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16 May 1951: Canopy Abandoned

With the 12 May “Arneson Talks” in Ottawa, Canadian and US officials followed up on the proposed Wrong-Nitze consultations, agreeing to bilateral talks despite the Canadian attempt to include the United Kingdom. Others points of contention are raised, such as the Canadian desire to force the Americans to distinguish between atomic weapons with and without nuclear components, as well as the constitutional difficulty for the President to rely on foreign government consent in order to launch a nuclear strike.

Months after the initial proposal for a canopy agreement, the officials decide to suspend the process. It appears as though a clear and jointly accepted agreement was too difficult to reach, notably due to a Canadian position that advocated for guarantees of consultation and clarification of specific situational circumstances. Moreover, as Arneson made clear during the 12 May meeting, the United States was not particularly concerned with ensuring a written agreement. After all, the vague status quo, ensuing from the Truman-Attlee understanding, did little to constrain US freedom of action.


Memorandum for the Under-Secretary, "U.S. Strategic Air Command Projects," 16 May 1951, LAC, RG 25, vol. 4758, file no. 50069-C-40, part 1.

The "Canopy" Agreement
16 May 1951: Canopy Abandoned