88. Memorandum from Wiesner to President Kennedy, March 61
1. The attached memorandum presents the recommendations of the ACDA as to the U.S. position at the forthcoming Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Conference. The paper has not been reviewed by the Committee of Principals and does not reflect the consensus of the meeting of the Committee of Principals on 2 March on the linkage of strategic and conventional armaments. The paper is not fully responsive to the understanding reached in your meeting with Messrs. Foster and Fisher on 27 February, the approved minutes of which are attached.
2. The paper discusses a large number of problems related to our position at the Conference; however, the basic policy issues involved appear to be the following:
a) Should we propose a specific, detailed proposal for at least the first stages of General and Complete Disarmament at the beginning of the Conference? Although it is our stated policy to seek General and Complete Disarmament as a goal and to present specific proposals at the forthcoming Conference, the leadership of the ACDA appears to have serious reservations about this policy and has therefore had difficulty in coming to grips with concrete proposals in this field. A restatement within government of our policy on this fundamental point appears desirable.
b) Should our plan link strategic and conventional armaments, or should strategic armaments be treated separately? By definition strategic and conventional armaments are linked in any plan for General and Complete Disarmament. Although the ACDA paper does not make a clear cut recommendation on this point, the ACDA [Facsimile Page 2] (as opposed to the majority of the Committee of Principals) apparently believes that our specific proposal should deal only with strategic vehicles. While it could be argued that the linkage would occur in a second or subsequent stage, these stages are not defined by the ACDA paper. The ACDA’s basic argument is that by separating out strategic vehicles, we would freeze our strategic advantage while permitting ourselves and our allies to build up our conventional armaments in order to overcome our disadvantage in this area. Aside from the question as to whether this could be accepted as part of a GCD plan, this proposal raises the serious [Typeset Page 265] security question as to whether we should reduce our strategic forces without a parallel reduction in the conventional forces in which the Soviets have an advantage. It is by no means clear that we or our allies would in fact make a major effort to build up our conventional forces in the environment of a successful disarmament treaty. From the practical standpoint, linkage avoids the difficult problem of defining the dividing line between strategic and tactical vehicles and would simplify the inspection problem since there would not be large categories of armaments permitted outside of the agreement.
c) Should our plan include a cut-off in the production of armaments or should production be permitted within quotas? Again, by definition, a cut-off in the production of armaments is central to any plan for GCD. Although the ACDA paper does not make a clear recommendation on this point, the ACDA appears to believe that continued production is desirable. Production under quotas would substitute a quality race for a quantity race. The ACDA paper argues that this would have the advantage of permitting us to improve the quality and surviveability of our strategic systems. Although it is not stated in the paper, the ACDA is also very concerned about the economic impact of a production cut-off. Aside from the obvious problem of explaining the concept of continued large scale military production as part of a GCD plan, there is a serious question as to whether a quality race is a desirable objective of disarmament and whether our security would not be better served by freezing armaments at their present level of sophistication. Inspection for undeclared production would be simplified considerably if the production of all armaments were prohibited as opposed to being continued at a relatively high level since any production would constitute a violation.[Facsimile Page 3]
d) Should our plan contain specific inspection provisions? Although the concept of inspection is central to our disarmament position, the various ACDA proposals for GCD are not coupled to specific inspection plans. The ACDA paper indicates that it is studying various inspection concepts and includes some comments on the zonal approach to inspection, but concludes that we are not in a position to make a specific proposal. There is no indication when we might be in a position to make a proposal even as to our general concept of the inspection process. At the same time, the paper asks for authority to explore the inspection problem informally with the USSR and other countries at the Conference. If our specific disarmament plan is to have any real impact as a serious proposal, it would appear mandatory that it have associated with it at least a general concept of inspection that would balance in some understandable fashion the degree of access required with the degree of disarmament achieved.
3. The ACDA paper presents several variations on alternative plans for the first stage of a GCD plan. The above policy questions are implicit [Typeset Page 266] in considering the merits of the various proposals. Each of the following alternatives would apply to a ban affecting either all major armaments or just strategic vehicles.
