Thursday, 24 May 2018

Nuclear disarmament: why it became a requirement under the 1968 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty ( thanks to Mexico)

This is wonderful historical scholarship which I cannot better, so am posting it complete.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Mexican Amendments: The Negotiating Record

Jorge Castañeda y Álvarez, head of the Mexican delegation to the Conference of the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee, who presented amendments to the NPT in September 1967, portrayed when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1979-1982 (photo courtesy of Historic Archives of the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs)

Published: May 23, 2018
Briefing Book #630
Edited by William Burr
For more information, contact:
202-994-7000 or
Impetus for NPT Article on Nuclear Disarmament was “Fear” of Non-Nuclear Weapons States “Being Frozen Indefinitely into Second Class Status”
Superpower Negotiators Supported Mexican Proposals to Win Support for NPT from Non-Nuclear States
NPT Articles on Disarmament and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy Remain Contested

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Mexican Amendments: The Negotiating Record

Washington D.C., May 23, 2018 - The controversial Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, requiring "good faith" disarmament measures, arose from the "fear" by non-nuclear weapons states "of being frozen indefinitely into second class status," according to newly declassified U.S. documents about the NPT negotiations posted today by the National Security Archive to mark the Treaty's 50th anniversary.
Article VI has been controversial partly because of conflicting interpretations over what it requires and perceptions that the nuclear weapons states have not taken positive action to live up to that commitment.  The documents illuminate the "second class status" concern that led the Mexican government, in September 1967, to propose a separate treaty article obliging disarmament action by the nuclear weapons states, along with other Mexican proposals that were critically important to building an international consensus for the  NPT

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Mexican Amendments: The Negotiating Record

