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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 02, 1963

MEETING MINUTES, COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF THE NETHERLANDS, 'POSITION REGARDING NATO MULTILATERAL NUCLEAR FORCE'

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation

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    Minister of Foreign Affairs Luns gives the new Marijnen cabinet a sketch of the multilateral NATO nuclear force situation so far. He is now of the opinion that the Netherlands should not join a multilateral NATO nuclear force. Minister of Defense De Jong says the Dutch government will need to take a position near the end of the year.
    "Meeting Minutes, Council of Ministers of the Netherlands, 'Position Regarding NATO Multilateral Nuclear Force'," August 02, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, National Archives, The Hague, Council of Ministers, access number 2.02.05.02, inventory number 753. Obtained and translated by Bastiaan Bouwman. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117668
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Council of Ministers

2 August 1963

2b. Position regarding NATO multilateral nuclear force

Minister [of Foreign Affairs] Luns reports, in response to the discussion of the previous point [the imminent signing of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in Moscow on 5 August 1963 by its ‘Original Parties’: the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States], that the German Chancellor Adenauer during his last visit to the United States of America created the impression that as long as he was chancellor, nuclear armament of the Federal Republic would be out of the question, but that without him this would change. At the time, the American government did not reject him, but started to negotiate with the Germans. From the German side it was said that it was necessary to secure the territory of the Federal Republic using medium-range missiles. Speaker at the time asked President Kennedy why America did not move to station missiles in the German Bight, which would be much more effective, but that thought was rejected by the German federal government. This indicates that it is not only concerned with the security of its territory. This also explains the enthusiasm it has for the institution of a multilateral nuclear force. The admission of nuclear weaponry into West Germany would lead to great tensions with the Soviet bloc. If the American government were to refuse this it would mean that the Federal Republic could not get nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. Even Erhardt, who will become chancellor, will not do this. Speaker recalls that some months ago, during the [Labour Party member of parliament] Vondeling interpellation, he took a very reserved position concerning the thought of creating a multilateral NATO nuclear force, with which the other fractions in the House concurred. Apart from the technical and political objections against such a nuclear force, the financial burden is great, for a weapon that is not necessary. America has built a stockpile of nuclear bombs of which estimates vary between 15,000 and 40,000. At the end of May speaker had a long talk about this with Secretary [of State] Rusk, who told him that the American government would not under all circumstances stand for its proposal of creating a multilateral NATO nuclear force. Rusk had learned that there would be a secret agreement between the German and French governments regarding cooperation concerning the nuclear bomb, about which he asked if speaker had heard of it. After replying that he did not believe this at all, speaker advised him to inquire about this on a low level. The Dutch government has in the meantime not seen any signs of such an agreement. During the NATO council in Ottawa, the proposal regarding a multilateral nuclear force was kept off the table due to severe English pressure. The Americans, however, are now once again exerting great pressure to have the matter treated within NATO.

Minister [of Justice] Scholten had the impression that America did not intend to bring its nuclear weapons into the multilateral nuclear force. Minister Luns answers that this would only minimally be the case.

Minister [of Defense] De Jong notes that the Dutch government will have to take a position near the end of the year; therefore the proposals regarding a multilateral nuclear force for NATO will have to be discussed anyway. Minister Luns adds to the history of the initiative that initially from our side an enthusiastic response was given to the proposals in the meeting of the permanent representatives [by the Dutch ambassador to NATO, H. Boon]. After a step by Minister of State Drees toward speaker and through reactions in other political groups it has become apparent to him that there is more than insignificant resistance against the proposals. During the Vondeling interpellation the government said it was entirely unbound and in Ottawa likewise no statement about this was made. Speaker himself is presently of the opinion that the Netherlands should not join a multilateral NATO nuclear force.