204. Telegram From the Department of State to the Delegation to the Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Tests0

Nusup 260. Eyes only for Wadsworth from Acting Secretary. British being advised our thinking on Geneva negotiations along following lines.

We are convinced present phase Geneva negotiations should be recessed at early date. If we do, we will be in position state openly to world the principle of effective international control system not subject to veto or obstruction. If we do not recess soon, we will be drawn into prolonged inconclusive discussions confusing and obscuring basic [Page 713] issues without making real progress. We have now tested possibilities of shift in Soviet position. However, Soviet reception of UK informal suggestions to Khrushchev appears to be that these are signs of Western readiness compromise on veto.

Our purpose in negotiations is to reach agreement on sound principles which will be good precedent for future disarmament agreements. Stopping nuclear tests is of secondary importance. These tests are already temporarily suspended and UK is aware of our tentative thinking that this reciprocal forbearance might be continued indefinitely for atmospheric tests if a test ban agreement proves unobtainable. Continuing present negotiations without pause to highlight principles involved will face us with widespread expectation of compromise on principles of international control just for sake of stopping tests and increasing complexity of debate will make it increasingly difficult to stand on principles.

UK also advised we would welcome pause in order enable us to clarify our thinking on some aspects of control system. High altitude and underground study groups just completing their work. Their conclusions require careful assessment as to implications for control system agreed on by experts.

We further advise UK our view recess well before end of month will not interfere with progress toward negotiations with the Soviets on other outstanding issues and will actually assist in objective of reaching sound test suspension agreement. We do not want sharp or complete break and would handle a recess in such manner as to make this clear. If possible, a recess would be taken by agreement to enable delegates to report back their governments. We would of course continue withhold nuclear testing under terms announced in White House statements August 22 and November 7.1 We suggest possibility letters from President and Prime Minister to Khrushchev explaining our approach to negotiations and our continuing desire devise effective international control system. We state readiness welcome discussion status negotiations in UN Disarmament Commission since we believe principles we have insisted on would receive general endorsement.

UK views requested prior Macmillan visit Washington.

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In view approach to UK summarized above, Department will defer commenting on proposals for temporary recess in Supnu 323 and Supnu 3252 at least until initial response received from UK.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/3–1059. Secret. Drafted by Farley and cleared by Calhoun.
  2. Regarding the August 22 statement, see Document 175. In the November 7 statement, Eisenhower announced that the Soviet Union was continuing to test nuclear weapons and thus the United States was not obligated to continue its testing suspension begun on October 31, 1958. Nevertheless, Eisenhower stated, the United States and the United Kingdom would continue to suspend testing “for the time being,” but “if there was not a corresponding renunciation by the Soviet Union, the United States would be obligated to reconsider its opinion.” The full text of the statement is in Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, p. 1221.
  3. Dated March 8 and 9, respectively. (Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/3–959) Both are in the Supplement.