104. Letter from Gilpatric to Fisher, March 161

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Dear Mr. Fisher:

At the NSC meeting of February 27, it was agreed that if the USSR would sign the April 18, 1961, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the United States would cancel the forthcoming atmospheric test program. The Department of Defense continues to support this position.

During the past two weeks, a number of changes in the April 18th treaty have been suggested and some authority to negotiate has been granted. Changes include elimination of the threshold, and a decrease in the number of control posts. These represent substantial concessions on our part. We understand that the United Kingdom considers these moves inadequate and has even raised the possibility of technical adequacy of sole reliance on national systems to monitor against underground nuclear tests.

The net effect of all these moves is, or could be, to degrade seriously our position on what constitutes effective control of a nuclear test ban agreement. Perhaps even more important is the application of a weakened attitude toward control for more significant disarmament measures.

The Department of Defense views with increasing concern the continuing erosion of our position which might lead to cancellation of our planned atmospheric tests in the absence of an agreed treaty with safeguards along the lines previously demanded by the United States. We, therefore, urge that no further relaxation of our stated position take place without full consideration by the Committee of Principals.


Roswell L. Gilpatric
Deputy Secretary of Defense
  1. Concern over possible erosion in U.S. position on nuclear test ban treaty. Secret. 1 p. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, ACDA, Disarmament, 18-Nation Conference, Geneva.