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December 5, 1961

Report from Seán Ronan to Con Cremin (Dublin), ‘Irish Resolution on Preventing the Spread of Nuclear Weapons’ (Confidential), New York [Excerpt]

Aiken drafted in additional personnel to the Irish Mission to the UN in the run-in to the XVIth UN Session. Seán Ronan, the head of the political and information divisions at headquarters in Dublin, was sent as a delegate to the First Committee of the UN, involving him intensely in Aiken’s non-dissemination efforts. His insider account reveals some of the dynamics and calculations at play in the building, as Ireland managed a balancing act of engineering consensus between East and West. In large part, the Irish Mission crafted the resolution’s language to skirt the issue of alliance nuclear sharing in a bid to manufacture unanimity. The Irish had pondered co-sponsoring a Swedish draft resolution but anticipated that it would face resistance from NATO comparable to earlier iterations of the Irish resolution. Similarly, Ireland neglected to mention a proposed new disarmament committee in the draft resolution – there was no guarantee that it would form and report expeditiously. Finally, by drawing on the instrument of acclamation, the Irish sidestepped French objections and gained universal approval for Resolution 1665 (1961), wrapping the resolution in universal legitimacy. 

October 17, 1958

Press Release containing a Speech by Minister of External Affairs Frank Aiken and Draft Resolutions on Nuclear Disarmament

Aiken’s first step was a modest paragraph calling for the formation of a UN commission to recommend measures to the next session. However, global attentions were focused on nuclear tests and their health effects, so Aiken linked his initiative with the American-led seventeen-power resolution requesting all states to suspend testing voluntarily. Aiken proposed an amendment to that motion that included the notion of brokering an understanding between nuclear weapons powers and non-nuclear powers.  He submitted that the former voluntarily desist from supplying nuclear weapons to other countries, while non-nuclear powers reciprocated and volunteered not to develop such weapons during a test suspension. This proposed quid pro quo became a staple in the Irish resolutions subsequently and eventually be inscribed into the NPT.

Aiken’s speech invoked recognizable tropes such as a ‘geometric’ increase in nuclear powers, creating an urgent need to halt the spread. His speech was seminal in identifying themes he and international opinion would rehearse in future years. He conjured up fears about small states and revolutionary groups with a bomb acting as ‘the detonator for world-wide thermonuclear war’. Aiken was perceptive – he expected criticisms about institutionalized equality between states (nuclear “haves” and “have nots”), harms to alliances, the sufficiency of test bans, and the absence of monitoring. He sought to disprove the validity of such critiques, and these issues were worked through gradually, eventually leading to the finalization of the NPT ten years later.  

January 21, 1963

Memorandum for the Record by Lt. Colonel R.B. Spilman, Assistant Secretary, 'Summary of Discussions by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Director, STPS [Strategic Target Planning Staff], Regarding Retargeting to Cover Withdrawal of JUPITER Missiles fr

The Joint Chiefs met with Admiral Roy L. Johnson, the deputy director of the Joint Strategic Targeting Planning Staff [JSTPS], to discuss how to cover the target gap left by the dismantling of 45 Jupiter missiles and also the gap that would be caused by the temporary absence of one Polaris submarine during its transit from Holy Loch (Scotland) to the Mediterranean. Johnson saw the missile shortage as one that would be of “decreasing significance after July 1963” when more ICBMs would be entering the nuclear arsenal. To complete retargeting of the previous Jupiter targets  would take 90 days while retargeting of the Polaris submarines, which involved “cutting new cards for the computers,” would take several months. Johnson reviewed in detail the problems involved in providing coverage of the previously targeted bomber bases, military control centers, and other targets.  

JCS Chairman Taylor emphasized the importance of assuring General Lemnitzer that retargeting would not injure NATO’s position and that the U.S. would retain the “present level of missile attacks” against Soviet missile and bomber bases that threatened NATO. Johnson made suggestions for “alternative criteria” to provide coverage of Soviet threat targets, while the Chiefs conveyed their criteria for retargeting, such as the same level of damage expectancy for the Jupiter targets.

Written on top of this document is the word “SIOP [Single Integrated Operational Plan]” because the targeting problems that the Chiefs were discussing with Admiral Johnson were integral to the U.S. nuclear war plan.

November 9, 1962

Memorandum from William R. Tyler to the Secretary [Dean Rusk] through U. Alexis Johnson, 'Turkish and Italian IRBM's'

Seymour Weiss would push back against any efforts to remove the Jupiters, but he and others realized that President Kennedy had a “keen interest” in the matter and that Secretary of Defense McNamara had ordered that action be taken (assigning his General Counsel John McNaughton to take the lead). Nevertheless Weiss and Assistant Secretary of State William Tyler presented Secretary of State Rusk with a memorandum making the case against action on the Jupiters or at least postponing their removal until a “later time.” Paralleling arguments made during the crisis by Ambassadors Hare and Reinhardt, Tyler pointed to the “symbolic and psychological importance” of the Jupiter deployments. While Tyler noted parenthetically that the Italians had “given indications of a disposition to work toward the eventual removal of the Jupiters,” the U.S. could not phase them out “without general Alliance agreement,” including Italy and Turkey’s consent, “unless we are prepared to lay ourselves open to the charge of abrogation of specific or implied agreements.” Rusk was in the know on the secret deal, but his reference to a “later time” was consistent with it and signing the memo would have placated Tyler and Weiss.

October 30, 1962

Memorandum from Seymour Weiss, Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, to Jeffrey Kitchen, 'Turkish IRBM Trade-Off'

That some officials in the State Department’s European Affairs bureau were convinced that Kennedy had approved a trade of the Jupiters in Turkey puzzled State Department official Seymour Weiss, who was convinced that the higher-ups has rejected a trade. In this memo, Weiss asked a colleague, Jeffrey Kitchen, to get an “accurate reading” on the matter.

October 22, 2020

Interview with Süha Umar

Süha Umar is a Turkish Ambassador (Rtd.) He served as Head of the Turkish Delegation to ACRS.

October 15, 2020

Interview with Eran Lerman

Eran Lerman is a former Israeli intelligence officer. He served as a member of the Israeli delegation to ACRS. 

November 4, 2020

Interview with Jill Sinclair

Jill Sinclair is a former Canadian diplomat. She served as a member of the Canadian delegation to ACRS. 

August 25, 2021

Interview with Piet de Klerk

Piet de Klerk is a former Dutch diplomat. He served as a member of the Netherlands delegation to ACRS. 

November 4, 2020

Interview with Nabil Fahmy

Nabil Fahmy is a former Egyptian Foreign Minister and diplomat. He served as the head of the Egyptian delegation to ACRS as well as the head of Egypt’s delegation to most of the Steering committee meetings

Pagination