Courtesy Reuters

Nuclear Policy and French Intransigence

Our refusal to aid France in developing her nuclear strike force has never lacked American critics. Should we not seek an accommodation with General de Gaulle, trading missile technology and components for coöperation in another military or political field? Increasingly, it is said that we should. Proponents argue that France is well on the road toward acquiring her force de frappe, despite our opposition which has embittered French officials and made their program slower and more expensive. The bitterness and higher cost leave France both less willing and less able to support common enterprises, including the provision of modern French divisions to NATO and toleration of American-controlled nuclear weapons on her territory. It is said that these are unpleasant consequences of American policy, especially as they are felt by one honored major ally and not another. If we should supply Skybolt missiles to the United Kingdom for its Bomber Command, should we not assist France in some comparable way? Especially if France pays for it and eases our troubled balance of payments?

So the critics argue, and with considerable force. But far more important than the effect of America's arms policy on Franco-American relations is its broad objective-to arrest the proliferation of nuclear powers, not to speed it. Therefore, we have persisted in one message to would-be aspirants: "If you go toward independent nuclear capabilities, you go it alone. The road promises to be long and costly. And for what?" The painfulness of the French experience may, we hope, be a forceful example to others. We regret the burdens to France, and we seek to lessen their impact by any compromises that can be accommodated within our basic arms policy. But we are not prepared to abandon this policy. To do so would give evidence to the cynics who say that stubbornness pays and would encourage other nations to undertake similarly expensive nuclear programs in the expectation that we would bail them out with military aid. The real test of

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