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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Euromissiles Crisis

This is a collection of primary source documents dating from 1979 to 1983 – during a period of confrontation and building tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. The documents in the collection come from Dutch, German, and Italian archives. They include correspondence and negotiations between the leaders of NATO member countries. The majority of the documents are from 1979, an eventful year which included the conclusion of SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), the Soviet Union's deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles targeting Western Europe, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The rest of the documents dating from 1980 to 1983 deal with security policy and the increased hostility between the Soviet Union and the West. See also the related collections in the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, protesters in Lyon, France)

  • April 22, 1979

    Speaking notes for the talks with Vice President Mondale on TNF and NPG membership

    Speaking notes for the Dutch position on the modernization of Theater Nuclear Forces (TNF) and also on NATO Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) membership. Notes stress that the Dutch position on TNF is to find an approach that maximizes alliance solidarity. The Dutch are also seeking to become full members of the NPG at the ministerial level.

  • April 23, 1979

    Memorandum of conversation Vice-President Mondale - Prime-Minister Van Agt and others during Mondale's visit to The Hague, April 21 & 22

    Meeting minutes prepared by Ambassador Tammenoms Bakker. Topics of discussion include: Enhanced Radiation Weapons, the Dutch role in NPG, Grey Areas, SALT II and the Middle East.

  • July 12, 1979

    Letter from President Carter to Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt

    President Carter writes to Prime Minister Andreas van Agt about the proposal for Theater Nuclear Forces (TNF) modernization and asks for Dutch support.

  • October 02, 1979

    Summary of Dutch Position on TNF Modernization for a Meeting Between US Secretary of Defense Harold Brown and Dutch Defense Minister Willem Scholten

    An outline of the Dutch position on the modernization of Theater Nuclear Forces (TNF) in Europe as of late 1979. It includes extensive discussion of Dutch domestic political challenges associated with supporting TNF modernization, the proposed connection between TNF modernization and the fate of SALT II as well as an enumeration of military/technical conditions under which TNF modernization would be viewed as more palatable by the Dutch government.

  • October 13, 1979

    Memorandum of conversation between Dutch Prime-Minister Van Agt and Italian Prime-Minister Francesco Cossiga

    Memorandum of an extended one-on-one conversation between the Dutch and Italian Prime Ministers focusing in particular on a description of the reasons for Italy's strong support for TNF modernization as outlined by Cossiga.

  • October 22, 1979

    Memorandum of conversation between Dutch Defense Minister Willem Scholten and US Deputy National Security Advisor David Aaron

    A conversation between Dutch Defense Minister Scholten and US Deputy National Security Advisor Aaron in which Aaron outlines and defends the United States' views of the Netherlands' position on TNF modernization.

  • October 31, 1979

    Letter from Jimmy Carter to Andreas A.M. Van Agt

    U.S. President Jimmy Carter writes to Prime Minister Van Agt about the Dutch proposal to cut NATO's TNF modernization proposal.

  • November 14, 1979

    Letter from Brandt to Brezhnev

    Willy Brandt writes to Leonid Brezhnev about SALT II and tensions between the U.S. and USSR over missile placement in Europe.

  • November 26, 1979

    Letter from Prime Minister Van Agt to President Carter

    Dutch Prime Minister van Agt responds to President Carter's concerns about a Dutch proposal to reduce NATO modernization. He writes that in light of Carter's concern, he will not press the Dutch proposal but that his government remains concerned over the size of the modernization program.

  • December, 1979

    Letter from the Dutch Minister of Defense to the Defense Ministers of Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Norway, and UK.

    The Dutch Defense Minister outlines opposition to NATO modernization proposals. He specifically mentions that the program seems not to take arms control efforts into account, while erring too high on the side of missile installation. He points out the tremendous political difficulties supporting such a move would have at home. Also included in this collection are short responses from the UK Minister of Defense.

  • December 04, 1979

    Memorandum of conversation between Dutch Prime-Minister Van Agt and Belgian Prime-Minister Wilfried Martens

    Van Agt and Martens discuss how their positions on TNF modernization are being affected by coalition politics within their respective legislatures.

