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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 04, 1963

MEETING MINUTES, COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF THE NETHERLANDS, 'DISCUSSION OF NATO NUCLEAR FORCE'

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

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    State Secretary of Foreign Affairs De Block, standing in for Minister Luns, presents his ministry’s paper on Dutch participation in talks regarding the MLF. The paper lays out the reasons for declining to participate so far, but argues that due to changes in the situation the Netherlands now should move to participate in the talks. Objections from the Ministers of Defense and Finance as well as concerns over resistance in parliament lead most of the discussion to be tabled until the following meeting.
    "Meeting Minutes, Council of Ministers of the Netherlands, 'Discussion of NATO Nuclear Force' " October 04, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, National Archives, The Hague, Council of Ministers, access number 2.02.05.02, inventory number 753 and 723. Obtained and translated by Bastiaan Bouwman. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117669
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Council of Ministers

4 October 1963

2. Foreign policy

a. Discussion of NATO nuclear force (Letter from the state secretary of foreign affairs Tue 2 October 1963, no. NA 29394, with attachments)

State Secretary [of Foreign Affairs] De Block says, in clarification of the paper, that Foreign Affairs thinks it important for the Dutch government, which has been invited to the talks of the working group on the nuclear force, to take part in these talks entirely free of commitment. The purpose of the working group (terms of reference) concerns the investigation of the possibility of creating a NATO multilateral nuclear force consisting of surface ships with crews of mixed nationalities. If this mandate were to be stretched out to include the investigation of the use of submarines, this would be significant.

The prime minister [Marijnen] notes that this paper, which was received at a late time, concerns politically sensitive issues. In the House commission the government has said that the Netherlands, like Great Britain, would not participate in the working group’s talks. Therefore the question is whether the council will already be able to have a complete discussion and come to conclusions about this new proposal during this session. Speaker thinks that this matter must be studied carefully and that a procedure for discussing it with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs should be arranged.

Minister [of Finance] Witteveen supports the notion of first studying this matter carefully; if the Netherlands participates in the talks, in due time it would have to participate in the project, the burden of which would have to be carried jointly by those countries involved. Speaker therefore wonders if it makes sense to participate in these talks. State Secretary De Block says that with regard to his question of whether there was some insight as to the costs, he has so far only received a vague reply.

Minister De Jong would not yet want to discuss the proposal in this meeting. He recalls that during the [Labour Party member of parliament] Vondeling interpellation the members of parliament of all government parties spoke out against this project. From the viewpoint of Defense speaker also harbors serious objections. He considers the establishment of the NATO nuclear force inefficient, superfluous, and therefore undesirable, especially because there is a lack of money for conventional weaponry. Minister [of Economic Affairs] Andriessen asks if Minister De Jong could present his views to the council of ministers in a short paper. Minister De Jong promises to do so.

The prime minister proposes to keep the discussion of this subject for the next session. The council decides thus.