127. Memorandum from Battle to Bundy, April 271

[Facsimile Page 1]

The Secretary thought it would be useful if the President could have a preliminary assessment of world reactions to the US resumption of nuclear atmospheric tests when he speaks with Prime Minister Macmillan on Saturday morning. With that end in view, this morning he asked Ed Murrow and Roger Hilsman to prepare the enclosed papers on the subject. The USIA paper concentrated primarily on Free World press reaction. The INR paper is more analytical in its approach. There [Typeset Page 332] is nothing in either one which would preclude its being read or passed on to Mr. Macmillan.

L.D. Battle
Executive Secretary
[Facsimile Page 2]




  • World Reaction to the US Resumption of Nuclear Atmospheric Tests


1. This preliminary analysis has been prepared in response to your request this morning. For the most part, the tests have had the kind of impact we thought they would. Friendly and allied countries have shown an understanding of the reasons for the tests and have supported their resumption. Reactions in key non-aligned countries such as India, the UAR, and Indonesia have been more restrained, even, than anticipated. Moscow has been careful not to overplay the subject to the point where it would logically have to break up the Geneva talks, inhibit its own future testing, or limit US-Soviet discussions on Berlin.

2. Reaction to the tests has been influenced by (a) the fact that Moscow first broke the moratorium; (b) a recognition that the US had to resume testing in order to maintain nuclear equality with the USSR; (c) the fact that the US decision was taken reluctantly; and (d) the prior explanations which US representatives made to foreign governments.

3. Opinion leaders thoughout the world continue to express concern about the ultimate consequences of the vicious circle of testing. In this respect, both the US and the USSR are held responsible.

4. Japanese reaction has shown significant restraint, in general, coupled with a discernable growth of awareness of the importance of tests to the military position of the Free World.

5. The position of the US in the eyes of its allies in the Far East can be expected to have been enhanced by the tests as a demonstration of military preparedness.

[Facsimile Page 3]

6. Cairo’s reaction has been controlled and comparatively mild, influenced probably by current discussions over possible US aid.

7. Pakistan has made little or no comment, probably because of its desire not to antagonize Moscow on the eve of the Kashmir debate in the UN.

[Typeset Page 333]

8. Ghana has sharply criticized the tests and will probably continue to do so in order to publicize its forthcoming “Ban the Bomb” conference in June.

9. There is no evidence that the Soviet Union will alter its fundamental stand on the issue of a nuclear test ban. It will probably continue to argue for the adequacy of national means of detection, though it may seek to make some minor concession—perhaps adding some sort of international commission to its November 28, 1961 proposal—in order to capture neutralist opinion.

10. A special informational effort may be required to distinguish between the limited fallout from the US tests and the fallout from the Soviet tests which is now occurring in the northern hemisphere. Japanese concern, in particular, can be expected to increase.

[Facsimile Page 4]


The US position in the Far East has been enhanced among its allies, who see in the US resumption of testing a new demonstration of military preparedness. The non-aligned nations, on the other hand, maintain a “plague on both your houses” attitude of helpless regret. In the special case of Japan, no significant shift in relations with the US is anticipated.

So far, there is extraordinarily little blatantly, double-standard criticism of the new US tests among Asian leaders. Although such criticism may increase as the tests progress, prior US Government efforts—including the President’s speech, diplomatic representations and the Western position at Geneva—appear to have had a strong positive effect.

Japanese Reaction Relatively Restrained—Despite Japan’s high sensitivity to nuclear testing, early reactions, on balance, have reflected a significant degree of restraint. There have, of course, been demonstrations before the US Embassy, student sit-down demonstrations, and other communist and leftist protest activities. The government has protested both verbally and in writing. Nonetheless, awareness of the importance to the free world of these US tests has grown measurably. Critical newspapers are taking note also of Soviet intransigence; communist-line anti-bomb groups have made at least a gesture toward neutralism by requesting that the USSR refrain from resuming tests. While the forthcoming Upper House election campaigns may be exerting a restraining influence on one hand, May Day and communist agitation will be working in the other direction. As the tests continue, Japanese concern regarding fallout can be expected to increase; at the same time, the government may take a more scientific and less emotional attitude toward protective measures.

Public Reactions Negative in Non-aligned Countries—The press and other public media in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Burma will undoubt[Typeset Page 334]edly react negatively. Sihanouk’s private view, however, has been that the US decision to resume testing was understandable in terms of the Soviet resumption. No high Indonesian official has yet been publicly critical, although this may follow as much from an appreciation of the US role in the West New Guinea issue as from realistic assessments of the merits of the US case. The official Burmese position is one of deep regret for the US actions, especially since they would have an adverse effect on the deliberations of the Disarmament Committee (of which Burma is a member). The Singapore Government’s anti-test posture was assumed publicly to deny local political advantage to the opposition.

US Allies Support Test Resumption—The smaller US allies in the Far East uniformly agree that the tests are necessary. The Thai Foreign Minister, for example, said that free world security, including that of Thailand, depends upon US forces. The Philippines Foreign Office called the US resumption of tests a “painful necessity” over which “nobody can possibly rejoice” for the purpose of deterring aggression and preventing the danger of Soviet nuclear supremacy. Similar views have come from South Korea and South Vietnam. In Taiwan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed the hope that US tests will compel the Soviet [Facsimile Page 5] Union to abandon nuclear testing as “an instrument to intimidate and blackmail the free world.” Australia, New Zealand and Malaya all firmly back the US.