By William Burr
Fifty years ago, when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was awaiting the approval of the United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. and Soviet negotiators who played key roles in negotiating the treaty understood that approval depended on the support of the non-nuclear weapons states (NNWS).  While convinced that an NPT could further U.S. and international security interests, U.S. policymakers worried that backing for the treaty would tepid in key countries from West Germany to India and Japan unless it addressed a central problem: the discrimination between the few nuclear weapons states (NWS) and the many NNWS. According to State Department and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) memoranda published today for the first time by the National Security Archive, the NNWS had a “fear of being frozen indefinitely into second class status.” Therefore, U.S. negotiators wanted the treaty to include obligations by the NWS so that it provided “more balance between the nuclear and non-nuclear powers.”
Today’s posting continues the Archive’s coverage of the history of the NPT by presenting U.S. documentation on the negotiation of its controversial Article VI, under which “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” The language spoke to concerns about the U.S.-Soviet arms race, apprehension about the very existence of nuclear weapons, and widespread support for the goal of comprehensive disarmament--eliminating weapons of mass destruction and scaling back conventional armaments--although both U.S. and Soviet policymakers found the goal virtually nonnegotiable.[1]
Both far-reaching and inexact, Article VI would not have existed without pressure from the NNWS. The government of Mexico, which had already played a central role in the creation of the Latin American Nuclear Free Zone, took the initiative by proposing language for the NPT that confirmed obligations by the NWS. Mexico proposed an article for nuclear disarmament and offered the first draft. [2] Sweden also made a contribution by proposing language designed to strengthen article VI through a specific reference to “nuclear disarmament.”[3]
The Mexican ambassador to the disarmament talks in Geneva, Jorge Castañeda y Álvarez de la Rosa, presented first drafts of other articles designed to appeal to the interests of the NNWS. One was an article validating the creation of nuclear weapons free zones (Article VII), such as the Latin American nuclear free zone, which Mexico had played a key role in negotiating. Another was to ensure that the “potential benefits” from the “peaceful application of nuclear explosives” would be made available to NNWS. Mexico also offered a revised version of Article V to ensure the fullest opportunity for NNWS to benefit from the potentials of peaceful nuclear technology.
Declassified U.S. records document the painstaking effort by U.S. and Soviet negotiators Adrian Fisher and Alexei Roshchin at the Conference of the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee [ENDC] to reframe Castañeda’s proposals in order to make them acceptable to both Moscow and Washington as well as to the other members of the Committee. Having already included references to nuclear disarmament in the NPT’s preamble, the US and the USSR accepted the proposals mainly to build support for the treaty, but they were willing to accept Article VI obligations because proposals relating to nuclear disarmament were already on the agenda such as a comprehensive test ban and a fissile material production cut-off.
American and Soviet negotiators agreed that the Mexican amendments and the supporting Swedish contribution several months later were important to winning the support of the NNWS/nonaligned nations. To assure that no votes were lost, Moscow and Washington accepted changes in wording even after they had tabled the treaty. Nevertheless, they realized that even an article on disarmament was not enough to assure the support of the NNWS, which also sought other changes, such as a provision for periodic review conferences through which signatories could evaluate progress toward realizing the treaty’s goals, including nuclear disarmament.
 Overseas archives could shed light on the impact of the Mexican amendments and other changes on the thinking of the NNWS, although some of the latter may have already concluded that an NPT could add to their security by keeping their regions nuclear weapons-free. By contrast, some states such as India refused to sign on because the NPT left intact the imbalance between the NWS and the NNWS.
The other amendments to the NPT that the Mexican government inspired have involved varying degrees of controversy. Article VII on nuclear free zones has been important and the source of diplomatic initiatives leading to the creation of the African and the South Pacific nuclear weapons free zones. Article V on peaceful nuclear explosives was the subject of complex negotiations, but it has been virtually a dead letter because of the basic U.S. government policy that explosive devices were the same as nuclear weapons and involved the same risks to public health and safety.
Article IV, on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, to which the Mexican government contributed language, has been a major source of contention because of differences over interpretation. Industrial NNWS such as Italy and West Germany opposed any restrictions on the development of peaceful nuclear industries, as did developing NNWS. While the Mexican government proposed language that the NWCS had a “duty” to provide nuclear technology, both Moscow and Washington rejected notions of obligation, although they agreed with a Nigerian proposal that the NWS could “facilitate” peaceful development.[4]
The U.S. government’s public position was that nuclear activities that were very closely associated with developing a weapons capability, such as plutonium reprocessing, were compatible with peaceful uses as long as they were safeguarded. Nevertheless, to discourage nuclear proliferation, Washington worked with European allies to impose export and secrecy controls over sensitive technology, such as gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. To that extent, Washington hedged on the scope of the technology and information sharing that it deemed compatible with Article IV. Over the years, especially after the 1974 Indian test, the U.S. government worked with others in imposing even more restrictive approaches to the dissemination of technologies that could be used for producing fissile material.[5]
Iran and other non-nuclear parties to the NPT have argued that the “inalienable rights” language of Article IV includes the right to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by Iran and the P5+1 in 2015 does not dispute that but imposes tight controls and restrictions on Iranian enrichment and reprocessing activities. By contrast, under a 1988 agreement the United States confirmed Japan’s right to reprocess plutonium. Thus, political criteria, for example, whether an NPT signatory has ever pursued a nuclear weapons program, have to some extent defined the scope of Article IV activities.[6]
Article VI has been even more controversial. The commitments by the NWS signatories to work toward nuclear disarmament and by the NNWS signatories to eschew nuclear weapons have been widely viewed as one of the “grand bargains” underlying the NPT. Yet, as Matthew Harries has observed, Article VI’s “central political contribution to the NPT bargain was to make clear that this inequality was intended to be temporary.”[7]
Post-Cold War Moscow and Washington made substantial progress in reducing their nuclear arsenals to 85 percent below Cold War levels, but their nuclear arsenals remain substantial.  During the 1990s, the Clinton administration supported negotiations over two major proposals relating to the nuclear disarmament agenda—the comprehensive test ban treaty and the fissile material production cut-off. The test ban negotiations were successful, but the U.S. Senate blocked ratification of the treaty, while India-Pakistan rivalries and a lack of international consensus on verification hobbled the cut-off talks.[8]
The arms control community generally criticized the George W. Bush administration’s record on nonproliferation for taking a restrictive interpretation of Article VI, for seeking to develop new nuclear weapons, and for the breakdown of negotiations with North Korea.[9] Favoring a different approach, Barack Obama came to office calling for movement toward nuclear abolition; the administration’s first Nuclear Posture Review supported reducing the threat of nuclear weapons and working for the long-range goal of a nuclear-free world. Nevertheless, efforts on the fissile cut-off remained stymied, while no action was attempted on the test ban treaty. Moreover, the New Start II agreement on strategic forces cuts with Moscow went hand-in-hand with nuclear modernization programs that the Republican Senate made even more expensive. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan increased their nuclear arsenals and North Korea’s weapons program developed unchecked.[10]
 By the close of the Obama administration, disappointment with the failure of the NWS to make progress on Article VI contributed to the growing support for the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, which the United Nations approved in July 2017.[11] Controversy over Article VI continues in the preparations for the 2020 NPT review conference, with some NNWS arguing that nuclear modernization contravenes the Article while the NWS claim they are doing the best they can. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has won approval for higher levels of spending on nuclear modernization while joining other NWS in criticizing the ban treaty.[12] That the NWS continue to downplay Article VI could have damaging consequences for the nuclear nonproliferation regime, which is already under stress owing to uncertainties over Iran and North Korea.


Document 01
Henry Owen, Director, Policy Planning Council, to the Secretary of State, "New Proposals Re Securing Non-Nuclear Countries Adherence to a Non-Proliferation Treaty," 5 April 1967

Source: National Archives, Records of Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Record Group 383 (RG 383), Director's Office NPT Files, box 5, United States Non-Proliferation 1967 Book #4

To address the concerns of the non-nuclear weapons states about the treaty, Henry Owen made a number of suggestions, including providing assurances about the availability of peaceful nuclear technology. To address the "fear of being frozen indefinitely into second class status," Owen reviewed areas where the treaty could be modified. One suggestion was to strengthen the Treaty's preamble. Another was for the president to commission a study, as an urgent matter, of older U.S. disarmament proposals and determine "whether new US proposals can be developed in light of continuing technological advances."

