53. Informal Communication From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy0

We have familiarized ourselves with the statement which you and the Prime Minister of Great Britain Mr.Macmillan made August 27,1 concerning the latest Anglo-American proposals on the cessation of nuclear tests.

[Page 149]

Now I would like to address myself to you to find out whether we can reach at last a practical agreement on this important problem even though it may not solve the whole problem completely.

The positions of our sides on the question of cessation of nuclear tests are well known. We believe that it would be in the interests of peace to put an end to all nuclear tests with an appropriate control by the national means of states to be established. You still express doubts with regard to this position of ours. At the same time you appeal to us to accept your proposals on the cessation of nuclear tests in all environments on such conditions which in our deep conviction do not have any justification and are absolutely unacceptable to us for the reasons to which we have pointed out more than once. I think you yourself understand that too. Perhaps that is why the Anglo-American proposals contain also an alternative version. You propose to conclude an agreement on the cessation of nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water and leave aside underground tests.

We are ready to take into account your position. Let us immediately sign an agreement on the cessation of nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water but at the same time let us agree that with regard to underground tests negotiations will go on with an aim to reach an agreement on the underground tests as well. However we are of the opinion that the peoples would be extremely disappointed if the underground tests continue even at the time when negotiations are in progress on the possibility of an agreement on this problem. We believe that the governments of nuclear powers would act with honor if they agreed, and fixed that in the agreement as well, that the negotiations on the cessation of underground nuclear tests must go on and that during those negotiations and henceforth until an agreement banning also underground nuclear tests is reached, nuclear powers shall refrain from conducting such tests.

We think that an agreement on such basis, though in our opinion it is not satisfactory in every respect, would, nevertheless, be a major step forward.

I will tell you frankly that [in] accepting such an agreement we make a step to meet your position which we cannot justify since we are convinced that there is every possibility to conclude already now a comprehensive agreement on the cessation of all nuclear tests, but which we are ready to take into consideration.

You may say that there is not much new in what I have said. May be. But we are convinced that such a solution and such an agreement do not give either us or you any unilateral advantage, but benefits arising out of them for all nuclear powers and for the cause of peace in general are obvious.

[Page 150]

And, finally, the last consideration: it is not clear from your and Mr.Macmillan’s statement what role France as nuclear power shall play. We proceeded earlier and proceed now from an assumption that under any international agreement on the cessation of nuclear weapons tests France should assume commitments analogous to those of the USSR, the US and Britain.

I await with great interest your reaction to the considerations I have expressed. If you react to them positively then our representatives could, evidently without great difficulty, work out the text of an appropriate international treaty.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. Secret; Eyes Only. Other copies are ibid.: Lot 77 D 163, and in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, USSR, Khrushchev Correspondence. Copies were sent to Robert Kennedy, Bundy,Fisher (ACDA), Tyler, and Rusk.
  2. Reference is to the joint statement made by Prime Minister Macmillan and President Kennedy on ending nuclear testing; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, September 17, 1962, pp. 403-404.