The fallout issue has been specifically mentioned only in New Zealand, where the government assured Samoan and other island people under its jurisdiction that they will not be endangered, and in the Philippines, where the Civil Defense Administrator said there would be no danger to the country from fallout.


Resumption of testing is not expected to have any damaging effect on US relations with Africa.

Ghana Sharply Critical—As expected, reaction has been sharply critical in Ghana, where the government-controlled press accuses the US of torpedoing the Geneva talks. The Ghana Government has appealed to the US to discontinue the tests “in order to clear the atmosphere for the negotiations. . . .” Although admitting that it was the Soviet Union which first resumed testing, the government has criticized the US more sharply than it did the Soviets last September. The government will probably continue to play up the tests in order to publicize its forthcoming “Ban the Bomb” conference scheduled for Accra in June.

Nigerian Leader Publicly Supports US Tests—In contrast, Prime Minister Balewa of Nigeria has publicly stated that he thought the US was justified in resuming testing because of the need to maintain a balance [Typeset Page 335] of forces. Although privately-expressed reactions along these lines were expected from some of the more moderate African leaders, sympathetic statements in public were not expected. Balewa’s statement, however, may encourage other African leaders to indicate publicly their understanding of the need to resume tests, although the general tenor of the response is still expected to be one of regret and mild criticism, if perhaps not as strong as initially expected.


US Allies Stress Soviet Responsibility—In their commentary on the US tests Greece, Turkey, and Iran put stress on Soviet responsibility for the US decision to resume testing. The Turkish government is apparently placing unusual emphasis on this theme. In addition to giving a detailed justification of the US resumption of testing, the Turkish radio went beyond its customary policy of non-provocation toward the Soviet Union by sarcastically rebutting the Soviet official reaction to US testing.

Pakistan Silent—There has been no reaction so far in Pakistan to the test resumption. Pakistan is more intimately concerned with the domestic issue of Kashmir and would not wish to antagonize the Soviet Union just prior to a UN debate on Kashmir.

[Facsimile Page 6]

Indian Reaction Moderate—The reaction in India presently appears to be much less vocal and critical than might have been expected. This moderation probably stems from two main factors. First, there is a recognition that the test series derives directly from last fall’s Soviet series. Second, the Indians have been well-prepared for the series and thus there has been no opportunity for a reaction marked by shock and haste.

Prime Minister Nehru expressed concern on April 24 in Parliament over the increasing danger posed by fallout and, more importantly, his belief that turn-about testing increases the threat of a world-encompassing war from which no one could completely escape. However, he carefully noted that the agreement to halt tests had been broken by the Soviet Union. Newspaper comment appears to have been generally moderate though far from approving, probably reflecting the Prime Minister’s subdued treatment. However, the Hindustan Times has sharply questioned the need for the tests, stating its belief that the United States enjoys superiority in nuclear weapons over the USSR, and has called attention to the location of the tests, noting that the areas to be affected by fall-out include the non-white, under-developed countries.

UAR and Iraq Condemn the Tests—Reactions from the Arab world to the resumption of US testing have varied in intensity. As expected, the earliest adverse reactions have come from the United Arab Republic [Typeset Page 336] and Iraq. The UAR delegate at the current Geneva Disarmament Conference protested the resumption, calling it a tragedy. In Cairo, newspaper editorials and radio broadcasts have condemned the tests. But the reaction is a controlled one and possibly will not be carried further than a statement from President Nasser condemning the resumption, such as he made against the USSR last September. This relatively mild UAR reaction is conditioned by the current improved state of relations with the United States and the US announcement giving advance notice of the tests. Initial unfavorable reaction in Iraq will probably be supplemented by increasingly vituperative attacks on the United States. Iraqi officials have been adamantly unreceptive to recent US attempts to explain the reasons for conducting atmospheric tests.

Other Arab States More Moderate—Reactions from other Arab nations may be expected to be unfavorable but moderate, particularly those from Jordan, which is heavily dependent upon US financial support. Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, as well as Jordan, have recently indicated sympathy for the US position on testing; they cannot afford, however, to break Arab unity by expressing positive approval or active support. Similarly, the new transitional Syrian Government would publicly express opposition to tests, although it has already indicated a favorable disposition toward the US role in the defense of the noncommunist world.

Israel Regards the Tests as Inevitable—Initial Israeli reaction, as given by the official radio, expressed anxiety about where the nuclear arms race may lead, but was not critical of the US test resumption. In fact, it regarded the US action as having been a foregone conclusion after the Soviet violation of the test moratorium.

[Facsimile Page 7]


Soviet propaganda reaction to the US resumption of atmospheric testing was prompt and voluminous. Following already established lines, Soviet propaganda pictured the US action as an aggressive act likely to exacerbate international tensions, and charged that the US tests would cause unprecedented amounts of radioactive fallout upon underdeveloped countries of the free world (nothing was said about fallout over bloc countries).

