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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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  • August 10, 1971

    Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, 'Status Report on Missile Cooperation with France'

    Sonnenfeldt reports on the status of the US assistance to the French ballistic missile program. The talks are going well, but he notes that the French will likely soon raise the issue of hiring US contractors for direct assistance.

  • July 06, 1972

    Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, 'Your Meeting with Debré: Additional Points'

    Sonnenfeldt briefs Kissinger on additional points for his meeting with French Minister of Defense Michel Debré in July 1972. There is new information about specific technical requests Debré may make for ballistic missile assistance as well as new information about Debré's views on nuclear strategy and cooperation with US and NATO forces.

  • July 11, 1972

    Memorandum for the Record from Helmut Sonnenfeldt, 'Meeting Between French Minister of Defense Michel Debré and Dr. Kissinger, July 7, 1972'

    Summary of Kissinger and French Minister of Defense Debré's meeting on July 7, 1972. They first discussed US-French nuclear cooperation and the recent US technical assistance to the French ballistic missile program. Debré requested information about Soviet missile defenses. The remainder of the conversation was about Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) and related nuclear security issues.

  • February 03, 1973

    Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, 'Missile Assistance to France -- New NSSM'

    Laird has made four practical recommendations on how to proceed with French/US nuclear relations. Laird's four points involve information on nuclear effects simulator types, the sale of small simulators, general hardening technology, and/or ABM intelligence. The US has given as much technical assistance as possible thus far within the current guidelines, and it is up to the president to address the issues related to changes in policy to continue the assistance. He is urged to consider especially the impact such aid would have on relations with the UK and the Soviet Union, but we should not cut off all assistance while these issues are being addressed.

  • April 19, 1973

    Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, 'US Assistance to the French Missile Program'

    Sonnenfeldt worries about documents concerning French nuclear aid passing through so many hands that their security is at risk; Kissinger is to tell Richardson to be as discrete as possible. Richardson has recently sent Galley information on the new areas of U.S. aid to France and of the talks that will be used to implement such aid. He informs Galley that we are willing to go ahead on the four areas recommended by his predecessor Laird: information on nuclear effects simulators; sales of small simulators; hardening technology; and ABM intelligence.

  • June 27, 1973

    Memorandum from Richard T. Kennedy to William G. Hyland, 'Jobert Meeting: US-French Nuclear Cooperation'

    Kennedy sends Hyland a review of the current status and future prospects of French aid as drafted by Denis Clift, as well as a summary of Dr. Foster’s most recent meeting with the French where they discussed new areas of cooperation. It also discusses the advantages if the French were to implement a missile warning system, and how French assistance might be a useful bargaining tool for the U.S. especially when it comes to improving French-European relations.

  • July 26, 1973

    Sonnenfeldt to Kissinger, 'Supplementary Checklist for Meeting with French Defense Minister'

    When meeting with the French Defense Minister Kissinger is to stress how much the U.S. has supported France despite negative views on such assistance by European countries and by Congress, and that this president could not be more sympathetic to French needs. The NSSM 175 review of the policy towards France is attached, and it reviews previous aid given to France, complications that arouse due to restrictions on such aid, and what the French are now requesting. It extensively reviews missile assistance, nuclear safety exchanges, and other French aid issues. The second part addresses the issue in light of U.S.-European political relations, and the effect any such aid might have on such relations. It notes that future French aid might be given to hardening technologies, and to aiding in Poseidon information, and to underground nuclear testing, and it weighs the pros and cons in the eyes of the British. It concludes with an overview of how such aid could be in the interest (or not) of the U.S., but several parts of the last part of this document are blacked-out, marked for secrecy.

  • July 27, 1973

    Memorandum of Conversation with Robert Galley, July 27, 1973

    Transcript of a conversation between French Minister of Armed Forces Galley and U.S. officials, including Kissinger and Schlesinger. Galley says that the French are making progress and have benefited from their talks with Foster. Kissinger notes that the U.S. has a “cooperative spirit” with regards to French foreign policy. Galley notes the advances that have been made by the French and asks for aid with modernization of their forces to bring the French to the same level as the U.S., specifically in regards to missile hardening, underground testing, and submarines, among others. Kissinger notes that now that the French have missile technology, it is in the best interest of the U.S. that it be effective and not become irrelevant, but there is strong opposition not only from abroad but at home, as well. Kissinger wants to know how long the French can keep their advances a secret, and Galley notes that many things have already been kept secret and can continue to be kept as such. They end the discussion with talks about meeting again sometime in August.

