220. Memorandum for the Record, August 211

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  • Events Leading up to the Harriman Moscow Mission

1. The first public word that negotiations were to be undertaken in Moscow on the test ban issue was given by the President in his 10 June American University speech. Following a paragraph in the speech in which he stressed the need to continue seeking agreement on a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests, the President announced that he, Prime Minister Macmillan and Chairman Khrushchev had agreed that high level discussions would begin shortly in Moscow looking toward early agreement on a comprehensive test ban.

(The President also announced that the United States did not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other States did not do so. He said such a declaration was no substitute for a formal binding treaty; he hoped it would help achieve one.)

(Neither of the decisions was widely known around the government prior to the speech. The decision to negotiate evidently came as a result of the President’s private exchanges with Khrushchev and Macmillan; the moratorium statement was made in part because of our belief that the Soviets were going to initiate another atmospheric series in the near future while we would not be ready until the summer of 1964.)

2. By 13 June it had been decided that Harriman would be the US negotiator. (There had been some thought of sending McCloy.) Further, by that date a Sub-Principals Group had been established under the Committee of Principals to discuss arms control problems that the President could discuss on his trip to Europe later in the month, and Harriman could discuss in Moscow. General Wheeler represented the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Sub-Principals Group meeting of 13 June. Other individuals present included Mr. Foster, ACDA; Ambassador Thompson; Dr. Wiesner; Mr. Nitze; Mr. Kaysen; [Facsimile Page 2] Mr. Harriman; Mr. Fisher; and Mr. McGeorge Bundy. According to an informal memorandum of record of the meeting, the following items were considered as principal negotiating material for Moscow:

a. A comprehensive test ban.

b. A non-diffusion agreement.

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c. A partial nuclear test ban agreement.

d. A non-aggression pact.

3. Of these alternatives, the DOD view was that we should push the non-diffusion pact, with inducements and sanctions. (Barber of ISA was strong for this idea as a vehicle to get the government off the comprehensive test ban wicket; the Stennis Committee had supported the JCS objections to it.) The non-diffusion proposal was thus the one discussed in greatest length at the meeting.

4. It was Ambassador Thompson who brought up the partial test ban. He, along with Secretary Rusk, had evidently talked to Ambassador Dobrynin about it. They had told him the US was ahead in tactical nuclear weapons; the Soviets could catch up by by accepting an atmospheric treaty which would help to stop Nth countries from getting nuclear weapons. We could have a tacit understanding that the US would not go ahead with underground tests unless we decided the Soviets had overdone theirs. (If we did say this to the Soviets—and I have one MR which reads that Thompson had already said it, and another which states we could say it—it is most significant, and could explain pressures to go slow on underground testing: It could also explain any Soviet reluctance to move to the next step. They must view the safeguards problem as a low blow.)

5. In the 13 June meeting, Ambassador Harriman was not optimistic about the coming exercise in Moscow. In the discussion on the non-diffusion pact, he said that we should not make the trip if we expected the Soviets to turn us down or, alternatively, we should look at the trip as a propaganda exercise. He also commented that of these other issues he had always considered the test ban “merely a star on the stage of events.” Other people at the meeting [Facsimile Page 3] were even more pessimistic about the value of a partial text ban, believing that it would have no real effect on non-diffusion, its major objective.

6. In a conversation with Spaak on about 14 June, Khrushchev mentioned the possibility of reaching some agreement on a partial nuclear test ban. Spaak reported this both to the US and to NAC.

7. On 2 July in his East Berlin speech Khrushchev made an offer for a limited test ban in these terms:

“Carefully analyzing the situation, the Soviet Government, prompted by high responsibility for the destinies of the peoples, declares that since the Western powers obstruct the conclusion of an agreement banning all nuclear tests, the Soviet Government expresses its willingness to conclude an agreement banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water.”

“We have made this proposal before, but the Western powers frustrated an agreement by advancing supplementary conditions that envisaged large-scale inspection of our territory.”

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8. It was after receipt of the Khrushchev public offer in East Berlin, which Khrushchev linked ambiguously to the non-aggression pact, that the Harriman mission took on added significance; the partial test ban issue got considerably more serious attention.

  1. “Events Leading up to the Harriman Moscow Mission.” Top Secret. 3 pp. National Defense University, Taylor Papers, WYS Chron, April–September, 1963.