Moscow Avoids Pressing the Issue Too Far—However, Moscow has avoided overplaying the subject, and is apparently unwilling to press the issue to the point where the USSR would logically be called upon to break off the Geneva disarmament talks, or to the point where the US-Soviet discussions on Berlin and Germany would be adversely affected or the Soviet Union’s own testing would be inhibited. As predicted, the USSR did not walk out of the Geneva disarmament conference. Immediately prior to the start of the US test series, Soviet [Typeset Page 337] leaders avoided direct comment on the forthcoming tests. Khrushchev in his April 20 interview with Gardner Cowles of Look magazine and Gromyko in his April 24 Supreme Soviet speech both discussed the test-ban issue, but both avoided substantive discussion of the US resumption of atmospheric testing.

Soviet Union Will Resume Tests—Both Khrushchev and Gromyko have formally stated that the Soviet Union would respond to further Western tests in any environment with tests of its own. When the Soviet Union begins its own tests, it will probably continue to attempt to blame the US for the nuclear arms race, using the arguments that the Western powers have carried out more tests than the USSR and that Soviet testing has been in response to Western aggressiveness.

Position on Test Ban Unchanged—There is no evidence that the Soviet Union will alter its fundamental stand on the issue of a nuclear test ban. It will probably continue to argue for the adequacy of national means of detection, though it may seek to make some minor concession—perhaps adding some sort of international commission to its November 28, 1961 proposal—in order to capture neutralist opinion.

Bloc Reaction Uniform—Thus far there have been no significant divergences in bloc propaganda on the US resumption of atmospheric testing. Communist Chinese and Albanian propaganda commentary has generally followed Soviet lines, though with a greater degree of verbal asperity. In one instance, Peking used the testing issue as a lead into a general editorial criticizing the Kennedy administration in a manner which Moscow has avoided.


The limited reaction thus far in Latin America to US resumption of nuclear testing is unfavorable, as expected. However, no basic changes in the foreign policy orientation of any Latin American countries are expected, and no sizeable [Facsimile Page 8] segment of the population is expected to be turned against the United States. Moreover, the generally adverse reaction has been modified by friendly support in Mexico and Panama.

Favorable Reactions in Mexico and Panama—Mexico’s official reaction, not yet received, is expected to be adverse. However, an April 27 editorial in the newspaper Atisbos recalls that the Soviet Union broke its promises on atmospheric testing while the US kept its word and did not test during the futile talks in Geneva. Atisbos declared that the US must recover the time Russia won or “admit defeat before a struggle and leave the civilized world at the mercy of communism and Soviet imperialism.” Nevertheless, it is expected that the Mexican Communist Party will attempt to link the resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing to its planned protest of President Kennedy’s scheduled June visit.

[Typeset Page 338]

Reaction from Panama came in the form of an April 27 television commentary on the resumption of nuclear tests in which Russia was condemned for its contempt of world public opinion and its attempt to arouse fear with 50-megaton explosions. If the Russians were allowed to continue in the nuclear field alone, the Western world would perish. The US had to resume nuclear testing without delay.

Brazil Officially “Regrets” Test Resumption—The Brazil Foreign Office in an April 26 note expressed “regret and apprehension” over the policy of atmospheric testing followed by the nuclear powers despite the General Assembly’s resolution. Brazil reiterated her intention to continue to call for cessation of these tests. The Brazilian Foreign Minister authorized the Brazilian UN delegation to make a formal statement regretting the US resumption.

Cuba Initiating a Fear Campaign—Havana’s initial reaction stressed US “disrespect” for the disarmament conference now in session and US disregard of official and popular protests. Subsequently, an April 26 broadcast began a terror campaign stressing the danger of fallout over areas north and south of the equator and calling the test resumption an attempt to intensify the cold war and to frighten peoples fighting for “national liberation.” An El Mundo editorial emphasized popular fear and considered the USSR justified in testing new types of nuclear weapons if the US persists in its tests. In Latin America generally, the communist press may well attempt to link the US with the Soviet-caused fallout now beginning, even though the fallout will occur mostly in the northern hemisphere.


US Resumption Believed Inevitable—Western European reaction to US resumption of nuclear testing has fallen into the predictable pattern. There is universal concern over the biological effects of radiation and regret that tests are being undertaken. However, the fact that the Soviets first broke the moratorium and the deliberate manner in which the US decision was taken helped to convince the overwhelming majority of noncommunists that US resumption was inevitable. As a result, reaction has been limited and mild.

[Facsimile Page 9]

US Explanations Accepted—The reasons given by the US Government for renewing tests are generally accepted. Prior explanations to the various governments were particularly effective in forming opinion. Statements by President Kennedy indicating delay in making the final decision, the offer to desist if the USSR would agree to an effective control system on testing, and assurances that fall-out would be kept as small as possible also significantly influenced the reactions.

USSR Blamed—That the US Government made the decision most reluctantly was generally accepted. In fact, much sympathy was [Typeset Page 339] expressed in groups in the center and to the right with the soul-searching the President was assumed to have undergone. These groups have placed the blame for the situation squarely on the USSR. Groups on the left, however, have tended to blame the USSR and the US jointly while deploring the renewing of the nuclear arms race and expressing apprehension about the effects on the Geneva disarmament talks and the possible establishment of an effective test ban.

