed at the last December ministerial meeting.19 Its interpretation left to member
governments through the NATO Council rather than to the military authorities the decision as to
when the NATO nuclear weapons would be used.20
As a result, it would seem that the practices of NATO might need to be reconsidered in the
light of such increase in the military advantages and responsibilities of NATO partnership. At a
moment when the central contribution of NATO to a nation's military potential is being
increased, it is an opportune moment to improve the means for guaranteeing that this increased
military potential is used in conformity with NATO's objectives. Furthermore, the establishment
of stockpiles of nuclear weapons without an adequate system of control might well affect
adversely the balance of power within NATO, as existing deterrents to unilateral action (such as
the threat of U.S. and U.K. abandonment of the continental land-mass to the Soviet Union) might
no longer be as efficient as before. The Canadian approach, therefore, could be that with the
establishment of NATO's stockpiles of nuclear weapons, it would become necessary to
strengthen the political consultation and control machinery of the NATO Council over the
disposition and use of these weapons.
15 Voir/See United States, Department of State,
Bulletin, Volume XXXVII, No.945, 5August 1957, pp.233-234.
16 Dulles a visité Ottawa du 26 au 28 juillet 1957.
Voir le volume 25 (à paraître), chapitre premier.
Dulles visited Ottawa from July 26 to 28, 1957. See Volume 25 (forthcoming), ChapterI.
17 Voir/See Public Papers of the Presidents of the
United States: Dwight D.Eisenhower 1957, Washington: Government
Printing Office, 1958, pp.550, 555.
18 Voir/See Volume 22, Document 735.
19 Voir volume 22, la 5 partie, chapitre III.
See Volume 22, Chapter III, Part 5.
20 Pour un exposé sur la
réaction du Canada au MC-48, voir volume20, la 5partie, chapitreIII.
For an account of the Canadian response to MC48, see Volume20, ChapterIII, Part5.