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February 8, 1963

Meeting Minutes, Council of Ministers of the Netherlands, 'NATO Defense Policy'

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Council of Ministers

8 February 1963


2d. NATO defense policy

The prime minister [De Quay] reports that he, as foreign minister ad interim, together with state secretaries [of Foreign Affairs] Van Houten, Calmeyer and De Jong [both of Defense], received NATO Secretary-General Stikker. Stikker informed them that it had become clear to him that the Nassau agreement between President Kennedy and the British Prime Minister Macmillan had initially been regarded with suspicion. His talk with Chancellor Adenauer and the visit to Bonn by the American Under Secretary [of State] Ball have clarified matters, so that the [German] federal government now fully supports the plans of America and England with regard to a multilateral nuclear force. During his visit to Rome Stikker had noted that the Italian government was pleased that the Jupiter missiles will disappear from Italy. It did show interest in a multilateral nuclear force, but seemed disinclined to make bases for Polaris submarines available. Stikker visited London the day after President de Gaulle’s press conference. In Belgium, Stikker was met with concurrence as to the creation of a multilateral nuclear force, but it was not deemed possible to aid this with a financial contribution. Stikker then gave an account of the plans for a multilateral nuclear force (NATO Nuclear Force). The intention is to have the United States render to NATO what had been marked for NATO use already and to have Great Britain offer all of its bomber planes. In the second phase Polaris missiles will become available, which can be fired both from below and above water. The positioning of missiles in our country could cause domestic political troubles; if this could happen on submarines it would be simpler. From a military-strategic point of view this has its advantages, however it comes with the political disadvantage that the United States might have a decreased interest for other defensive objects in Europe. The question therefore is whether the Netherlands is prepared to cooperate, that is, to make a financial contribution available during the first phase and provide troops and harbor facilities for the docking of submarines in the second phase, e.g. in Den Helder. The purchase of these submarines by the Royal [Dutch] Navy will be financially problematic. The United States spends $ 15 billion per year on nuclear armament. Speaker answered Stikker that the cabinet is near the end of its term, so that a definitive decision in this matter can only be taken by the next cabinet, but that the current cabinet will be able to make some preparations. Speaker added that we would applaud a NATO nuclear force, especially now that Germany, Italy and Belgium have clearly declared themselves in favor of it; even if this would lead to isolation of France, which wants to follow a different policy. On the use of the NNF the idea was that a group with America, England and France as members would make a decision, but France has refused. Presently the intent is to come to an assembly with rotating membership, wherein the secretary-general of NATO would also have a seat. Speaker incidentally expects that the decision on the weapons’ use will remain with he who provides the most power (over 90%), i.e. the United States. If the Netherlands makes a contribution to this, immediately the question of the relation between nuclear weapons and conventional weapons arises, viz. the question of whether this sum should be added on top of defense expenditures or compensation should be sought from other parts of the defense budget. Returning to the general problem of European cooperation, speaker is of the opinion that in the conflict with President de Gaulle economic affairs are important, but that greater control might be exerted on the French president this way.

Minister [of Foreign Affairs] Luns notes, in relation to this latter point, that NATO and the EEC are two different matters. Speaker does not object to frustrating the French president, but the EEC should not develop in such a way as to preclude England from acceding.

Minister [of Social Affairs] Klompé thinks that in the books written by de Gaulle one can clearly read what the intentions of the French president’s policy are.

Minister Luns notes that until the Nassau agreement, President de Gaulle was prepared, without enthusiasm, to let the negotiations on the accession of England to the EEC run their course, in the hope that the English would pull out. If Macmillan had made a great fuss after the cessation of the Skybolt project was publicized and had not signed an agreement about the Polaris missiles in Nassau, England’s accession to the EEC would have been in the offing. The Nassau agreement is therefore not purely a pretense, but rather the final straw in de Gaulle’s eyes.

The prime minister believes it important for the Netherlands to take part in NATO’s integration, if necessary with an empty chair for France.


These Council of Ministers minutes report on the meeting between Prime Minister De Quay and several of his state secretaries with NATO Secretary-General Stikker, who gave an outline of what was still called a ‘NATO Nuclear Force’. The prime minister responded positively to the plan but indicated the incoming cabinet would have to take a final decision. In the discussion, Minister of Foreign Affairs Luns comments on the attitude of President De Gaulle and points out that NATO and EEC matters ought to be viewed separately.

Document Information


National Archives, The Hague, Council of Ministers, access number, inventory number 753. Obtained and translated Bastiaan Bouwman.


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