Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organizations, Subject: Department Views on Rapacki Plan, Washington, January 21, 1958, 5:38 p.m.

Washington, January 21, 1958, 5:38 p.m.

Topol 2486. This message contains Department views on Rapacki Plan. /1/

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 640.0012/1 - 2858. Secret. Drafted by Reinstein (EUR/GER) and McBride (EUR/RA) and cleared with various officers in the Department of State and with the Department of Defense. Also sent to London and Ottawa and repeated to Bonn, Moscow, Warsaw, Ankara, Athens, Brussels, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Oslo, Reykjavik, Rome, and The Hague.

/1/ The Rapacki Plan was first proposed by Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on October 2, 1957. It called for the establishment of a denuclearized zone in Poland, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, and the German Federal Republic. For text of Rapacki's address (U.N. doc. A/PV.697), see Documents on Disarmament, 1945 - 1959, vol. II, pp. 889 - 892.

Embassies London and Ottawa should convey Foreign Offices as soon as possible and inform Department and USRO when instructions carried out.

USRO should make presentation to NAC based on following points as soon as NAC schedule permits. You may begin your presentation using numbered points 1 - 4 Polto 2112 /2/ as preamble. We leave it to your judgment and Spaak's views whether or not convene special NAC meeting.

/2/ Points 1 - 4 of Polto 2112 from Paris, January 18, discussed Western and free world public opinion and the difficulty of leading it in the “right direction." The telegram cautioned that the United States must not appear to be forcing atomic weapons or foreign forces on its European allies, but point 4 concludes that the United States “does not propose to sacrifice real security for agreements that only provide illusion of security." (Department of State, Central Files, 740.00/1 - 858)

1) We indicated in our reply to Bulganin note /3/ which was discussed in NAC that we believed Rapacki Plan should be studied in NATO and with NATO countries directly concerned. In Heads of Government communique /4/ NATO nations stated they would study all proposals designed to reduce international tensions. Accordingly we have carefully considered Rapacki Plan. After careful study our reaction is heavily negative. While it might have some surface attraction, it poses totally unacceptable risks. Therefore we cannot consider this scheme as basis for any serious negotiations for reasons given below.

/3/ For text of Premier Bulganin's letter of December 10, 1957, and President Eisenhower's reply of January 12, 1958, both of which dealt with ways to reduce international tension, see Department of State Bulletin, January 27, 1958, pp. 122 - 130.

/4/ For text of the communique issued on December 19, 1957, at the conclusion of the meeting of the Heads of Government of the North Atlantic Council in Paris, see ibid., January 6, 1958, pp. 12 - 15.

2) Although other proposals in same field (Kennan ideas, Gaitskell plan, etc.) /5/ are being publicly discussed, we have restricted following to Rapacki Plan because latter was specifically raised in Bulganin note. Furthermore attempt discuss all these things at once would seem confusing.

/5/ The proposals of former Ambassador to the Soviet Union George F. Kennan and British Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell, among others, are discussed in Intelligence Report No. 7664, “Public Reaction in Western Europe to Recent Disengagement Proposals," February 13, 1958, prepared by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the Department of State. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, OSS - INR Reports)

3) For obvious reasons we believe NAC debate on this subject should remain most private and we expect every precaution will be taken against leaks.

4) We believe dangers of plan are self-evident to those with any knowledge of subject. Real problem would seem to be public opinion, in combating what appears to public on surface as reasonable proposal. We believe public statements by Western countries on Rapacki Plan should spell out as simply as possible dangers of plan and stress positive aspects Western proposals in disarmament and security fields.

5) In meeting this unquestioned problem of public opinion, we believe NATO Governments should take lead in presenting forcefully to their peoples considerations which make this plan dangerous, as well as positive aspects of Western proposals.

6) Rapacki Plan was put forward by Poles in UN some months ago. While it attracted relatively little attention initially, degree of interest in Western opinion which it has aroused since endorsement by Bulganin makes essential adoption common line by NATO Governments on proposals and concepts it involves.

7) Rapacki Plan has much in common with other Soviet bloc initiatives in that it proposes formula to reduce tensions in Europe based on existing division of Germany, and designed to exclude nuclear weapons from Germany.

