145. Memorandum from Gen. Decker to McNamara, September 101

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  • Review of US Disarmament Policy During the Recess in the Geneva Conference (U)

1. The US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) plans a re-examination of US positions on disarmament matters during the recess in the Geneva Conference, 8 September to 12 November 1962. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are concerned that this review may be oriented more toward developing more negotiable and politically expedient proposals than toward a comprehensive reassessment and clarification of US disarmament policy which would strengthen the US position at Geneva.

2. a. This concern of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is based primarily on a trend of the past two years which, if allowed to continue without [Typeset Page 382] thorough consideration of possible military implications, could place the United States in a highly disadvantageous situation. While the Soviet position on disarmament has remained practically unchanged since June 1960, the US position has been in a constant state of evolution, generally moving towards accommodation of Soviet views. This trend is outlined in Appendix A.

b. By contrast, the Soviet positions clearly reflect an effort to gain military superiority over the United States.

c. Although the test ban treaties, as tabled, do not fully reflect the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and mark a considerable retreat from the previous US position of 13 April 1961, the United States has moved in Geneva to convince conference participants that the United States has tabled a final position and that pressures for further accommodation should be directed to the Soviets. The Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that a firm stand should also be taken with respect to general disarmament.

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d. As a concomitant to the foregoing, all agencies of the Department of Defense should endeavor to resolve their differences of view in order to arrive at strong, cohesive positions from which to urge and vigorously to defend assumption by the United States of a firm stand in disarmament negotiations. In this connection, there have been noted several divergencies in regard to disarmament issues. Examples of these divergencies are included in Appendix B. This recapitulation has been made only for the purpose of portraying a situation which has tended to lessen the impact of military considerations on disarmament policy.

3. Another major reason for concern is the tendency on the part of ACDA to develop and put forth negotiating positions concerning US disarmament measures before the basic proposals have been thoroughly evaluated and correlated. On occasion, the United States has become virtually committed to a proposal before its feasibility or advisability could be determined (e.g., new test ban treaties based on “Technical Breakthroughs” and progressive zonal inspection concept) or before its relationship to the over-all US position could be fully considered.

4. The Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that the recess can be advantageously employed by re-examining US positions on disarmament matters. However, they believe that this review should have as its primary objective a comprehensive reassessment and clarification of US disarmament policy, followed by a strengthening of arguments therefor. They further believe that “accommodations” or concessions to the Soviets are neither necessary nor desirable and will only convince neutrals and the USSR that, if they goad and wait, the United States gradually will give in. Also, existing doubts will be confirmed in other nations [Typeset Page 383] as to the validity and sincerity of the original US positions and as to the US determination to hold its position in the face of Soviet intransigence.

5. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend:

a. That the Secretary of Defense urge the Secretary of State and the Director, ACDA, to devote the main effort within the US Government during the recess toward comprehensive reassessment of US policy, clarification of just what each US disarmament measure is intended to encompass, and development of solid arguments in support of US agreed positions.

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b. That proposals, such as listed in Appendix A, intended to facilitate negotiations be resisted unless the proposals clearly do not have adverse implications for the military security of the United States.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

G.H. Decker
Acting Chairman
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. JCS views on review of U.S. disarmament policy during the Geneva Conference recess. Secret. 3 pp. National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Disarmament 3, 1962.