Demonstrations Have Had Little Impact—Demonstrations against US testing so far have been limited almost exclusively to Communist-inspired and pacifist groups and have been fewer and less emotional than was expected. Nowhere have they materially affected governmental attitudes. Western European Communist attacks on the US have not been of the anticipated severity partly because of the expectation of resumed Soviet tests.

Official and Public Reaction Nearly Identical—There is so far little difference between the official and the public attitudes expressed in the various Western European countries. Spain and Portugal were most sympathetic to the US action, while the Finnish Government stated it opposes tests regardless of which power undertakes them. Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker issued a statement confined to decrying the failure of Geneva disarmament talks to achieve a solution which would enable nuclear powers to dispense with further testing.

[Facsimile Page 10]




[Facsimile Page 11]


1. The initial U.S. atmospheric test was given heavy press play and evoked substantial editorial comment. Although disapproval, dismay, regret and concern were freely expressed, the general tenor of free world press comment was mild and was marked by a tolerant understanding of the U.S. position as well as frequent moral support for U.S. action. None of the available comment has approached the level of anger and reproachment loosed against the Soviet Union at the time it broke the test moratorium.

2. Free world press comment—with few exceptions—exhibited a complete awareness of U.S. rationale for beginning its test series and placed a large share of the onus for the current situation on the Soviet Union. The one common and overriding concern of the free world’s [Typeset Page 340] press was the specter of a never-ending nuclear arms race which could lead only to disaster for the world.

3. The Japanese press—in marked contrast to current leftist-led demonstrations—continued to take a balanced approach to the question of U.S. tests. While making it clear that U.S. testing could never be condoned, comment emphasized that it was the Soviet Union which broke the test moratorium and has refused to accept international inspection. In Japan the primary fear was that an uncontrolled nuclear arms race would develop as a result of continued testing by either the U.S. or the Soviet Union. Comment from Nationalist China, South Korea, and the Philippines supported the U.S. decision.

4. Western European press comment generally expressed regret over the U.S. test but was clearly sympathetic with the U.S. view of its need for further tests and openly critical of the Soviet Union for its previous tests which broke the moratorium. Fear of a nuclear arms race was prevalent and particularly strong in Sweden.

5. From the Near East the limited comment available indicates that the U.S. was supported by the press in NATO/CENTO countries, while the Arab press was mildly critical of U.S. action. Published statements of leaders in India and Ceylon suggest that U.S. tests were “deplored,” but no severe criticism of the U.S. was included in these releases.

6. African press comment is mixed. There is a tendency to denounce U.S. testing within the context of disapproval of all nuclear testing. A few comments acknowledge some justification for U.S. action without giving up a strong opposition to all testing.

7. Skimpy comment from the Latin American press takes the line that U.S. testing is unfortunate but President Kennedy had no choice after the Soviets tested.

[Facsimile Page 12]


The great majority of Western European media accepted the current nuclear tests by the US as an “unavoidable necessity” in order to safeguard its strategic and security interests. Moreover, the US was generally thought to have done all it could to avoid a resumption of tests, and failing this, to keep them below the danger-point of fall-out. Conversely, the leadership of the Soviet Union rather than that of the US was held responsible for the current series as well as for the new nuclear armaments race that may follow. Public opinion appears to be conditioned not only to the present US testing but also to a subsequent Soviet series of nuclear tests. Whatever concern was expressed centered on the period following the anticipated two rounds of testing and vented itself in suggestions for a new moratorium or a summit meeting. Criticism of the US action was confined to several of the leading socialist papers and, in a few instances, to the independent press.

[Typeset Page 341]

The reason most often advanced in support of the US decision to test was that the Administration had “to restore the balance of power” and provide nuclear equality. Some papers went so far as to suggest that it would have been “irresponsible if the leading power of the West had not taken measures” to ensure this equality, in the absence of any controlled test ban agreement. The US decision was widely interpreted as necessary “to meet the military threat from Communism on any level anywhere in the world.”

Many media concurred that the President had done everything in his power to delay the tests and that the US and UK had gone as far as possible in narrowing the differences precluding an agreement at Geneva. Papers also pointed out that the US had given plenty of advanced warning and made its preparations “in complete openness.” In several instances the public was reminded that the Americans had “announced that virtually no radioactive fall-out will result from their tests.”

While the US was thus largely exonerated, the USSR incurred criticism on three counts. Firstly, the unilateral and sudden break of the moratorium by the Soviets last fall was considered as having set in motion a chain reaction. The atomic blasts in the Pacific were considered “a logical consequence of the Soviet explosions in Siberia.” Secondly, the Soviets were blamed for their intransigence at the Geneva conference. Thirdly, their pretensions to be the champions of disarmament were in reality only a pretext to hold on to their advantages in nuclear armament and deprive other countries of opportunities for similar development.

[Facsimile Page 13]

Some dissent to this prevailing view was expressed in major Socialist papers. The latter were inclined to argue that the reasons advanced by the US were not sufficient to justify a resumption of testing. The blame for the rotation of the “vicious circle” was laid equally to the US and the USSR and “their pretenses of assuring their security.” In a few instances the US was charged with having made “unnecessary demands” in the question of international control of tests so that it could go on testing once an impasse had been reached at Geneva. At least one major non-Socialist paper argued that the plan of the eight neutrals could have been accepted by both super-powers and made the renewal of tests unnecessary.