Document 02
Memorandum of Conversation, "Non-Proliferation Treaty," 8 May 1967, Secret, attached to letter to William C. Foster from Martin Purnell, First Secretary, U.S. Embassy Japan, 19 May 1967

Source: RG 383, Director's Office NPT Files, box 7, Memorandum of Conversation

As Japan was not a member of the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament, but an important NNWS, ACDA director William C. Foster flew to Tokyo for special consultations with senior officials. The key meeting was with Foreign Minister Takeo Miki, with whom Foster reviewed a number of issues, including peaceful uses and "peaceful nuclear explosives," safeguards, Indian and West German concerns, and the NPT's proposed duration. Among Takeo Miki's concerns was that the Treaty not hinder research and development on nuclear energy, including nuclear fission. On the nuclear disarmament issue, a problem that was of great importance to domestic opinion, Takeo Miki stated that the "treaty should lead to disarmament rather than just a weapons freeze."[13] He believed that the NNWS needed "assurances of the willingness of the nuclear countries to scale down and eventually disarm," and that without embodying such a commitment in the Treaty "it would be difficult to convince the nonnuclear nations they should join the treaty."

Saying that he agreed, Foster spelled out the U.S. nuclear disarmament agenda, including the fissile materials production cut-off and the "destruction of thousands of warheads," but that those goals had to be pursued "one step at a time." He did not believe it possible to include those and other proposals and "still get a meaningful treaty," but he was willing to "insert in the treaty a statement of intentions and let the review conference look into the progress being made."

In his comments Takeo Miki had emphasized the importance of treaty provisions for periodic review conferences "as a way for non-nuclear nations to satisfy themselves that the nuclear nations had in fact carried out their commitments." This would be a point that the Japanese would continue to make, along with Romanian, Swedish, and Italian diplomats, in discussions of the treaty.

Document 03
Adrian Fisher to Henry Owen, "S/P Memorandum of April 5, 'New Proposals re Securing Non-Nuclear Countries' Adherence to a Non-Proliferation Treaty,'" 23 May1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, Director's Office NPT Files, box 5, United States Non-Proliferation 1967 Book #4

Reviewing the State Department Policy Planning Staff's suggestions for winning the support of the NNWS, Fisher developed proposals on security assurances and an AEC study on the dissemination of "spin-off technology." He also agreed that the NNWS "would find it easier to sign an NPT if there were stronger evidence of the nuclear countries' intent to move seriously to halt and reverse the arms race." Toward that end, Fisher believed that strengthening the preambular language could help.

Document 04
William C. Foster, "Memorandum of Conversations - Leading to Tabling of NPT," 10 August 1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, Director's Office NPT Files, box 7, Memorandum of Conversation

With the U.S. and the Soviets getting ready to table the NPT, minus the controversial safeguards Article III, chief Soviet negotiator Alexei Roshchin offered a new version of the preambular language on disarmament, which Foster found acceptable as it drew on earlier U.S. documents.

"... Desiring to further the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between states in order to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery pursuant to a Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament under strict and effective international control ..."

Document 05
State Department Airgram CA-1545 to U.S. Embassies in NATO Countries et al., "Aide-Memoire on the Draft Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," 24 August 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Having reached agreement on a basic treaty text, except for the contested Article III on safeguards, Moscow and Washington submitted the treaty for discussion and review by the ENDC and all U.N. members generally. The text included the language on disarmament proposed by the Soviets and a separate article (IV) on peaceful uses. Washington had wanted to hold the latter as a fallback, but the Soviets convinced American negotiators to incorporate it. According to the aide memoire accompanying the treaty text, Article IV "results from many suggestions by non-nuclear weapon countries" that the NPT included a separate article on the peaceful uses of atomic energy.[14]

Document 06
Memorandum of Conversation, "Non-Proliferation Treaty (Part II of II)," 16 September 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Only a few days before the Mexican ENDC delegation made its NPT proposals, during a conversation with Dean Rusk Foreign Minister Miki restated his interest in stronger language on peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear disarmament: "The people of Japan ... strongly favor a declaration of intent to achieve an ultimate nuclear disarmament guarantee." Rusk, however, noting that Chinese and French nonparticipation in the negotiations made it difficult to move forward on disarmament, demurred from any notion of a guarantee in the sense of "a legal requirement" in the Treaty. He suggested the possibility of further strengthening the preamble, but Miki said he had no problem with the wording. He only preferred a different structure, so that the Treaty stipulated that nuclear disarmament was necessary for reducing world tensions.

Rusk assured Miki that the NPT would not "interfere with the development of peaceful uses," but he made no strong assurances in response to Miki's wish that Japan not be "denied the opportunity of using nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes when these are fully developed." As Rusk had explained before, such devices were "no different from nuclear explosives used in weapons."

Documents 7A-B: The Mexican Amendments

Document 07A
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 869 to Department of State, 18 September 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Ms. E. Aquirre, with the Mexican delegation to the ENDC, told a U.S. official that her government would be distributing, as “informal suggestions,” drafts for NPT articles. All of them spoke to the problem of adjusting the balance of obligations between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states.