8) Rapacki Plan goes counter agreed NATO strategy existing since 1954 which calls for integrated nuclear capability in NATO shield forces. Furthermore Heads of Government meeting recently decided implement decision extend tactical nuclear weapons (which US forces now have) to forces of other nations (warheads remaining US custody). Without such weapons Soviet superiority becomes overwhelming in light their much greater conventional forces.

9) Barring NATO forces in Germany from having nuclear weapons is unacceptable militarily and it is highly unlikely US opinion would tolerate maintenance significant US forces in Germany without such weapons, which in their tactical form are increasingly becoming conventional, with U.S. forces. Result would be that shield concept would disappear.

10) Rapacki Plan also involves disarmament considerations. If ban proposed is on nuclear warheads alone, we seriously question its enforceability. If it involves delivery systems as well (Rapacki according to Embassy Warsaw includes ban on “nuclear infrastructure" in his plan), it obviously goes deeply into question armament limitations.

11) From disarmament standpoint, Rapacki Plan and Soviet variant thereof appear new limited form of basic Soviet “ban the bomb" proposal. As arms limitation applied to divided Germany, it involves entire European security question which Western policy links to German reunification.

12) Plan has further disadvantage of establishing particular conditions and limitations on one NATO member which do not apply to others. This is contradictory thus not only to basic NATO strategy as outlined but also to NATO political unity.

13) Rapacki Plan is sharply different from NATO-approved disarmament proposals of last August which envisaged inspection for prevention surprise attack in a broad European zone which included portions of USSR. /6/

/6/ Secretary Dulles made this proposal to the Subcommittee of the U.N. Disarmament Commission on August 2, 1957; for text of his address, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945 - 1959, vol. II, pp. 839 - 845.

14) Rapacki Plan appears designed to appeal to sentiment in West for "disengagement" on basis present line of demarcation between Soviets and West. This sentiment appears to be motivated by two ideas.

a) One is that confrontation of two large groups of potentially hostile forces in Central Europe involves threat to peace and that this threat is increased by adoption of nuclear weapons. This idea, which is fundamentally opposed to NATO shield concept, we do not consider to be sound. Threats to peace since NATO was established and NATO force created have arisen not in Europe but elsewhere. Political directive recognizes need for forces capable of dealing also with hostile local action, as distinct from major armed aggression. We believe NATO forces, organization and command arrangements are well adapted to prevent inadvertent, unauthorized or unnecessary use of nuclear weapons.

b) Second idea is that presumed reduction of tension which would result from military steps would in some way facilitate settlement of German problem. We believe this is not only erroneous but dangerous concept. In the absence of comprehensive understanding with USSR on future of Germany and on detailed military arrangements in broad area of Europe, partial measures would merely be to solidify status quo, which is Soviet aim. This proposal has no features looking to German reunification and indeed seems perpetuate division.

15) We have received reports indicating that plan was proposed on Polish initiative, although cleared in advance with Soviets. If this is true, it is interesting. It may represent Polish desire to take steps leading to breaking impasse between Soviets and West. It may also reflect Polish concern that continuing build-up of nuclear capability in Western forces in Germany may lead to demand by Soviets for stationing of Soviet nuclear bases in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Such a development could result in restoration of some of Soviet control over Poland weakened during past year.

16) Exploitation of potential differences between Poland and USSR would present West with opportunities. Ability to establish Western military inspection in Poland and Czechoslovakia would also offer possibilities of expanding Western contact and influence in these areas. While these are possibilities to which West must be alert in presenting its own proposals, they do not involve advantages of sufficient importance or certainty to warrant us in incurring risks to our own security.

17) Therefore, we reiterate in conclusion our conviction that in fact Rapacki Plan represents nothing new in the way of progress towards settlement of European problems and is, for the reasons listed above, a highly dangerous proposal. /7/


/7/ The Rapacki Plan was discussed in the session of the North Atlantic Council on January 22 and also in a special private session later that day attended only by each Permanent Representative and one or two of his advisers. The private session was held at Spaak's suggestion in order to permit a “free and forthright expression of views." Reports on these two sessions are in Polto 2157 and Polto 2158 from Paris, both dated January 22. (Department of State, Central Files, 640.0012/1 - 2258)

SourceL US, Department of State, Office of the Historian, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol X, Washington, DC, Accessed on 22 March 2008 at:

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