119. Memorandum from Kaysen to President Kennedy, April 51

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Disarmament Problems

1. The Principals’ Meeting revealed that there are a number of important areas in which we are still not prepared to define our position concretely in a draft treaty. One way of dealing with this problem is to table the treaty draft in general terms and work on the details later. This has obvious dangers. It puts us in a poor position in Geneva. It raises the possibility that we will be negotiated into positions we do not want, if the delegation at Geneva has to face negotiation without clear instructions.

2. The most important issues that still need resolution are the definition of categories of weapons and the relation of these categories to the schemes for reducing armaments; the nature of the limitations to be placed on the production of armaments; the defining of the conditions of transition between stages; and the extent to which we explicitly propose a great many study commissions as part of the treaty. In addition there are a number of minor problems which need to be dealt with. The whole draft treaty outline needs to be rewritten before we offer it in Geneva.

3. There still is no agreement on the categories of weapons and the question of whether reduction should be by categories or by types. This question is most important in respect to strategic delivery of vehicles. The categories presently proposed by the ACDA are agreed to by no one else.

It has been suggested by Jerry Wiesner that we combine reduction by types with production by categories assuming that production is allowed only during the first stage of the treaty as proposed in the draft. Bob McNamara has had a favorable initial reaction to this idea but he wants to consider it further (see attached example for an illustration of how this works).

[Facsimile Page 2] [Typeset Page 315]

It is clear that the dangers of going to Geneva with this point unspecified and leaving the definition of categories to negotiations are very great. Each side will try to get the boundary line between the categories drawn so as to favor the kind of weapons it desires. It is hard to be certain that any position not carefully considered beforehand is in fact tenable. One advantage of the Wiesner proposal is that it makes the definition of categories much less important than it would be under a system in which reduction was by categories rather than by types.

4. There is now general agreement on certain aspects of a proposed cutoff of production. We have to have one in order to have real disarmament. We think it undesirable to have it in the first stage because of the danger that the treaty may never get past the first stage. Production in the first stage should be limited so that there may be some phase down of present levels to a cutoff. However, there is as yet no agreement as to what limitation should be placed on production in the first stage and how it should be defined. Here, again, it appears undesirable to delay too long indicating the degree of limitation we propose in our treaty draft and even more danger in simply leaving the matter open for discussion at large in Geneva.

5. The present draft treaty does not specify whether or not anyone should have a veto over the transition from Stage I to Stage II or indeed what method should be used to settle disagreements as to whether the undertakings of Stage I had been met by all the parties. Further, no definite position was taken on the relation between the staging process and the number and list of states who are parties to the treaty. In particular, it is not made clear whether adherence of China is a condition of transition to Stage II. Further, it is not made clear whether we propose to make Stage I simply bilateral between the U.S. and the Soviet Union or whether we propose to include NATO and Warsaw Pact countries.

6. The present draft of the treaty provides for commissions to study the problems of nuclear weapons, radiological weapons, chemical and biological warfare, surprise attack, military expenditures, and setting up a peace force. Foster and Fisher take the view that we are tied to these commissions because of the declaration of September 25 which mentions them. Wiesner points out that we give to these problems more importance than they are worth by featuring the commissions so [Facsimile Page 3] prominently in our draft treaty and, further, we convey the idea that we don’t really know what we want to do. If these studies were referred to in an annex perhaps these tasks of the International Disarmament Organization would be in a more appropriate respect.

7. It would seem desirable, after hearing the Principals tomorrow, to appoint a drafting committee representing the interested agencies [Typeset Page 316] and require them to get as far forward in a week or ten days as possible, and then report back to the Principals who, in turn, would report to you. If you suggested that each of Rusk, Foster, McNamara, the Chiefs, Wiesner, and Bundy name a representative to the drafting committee, this would get matters further forward in a week than ACDA alone.

Carl Kaysen
[Facsimile Page 4]


This shows how you might reduce by types but produce by categories. Assume that the initial figures are as shown and that all four weapons fall in the same categories. If you had 15 per cent per year reduction in each type, and 5 per cent per year as a production allowance for the whole category, making for a net reduction of 10 per cent per year for the total number in the category, you would have the result in the table, if you choose to use the production for Minutemen and Polaris.

Beginning 45% reduction 15% production End
B–47 100 45 55
B–52 100 45 55
Minuteman 50 23 30 57
Polaris 50 22 30 58
400 60 225

On the other hand, if you had reduction by categories the end figures would be highly sensitive to the category boundaries; in the example above they are less sensitive to the category boundaries.

  1. Disarmament problems. Secret. 4 pp. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, ACDA, Disarmament, 18-Nation Conference, Geneva, 4/1/62–4/11/62.