Document 07B
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 870 to Department of State, 18 September 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Among the Mexican proposals was new language for Article IV on peaceful nuclear uses, including an emphasis on the “duty” of the nuclear weapons states to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, “especially in the territories of non-nuclear weapons states.” The other three were new articles altogether: Article V on “nondiscriminatory access to peaceful nuclear explosives and Article VI on the obligation of the nuclear weapons states to pursue disarmament negotiations. Drawing on some of the language in the preamble, the new article called upon:

"Each nuclear-weapon State Party to this Treaty under takes to pursue negotiations in good faith, with all speed and perseverance, to arrive at further agreements regarding the prohibition of all nuclear weapon tests, the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation .of all their existing stockpiles , the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery, as well as to reach agreement on a Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament under strict and effective international control."

Another new article, what became NPT Article VII, concerned the right of signatory states to conclude regional nuclear weapons-free zone arrangements as exemplified by the recent Latin American agreement.

Document 08
Conference of the Eighteen Nation Commitment on Disarmament, "Final Verbatim Record of the Three Hundred and Thirty-First Meeting held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Tuesday, 19 September 1967, at 10:30a.m.," ENDC/PV 331, 19 September 1967

Source: Source RG 59, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of International Conferences, Records Relating to Disarmament Conferences, 1960-1970, box 10, ENDC/PV 310-334 (2 of 2)

The Mexican Ambassador to the ENDC, Jorge Castañeda y Álvarez, formally presented the proposals to the ENDC on 19 September 1967. He acknowledged that his government considered the draft treaty “on the whole clearly satisfactory,” especially because Articles I and II provided “firm” cornerstones “because they are so drafted as to preclude any proliferation of nuclear weapons, direct or indirect.” Nevertheless, Castañeda indicated that his proposals on peaceful uses, disarmament, nuclear-free zones, and peaceful nuclear explosives were necessary to correct a basic problem: the “treaty does not, in our view, fully satisfy the requirements of the acceptable balance of mutual responsibilities and obligations of the nuclear and non-nuclear Powers.”

After Castañeda spoke, Adrian Fisher gave a presentation on U.S. plans for a limited anti-ballistic system, which Secretary of Defense McNamara had announced a few days earlier. According to Fisher, the ABM “does not represent an acceleration of the United States-Soviet strategic arms race,” but the announcement had a poor impact on the NNWS [See document 11].

Document 09
Acting ACDA Director Archibald Alexander to Secretary of State, "Current NPT Issues," 22 September 1967, with attached report on "World Reaction Toward the NPT," Secret

Source: RG 383, Directors Office NPT Files, box 4, United States Nonproliferation Files, Mr. Conger's 1967 & 1968 Book #6

Written too early to take into account the Mexican proposals, this wide-ranging report reviewed issues that had to be addressed to complete the negotiations: Article III, the problem of treaty duration, security assurances, provisions for amendments, and the "balance of obligations." The latter referred to the arguments made by the NNWS that the Treaty should "contain some obligation on the part of the nuclear powers to limit or reduce their nuclear arsenals and to accept safeguards on their peaceful nuclear facilities."Concerns about the NPT's "imbalance" also influenced Japan's proposal for periodic treaty review conferences to ensure that signatories were living up to their obligations.

According to Alexander, ACDA preferred to limit the problem of disarmament to the treaty's preamble, which spoke directly to the "cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons." He suggested that Rusk propose to Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko that future review conferences have in their purview not only "obligations under the operative section" but also "the fulfillment of the purposes of the preamble." The problem with having a disarmament article in the Treaty's "operative section" was that it would "inevitably involve the verification issue, is too complicated and would be non-negotiable."

Document 10
U.S. Mission Geneva telegrams 1001-1005 to Secretary of State, "Proposed Mexican Changes to NPT," 28 September 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

According to the U.S. delegation, the Mexican amendments raised “problems”, but at the same time they were “opportunities” by offering the possibility of incorporating the thinking of “important non-aligned countries” and strengthening the “case that treaty does meet [their] reasonable and responsible requests.” Many of those states would evaluate the way that Moscow and Washington responded to the proposals as a “test of whether co-chairman regard NPT as immutable to be forced” on them.

Noting that Mexico had been “anxious” to contribute to the NPT, the delegation wrote that it had made the “first significant suggestions for amendments.” Given that, the Mexican ambassador to the ENDC Jorge Castañeda was likely to be “willing to work with us in accepting reasonable modifications.” But before approaching Castañeda, it was necessary to discuss the amendments with the Soviet delegation.

In the balance of the message, the delegation analyzed the four proposals and suggested alternate language and editorial changes for each. For example, the notion of a “duty” to share peaceful nuclear technology was unacceptable in Washington(and probably toMoscow) so the U.S. delegation suggested that the “idea of most importance to Mexico … is inclusion of some formulation regarding assistance to non-nuclears by nuclears.” The delegation believed that the language on nuclear free zones could be accepted as something that the treaty would not prohibit.

