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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 10, 1958

DEPARTMENT III, FILE NOTE NO. 1, 'CANADA’S ATTITUDE TO THE POLISH PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH A NUCLEAR-FREE ZONE IN EUROPE'

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    Details on Canada's interest in and support for the Rapacki Plan, which is in part due to Canadian conservatives' desire to garner support.
    "Department III, File Note No. 1, 'Canada’s Attitude to the Polish Proposal to Establish a Nuclear-free Zone in Europe' ," January 10, 1958, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Polskie dokumenty dyplomatyczne 1958 (Warszawa: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, 2011), Document #14, pp.29-32. Translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/208860
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14

January 14, Department III file note:

Canada’s attitude to the Rapacki Plan

Warsaw Jan. 10, 1958

File note cNo 1c

Canada’s attitude to the Polish proposal to establish a nuclear-free zone in Europe

On December 3 of last year, comrade Winiewicz spoke with the deputy foreign minister of Canada, Holmes. Holmes stressed the fact of considerable division within NATO and that the Canadian government refuses to agree to nuclear stockpiles being set up in Europe. He added that the Canadian MoFA studies the Polish Plan to limit nuclear arms build-up in Europe. They find do not reject it and wish to return to it 'at an opportune movement'.

Some time earlier Holmes advised comrade Sieradzki that we should reiterate our nuclear initiative, even though the current moment is not favorable.

On December 12, 1957 comrade Sieradzki conducted a special conversation with the Canadian minister of foreign affairs, Smith, regarding the Polish proposal to establish a nuclear-free zone. According to comrade Sieradzki’s information, Smith does not have a good orientation in European politics, and that is why he did not want to become involved in the discussion. He keenly listened to our reasons for anxiety about the proposals to store nuclear weapons in West Germany. Smith stressed the “he would 'take our proposal to a NATO session” and would spare no effort to reduce the sharp tones in NATO policy.

In a conversation with comrade Sieradzki on December 11 of last year Holmes assured that they are seriously considering our proposal, be it only as a basis for some modifications. In their opinion the NATO session in Paris was called in a hurry. There was no time for appropriate preparation and that is why Holmes personally does not expect the session to make any important decision, especially of the kind that could worry us. It would rather initiate talks that would be continued after the session and only then decisions could be made.

After the NATO session, the Canadian government stated that it was not very happy with its results. Diefenbaker demanded a bolder approach to the issues of peace than what the final communiqué said, which reiterates what the previous sessions brought.

In their speeches and press interviews, representatives of the Canadian government declare that they favor considering the Polish proposal to establish a nuclear-free zone in Europe.

Le Monde of December 29–30 published an interview with the Canadian minister of foreign affairs, Smith. When asked what he thought of the Polish suggestion to establish a nuclear-free zone in the heart of Europe, he replied: “the suggestion put forward by Poland, aimed at setting up a nuclear-free zone along the border between Eastern and Western Europe is not, strictly speaking, something new, because it takes up certain elements from a proposal once put forward by Anthony Eden. We should bear in mind that the Polish suggestion is of interest primarily to European countries, so it is not in my purview to comment at this stage on the heart of the matter related to this suggestion. I believe, however, that such proposals should not be rejected until one is certain that upon closer inspection they cannot be implemented. One of the assessment criteria for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone is the control criterion.”

Canadian radio and press as well as the media in other countries informed of this interview.

According to France Presse, at a session of the NATO Council in Paris, a Canadian representative was to present his government’s point of view regarding the main theses of the Soviet address. Among them, the Polish plan to establish a nuclear-free zone met with keen interest, and here they express the opinion that the West should reply by demanding exact details regarding forms of control.

Elsewhere, the same press agency reports that Great Britain and Canada ''demand that the Polish plan not be rejected without further explanations in Warsaw.''

According to Monde of January 9, at the Wednesday session of NATO Council, substantial space was devoted to the Polish proposal regarding the nuclear-free zone.

The diary reminds us that prime minister Gaillard spoke against this proposal and states that this “first initiative of Polish diplomacy merits attention. For example, Canada is particularly interested in the issues of control and prospects that minister Rapacki’s Plan could create in this respect.”

As we learn from talks conducted on the 6th of this month by comrade Sieradzki with Watkins (deputy vice-minister [sic] for foreign affairs) and Dobell (employee of the European section of External Affairs who deals with Polish issues), and from the many recent statements by government representatives that support talks with the East should be taken with a pinch of salt. Although the government favors détente in international relations, statements by individual ministers are, to an extent, a part of the conservatives’ election campaign, the more so that new election is to be expected as early as March.

As for the 'Rapacki Plan' they expect us to specify how we envisage control.

We should ascertain that our proposal was accepted by Canadian government circles with keen interest. One might think that this interest is even greater since the government wishes to continue the tradition of active Canadian policy on the international forum, successfully carried out by the former foreign minister Pearson. The Polish proposal is a kind of springboard for the Canadian government so that it could offer its services as mediator between West and East. This claim can be supported by the fact that in a press interview, speaking about the meeting of foreign ministers, Smith added a remark on the margin to the effect that Canada could precisely play the role of mediator.

Regardless of true interest in our proposal, we could assume that, indeed, the vigorous initiative of the Canadian government on behalf of initiating East-West talks, also has immediate goals, that is it cisc carried out from the point of view of domestic of needs in order to strengthen the position of the conservative party at a time of the expected election.

It seems that the Polish Mission in Ottawa did its job well in terms of promoting our position. Without limiting himself to talks with official agencies, comrade Sieradzki also carried out talks with journalists, which brought on reports in the Canadian press.

AMSZ, z. 9, w. 37, t. 629

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