Although support or at least acceptance of the US decision was widespread, there was a growing anxiety as to ultimate consequences of a renewed nuclear arms race. Concern was also registered as to the immediate consequences of US test resumption on negotiations in other critical areas such as Berlin where the situation seemed encouraging. Recommendations ranged from a new moratorium immediately after “Americans and Soviets have done with the series of tests” to the call [Typeset Page 342] for a summit meeting. Media took some hope for such possibilities from the fact that US-Soviet contacts on issues other than nuclear testing had not been broken.

[Facsimile Page 14]


Unavoidable Necessity

The Times, London, conservative

“Whether the next round of nuclear tests is followed by a test ban or by another phase of nuclear stalemate, the United States is giving an unmistakable lead to its Western allies in making ready to meet the military threat from communism at any level anywhere in the world.”

Der Tag, Berlin, pro-government

“It would be irresponsible if the leading Western power would not have taken measures to insure nuclear equality, in the absence of any controlled test ban agreement.”

Goeteborg Handels och Sjoefarts Tidningen, Goeteborg, conservative

“The Soviet Union has. . . left the Western Powers with no choice but to try to keep pace with the Russians.”

Nouvelle Gazette, Charleroi, liberal

“The President could not permit the Soviets to profit from their experiments last fall, and he had to prevent them from basking in a dangerous nuclear superiority complex, which could have prompted them to commit a folly condemning all of humanity.”

Differences Between US and USSR Tests

Gazzetta del Popolo, Turin, independent

“We deprecate US explosions as we deprecated the Soviet explosions but we would not be honest if we were to confuse the different responsibilities of the respective decisions.”

Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki, independent

“Preparations for the Novaya Zemlya detonations were made in complete secrecy, while the three atomic powers were negotiating on a test ban agreement and after they had agreed on a suspension of tests for the duration. . . . The United States, again, has made its preparations over several months in complete openness and has also made public the conditions under which it will cancel the tests. . .”

[Facsimile Page 15]

Daily Telegraph, London, conservative

“No decision could have been made with greater reluctance or been preceded by so much searching debate, and President Kennedy would be the last to ignore the impact on world opinion.”

[Typeset Page 343]

Soviet Responsibility

Morgunbladit, Reykjavik, conservative

“By violation of the three year nuclear test moratorium last fall, the Russians deliberately started a new nuclear testing race.”

Corriere della Sera, Milan, independent-conservative

“Public opinion of the non-communist world will realize that responsibility for the rupture of the nuclear truce falls on the USSR which first resumed tests last fall.”

Daily Telegraph, London, conservative

“The Americans insisted on an extremely small measure of international control as the basic condition of a ban. But Khrushchev refused to accept any form of international inspection even by neutrals. . . . But if the present clash is not to lead to a further acceleration of the arms race it is imperative to draw a line on nuclear testing.”

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich, left-center

“There is much at stake, and the US does not again intend to be exposed to the danger of being hindered in its weapons development by an uncontrolled moratorium. Washington has a well-founded fear that the Soviets would not hesitate to violate a second moratorium to gain a nuclear advantage—with all the dangers to peace that this would entail.”

Criticism of US

Avanti, Milan, socialist

“The arguments put forward first by the USSR and now by the US are not convincing.”

[Facsimile Page 16]

Le Peuple, Brussels, socialist

“Easing of tension is indivisible, and one cannot negotiate on the one hand and brandish H-bombs on the other. The effect upon the Geneva disarmament conference also threatens to be deplorable. Even more disastrous will be the effect upon the non-aligned nations.”

Arbeiter Zeitung, Vienna, pro-socialist

“The mediation attempts of the neutrals have made it clear that America is creating conditions at least concerning the control of atmospheric nuclear tests which are not really indispensable and which evidently aim at Soviet rejection. It is apparent: America wants to carry out the test series in order to overcome the advantage which the Soviet Union achieved through its fall megatest series.”


Journal de Charleroi, socialist

“The only reasonable solution lies in a summit meeting which could produce a new peaceful international climate.”

[Typeset Page 344]

Le Monde, Paris, independent

“In all capital cities, conviction is above all expressed that a quest for a nuclear test ban agreement is more necessary than ever, and hope that such agreement will become easier once Americans and Soviets have done with the series of tests which both have begun.”

Daily Telegraph, London, conservative

“For the moment President Kennedy has taken the initiative and it would be well if he made it clear once again that these tests were meant not only to catch up with Russia, but to come to terms with it.”

[Facsimile Page 17]


Initial reaction from the Far East to U.S. resumption of atmospheric testing, while indicating widespread fear that renewed Soviet testing will follow, shows a large measure of support of the U.S. The action is generally recognized as a painful necessity imposed by U.S. responsibilities to the free world to maintain a nuclear capability at least on par with the Soviets. The Philippine press notes that the greatest hazard to be reckoned with is Soviet superiority in nuclear weaponry and not the immediate hazard of nuclear fallout. The resumption of testing by the U.S. was generally accepted as inevitable; however, rather widespread optimism was observed that the conclusion of the series could witness an earnest attempt by both sides to reach agreement on a permament ban on testing. On the dissenting side, a Reuters release from Singapore quotes an official Singapore Government statement noting: “Non-nuclear countries like us feel it is all pointless, both in terms of insuring better relations between the two major powers and from the point of view of resuming these tests.”

