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).
February 22, 1967
Non-Proliferation and Our Entry into E.E.C.
This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)
Non-Proliferation and our entry into E.E.C.
Mr. Palliser spoke to me about UKDIS telegrams Nos. 9 and 10 to which we have now replied (copies attached). He feared there was a danger of our getting into contradictory positions on EURATOM and the non-proliferation treaty. On the one hand in his speeches, and in what he was saying during visits to the capitals of the Six, the Prime Minister was making much of what British entry could do to revivify EURATOM. On the other hand members of EURATOM, and in particular the Germans and the Italians, held that the non-proliferation treaty as drafted would spell the end of EURATOM. This situation could obviously be extremely damaging.
2. He asked us to consider whether we should not draft a short paper to answer the following question:
What could we do, without damaging our overall policy of securing a non-proliferation treaty, to demonstrate our concern, as a European power, that the interests of EURATOM should be safeguarded?
3. Such a study would of course have to answer the question whether in fact the treaty would prejudice the interests or standing of EURATOM and its members. Mr. Palliser wondered whether we had really studied this question as deeply as it deserved.
4. Generally Mr. Palliser asked us to consider whether this issue has not now assumed political aspects of a dimension which was too great to be removed merely by discussions at a technical level – no matter how distinguished the scientist involved would be.
22 February 1967
Sir C. O’Neill
Sir J. Rennie
[handwritten] A paper dealing with this is at P/A
The Harold Wilson government was continually focused on the issue of demonstrating that Britain should be seen as a “European” power with interests compatible with the existing EEC membership. This high-level Foreign Office note queried what the UK could do when pulled in different directions by the need to finalize a non-proliferation treaty while avoiding unnecessary damage to its European interests. This memorandum was drafted against a background of rumblings from EEC capitals that by tacitly supporting NPT proposals put forward by U.S. officials the Wilson government was being anti-European.
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