On the disarmament article, the delegation preferred to see stronger language in the preamble but anticipated that “there will be strong pressure from virtually all non-aligned and our allies to strengthen and move this language to operative article.” In any event, the language concerning “all speed” was problematic because it “might make it possible at review conferences to charge nuclear powers with failure [to] fulfill their obligations.”

Document 11
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1008 to Secretary of State, "ENDC Liaison Report No. 421," 28 September 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-3 SWITZ (GE)

Mexican delegation member Ms. Aquirre told a U.S. counterpart that during a meeting of the non-aligned members of the ENDC the Mexican proposals had received a "very favorable" reaction although India and Brazil found that they "did not go far enough." The U.S. announcement about ABM deploymentshad a negative impact because the non-aligned nations believed that the nuclear powers "would simply go on arming themselves in [an] unlimited arms race while [the] non-nuclears were tied down in their present status by the NPT."

Document 12
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1008 to Secretary of State, "Western Four Meeting October 4 [sic]," 2 October 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-3 SWITZ (GE)

Meeting with the British, Canadian, and Italian ENDC delegates, Fisher gave his personal assessment of the Mexican proposals. One problem was that Washington "would have major difficulty" supporting language about the abolition of nuclear weapons prior to the achievement of general and comprehensive disarmament, the implication being that the West needed nuclear weapons as long as Soviet conventional forces outmatched NATO's. Moreover, it was not "desirable [to] attempt [to] include lists of specific measures since [it was] impossible [to] reach agreement with Soviets on any specific lists."

Document 13
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1055 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairmen's Meeting, Oct. 2," 2 October 1967

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, Non-Proliferation USSR July-December 1967

In their first full discussion of the Mexican amendments, Fisher and Roshchin agreed that the reference to a "duty" on the part of the NWS in the Mexican text of Article IV was unacceptable, but Roshchin believed it was "very desirable [to] meet wishes of Mexican [delegation] even if wording had to be changed." On the proposed article on peaceful nuclear explosives, about which neither Fisher or Roshchin showed enthusiasm, Roshchin thought it important to include it "in view of Mexican desire [to] help us." Both agreed that the article on nuclear-free zones was acceptable.

On the proposed article on disarmament, Fisher preferred stronger language in the preamble instead, but Roshchin thought it should be included: "we will be negotiating here for many years" and recognizing that fact in the treaty would do no harm. Toward that end, he offered a redraft of the Mexican amendment.

Document 14
Memorandum of Conversation, "Non-Proliferation Treaty," 4 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Reviewing West German concerns about the NPT, Counselor Berndt Von Staden said that his government had hoped that non-aligned governments would be tabling amendments that would correct such problems as the treaty's duration and the weakness of the preambular language on disarmament. When ACDA official Culver Gleysteen told him about the Mexican proposals, including one to include on "operative provision" on the "obligation on the part of nuclear weapons states to negotiate nuclear disarmament measures," Von Staden said that it would be "well received" in Bonn. Getting a West German signature on the NPT, however, would require far more than Article VI.

Document 15
State Department telegram 49458 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 5 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Responding to the delegation's analysis of the Mexican proposals, the State Department wrote that it concurred but made a few suggestions, including a redraft of the proposed articles on disarmament and peaceful nuclear explosives. Noting that the redraft did not include the phrase "with all speed and perseverance," Rusk suggested that Fisher explain that the preamble gave effect to that idea by "calling for [the] achievement of [the] cessation of the nuclear arms race 'at the earliest possible date.'"

Document 16
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1083 to State Department, "NPT Discussion with Soviet Deloffs [Delegation Officers]," 5 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, Non-Proliferation USSR July-December 1967

With the Soviets emphasizing their wish to complete work on amendments from the non-aligned states as quickly as possible, before the Treaty went before the UN General Assembly, Soviet and U.S. delegates had a wide-ranging discussion that included the language of the Mexican amendments on disarmament, peaceful nuclear explosive devices, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. For the language of the disarmament article,U.S. delegate De Palma raised questions about including a reference to "nuclear disarmament" because Washington could not endorse that objective in the absence of comprehensive and general disarmament. Soviet delegate M.V. Antyasov suggested that the word "nuclear" be removed, claiming that it would be close to the idea of Swedish delegate Alva Myrdal that all treaty signatories, nuclear or non-nuclear, have the same disarmament obligation.

Document 17
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1121 to State Department, "Co-Chairman's Meeting, Oct 7," 7 October 1967, Secret,

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, Non-Proliferation USSR July-December 1967

Continuing the discussion of the Mexican proposals, Fisher and Roshchin disagreed whether the proposed article on disarmament should refer to verification as the U.S. had recommended. The Soviets thought that using the word was too "restrictive" because it might "raise suspicions" among the non-nuclear nations when an important purpose of the article was "to make points" with them.

