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February 12, 1958

File Note of Foreign Minister A. Rapacki

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)



February 12, file note of the minister of foreign affairs

on consultations regarding the plan to establish a nuclear-free zone

in Central Europe (with attachment)


Warsaw, Feb. ……., 1958 Top Secret!


Please find attached a memorandum of the PRP [People’s Republic of Poland] government regarding the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe.


The text is a product of consultations conducted in Moscow on Jan. 28–Feb. 2 and takes into consideration some of the remarks submitted by the governments of the CSR and the GDR in the course carried out in Prague1[1]7 and Berlin on February 7 and 8 of this year.


This text will be submitted today, February 12, to the USSR ambassador unofficially in order to inform and enable potential remarks of the MID of the USSR.


A similar procedure will be applied tomorrow with respect to the governments of the CSR and the GDR.


On Friday, the 14th of this month, the memorandum will be officially handed to the ambassadors of the four powers,81[2]8 the CSR and the GDR, as well as the ambassadors of Belgium and the chargé d’affaires of Denmark and Canada as states whose troops are stationed in West Germany.


The memorandum addressed to those countries will be accompanied by different brief cover notes that refer to existing contacts and reactions of a given state regarding our proposal. We shall also mention the question of a top-level meeting.


We are [engaged] in talks with Sweden about handing the memorandum to the FRG government.


We also intend to inform other interested countries in due time, which are different for Warsaw Pact countries, for people’s democracies and Yugoslavia, and capitalist countries.


We plan do publish the memorandum and the summaries of the notes on Tuesday, the 19th of this month.


fA. Rapackif







On October 1, 1957, at the UN General Assembly the PRP government presented the proposal regarding the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe. The CSR and GDR governments declared readiness to join the zone.


The PRP government proceeded on the assumption that the establishment of the proposed nuclear-free zone could lead to improved international atmosphere, facilitate broader disarmament talks and resolution of other controversial international issues, whereas continuation and proliferation of nuclear weapons could only lead to further consolidation of the division of Europe into opposing blocks and complication of the situation, particularly in Central Europe.


In December 1957, the PRP government diplomatically reiterated its proposal.


In view of the broad echoes caused by the Polish initiative, and taking into consideration conclusions of the discussion that emerged with respect to this proposal, the PRP government hereby presents more detailed elaboration, which could facilitate starting talks and reaching agreement on this point.


I. The proposed zone should cover the territory of: Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. On this territory there would be no manufacture or stationing of nuclear weapons, there would be no deployment of equipment or machinery designed for their servicing; any use of nuclear weapons against this zone would be forbidden.


II. The substance of commitments that stem from the establishment of the nuclear-free zone would be based on the following assumptions:


1. The countries of the zone would undertake the commitment not to manufacture, import for their own purposes or permit deployment of nuclear weapons or allow any type all types of nuclear weapons or allow any type of equipment or machinery for nuclear weapons, including missile launchers;


2. Four powers (France, the United States, Great Britain, and the USSR) would undertake the commitment not to:


a) equip their troops that are stationed in the zone with nuclear weapons; not to station or install on the territories of the countries of the zone any equipment or machinery for such weapons including missile launchers;


b) not to in any form and under any pretext make available nuclear weapons or equipment and machinery for such weapons to governments or other agencies on this territory.


3. Powers that have nuclear weapons ought to undertake the commitment that these weapons would not be used against the area of the zone or any facilities located there.


Thus the powers would commit themselves to respect the status of the zone as an area without nuclear weapons and one against which nuclear weapons would never be used.


4. Other states whose troops are stationed on the territory of any of the zone’s members would also undertake the commitment not to equip their troops with nuclear weapons and that they would not make available such weapons to governments or other agencies on this territory.


The manner and mode of executing these commitments will be agreed on separately.


III.1.  In order to ensure the efficacy and execution of commitments defined in II items 1, 2 and 4, the interested states would undertake the obligation to establish on the territory of the proposed zone a system of a broad and effective control and submit to its operation.


The system could comprise both the overground control and airborne control. Appropriate checkpoints could also be set up, which would have prerogatives and room to operate that guarantee the inspections success.


The details and the forms could be agreed upon based on past experiences in this field and projects presented by various states in the course of previous disarmament talks in the form and scope as far as they can be applied to the zone area.


A system of control set up for the nuclear-free zone could provide useful experiences in the implementation of disarmament accords.


2. Supervision over the implementation of the proposed commitments should be entrusted to an appropriate control apparatus (to be established). For example, the apparatus could be filled with representatives appointed by (alternatively ad personam) organs of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and of the Warsaw Pact. It could also include citizens or representatives of states that are not members of any military bloc in Europe.


How the control organs will be established how they will operate and report could be subject to further negotiations.


IV. The simplest form in which the commitments of the zone member states could be formulated would be the signing of an international treaty. However, in order to avoid complications, which some countries could see in such a solution:


1. these commitments could take the form of four unilateral declarations that have the character of international obligation, hcombined by theirsh, filed with an agreed depositary;


2. the commitments of the great powers could be formulated as a joint document or unilateral declarations (as above, item 1);


3. the commitments of other states whose troops are stationed on the territory of the zone, could take the form of unilateral declaration (as above, item 1).


Based on the above conclusions, the PRP government proposes starting talks in order to elaborate in detail the plan to establish the nuclear-free zone, prepare documents and the related guarantees as well as ways of implementing the undertaken commitments. The PRP government has reasons to claim that adopting the proposals to establish the nuclear-free zone in Central Europe would facilitate agreement on an appropriate reduction of conventional weapons and foreign troops stationed on the territory of the zone states.




17 See doc. no 74.

18 See doc. no 66.

Memorandum outlines the details of the nuclear-free zone proposed in the Rapacki Plan.


Document Information


Polskie dokumenty dyplomatyczne 1958 (Warszawa: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, 2011), Document #62, pp.138-142. Translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski.


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