Heavy Japanese media reaction initially has displayed a balanced approach to the U.S. tests, assessing carefully both the U.S. test rationale and the Soviet role in the U.S. test resumption. Editorialists generally have agreed that President Kennedy sincerely desired to avoid testing and agreed to do so only because he considered it a military necessity. At the same time they have tended to agree that a large share of the responsibility for the U.S. resumption lies with the Soviet Union because of the latter’s failure to accept a minimum of international inspection. The press has made clear, however, that it cannot condone the U.S. tests. The unique Japanese revulsion against all forms of testing, the fears of a nuclear arms spiral, and the doubt that the tests really are needed for free world security, have combined to prevent any possible condonement of the U.S. tests.

[Facsimile Page 18]



Philippines Herald, Independent, Manila, April 26:

In the Western world, there is actually greater approbation than disapproval of the U.S. tests. The U.S. decision to resume nuclear testing [Typeset Page 345] was made reluctantly and only after every effort had failed to melt Russia’s obduracy on the matter of concluding a foolproof test ban treaty with the West. It is now, in fact, generally believed that Russia’s refusal to agree to international inspection is due to its desire to resume its own nuclear tests and to its determination to maintain secrecy of behind-the-Iron-Curtain military operations and activities.

That protest should continue rising around the world is only too understandable. The threat from radioactive fallout is always present and could have, for certain areas, if not for the entire world, the gravest implications, indeed. But against this threat must be reckoned the much greater threat to all mankind, should Russia be permitted to keep its gains and add up on its advantages in the nuclear weapons race.

Manila Times editorial, Manila, April 27:

The Soviets had tried, after completing their own tests last year with the explosion of a 50 plus megaton bomb, to bring world public opinion to bear on the Americans to stop them from following suit. The Soviet propaganda strategy, however, failed to achieve the desired effect even in the uncommitted countries, while America’s allies in the cold war were more inclined to approve than otherwise.

But world public opinion may, without prodding from any quarter, yet be mobilized against nuclear testing, whether by the U.S. or the Soviet Union or any other nuclear power. The hope is that after the U.S., which is merely replied in kind to the Soviet experiments, has completed its current series, the Russians may decide to meet the West halfway on a workable disarmament plan and pave the way to an agreement to end all nuclear testing.

[Facsimile Page 19]


Straits Times editorial, Kuala Lumpur, April 26:

Mr. Kennedy has had the choice of letting the Russians secure a nuclear lead, or bringing down upon himself the obloquy of a world which failed to prevent the Russian tests and failed to secure a test ban agreement. Mr. Kennedy in fact is given no choice.

When the U.S. and expected Russian counter series are over there may be an opportunity . . . . of returning once more to the problem of a permanent ban. If by midyear Russian and American scientists and defense chiefs reach some sort of finality in their testing there will be a chance worth seizing.


Singapore Government statement, April 26:

We regret very much that the United States should have resumed testing because it will only start a chain reaction of tests on both sides. . . . Nonnuclear countries like us feel it is all pointless, both in terms of insuring better relations between the two major powers and from the point of view of resuming these tests.

Nanyang Siang Pao editorial, Singapore, April 27:

American authorities have indicated they are prepared to listen to a barrage of attacks from the Eastern camp while awaiting whatever [Typeset Page 346] criticism that may come from neutralist nations. But no matter what justification the U.S. may advance for resumption of its atmospheric tests, the Soviet Union will certainly have stronger reasons to conduct a series of similar tests.

. . . . In all fairness, one might say that while the U.S. atmospheric tests resumed at risk of alienating world sympathies, it is difficult to apportion blame on anyone when it is considered that the U.S. action was provoked deliberately by the Soviet Union and that Moscow is likely to do the same thing.

[Facsimile Page 20]


Asahi, neutral, Tokyo, April 26:

Our appeal is about to be disregarded. This is extremely regrettable. It is not that we have forgotten about the Soviet’s sneak blow last fall, and we are aware that the U.S. was saying until the very last moment that it would not test if the Soviets would accept the principle of international inspection and conclude a nuclear test ban agreement. We also know that Gromyko’s address immediately before Kennedy’s order to resume testing flatly rejected the idea of progressive zonal inspection to which great hopes were attached by many nations. We are aware of all these facts and yet we cannot bring ourselves to agree with the current decision to resume tests.

The main objection is that, regardless of what country carries them out, the tests themselves are evil. They pose issues transcending the question of whether they violate the principle of the freedom of the seas or the effects on the fishing industry.

It is not impossible that the U.S.S.R. might change its attitude at the last minute and agree to the principles of international inspection. The U.S. resumption poses a grave threat to the peace of the masses of the world. It will mean immeasurable political and moral loss for the U.S. Is it not the necessity to secure more firmly the moral strength that the U.S. enjoyed since the U.S.S.R.’s sudden resumption last fall.