  • December 05, 1979

    Exchange of notes, Defense Minister Scholten (also to other NATO Defense ministers) – British Defense Secretary for Defense

    Defense Minister Scholten writes to other NATO Defense Ministers to clarify the position of the Netherlands on TNF modernization. He focuses on issues related to the size of the modernization program, which in its current state he fears is too large, and also the possibility of separating the issues of making a decision on modernization and then implementing it. The British Defense Secretary then writes to refute each of his concerns on the wider issue of TNF modernization. An addendum focuses more specifically on the issues relating to the Netherlands.

  • December 06, 1979

    Memorandum of conversation between Dutch Prime Minister van Agt and British Prime Minister Thatcher

    Conversation between Dutch Prime Minister van Agt and British Prime Minister Thatcher. Also present were advisors Merckelbach and Alexander. Conversation centers on the political situation in the Netherlands, where resistance to TNF modernization has become widespread. Thatcher questions why the Dutch people fail to recognize the possible threat from the Soviet Union, suggesting "those who prefer being red over being dead ignore the many who are both red and dead."

  • December 06, 1979

    Report of the conversation between Italian Presidente del Consiglio Cossiga and Prime-Minister van Agt

    Memorandum of conversation between Italian Prime Minister Frencesco Cossiga and Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt. Cossiga opens the conversation by outlining the Italian government's support for limited TNF modernization and rapid ratification of SALT II. In response and at the behest of his government, van Agt suggests decoupling the INF production and deployment decisions.

  • December 07, 1979

    Draft conclusions from the discussions in Washington on December 7, 1979

    A summary of points made during U.S.-Dutch discussions related to TNF. The Dutch will not oppose NATO’s plans, but only postpone its own decision. However, the Dutch will continue to register their reservations regarding the scope of modernization. The U.S. disagrees with a Dutch proposal to link TNF modernization with SALT II ratification and states that the Dutch should refrain from critiquing TNF modernization since it is postponing its own decision on the issue.

  • December 07, 1979

    Memorandum of conversation, Prime-Minister Van Agt – President Carter (and others)

    Participants in the meeting included President Carter, Minister Vance, MP van Agt and also Min. Van der Klaauw, Zbigniew Brzezinksi, David Aaron, Tammenoms Bakker, and Merckelbach. Conversation revolves around TNF modernization and arms negotiation with the Soviet Union. Both parties discuss domestic difficulties shaping how these issues are presented and pursued.

  • December 07, 1979

    Memorandum of Conversation between Dutch Prime Minister Van Agt, Secretary Vance, NSA Brzezinski, and Minister Van der Klaauw

    Memorandum of conversation between Secretary Vance, National Security Advisor Brzezinski, Dutch Prime Minister Van Agt, and Minister Van der Klaauw. The conversation focuses on Dutch domestic sentiment toward TNF modernization and SALT II.

  • December 10, 1979

    Major points from the discussions in Brussels, Rome, London, Washington, Bonn

    An outline of key points made in each of several meetings over a one week period. Includes the following: the Netherlands and Belgium will try to decide as late and as simultaneously as possible on TNF modernization; Italy will try to help the Dutch influence FRG and U.S. positions; U.K. is committed to helping Dutch cabinet remain intact; FRG does not oppose the Dutch move to delay their decision but also believes Netherlands should not try to block NATO decision-making.

  • December 11, 1979

    Minutes of the meeting of the National Directorate of the Socialist Party

    These are the minutes of the meeting of the National Directorate of the Socialist Party. During this meeting the decision was made to accept the deployment and vote for it in the Parliamentary debate, even if the PSI was not part of the government yet. The minutes contain a long presentation by the future Defense Minister, Lelio Lagorio, which explains the strategic rationale behind the deployment. A lively debate follows, during which Craxi and Lagorio steer the Central Committee towards accepting the deployment.

  • December 11, 1979

    Result deliberations Belgian core-cabinet

    Information obtained by the Dutch government regarding Belgian discussions on the modernization of NATO’s intermediate nuclear weapons. The Belgian cabinet agrees that TNF should be linked with arms negotiations, with a reevalutation of progress every 6 months used to direct modernization, in order to guarantee the lowest possible level of military balancing.