104 Cablegram from Embassy in Moscow to Department of External Affairs

Moscow, 9 February 1968

77. Confidential

Non-Proliferation Treaty

Your 39.1

As to particular aspects of treaty and its wording, Soviet attitude is a matter of record in Geneva and New York. Presumably what you require from us is a more general comment.

  1. Our impression is that although it wishes to drive a hard bargain, the USSR regards conclusion of an effective treaty as an important objective and that the propaganda opportunities provided by the reluctance of some countries to accept the terms offered are a secondary consideration. Soviet Union is now a territorially satisfied country with a strong dislike of situations dangerous to world peace. Judging by its published statements (and we think by its conduct), it regards the uncontrolled spread of nuclear capability as dangerous simply because it would introduce more potential threats to peace. Soviet estimate is that a dozen non-nuclear states could build bombs. But there are certain countries which are of particular concern to it-in the first instance, Germany. It is an important Soviet objective to prevent acquisition by the FRG of nuclear weapons whether by direct or indirect means. This is at the root of Soviet objection to all nuclear sharing arrangements under NATO.
  2. Soviet concern with Germany is no doubt a strong reason why they have placed great importance on inspection, but their final acceptance of Euratom/IAEA arrangement2 is a measure of their desire to get a treaty even one that is not ideal on this point in their eyes. They also understand that Germany is an advanced country technologically, and claims by FRG and others that the treaty should not hinder their development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes seem to have been taken seriously. Russians claim that the present draft adequately meets this point.
  3. Japan is regarded as rapidly emerging to great power status and no doubt also as a serious contender for nuclear capability. But it would be mistaken to think that Russians might favour a nuclear Japan to offset China. Rather the Soviet government will do its best to ensure Japanese acceptance of treaty.
  4. Likewise there is no evidence that the USSR would like to see India acquire nuclear weapons. On the contrary, we know that Russians have pressed Indians to sign a treaty. (We gather that matter was little discussed during Kosygin's3 recent visit, though we have seen a press report that Indians secured some greater satisfaction from Kosygin than hitherto in their efforts to get some kind of nuclear guarantee against China.)
  5. Russians are probably well aware of (and have privately admitted) dangers which could ensue from nuclear weapons reaching hands of Arabs and Israelis, and doubtless feel the same about Cubans or North Koreans. We imagine that they will have learnt lesson of their assistance to China to develop nuclear capacity and will not repeat not help even other communist countries to do so nor provide them with weapons.
  6. In short, we expect that the USSR will make a serious attempt to secure the widest possible membership of an effective treaty and may, if they have to, pay some price to secure it.

[NAA: A1838, 680/10/2 part 1]