In this “limited distribution” message, George Ball informed Ambassador Reinhardt of the developing plans to deploy three Polaris boats in the Mediterranean with the missiles on station by April 1. Polaris would supersede the less effective Jupiters. The Ambassador should seek agreement with the Italian Government to take the “necessary steps” to dismantle the two Jupiter squadrons. The Italians “may be quite willing” to move in this direction, Rusk suggested, having already shown they recognized the value of replacing Jupiters with Polaris. Reinhard should advise the Italians that the U.S. government was treating the matter with “great secrecy” and was making a parallel approach to Ankara.
The Italians would not be surprised by this initiative in light of Andreotti-McNamara discussions at the recent NATO meeting, which also covered U.S. interest in modernizing tactical nuclear delivery systems (Sergeant for Corporal missiles). U.S. views would also be repeated to Fanfani when he visited Washington, D.C.
The day before, and probably as a related move, President Kennedy invited Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani for talks in Washington. During mid-December, Fanfani had expressed interest in speaking with Kennedy about the world situation, and a meeting would provide an opportunity for the President to secure a commitment on the Jupiter issue.