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Joint Statement Following Discussions With Prime Minister Macmillan - The Nassau Agreement

December 21, 1962

The President and the Prime Minister met in Nassau from December 18th to December 21st. They were accompanied by the Secretary of Defense, Mr. McNamara, and the Under Secretary of State, Mr. Ball, and by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Home, the Minister of Defense, Mr. Thorneycroft and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and Colonies, Mr. Sandys.

The President and the Prime Minister discussed a wide range of topics. They reviewed the state of East-West relations in the aftermath of the October crisis in Cuba, and joined in the hope that a satisfactory resolution of this crisis might open the way to the settlement of other problems outstanding between the West and the Soviet Union.

In particular, they reviewed the present state of the negotiations for a treaty ending nuclear tests, and reaffirmed their intent to seek agreement on this issue with the U.S.S.R., in the hope that this agreement would lead on to successful negotiations on wider issues of disarmament.

As regards Berlin, they reaffirmed their interest in arriving at a solid and enduring settlement which would insure that Berlin remains free and viable.

The Chinese Communist attack on India was discussed with special consideration being given to the way in which the two governments might assist the Government of India to counter this aggression. Defense problems of the subcontinent were reviewed. The Prime Minister and the President are hopeful that the common interests of Pakistan and India in the security of the subcontinent would lead to a reconciliation of Indian-Pakistan differences. To this end, they expressed their gratification at the statesmanship shown by President Ayub and Prime Minister Nehru in agreeing to renew their efforts to resolve their differences at this crucial moment.

The two leaders discussed the current state of affairs in the Congo, and agreed to continue their efforts for an equitable integration of this troubled country. They expressed support for Mr. Spaak's proposal for a fair division of revenues and noted with concern the dangers of further discord in the Congo.

The Prime Minister informed the President of the present state of negotiations for U.K. membership in the Common Market. The President reaffirmed the interest of the United States in an early and successful outcome.

The President and the Prime Minister also discussed in considerable detail policy on advanced nuclear weapons systems and considered a variety of approaches. The result of this discussion is set out in the attached statement.


1. The President and the Prime Minister reviewed the development program for the Skybolt missile. The President explained that it was no longer expected that this very complex weapons system would be completed within the cost estimate or the time scale which were projected when the program was begun.

2. The President informed the Prime Minister that for this reason and because of the availability to the United States of alternative weapons systems, he had decided to cancel plans for the production of Skybolt for use by the United States. Nevertheless, recognizing the importance of the Skybolt program for the United Kingdom, and recalling that the purpose of the offer of Skybolt to the United Kingdom in 1960 had been to assist in improving and extending the effective life of the British V-bombers, the President expressed his readiness to continue the development of the missile as a joint enterprise between the United States and the United Kingdom, with each country bearing equal shares of the future cost of completing development, after which the United Kingdom would be able to place a production order to meet its requirements.

3. While recognizing the value of this offer, the Prime Minister decided, after full consideration, not to avail himself of it because of doubts that had been expressed about the prospects of success for this weapons system and because of uncertainty regarding date of completion and final cost of the program.

4. As a possible alternative the President suggested that the Royal Air Force might use the Hound Dog missile. The Prime Minister responded that in the light of the technical difficulties he was unable to accept this suggestion.

5. The Prime Minister then turned to the possibility of provision of the Polaris missile to the United Kingdom by the United States. After careful review, the President and the Prime Minister agreed that a decision on Polaris must be considered in the widest context both of the future defense of the Atlantic Alliance and of the safety of the whole Free World. They reached the conclusion that this issue created an opportunity for the development of new and closer arrangements for the organization and control of strategic Western defense and that such arrangements in turn could make a major contribution to political cohesion among the nations of the Alliance.

6. The Prime Minister suggested and the President agreed, that for the immediate future a start could be made by subscribing to NATO some part of the forces already in existence. This could include allocations from United States Strategic Forces, from United Kingdom Bomber Command, and from tactical nuclear forces now held in Europe. Such forces would be assigned as part of a NATO nuclear force and targeted in accordance with NATO plans.

7. Returning to Polaris the President and the Prime Minister agreed that the purpose of their two governments with respect to the provision of the Polaris missiles must be the development of a multilateral NATO nuclear force in the closest consultation with other NATO allies. They will use their best endeavors to this end.

8. Accordingly, the President and the Prime Minister agreed that the U.S. will make available on a continuing basis Polaris missiles (less warheads) for British submarines. The U.S. will also study the feasibility of making available certain support facilities for such submarines. The U.K. Government will construct the submarines in which these weapons will be placed and they will also provide the nuclear warheads for the Polaris missiles. British forces developed under this plan will be assigned and targeted in the same way as the forces described in paragraph 6.

These forces, and at least equal U.S. Forces, would be made available for inclusion in a NATO multilateral nuclear force. The Prime Minister made it clear that except where H.M.G. may decide that supreme national interests are at stake, these British forces will be used for the purposes of international defense of the Western Alliance in all circumstances.

9. The President and the Prime Minister are convinced that this new plan will strengthen the nuclear defense of the Western Alliance. In strategic terms this defense is indivisible, and it is their conviction that in all ordinary circumstances of crisis or danger, it is this very unity which is the best protection of the West.

10. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that in addition to having a nuclear shield it is important to have a non-nuclear sword. For this purpose they agreed on the importance of increasing the effectiveness of their conventional forces on a worldwide basis.

John F. Kennedy, Joint Statement Following Discussions With Prime Minister Macmillan - The Nassau Agreement Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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