Before and after de Gaulle's November 1967 veto of Britain's second EEC application, Britain's position in Europe and its relationships with existing EEC states shaped the UK's role in the NPT negotiations. Prior to 1967, London canvassed opinion in EEC capitals, particularly in Bonn. As the NPT negotiations wound their way through the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (of which the United Kingdom was a member) in 1967, British representatives reported deep-seated concerns in Bonn, Brussels, the Hague, Luxembourg City, Paris, and Rome that a non-proliferation agreement might threaten the continued functioning of EURATOM, namely that its power might be subsumed into the IAEA, opening non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) up to commercial espionage conducted by inspectors representing the nuclear-weapon states (NWS).
September 21, 1967
Memorandum from George Brown to Harold Wilson
This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)
[illegible handwritten note]
I have not followed this in detail lately and may therefore be much at sea. But, on the basis of hunch, instinct or what-you-will, it rings an alarm bell in my mind.
May we get the worst of all worlds by:-
(a) not saying that we share the fears of the Euratom people – “bad Europeans”
(b) letting the Americans put forward a text and then voting on it later – “unreliable allies”
(c) letting the Russians think we and the Americans are playing tricks – “the treacherous West”?
I am rather re-inforced in the foregoing by the account of the differing view points expressed at the NATO Council Meeting and recorded in the two telegrams from UKDEL NATO attached below and which have arrived since I saw the Foreign Office telegram; and particularly to note from X at the end of the first one, that our man at NATO was also unhappy about his instructions.
May I raise these questions on your behalf and call for a report?
September 21, 1967
When the USSR and the USA submitted a draft non-proliferation treaty in the early autumn of 1967, British representatives were enthusiastically arguing that as a prospective member of EURATOM, any British position must axiomatically take account of European interests. As the negotiations moved forward, though, Wilson's government found itself caught in a three-sided trap of its own devising: fearful of being labelled “bad Europeans,” anxious about being seen by Washington as “unreliable allies,” and concerned about Moscow viewing them as part of the “treacherous West.” Balancing out these competing concerns was becoming foremost in the minds of senior ministers.
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