37. Supnu 1741 from Geneva, August 171
Re Nusup 1387. [Facsimile Page 1] US Del is, of course, most anxious that West be in strongest feasible position during UN GA debate on test ban and, as our recent telegrams have indicated (Supnu 1722 and 1655), we are fully aware that possible test resumption loophole involved in threshold-plus-moratorium arrangement gives Soviets their best line of attack against Western proposals. Therefore we have always recognized that eventual move to undercut Soviet attack along this line deserves consideration.
Even apart from pros and cons of any such step, however, immediate problem seems two-fold: first, whether return of Ambassador Dean to Geneva would be best occasion for moving away from threshold, and second, whether in any case, formula indicated reftel would be most satisfactory approach.
Re timing, it is still our strong feeling that present over-all Western position is quite strong, that Soviets are also somewhat vulnerable for having first suggested moratorium, and that small moves on removal of administrator, appointment of neutrals to inspection teams, and spelling out of consultation procedures at end of moratorium will all gain considerable world attention as further evidence of Western flexibility, ingenuity and sincere desire to bring about successful conclusion of talks. To bring forward proposal outlined reftel would only [Facsimile Page 2] mean reopening of possibly detailed negotiations with SovDel on one [Typeset Page 128] issue at time when Soviets have made it clear they are not prepared for any serious negotiations, and in way which could distract focus away from cardinal issue like troika rpt troika and towards Soviet allegations that West seeks to use excessively broad controls for espionage.
We believe that, if move is made at all, it could best be done in connection with UN GA. There could either be direct Western offer, in initial speech opening debate on this subject, to consider ways of achieving comprehensive treaty immediately; or there could perhaps be indication of US willingness to accept some sort of compromise plan worked out by third powers which might involve, among other things, Soviet abandonment of troika and Western elimination of threshold. Member of SovDel indicated informally several weeks ago that even if West dropped threshold, Soviets would not give way on other demands, and if USSR held to this position, then Western move to comprehensive treaty could provide GA with dramatic proof of Western reasonableness and desire for treaty against Soviet obduracy.
Re substance, we feel that objective of any new move on threshold, whether now or later, would be essentially to remove basis for Soviet attack on Western position on grounds which would undoubtedly have substantial appeal to much of world public. In this light, there would seem to be little point for us to exchange one disadvantageous position for another. Although our present weakness derives from moratorium problem we have strong case to counter Soviet espionage charges that control system set forth in Western draft treaty is fundamentally same collection of limited measures as recommended by 1958 experts and accepted by SovGovt. To move along lines suggested reftel would indeed deprive Soviets of charge that West is seeking loophole for test resumption, but would make possible new accusations re Western espionage intentions.[Facsimile Page 3]
Although Soviet scientists in May 1960 were contemplating seismic research improvement program in USSR, they did not rpt not even then specifically acknowledge inadequacies of Geneva system, and entire record of meetings of TWG.2 rpt TWG.2 shows lengths to which they went to defend complete adequacy for all types of underground tests of control recommended in 1958. This is line SovGovt. has also steadfastly maintained, and we would anticipate difficulty in gaining much understanding or sympathy in GA for our explanations of technical inadequacies of Geneva system to justify demands for expanded controls in face of Soviet citation of US Govt. acceptance of Geneva report on August 22, 1958.
Foregoing line of reasoning would indicate that whenever US might make offer to abandon threshold, proposal should be relatively free of strings in order to remove vulnerability in present US position without [Typeset Page 129] creating new one. This would not, of course, exclude effort to obtain defeasance provision focussed on whether undergrown control capabilities live up to 1958 assessment. Such proposal could either be made when offer to drop threshold announced or, if threshold is to be retained, offer could follow lines suggested penultimate paragraph reftel.[Facsimile Page 4]
When and if proposal made to end threshold, we would also not exclude very generalized reference to relationship of control to threshold tied to observation that we might wish to suggest certain possible technical changes in system in USSR, such as relocation of some control posts, which would increase confidence in effectiveness of system at outset under comprehensive treaty, even prior to implementation of research program. To sum up USDel reaction, we believe:
1. Present position is strong enough to stand on prior to GA.
2. Small moves contemplated for when Ambassador Dean returns will be adequate for moment in gaining favorable world attention to Western approach.
3. Postponement of move on threshold until GA debate on test ban will enhance chances of obtaining major quid pro quo for Western move or, alternatively, of demonstrating negative nature of Soviet position even more dramatically.
4. Impact of move away from threshold will be substantially reduced or lost if it is linked to demand for expansion of control system.
- U.S. posture on threshold-plus-moratorium arrangement. Secret. 4 pp. Department of State, Central Files, 397.5611–GE/8–1761.↩