One proposal of ACDA (Alternative B) would apply if there were a production cut-off. This proposal would involve a reduction by 30% in each and every type of major armament (or strategic delivery vehicles) e.g., B–52, B–47, Titan, etc. There would be a complete cut-off in production of all major armaments (or strategic delivery vehicles) except for necessary replacement in kind and supply of spare parts. This alternative would also require complete cessation of testing of all new designs or components.
The other ACDA proposal (Alternative A) would apply if production were continued. This would involve the following rather involved formula.
“There would be a dual reduction with respect to strategic delivery vehicles, both by 30% of the total number of such vehicles and by 30% of the total strategic nuclear destructive capability. The following delivery vehicles would be considered as ‘strategic nuclear delivery vehicles’; All armed combat aircraft with an empty weight of more than 15,000 kg., and all surface-to-surface and air-to-surface [Facsimile Page 4] missiles with designed range of more than 300 km. The exact manner of reducing destructive capability has not been worked out, but a preliminary investigation suggests that an adequate criterion might be some function of the gross loaded weight of the delivery vehicles, aircraft and missiles being subject to the same weight formula.
Within the agreed limits of allowed levels of vehicles, production of new and improved vehicles would be restricted to 10 percent per year of the inventories existing at the beginning of each year. Since new and improved vehicles would be produced under this alternative, some testing would be required. Production and testing of vehicles for peaceful purposes would be permitted within specified limits and safeguards.
Production would not be limited except to the extent that the total number of vehicles and the total destructive capacity of these vehicles, reduced to the extent provided above in Alternative A, be exceeded. Within these limits there would be freedom to vary the mix. To the extent permitted by these limits of production, testing would also be permitted. Production and testing of vehicles for peaceful purposes would be permitted within specified limits and safeguards.
The ACDA proposes that this could be extended to include non-strategic armaments as follows:
“a. There would be a 30% reduction in the total number (and perhaps, simultaneously, in the total gross weight of armaments in [Typeset Page 267] certain of the various categories, particularly in combatant ships) in each of the following categories:
(1) Armed combat aircraft (between 2500 and 15,000 kg. empty weight);
(3) Armed cars and armored personnel carriers;
(4) Surface-to-surface ballistic and aerodynamic missiles, [Facsimile Page 5] air-to-surface missiles, and free rockets with range capabilities from 5 to 500 km.;
(5) All artillery, and mortars and rocket launchers over 100 mm. in caliber; and
(6) Combatant ships with standard displacement over 400 tons of the following classes: Carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyer types and submarines.
“b. As a further feature and within the above context of a 30% overall reduction, there might be a stipulation that, by mutual agreement, the U.S. would be willing to make a larger cut in some categories of weapons if it were permitted to make a smaller cut in other categories. The U.S. should also be willing to make additional reductions in categories in which it has larger numbers of arms than the USSR, if the USSR would be willing to reciprocate in the categories in which it has larger numbers than the U.S.
“c. Under either of the above alternatives, there are two ways in which production and testing might be limited:
Within the agreed limits of allowed levels of weapons, production of new and improved weapons would be restricted to 10 percent per year of the inventories existing at the beginning of each year. Since new and improved vehicles would be produced under this alternative, some testing would be required.
Production would not be limited except to the extent that the total number of weapons reduced to the extent provided above in Alternative A could not be exceeded.”
4. Rather than deal with the details of the above alternatives at this afternoon’s meeting, it would appear most useful to resolve the broader policy issues involved. The following list of questions are suggested as a method of getting at these policy issues:
A. Should we propose a specific, detailed proposal for at least the first stages of General and Complete Disarmament at the beginning of the Conference?
B. Should our plan link strategic and conventional armaments, or should strategic armaments be treated separately?
C. Should our plan include a cut-off in the production of armaments or should production be permitted within quotas?
D. Should our plan contain specific inspection provisions?
E. If we cannot be prepared to make a general inspection proposal by the beginning of the Conference, when will we be prepared to make such a proposal?
- Review of ACDA’s recommendations on U.S. posture at 18-Nation Disarmament Conference for President’s March 6 meeting. Attached is a recommended list of questions for possible discussion. Secret. 7 pp. Kennedy Library, President’s Office Files, 18-Nation Committee, 3/6/62–11/20/62.↩