Document 18
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1140 to State Department, "Discussion with Soviets of Mexican Amendments," 10 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

This discussion focused on the dedicated articles on disarmament and peaceful nuclear explosive devices. On the latter, the Soviets emphasized that in order to meet the "requests of the responsible non-aligned" nations it was important to include language concerning an "appropriate international body" to provide technological assistance on PNEDs [peaceful nuclear explosive devices], but the U.S. delegates favored more flexibility in the language. On disarmament, the Soviets continued arguing that a reference to verification was "unacceptable." They believed that Washington should make a concession on this just as the Soviets knew better than to include language on "nuclear disarmament." Moreover, it was "not a matter of practical importance" because "everybody knows" that the United State would "not agree to any measure unless it considers that verification aspect is satisfactory."

Document 19
William C. Foster to Secretary of State, "Status Report on NPT Negotiations," 10 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 383, Directors Office NPT Files, box 4, United States Nonproliferation Files, Mr. Conger's 1967 & 1968 Book #6

Reviewing overall developments, including Article III, when to recess the ENDC, preparing for a "favorable climate" at the UN General Assembly, and the Treaty's duration, Foster began with a discussion of the Mexican amendments, which he argued was the "fall-back for which we have been preparing" because of the importance of giving "the treaty more balancebetween the nuclear and non-nuclear powers."

Document 20
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1169 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairman's Meeting," 11 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Worried about "growing dissatisfaction" in the ENDC, the Americans asked the Soviets to move more quickly in responding to the Mexican amendments by taking a position on the peaceful uses language. Noting that the Soviets intended to present a comprehensive response to the Mexican proposals, Roshchin suggested that both delegationsput across the idea that they were giving "sympathetic consideration" to them.

Document 21
State Department telegram 52341 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 11 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Conceding Moscow's argument against references to verification, the State Department, backed by the AEC, ACDA, and Defense, agreed that language mentioning "effective measures" would do the job.

Document 22
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1183 to Secretary of State, "Views of Soviet Delegation," 13 October 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

The Soviets responded positively to the latest U.S. formulation of Article VI and searched for language on the PNEDs article that Washington could support, such as "appropriate international procedures" instead of an "international body."

Document 23
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1343 to Secretary of State. "ENDC Liaison Report No. 429," 24 October 1967, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-3 SWITZ (GE)

Meeting with Castañeda and Aquirre for lunch, Fisher provided them with the text of the Mexican amendments as negotiated with the Soviets as well as language on NPT review conferences that was close to the Mexican position. Castañeda had no major disagreement, but he suggested wording changes, e.g., in article V, on peaceful uses, to approximate the “duty” of the NWS by saying “parties to the treaty in a position to do so shall contribute alone or together.” Fisher, however, emphasized the importance of including the word “cooperate” in the text and Castañeda did not dissent.

Document 24
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 1795 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairman's Meeting, Nov 18 - NPT Amendments and Procedures," 19 November 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Having reached an understanding with the Soviets on the wording for articles on disarmament, peaceful uses (what Fisher had proposed in his late September message) and peaceful explosives, the Geneva delegation requested authority to accept the changes while continuing to press the Soviets to accept proposals supported by the U.S., such as periodic review conferences and the importance of including the preambular language in the scope of the review conferences. In addition, on the number of non-nuclear countries whose accession to the treaty would be necessary to bring it into force, the delegation recommended agreeing to 40 (which the Department later approved).

Document 25
State Department telegram 73686 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 22 November 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Responding to the delegation's request, the State Department granted the authority it sought to accept the Soviet proposals for the wording of Articles V and VI.

Document 26
State Department telegram 73687 to U.S. Mission Geneva, 22 November 1967, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

In this follow-up message, the State Department sent the latest agreed texts of articles IV, V, and VI as well as the current text of the proposed article on peaceful nuclear explosives.

Document 27
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 2290 to Secretary of State, "Draft NPT Text As It May be Revised for Tabling at ENDC," 17 January 1968, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

This near-final text of the NPT included the new articles V, VI, and VII as well as the redrafted article IV. On review conferences, the treaty stipulated holding only one event, five years after the treaty had entered into force, as the Soviets had insisted (instead of periodic conferences), but the purpose would be to determine the extent to which the "purposes and provisions" of the treaty were being realized, which approximated the U.S. idea that the preamble should also be reviewed. Nevertheless, that issue remained contested by many parties.

Document 28
Conference of the Eighteen Nation Commitment on Disarmament, "Final Verbatim Record of the Three Hundred and Sixty-Third Meeting Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,on Thursday, 8 February 1968, at 10.30 a.m."ENDC/PV363, 8 February 1968

Source: Source RG 59, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of International Conferences, Records Relating to Disarmament Conferences, 1960-1970, box 11, ENDC/PV 363-377

In her remarks, Swedish delegate Alva Myrdal that the "obligations incumbent on the nuclear-weapon states are considerably weaker in the present draft," e.g., wording about "all speed and perseverance" had been deleted as had been the references to the "prohibition of all nuclear weapons tests." Consequently, Myrdal proposed including the words "at an early date" in the text as well as to insert the word "nuclear" in front of "disarmament." In addition, she proposed that somewhere in the treaty there should be a reference to the comprehensive test ban.