Mainichi, neutral, Tokyo, April 26:

The U.S. finally decided to resume testing and this is most regrettable. This will put an end to the test ban negotiations now going on, and the Soviets will resume their own tests, and the U.S. will be made an object of world accusations for the time being. . . . Why was the decision made, and why has world opinion been so powerless in stopping the U.S. from resuming testing? Kennedy’s March 2 address made it clear that the present test were decided upon out of military considerations.

[Facsimile Page 21]

Another reason may be found in the nature of world opinion itself. The U.S. Government leaders seem to think that world public opinion demanding the halt to the tests has not been truly fair. . . . When the Soviets suddenly resumed testing and threatened the world with a 100-megaton bomb, neutral nations at Belgrade and at the U.N. showed only lukewarm reactions without coming up with effective conclusions. As a consequence their position as the guardian of world conscience was greatly weakened. . . . We think that the only way to stop this [Typeset Page 347] vicious circle of nuclear testing is for the Soviets to accept the principle of international inspection to which it had once agreed.

Yomiuri, neutral, Tokyo, April 26:

The excuse used by the U.S. and the U.K. [to resume testing] is that the U.S.S.R. cannot be trusted, and they say that the U.S.S.R. cannot be trusted because it broke the moratorium last fall. But the Soviets did not conclude a gentlemen’s agreement; it was a unilateral declaration and breaking on its part. So this fact alone is a little weak as the greatest reason for resumption. Of course, the U.S.S.R.’s breach is outrageous and it must shoulder moral responsibilities, but why is it necessary for the U.S. to imitate the Soviet Union and to stand on the same moral level with the Soviet Union. It serves only to degrade the U.S.’s position in trust. . . . It appears that the world must face a limitless vicious circle.

[Facsimile Page 22]


Extremely skimpy reaction so far to U.S. resumption of nuclear testing has found support for the U.S. in the NATO/CENTO countries and was mildly condemnatory of the U.S. in the Arab states and South Asia. Prospects for the Geneva talks were seen to be grim.


NATO/CENTO countries laid full blame on the Soviets for their earlier resumption. Egyptian media pointed out that while each camp was blaming the other, both were equally to blame. Radio Israel said the U.S. was no more to blame than the Soviets.


The USSR was generally expected to resume testing now. The climate at Geneva was expected to deteriorate and prospects for overcoming differences were believed to have dropped very low. World tension was thought to have increased.

Quotations noted:

Al-Akhbar (Cairo): “Each of the two camps is accusing the other of hating peace and preparing for war. Both are emphasizing in passionate words their own love for peace; but the world is fed up with words . . . and seeks. . .some sincere action for the sake of peace.”

Le Progres Egyptien (Cairo): “Whatever the motives which inspired Washington’s decision to undertake its series of tests and whatever the justifications, this American decision cannot facilitate an agreement at Geneva. The climate will now deteriorate rapidly, especially if Moscow puts its threat into effect and tries armaments of a new kind.”

Baghdad Radio (quoting Communist Al-Bilad of Baghdad): “The nuclear tests are no less dangerous to us than to other peoples of the [Typeset Page 348] world. . . . The policies of other liberated states will be dealt a blow as a result of the United States’ nuclear tests.”

Wahdah (Damascus): “What is the difference with respect to human values between 1962 A.D. and 1962 B.C. if this fighting continues between states?”

[Facsimile Page 23]

Jerusalem Radio (Israel): “When the Soviet Union resumed its nuclear tests last September, there was no room for doubt that the United States would be compelled to follow suit. The Soviet Union resumed its tests while nuclear test ban talks were in progress in Geneva. The United States did the same.”

Kathimerini (Athens): “The two Western powers (US and UK), after resumption by USSR of A-testing last September, cannot possibly hold to the status of 1958 and respect a tacit agreement. Because they can no longer have confidence in the Soviet Union. Any superiority in A-tests, especially in the field of missiles, could overthrow the nuclear balance now existing between East and West.”

Ankara Domestic Service: “Moscow’s reaction to the resumption of tests has been as strong as it is unjustified. . . (Moscow) has completely forgotten that last September Soviet Russia held a series of tests while negotiations were going on.”

Tehran Domestic Service: “The new American tests in the earth’s atmosphere are of great importance from a military point of view because they will prove US superiority over Russia.”

Amrita Bazar Patrika (Calcutta): “It is more than likely that the first U.S. explosion on Christmas Island will signalize the disbanding of the Geneva Conference.”

Rozana Hind (Calcutta): “If the U.S. test explosions are made, the Soviet Union will surely follow suit. This will lead to a new nuclear test race which will sabotage the Geneva Conference and endanger the health of the people.”

[Facsimile Page 24]


Limited available African comment is mixed. While there is denunciation of the U.S. resumption, there is also some restrained approval coupled with regret for the necessity of the tests.

In North Africa, Moroccan comment has linked French nuclear testing in the Sahara with the Russian and American resumed testing, and charged that the new United States testing has opened the door for an “unrestrained” atomic race. The Provisional Algerian Government’s press service has reported that U.S. tests have been condemned by all “peace-loving” nations.

