111. Tosec 107 to Geneva, March 221

[Facsimile Page 1]

Following is text of memorandum from Ormsby-Gore to McGeorge Bundy giving Macmillan latest thoughts on the nuclear tests position.


It looks as though by the end of this week we shall know the final decision of the Russians as regards international verification, so far at least as Gromyko is competent to give it. The position will presumably become known publicly after the plenary meeting in Geneva on Saturday, March 24. If the Russians still reject the whole principle of international verification then we must accept that the United States tests will have to take place.

In this event, it will nevertheless be important to ensure that public opinion recognises that dead-lock has been reached and that the Russians are being unreasonable. We shall not be able to make these points clearly and dramatically without involving Khrushchev himself, although the chances of his [Facsimile Page 2] changing his position at that stage will of course be negligible. The question is how best to bring Khrushchev in. There seem to be two possible ways of doing so:—

(a) The President and the Prime Minister could issue a joint statement saying that as the discussions in the nuclear tests sub-committee at Geneva (or in the plenary) had clearly shown that the Russians were not prepared to accept the principle of international verification, there was no point in continuing negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty. In the circumstances, the plan to test at Christmas Island would have to go ahead. They would add that they were, of course, prepared to resume negotiations as soon as the Russians had a change of heart.

(b) There could be an appeal to Khrushchev to change his view about international verification. If such an appeal is to be made, a joint appeal by President Kennedy and the Prime Minister would be much the best since an appeal by the United Kingdom only would seem an empty gesture and would presumably suggest to the [Facsimile Page 3] world some difference of opinion between us and Washington. If the President does not like the idea of a joint letter, the Prime Minister would be quite content with a joint statement and he sees that this might seem more dignified and firm but he does feel strongly that we cannot let the occasion pass without some Western statement at the top level to focus attention on the vital question of verification. The Prime Minister [Typeset Page 301] does not believe that it would be wise even to make an announcement about danger areas in the Pacific before such a statement has been made and time given for the Soviet response.

  1. Macmillan’s latest thoughts on nuclear test issues. Secret. 3 pp. Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/3–2262.