Document 29
State Department telegram 116390 to U.S. Mission Geneva, "Swedish Amendments," 16 February 1968, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

Responding to the delegation's transmittal of a Swedish working paper whose gist Myrdal presented on 8 February, the State Department was gratified by the "moderation and reasonableness" of the Swedish amendments to Article VI. The Department favored accepting them with slight modifications and authorized the delegation to "tell Roshchin that we believe it would be in our joint interest to accept" them. Accordingly, "disarmament" was changed to "nuclear disarmament" and "at an early date" was to be included. Moreover, language about "the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time" was included in the preamble.

Document 30
State Department telegram 117377 to U.S. Mission Geneva, "UK Views on Swedish Amendments," 17 February 1968, Secret

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

The British came up with a variant of the Swedish suggestions for Article VI which the State Department saw as unnecessary because it was only different in style. During a discussion with British diplomat Ian Smart, ACDA official Culver Gleysteen said that Washington anticipated that "allies will be pleased with [the Swedish] changes" and that "considerable non-aligned support for Jan. 18 text plus Feb. 8 Swedishamendments [had already been] expressed (Sweden, Mexico, and inferentially Ethiopia)." Moreover, "given our knowledge of general positions of other non-aligned [delegates] one might already claim 'general support' [for the Treaty] is developing at ENDC." As the Department's "main objective in accepting Feb. 8 Swedish amendments wasto line up non-aligned support for NPT, we would prefer making as fewchanges in them as possible." The British, however, did not give up.

Document 31
State Department telegram 121588 to U.S. Mission Geneva, "Wrap Up on NPT Amendments," 28 February 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

As the Soviets had not yet officially approved the Swedish amendments, the State Department, in a message personally approved by Rusk, asked the delegation in Geneva to stress to the Soviets the importance of their agreement to the Swedish proposals on the preamble (the reference to the test ban) and on Article VI. Moreover, to make the treaty "most broadly acceptable," it was important to win Soviet support to language for periodic review conferences.

Document 32
U.S. Mission Geneva telegram 2831 to Secretary of State, "Co-Chairman's Meeting March 10 - NPT Amendments," 10 March 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 8, USSR 1968

After some delay and just before the ENDC officially tabled the NPT, Roshchin informed Foster that Moscow had accepted the Swedish proposals to reference the CTB in the preamble, to include "nuclear disarmament" in Article VI, and language for periodic review conferences. In addition, the Soviets accepted a British amendment to ensure that the treaty's preamble fell within the scope of the review conferences. The next day, at the last moment, the British also succeeded in getting a few slight changes in the Treaty's wording, including a last moment impact on the language of Article VI ("relating to" instead of "regarding" the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament).

Document 33
Memorandum for the Record by Spurgeon Keeny, "584th NSC Meeting, 1:00 pm, Wednesday, March 27, 1968," 4 April 1968, Secret, Excerpt

Source: Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, Bromley Smith Papers, box 32, 584th Mtg Draft Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

After giving President Johnson and the NSC a briefing, Foster "raised the question as to what would happen after the NPT." Noting the requirement for "good faith" negotiations looking toward nuclear disarmament, Foster referred to the "major proposals" that Washington had already made: the comprehensive test ban and the fissile material production cut-off, both of which were staples of the disarmament agenda. He also mentioned a freeze on strategic weapons, which Washington was trying to advance: a forerunner of the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks. A new proposal, for nuclear weapons-free ocean seabeds, was in the works. In point of fact, no progress was being made on the production cut-off or the test ban and Foster acknowledged that the seabeds proposal could "take some pressure off of us on the comprehensive test ban issue" (which had been hung up by verification issues).

Document 34
Robert S. Rochlin to the Director, "List of Criticisms of NPT," 18 April 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 1, NPT 1968 Book 1 of 2

The anti-nuclear weapons Pugwash Conference sponsored a symposium on the NPT that raised concerns that have dogged the nuclear weapons states ever since. Most of the participants supported the treaty as it was, but they subjected it to a variety of criticisms. On Article VI, they generally agreed that it "was too vague to accomplish its purpose." "Several participants suggested that non-nuclear weapon states could withhold their signature, or at leasttheir ratification, of the NPT until the nuclear powers took at least one or two significant steps toward nuclear disarmament." One of the Indian participants went further, arguing for language e in the treaty that would allow signatories to withdraw from it after seven years "if, in [their] judgment, insufficient progress had been made toward nuclear disarmament."

Document 35
U.S. Embassy India Airgram A-1037 to State Department, "NPT: Canadians Continue Efforts to Enlist Indian Adherence," 30 April 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 383, NPT Files, box 4, India-Nonproliferation Book 2

TheMexican amendments did not make a dent in the Indian government's opposition to the NPT. After Canadian High Commissioner James George briefed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on merits of the treaty, she argued that it "was not a step toward peace: it was merely a consolidation of the status quo between the nuclear haves and have nots." For that and other reasons, "she saw no advantages accruing to India in signing the NPT."