In West Africa, Nigerian Prime Minister Balewa said the United States has the “backing of my government,” in its renewed testing. He [Typeset Page 349] argued at a news conference that after Russian testing no one had a moral right to condemn tests by the United States which sought only to maintain the balance of power essential to preserve peace. He reiterated, however, his government’s disapproval of testing in general, viewing tests as, “a bad thing for the whole world.”

Two days before the tests began, Ghanaian media concentrated on a denunciation of all testing. The opposition Ashanti Pioneer, however, has blamed the USSR for the U.S. step.

Constant news and editorial coverage in Ethiopia held out hope for a test ban until shortly before testing by the United States was resumed, repeating the demand of Ethiopian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ato Ketem Yifru that Ethiopia “. . . wants no nuclear tests anywhere.”

[Facsimile Page 25]



Al Alam (pro-government daily):

“The resumption of testing reopens the door to the East and West to display all their bombs in an unrestrained race of the atom for war uses instead of peaceful ones. Whatever may be the political factors in the United States which dictate this course, such experiments damage world peace.

“The whole world will react with the same indignation it showed several months ago over the Soviet tests.”

Moroccan Ambassador to the United States;

“Quoted in the Washington Post (April 26) as saying that the United States tests resulted from a “vicious circle” started by French tests in the Sahara in 1959. He said the Russians had used this as an argument for their resumed tests and the American tests were a, “logical development.”


Algeria Presse Service (published by the Ministry of Information of the Provisional Algerian Government):

The bulletin said (April 26) that the resumption of nuclear tests by the United States, “has been violently condemned by all peace-loving nations.”


Nigerian Prime Minister at an April 26 press conference:

The United States test resumption “has the backing of my government.”

“The balance of power between East and West must be kept if there must be peace. After Russia acted, nobody had a moral right to [Typeset Page 350] prevent America from carrying out tests. This, of course, does not change the attitude of my government to nuclear testing generally. We are opposed to it because it is a bad thing for the whole world.”


The Ethiopian Herald (official government daily) April 20:

“Given the moderating influence of the uncommitted world, however, a hybrid form of a test ban plan, accommodating the views of all on this vital matter, is always possible.”


The Ashanti Pioneer (independent but censored) April 25:

“Where lies the blame (for testing today)? If Russia had agreed to the terms of open inspection of arms internationally, so that no secrecy could prevail, if the Russians sincerely welcomed disarmament, that was the safest ground they could have trod and we plead for a second thought of the plan.” The paper added that no plan was as fair and just as that of the United States offered at Geneva.

[Facsimile Page 26]

Radio Acera April 23:

(In a long editorial on the Bertrand Russell proposal for neutral ships to enter the test area), “History will mark out the efforts of men of good will to restore sanity in a world virtually gone lunatic and quench the nuclear fire which threaten to raze our universe to the ground.”

Ghanaian Times (government) April 23:

“The world is in danger of destroying its own foundation and burying itself under the debris of its shattered structure.”

[Facsimile Page 27]


Latin American reactions have been slow, mild and rather understanding, with the exception of Cuba. Regretting that the nuclear race is on again, two leading dailies (Estado de São Paulo and El Comercio) recalled that it was the Soviet Union who broke the moratorium, leaving President Kennedy no alternative. A statement from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry simply expressed disapproval of all nuclear tests. The Cuban agency Prensa Latina is following the Soviet line.

BRAZIL: The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on April 25 recalling that it had “expressed the regret and apprehension of the Government of Brazil” when “the Soviet Union carried out thermonuclear tests last October, and when President Kennedy on March 3 announced that the United States intended to resume tests of the same type in the near future.” The note stated that “Brazil receives with disappointment the report of the first explosion in the new series of US thermonuclear tests” and that “Brazil will not cease to call for prompt suspension of these tests.”

[Typeset Page 351]

O Estado de São Paulo, dean of the Brazilian press and the country’s most influential daily, said on April 26: “The tests would not have been resumed if the USSR had listened to the appeals of the West—and also of the really non-committed neutrals—to accept the basic principle of inspection. . . . Yesterday’s explosion in the skies of Christmas Island and all following tests are amply justified by the explosions of last September and October in Nova Zemblja, when the Soviets surprised and defied the world, breaking the so-called nuclear moratorium overnight. At least the North-Americans are not violating anything.”

PERU: El Comercio, one of the country’s largest and most influential dailies, said on April 25: “The Soviet Union with its powerful explosions of last year tried to gain the upper hand in this field. Russia has forced the United States to continue the dangerous race.”

CUBA: Castro’s news agency, Prensa Latina, said on April 26: “. . . The device was dropped from a plane of the so-called Strategic Air Command. This mode of experimenting is similar to the method used for the first and only time in world history, in August 1945, during the administration of Harry S. Truman, when atomic bombs were unleashed on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—considered to be non-strategic objectives—causing the deaths of tens of thousands of persons.”

  1. World reaction to U.S. resumption of nuclear atmospheric tests. No classification marking. An attached memorandum from Hilsman to Rusk provides an abstract and specific country reactions. Secret. Also attached is an April 27 paper describing the initial Free World press reaction. Official Use Only. 27 pp. Department of State, Central Files, 711.5611/4–2762.