500. Record of Telephone Conversation Between Dillon and Kistiakowsky1

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Regarding nuclear tests suspension, CDD said that before we can change our basic position from the one we had in earlier discussions it would be necessary to have further experimentation before we could be certain about what would be an effective control system. He said if the Russians agree to 200 teams and inspections a year, the necessary staffing, and to abandoning veto on budget that would be fine—but that would be so unexpected that we really don’t think we have to take it into account. Dr. K. said he was not enthusiastic about a meeting of experts because if people who go there are honest and not biased, they will not be able to defend defeatism that situation is dramatically different than in 1958. Dr. K. said that although a figure of $5 million for [Typeset Page 1787] 2 kilotons is indicated, this does not include any instrumentation or anything else and that since the whole thing is purely theoretical concept, it would be ridiculous to base our policy on such a figure.

CDD said he feels that after the technical details are settled we will then have to decide whether we need a substantial number of inspection teams—he said someone told him there are only 2 or 3 places in the Soviet Union where they had seismic disturbances and in this case many teams would be a strong deterrent. Dr. K. said he doesn’t know how many we would need—that this would depend on a political and not a technical decision. CDD said he agreed with Amb. Wadsworth when he said we should have effective control, sufficient to deter them from holding tests to any great extent (they might make one test, but controls would keep them from holding a series of tests). Dr K. said the people in Defense do not agree with our thinking and CDD said this is because they have been led to believe that there is no possibility of any sort of reasonable control and that the situation is quite different than in 1958. Dr. K. said that technically the situation is not different, but that a new factor is being considered, i.e. What is the chance of getting there and not finding an event that actually did happen? He said that factor is not technical—it is a guess and can’t be brought up at Geneva.

Dr. K. said he thinks one of the primary jobs for Charlie Coolidge is to try to find out what we mean by adequate inspection—this question should be brought up to the President. CDD said he thinks there would be a difference of opinion between us and the people at the Pentagon if, for instance, it were decided that 125 inspections were necessary—they would say no and we might say yes. He said he thinks it is best to go ahead with the technical details now and later decide how many inspections would be necessary.


Covering Note

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Conversation Between Under Secretary and Dr. Kistiakowsky on Nuclear Test Question

Attached for the information of your principal are notes of a telephone conversation between the Under Secretary and Dr. Kistiakowsky on October 6 regarding an effective control system for an agreement on nuclear test suspension.

C.A. Borg


  1. Source: Control system for suspension of nuclear testing. Confidential. 2 pp. NARA, RG 59, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199.