Cabinet Secretaries' notebooks (CAB 195/20): Nuclear Tests
Since circulating C(62) 1, I have reflected further.
R. test series has given them valuable results - drawn level. They have obtd larger yield p. unit of weight. Useful in itself. But addl. significance. They are going for anti-missile defence. And weight is of gt. significance there: both in defence and also offence (room for decoys etc.). Large explosion: if exploded at great height it wd. produce gt. heat effects: it wd. be v. hard target for defence: it wd. disrupt radio & radar defences.
Diff. therefore for us to say resumptn of W. tests wd. not be w'in formula used by Mr K. and I on 31/10 and 1/11. Recommns in C(62)1 are therefore fully justified.
But I was not altogether happy. I therefore wrote draft lr. to Mr K.
Copies handed round.
Purpose of this. Felt I cd. not reconcile myself to embarking on this new phase of re-arms race w'out making further attempt to break thro' on disarmament. Cost: to U.S. = annual g.n.p. of U.K. Similar effort by R. M'while dirty bombs wd. spread & get cheaper. Risks to world. Hence my feeling: we must try to get back to point reached before Paris mtg. - a détente. Only locus standi we & U.S. alone have is as major n. powers of the West. This therefore must be our point/entry to move twds wider détente. A reasonable dramatic intervention seems necessary. Has it a chance?
K.'s posn is not too secure. De-sanctification of Stalin was a v. serious step. Why had he to take it? To break Molotov? (That is as tho' I had, to neutralise Ld S., to pull down C/England!) Rather he is trying to appeal to people (consumer goods, peace etc.,) over heads of orthodox part of C. Party. If so, there may be a chance to do a deal with him.
Thus, in addn to moral duty, there may be practical chance of making somethg. of this.
We have reached point at which nations may ruin themselves by piling up arms. Even R. may realise this by now.
Support this approach. Nuclear is best point of entry.
K. is not a man of war: wd. prefer to be the man who brought plenty to R. Don't think he planned b'down of détente: believe it was forced on him.
i) Approach. Agree there may be a moment to stake high. But this is playing high. How much chance of carrying France with us?
ii) Assumg. Xmas Island is used, concerned at P.M.'s position. Hard to defend allowg. U.S. to take final decision. You will be attacked for leaving final decn to Mr K. Island can be activated in 8 wks. Wd it not be better to share decn with U.S. and defend it as ours as well as that of U.S. I wd. sooner defend it on its merits, rather than appear to hand it to Mr K.
Agree with P.T. on both points.
Is it wise to say final decn will be taken in light of progress with this initiative.
As soon as we announce Xmas prepns, U.N. may call on us to desist.
K. may also make his consent to initiative conditional on our not testing.
If decn were to p'pone tests on pol. grds., we shd. be associated with it.
What about China. Realistic to think R. can have discns with us on n. tests & disarmament w'out Ch. participn.
Analysed C(62)1. This satisfied me tht. tests were necessary.
But how are we to exercise influence to make this unnecessary?
Do we let this slide. Or do we make an effort to break out of this situation. Surely we must.
Evident tht. R. have made an advance - prob. because they planned it well ahead. There is therefore mil. case for W. testing, if equally well prepared which U.S. have prob. not done. Thus, no case for urgent testg. And pol. objn for doing it before Confce in Apl.
If they are to be made, agree we shd. give facilities at Xmas.
Final decn will rest with U.S. - & we can't separate ourselves fr. them.
But favour combining this with some new initiative on disarmament.
Doubt if your proposal goes far enough. We shall need to get understandg. with R. in reln to unaligned countries - e.g. to get them & ourselves to commit to that what we all now commit to arms.
Support P.M.'s line. But doubtful of para. 18. Wd it not seem to be seekg. negotns under duress of a threat.
Support P.T. on appearing to leave final decn to U.S. We must be able to say at least that there will be full consultn.
Agree - we can't have veto. Decn is really when we decide to make Xmas available.
This wd. be new phase in testing - leading Heaven knows where.
Can we not separate this from Xmas Island?
Are U.S. really ready to do tests related to that new phase? Cd we not wait to see result of new initiatives?
Mustn't appear to be suggesting this initiative merely in order to wriggle out of Xmas Island.
Doubt if Mr K. can defer testing for as long as this requires. Soft words from K. wdn't be enough.
Wd there be great mil. advantage in testing so soon?
If we decline Xmas, U.S. will go on testing alone: we shall be separated from them: & have little chance of launchg. unilateral initiative on disarmt.
Suppose we get them to launch joint initiative first. Then, what if we differ on the pol. ques. wtr. this is going well enough to p'pone testing?
Surely, we cdn't reserve right on those grds. to w'draw Xmas Isl. then.
May be better to say now we are agreed that further tests are necessary: we are preparing Xmas Isl.: but we are making this initiative to brk. through.
Taken from C.C. 1(62) - Meeting held on 3 January 1962