  • August 09, 1973

    Memorandum of Conversation, 'French Nuclear Discussion'

    Transcript of conversation between Kissinger and Schlesinger. Kissinger wants to make Galley "drool" by keeping him interested without actually giving anything up. Kissinger worries about what the British want in terms of Polaris and notes that putting the French on the same footing as the U.S. would scare the British enough to get their point across.

  • August 17, 1973

    Memorandum of Conversation, 'Visit of French Defense Minister Galley; Strategic Programs'

    Kissinger wants to help the French without giving them too much. Foster thinks that the French have the worst missile program in the world, while the Chinese have the best. He thinks the best thing we can do is to look at their designs and offer suggestions, especially in regards to forming their objectives and planning how to meet them. Foster notes that any help we give to the French is perceived as a full commitment, so Kissinger warns that we must remain “cold-blooded.”

  • August 30, 1973

    Scowcroft to Kissinger on the Meeting with Galley

    Scowcroft briefs Kissinger for his meeting with Galley. This lengthy document includes information on what the French are specifically asking for, the outline for the meeting (as proposed by Kissinger, himself), Foster’s notes for the meeting expanded, and a reminder to discuss underground testing.

  • August 31, 1973

    Memorandum of Conversation with Robert Galley, August 31, 1973

    Discussion between Galley and Blancard with Kissinger, Foster and Sonnenfeldt held in secret. Kissigner wishes to give the strategic assessment of France followed by Foster’s specific observances. Kissinger notes that the Soviets are expanding rapidly, and there is a need for a warning system. They discuss the importance of building up a deterrent, and the U.S. thinks it is feasible to assist the French in this regard. The French are asking for clarifications and information on MIRV and MRV. Kissinger discusses how these exchanges are not going through the normal channels, stressing the need for secrecy, though Congressional approval may be needed for some points, and they conclude by setting up a time for Foster to come to France.

  • September 24, 1973

    Memorandum from Helmut Sonnenfeldt to Henry A. Kissinger, 'Nuclear Cooperation with France -- Gallery-Schlesinger Meeting September 25, 1973'

    Overview of Foster’s meeting in France on September 10, and a memorandum of points and observations to be touched upon in the upcoming meeting on the 25th. There are six areas of consultation, with the area of MIRV being the most urgent issue.

  • June 23, 1975

    President Ford to Secretary of Defense, 'Missile Cooperation with France'

    President Ford authorizes providing additional ballistic missile assistance to France. The assistance was extended to cover new French missiles, penetrative aid technology, and intelligence information about Soviet systems and potential French vulnerabilities to attack.

  • June 23, 1975

    National Security Decision Memorandum 299, 'Cooperation with France'

    Directive from President Ford expanding nuclear safety cooperation with France to include assistance with improving the safety of underground testing. This would involve only information sharing, and "no French nuclear explosive devices of any type may be accepted for test by the US."

  • August 01, 1975

    Memorandum of Conversation, 'Economic Policy/Cyprus; French Nuclear Programs; Energy'

    Transcript of a conversation between President Ford, Henry Kissinger, and French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. The conversation opens with a discussion of economic policy and the embargo on northern Cyprus following the 1974 Turkish invasion. Giscard then asks about the slow progress of US technical assistance to the French nuclear program. Lastly they discuss energy and oil prices.

  • November 25, 1975

    Memorandum of Conversation between Roger C. Molander and M. Conze, 'Meeting with M. Conze of France, November 24, 1975'

    Conze asked about the status of several French requests for nuclear assistance. These included their request for a CDC 7600 mainframe computer, the testing of reentry vehicle material, and technical help with the M-4 ballistic missile. Sonnenfeldt informed Conze that assistance with booster trigger design had not be authorized as it conflicted with US legal restriction in the Atomic Energy Act.