120. Memorandum from Conger to Committee of Principals, April 61

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I am enclosing a memorandum to the President which is based on the memorandum from the Director of ACDA to the Committee of [Typeset Page 317] Principals dated April 4, 1962, but revised in light of discussions which took place in the Committee of Principals meeting on April 5. This memorandum is being transmitted to the President today.

The three attachments to the memorandum of April 4 should be used as attachments to this memorandum and are not re-transmitted.

Clement E. Conger
Special Assistant to the Director
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  • Issues for Discussion at Meeting on April 6, 1962

Following the discussions with the President on March 6 and March 9, certain major issues concerning the U.S. disarmament program were left to be resolved at a later date.

At the urgent request of the U.S. Delegation in Geneva, ACDA has been preparing a draft “Outline of Provisions of a Basic Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World.” Copies of the drafts of a Preamble, Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III have been forwarded to the various departments and agencies concerned. It is intended that decisions reached at the subsequent meeting with the President, on April 6, will be forwarded to Geneva for the use of the U.S. Delegation and will be incorporated in the Outline Treaty. However, the Outline Treaty itself will be the subject of subsequent inter-agency consultation in the immediate future.

The basic structure of the U.S. proposal is a cut during the first stage of 30 percent (in increments of [Facsimile Page 3] 10% a year for three years) in nuclear [Typeset Page 318] delivery vehicles and major conventional armaments. It is proposed that strategic nuclear delivery vehicles be reduced not only in numbers but also in destructive capability. The following are a series of questions upon which decisions are reported or must still be made in order to make further progress possible in drafting the “Outline of Provisions of a Basic Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World.” They have been discussed at a meeting of the Committee of Principals on April 5, 1962. The issues which are presented are covered somewhat more fully in the attached copies of letters to the Secretary of Defense (Tabs A and B) and in Tab C.

1. Method of Reduction


Reduction by categories of armaments of which the following would be offered as illustrative and in the first two of which (the “strategic delivery vehicles”) the reductions would be by “destructive capability” as well as by numbers:

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(1) Armed combat aircraft over 30,000 kg. (DOD would have this figure 40,000 kg.) empty weight, all missiles with over 5,000 km. maximum range, all submarine-launched missiles and all air-to-surface missiles with ranges over 300 km.

(2) Armed combat aircraft between 15,000 kg. and 30,000 kg. (DOD would have this figure 40,000 kg.) empty weight, all missiles (other than submarine-launched missiles and air-to-surface missiles) with between 300 and 5,000 km. maximum range.

(3) Anti-missile missile systems.

(4) Surface-to-air missiles other than anti-missile missile systems.

(5) Armed combat aircraft having an empty weight of between 2,500 and 15,000 kg.

(6) Surface-to-surface and air-to-surface aerodynamic and ballistic missiles and free rockets having a range of between 10 km. and 300 km.

(7) Tanks.

(8) Armored cars and armored personnel carriers.

(9) All artillery, and mortars and rocket launchers having a caliber of 100 mm. or greater.

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(10) Combatant ships with standard displacement of 400 tons or greater of the following classes: aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyer types, and submarines.


Reduction by types of armaments narrowly defined.

2. Limitations on Production of Armaments.

It has been decided that some limitation should be placed upon production of strategic armaments and those categories of non-strategic armaments to be reduced in Stage I. It remains to be decided what method will be used in determining these limits. The magnitude of the limits on production, under whatever system is decided, will be determined at a later stage.

A. If the Alternative A method of reduction (by categories) is adopted, production within the agreed categories and within the reduced levels of numbers (and, in categories (1) and (2), of destructive capability) will be subject to agreed limitations. ACDA believes that the agreed production limitations for the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. should be equal and based on a percentage of the inventory in each category of whichever state had the smaller inventory, [Facsimile Page 6] in terms of numbers and, where germane, in terms of destructive capability at the beginning of each step. DOD wishes to examine the latter concept further.

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B. If the alternative B method of reduction (by narrowly defined types) is adopted, production would be limited by categories such as those contained in Alternative A. As in the other alternative, the kind and amount of limitation would be as agreed. In this connection, the limitation on production becomes somewhat more than a limitation on production, it also becomes a limitation on the freedom to vary the mix within the categories. While, theoretically, this alternative leads to simultaneous reduction and production of the newer and more desirable weapons systems, this incongruity could be handled by allowing a nation to escape some “type” reductions by charging them against “category” production allowance. Thus if a nation had 50 Polaris missiles and was required by Alternative B to destroy 15 of them, it need not destroy the 15 but could credit the 15 against its total production quota of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles applicable to Category (1) of paragraph 1A.

3. Elimination of Armaments Intended for Reserve Forces.

The Soviet draft treaty of March 15 contains a proposal that in Stage I “Conventional Armaments and Equipment Intended for Reserve Forces Shall also be Destroyed”. [Facsimile Page 7] It has been suggested that this Soviet proposal might provide the U.S. an opening whereby we could establish a foundation for advancing the concept of general parity between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. in major non-strategic armaments. This would be done, presumably, by also proposing in our outline treaty that armaments intended for reserve forces would be eliminated by the end of Stage I. It remains to be decided whether or not the U.S. should make such a proposal and if so exactly in what context the proposal should be made. (See Tab B.)

4. Destruction of Nuclear Delivery Vehicles During Negotiations.

The U.S. in proposing only a 30 per cent reduction in strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and in permitting production which would allow Minuteman and Polaris missiles to be substituted for B–47 bombers, is vulnerable to charges of insufficiency in dealing with the threat posed by strategic nuclear weapons. To help offset charges of this nature, it has been suggested that we might propose to begin the reduction of certain strategic delivery vehicles during the negotiations. This could be done by having the U.S. deposit in UN designated hands, a certain number of long-range strategic nuclear delivery vehicles and then propose that those vehicles would be destroyed if the Soviets would reciprocate with an equal number of long-range vehicles. [Facsimile Page 8] This process would continue at a designated rate for a designated time period as long as negotiations were being conducted. It is proposed that the Committee should consider whether or not such an offer should be made, when it might be made, and who should make it. If the [Typeset Page 320] Committee believes that such a proposal is worthwhile, then it should consider what category or type of vehicle should be used, how many should be destroyed each month, and how long the process should continue. (See Tab C)

  1. Transmits copy of Foster’s memorandum to Kennedy on disarmament issues for discussion at April 6 meeting. Covering note unclassified. Foster memorandum is Confidential. 8 pp. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Kaysen Series, Disarmament, Basic Memoranda, 2/62–4/62.