198. Memorandum of Conversation0



July 19-26, 1962


  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Mr. Kohler
    • Mr. Hillenbrand
    • Mr. Akalovsky
  • USSR
    • Foreign Minister Gromyko
    • Mr. Ilyichev1
    • Mr. Kovalev
    • Mr. Sukhodriev


  • Disarmament and Related Topics

While drinks were served, Gromyko contended he had made two new proposals in his speech during the morning at the Disarmament Conference.2 The Secretary replied he was very much interested in Mr. Gromyko’s remarks on the question of force levels. Gromyko said that, since some delegations at the conference had mentioned the possibility of splitting up the difference between the US 2.1 level and the Soviet 1.7 [Page 494] level, the Soviet Union thought that the 1.9 million level might be a good compromise. The Secretary then observed that, when he got back to Washington he would see what could be done to get for Ambassador Dean instructions to follow up on the conversation Mr. Gromyko and he had had earlier on the subject of nondiffusion.3

During the luncheon discussion between the Secretary and Gromyko, there was an exchange on the relationship between disarmament and the solution of other problems. The Secretary made the point that the lowering of tensions which would result from solution of some of these other problems would undoubtedly have its affect on progress in disarmament. Gromyko at first seemed to think that the Secretary was claiming that progress in disarmament could not be made without first resolving these other problems and said that, while the USSR recognized a certain relationship between solution of disarmament and other problems, it objected to making solution of one question dependent on solution of the other. That would create a vicious circle. The Secretary then pointed out that we wanted to go ahead with disarmament and to make progress in this field, but as Khrushchev himself had said, there was an obvious relationship between disarmament and other political problems. The Secretary thought that the US could not agree to reduce its military capabilities before the Berlin problem was settled. He also called attention in this context to the relationship between the increased pressures on Berlin last summer and the acceleration of US military preparations and increased arms expenditures. Gromyko said we could not expect that he could accept this was a justified result. The Secretary responded that he was merely referring to an obvious fact and called attention to what Khrushchev had told President Kennedy in Vienna.4 Khrushchev had mentioned the pressures his military and scientists were putting on him to increase arms expenditures which were put in terms of matching US capabilities; then when the Soviets increased their expenditures, pressures were applied to President Kennedy to increase US expenditures, and a chain reaction ensued.

Gromyko stressed the need by the US to control its official spokesmen who made belligerent and threatening public statements. The Secretary pointed out the fact that under the American system the Executive required public and Congressional cooperation in order to obtain appropriations, something that was different from the situation in the Soviet Union. The Soviets could divert resources from one area to [Page 495] another purely by executive action whereas this was not possible under our system. Hence, there was a need to convince public opinion and this required speaking about the subject.

Gromyko also stressed the point that the US was wrong in thinking that it could bankrupt the Soviet Union through the arms race. The Soviet Union was doing very well and its seven-year plan for economic development was being greatly overfulfilled. Gromyko emphasized he was mentioning this latter point only in passing, and not for any special purpose. The Secretary said we were aware the USSR was a great power with large resources and assured Mr. Gromyko that there was no theory in the US of making the USSR bankrupt through the arms race.

The Secretary recalled the remarks by the Canadian Minister of External Affairs at the Disarmament Conference this morning, in which Mr. Green had expressed the view that there should be no recess of the Disarmament Conference during the General Assembly.5 The Secretary observed this thought was a new one and that he personally felt that there would be at least some break in the Conference during the GA, particularly since many of the delegates to the Conference were the obvious persons to discuss disarmament in the GA. Mr. Gromyko said that only 17 nations were participating in the Conference and that, therefore, other nations should have the chance of expressing their views on disarmament at least once a year, i.e., at the General Assembly. While a recess had its pros and cons, the USSR felt that some recess during the GA would be in order. As to the Secretary’s remarks that the delegates at the conference table would be the logical persons to discuss disarmament, Mr. Gromyko said this was of course something to be decided by each individual country and that he personally did not want to be deprived of the opportunity to speak on that subject. The Secretary denied that he had any intention in this respect.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11-RU/7-2462. Secret. Drafted by Hillenbrand and Akalovsky on July 26. The meeting was held at the Soviet Mission.
  2. Ivan Ivanovich Ilyichev, Chief of the Third European Division, Soviet Foreign Ministry.
  3. For text of Gromyko’s remarks to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee on July 24, see Documents on Disarmament, 1962, vol. II, pp. 681-688.
  4. Reference is to a private dinner meeting between Secretary Rusk and Foreign Minister Gromyko, probably on July 22. No full report of their conversation on that occasion has been found, but see footnote 6, Document 201.
  5. Documentation on the Vienna summit June 3-4, 1961, is printed in volumes V and XIV.
  6. Green’s statement is in U.N. doc. ENDC/PV.60.