Document 36
State Department telegram 174858 to Diplomatic Posts, "NPT," 1 June 1968, Confidential

Source: RG 59, SN 67-69, Def 18-6

In the final stages before the UN General Assembly took up the treaty, Washington and Moscow had coordinated the last details of the text, taking into account suggestions from a wide variety of sources. "To include new elements of importance to non-nuclears," Article IV incorporated a suggestion from Nigeria that "all parties undertake to facilitate fullest possible exchange" of information, equipment, and materials related to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Moreover, based on suggestions from African and Latin American countries, the "treaty now acknowledges specificallythat due consideration should be given to needs of the developing areas in peaceful uses." In addition, the preamble was "strengthened by adding that parties declare their intention 'toundertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament.'"

At this time the text of a U.N. General Assembly resolution was in the final stages of drafting. Approved by the General Assembly on 12 June 1968, it "commended" the NPT, instead of explicitly endorsing it, as a way to assure wider support by nations that had not yet made up their minds about adhering to the treaty. By the end of 1968, over 90 countries had signed the treaty.


[1]. For disarmament in international politics during the late 1960s and early 1960s, see David Tall, The American Nuclear Disarmament Dilemma, 1945-1963 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008),
[2]. For Mexico’s role in nuclear negotiations during the 1960s, see Jonathan Hunt, “Mexican Nuclear Diplomacy, the Latin American Nuclear Free Zone, and the NPT Grand Bargain,” in Roland Popp, Liviu Horowitz, and Andreas Wegner, eds., Negotiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Origins of the Nuclear Order(London: Routledge, 2017),178-202.
[3]. For a fine-grained account of the making of the treaty, based on the open public record, see Mohamed I. Shaker, The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Origin and Its Implementation, 1959-1979, 2 volumes (London, Oceana Publications, 1980).
[4]. For some of the controversy, see Lawrence Scheinman, Article IV of the NPT: Background, Problems and Some Prospects, Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission Paper No. 5, 7 June 2004; Christopher Ford, “Nuclear Technology Rights and Wrongs:The NPT, Article IV, and Nonproliferation,” Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, 1 June 2009;
[5]. James Acton, “What Does Article IV Mean?” Arms Control Wonk, 22 August 2008; William Burr, “To ‘Keep the Genie Bottled Up’: U.S. Diplomacy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Gas Centrifuge Technology, 1962–1972,” Journal of Cold War Studies19 (2017), 115–157.
[6]. Arka Biswas. “Iran Deal, NPT and the Norms of Nuclear Non-Proliferation,”The Diplomat, 18 February 2016.
[7]. For “grand bargain,” see for example, Leonard Weiss, “Nuclear-Weapon States and the Grand Bargain,” Arms Control Today, 1 December 2003; Matthew Harries, Disarmament as Politics: Lessons From the Negotiation of NPT Article VI, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Research Paper, 13 May 2015. The “grand bargain” was only one of the deals that made the treaty possible, e.g., the EURATOM understanding with Moscow and Washington on IAEA safeguards and the U.S.-Soviet agreement over Articles I and 11).
[8]. For “grand bargain,” see for example, Leonard Weiss, “Nuclear-Weapon States and the Grand Bargain,” Arms Control Today, 1 December 2003; Matthew Harries, Disarmament as Politics: Lessons From the Negotiation of NPT Article VI Research Paper, 13 May 2015, Royal Institute of International Affairs.The “grand bargain” was only one of the deals that made the treaty possible, e.g., the EURATOM understanding with Moscow and Washington on IAEA safeguards and the U.S.-Soviet agreement over Articles I and 11).
[9] . For thinking that informed the Bush administration’s approach, see Christopher A. Ford, “Debating Disarmament: Interpreting Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” The Nonproliferation Review 14 (2007): 401-428. For examples of criticism from the period, see Joseph Cirincione, “Strategic Collapse: The Failure of the Bush Nuclear Doctrine,” Arms Control Today, 3 November 2008; Declan Butler, Bush's legacy: The Wasted Years, Nature, 14 January 2009.
[10]. Kingston Reif, “New START and Nuclear Modernization,” The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 15 December 2010. See also, Don Cook, “An Insider’s View of Nuclear Weapons Modernization,” Arms Control Today, October 2016, which shows decreases in the destructive power of the U.S. nuclear arsenal during the Obama administration.
[11]. For the ban treaty and its implication, see Edward Ifft, “A Challenge to Nuclear Deterrence,” Arms Control Today, March 2017, and Hugh Gusterson, “The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (Not) In the News?,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 14 July 2017.
[12]. Alicia Sanders-Zakre, “Cluster 1 Revives Article VI Concerns, Shows Potential Cooperation on Interim Measures,” Arms Control Today, 27 April 2008; Lynn Rusten, “The Trump Administration’s ‘Wrong Track’ Nuclear Policies,” Arms Control Today, March 2018.
[13] . On Japanese public opinion, see, for example, Ikira Kurosaki, “Japanese Scientists’ Critique of Nuclear Deterrence Theory and Its Influence on Pugwash, 1954-1964,” Journal of Cold War Studies 20 (2018), 111-117.
[14]. Popp, Horowitz, and Wegner, Negotiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Origins of the Nuclear Order, 24.