113. Secto 107 from Geneva, March 251

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Eyes only for President and Acting Secretary from Secretary. Tosec 141 consider essential notice to mariners should be so timed there can be no possibility of asking for further delay because ships are already loaded or have left ports, or because there is not adequate time to take necessary precautions, etc. While we recognize giving of mariners notice will create certain complications, do not think we should agree to such postponement or it will not be possible either (A) to make statement with respect to resumption, or (B) to have initial tests carried out promptly. In any case, think we should be careful to use distinctions [Typeset Page 304] set forth in Geneva experts report of 1958 with respect to basic difference between ability to detect and ability to identify, and that we should not confuse detection and identification in a single phrase “verification.”

Soviets have rejected both international headquarters system at Vienna, any control posts as envisaged by experts report on its own territory and any ability of international headquarters to launch on-site inspections in order to identify unidentified events. Consequently, in lieu of phrase “verification” would use “detection and identification.”

So far as we are aware, Soviet Union has not adduced any scientific evidence which would repudiate Geneva experts report of 1958 and even though there has been some improvement in ability of distant instrumentation with respect to detection, there has been no improvement with respect to ability to identify events as natural or artificial. Purpose of on-site inspections is not to verify the fact that an explosion has [Facsimile Page 2] occurred, but to identify what kind of an explosion it is.

Do not believe that the joint statement should under any circumstances be predicated upon any assumption, expressed or implied, that USSR delegation at Geneva has not been speaking with the full authority of its own government in view their specific rejection of international headquarters, sufficient number control posts on its territory and adequate number of on-site inspections, especially since we have agreed to make treaty full and comprehensive. Do not think we should indicate that mere acceptance of principle of international inspection and control would lead to rapid conclusion of treaty to ban all nuclear tests. Think our statement should be definite and positive and should not afford Khrushchev any opportunity of saying he had not previously understood our position or that he is willing to waive some minor negotiating points so that we will not then be free to test. If it be assumed that the USSR is preparing to test and definitely does not want a nuclear test ban treaty, which all of the evidence here would appear to support, we must not be placed in a position of indefinite postponement, for if we do not make the decision to test at this time in all probability we will not be free to make it for a long time to come. Further joint statement should not say that we would have no alternative but to conclude to test, but rather should be definitive that we have made the decision and have instructed that the final stages of preparation be carried out so that the tests can go forward on schedule.

Would prefer, of course, that this be joint statement, if any statement is required. But if after extending every consideration we cannot get joint statement without further loopholes, believe we should carefully consider advisability of separate statements.

  1. Rusk concerns re notice to mariners, verification issue semantics, and joint statement. Secret. 2 pp. Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/3–2562.