367. Current Intelligence Weekly Review0

USSR Marking Time on Berlin

Moscow is marking time on the Berlin autobahn issue and has given no indication as to how it would react to any joint Allied statement on existing access control procedures.

Since the detention of the British convoy on 16 October, the Allies have not sent any convoys in or out of West Berlin to which the Soviets could apply their new checking procedures. Last week, the Soviet checkpoint commander claimed that passengers in all convoys of five vehicles or more must dismount for head-counts. Following the perfunctory propaganda treatment of the 10-12 October US Berlin convoy incident, both Soviet and East German press media have ignored the subsequent British convoy incident.

Moscow appears anxious to avoid any impression that the autobahn incidents imply a Soviet retreat from the détente atmosphere. The USSR gave wide publicity to Gromykoʼs statement that a Western correspondent had distorted his remarks at Prestwich airport by applying his pessimistic assessment of prospects for disarmament to the whole range of issues covered in his recent talks with US and British leaders.1 Soviet reports of President Kennedyʼs 19 October speech2 highlighted his remarks on the improved international situation, and Izvestia also hailed the unanimous General Assembly resolution banning nuclear weapons from outer space as a “new important step toward further relaxation of tension.”

[Page 803]

The Soviet leaders, however, served notice that their desire to further the East-West détente will not prevent a vigorous response to any Western moves which, in their view, might alter the status quo, particularly in Germany. ATASS statement of 21 October3 warned that renewed NATO discussions on establishing a multilateral nuclear force (MLF) will have an “adverse effect on the still infirm shoots of mutual understanding and trust.” It charged that steps to provide West Germany with access to nuclear weapons “contradict the spirit” of the test ban treaty. The statement repeated in notably restrained terms earlier warnings that the creation of the MLF will oblige Moscow to consider “the need to ensure the safety of the Soviet Union and its allies.”p

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency: Job 79-S01060A. Secret. Prepared by CIAʼs Office of Current Intelligence. The source text comprises p. 5 of the issue.
  2. For text of the report in Pravda, October 20, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, vol. XV, No. 42, November 13, 1963, p. 19.
  3. For text of the Presidentʼs October 19 address at the University of Maine, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, pp. 795-797.
  4. For text, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, vol. XV, No. 42, November 13, 1963, p. 21.