208. Memorandum of Meeting With President Kennedy0


  • Disarmament Negotiations

The President read the Prime Minister’s reply to his cable concerning the future use of Christmas Island as a test site.1 In summary, the British were prepared to permit us to use the island for the time being.

[Page 528]

Mr. Bundy called attention to the pressure which was being put upon us by reporters to define the internationally monitored national control post system.

The President responded by saying that Mr. Salinger had been given guidance. Ambassador Dean would spell out the details of the system in the current negotiations. Our position is that we would be prepared to discuss control posts under effective international supervision but we have not accepted national control posts alone as being sufficient.

Secretary Rusk said the key question before us is what should we do if the pressure in Geneva is to move to an atmospheric test ban. He favored going ahead with an atmospheric ban.

The President asked whether we should accept immediately or on a fixed date, such as September 1 or June 1, so that we could test again before it became effective if we desired to do so. Pedro Nevilla’s proposal was mentioned.2

The AEC and the Department of Defense spokesmen agreed we should go for an atmospheric ban.

Ambassador Dean said he differed with Secretary Rusk. He felt that we are walking into a Soviet trap. Inevitably, the Soviets and the neutrals would push us toward an unpoliced moratorium, including underground testing.

The President said he felt no pressure for a moratorium.

Mr. McCloy and Mr. Lovett both noted that we are not talking about an impractical moratorium on underground testing and Secretary Rusk said we needn’t fall into a trap because we know in advance that it is there.

There followed discussion as to what test cutoff date we should accept.

Secretary McNamara said we cannot decide whether the date should be September 1 or June 1 until we know the results of our tests and have a good idea of the results of the Soviet tests.

Dr. Wiesner pointed out that we will have to give figures on the number of inspections and Ambassador Dean agreed with him.

Mr. Bundy said we must not reveal the number of inspections which would be acceptable to us, but the number of control posts was not very important.

Secretary Rusk said he realized our position would be difficult for Ambassador Dean, but he said Dean must negotiate with the Russians first and then the neutrals.

Ambassador Dean said that before we presented our last proposals we had informed our allies and we must do so again. The Canadians [Page 529] especially will insist on advance knowledge. If we hold four-power Western discussions, [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified].

The President noted that Macmillan’s position indicates a willingness to accept a national detection system. He asked how many stations would be involved in such a system.

Dr. Long replied 50 to 80 stations, adding that 25 seismic stations are now as good as the Geneva system because we have learned so much since the Geneva system was proposed.

Ambassador Dean added the number was 80 in all environments, including seismic, acoustic and outer space stations. He added that we must relate the number of on-site inspections to the ratio of unidentified events.

The President said he would be prepared to sign a treaty tomorrow if it resulted in an immediately effective ban on atmospheric tests. If we did not sign tomorrow, then we would have to negotiate the date the treaty would go into effect.

Mr. Kaysen noted that we would undermine our position on comprehensive treaty if we appeared ready to negotiate the effective time of an atmospheric ban.

Mr. Foster read from the July 26 paper, pages 3 and 4, a proposal on Stage I production of armaments, copy of paper attached.3

General Lemnitzer stated that the Joint Chiefs were not clear as to the meaning of the sentence “replacement would be in kind.” He said these words must be defined precisely in an annex.

Mr. Foster said the definition had been narrowed to types (B-52s) in order to avoid dealing with categories.

Mr. Foster referred to the same paper and read the position on U.S. bases. He noted that the recommendation involved only discussion of the possibility of including military base reduction in Stage I.

General Lemnitzer said the Joint Chiefs had a major problem with this paragraph because they did not know how the word “bases” was being used. He said the proposal would affect NATO deployments. In any negotiations on bases, the U.S. was at a disadvantage because if the Russians gave up bases outside the USSR, they could return to them very quickly but that if we withdrew from our overseas bases our re-entry would be very difficult.

Ambassador Dean raised the question of briefing the disarmament delegates on the technical aspects of our new information. He suggested that the scientists come to Geneva on August 9 following a week of political [Page 530] talks with the four Western nations and with USSR representative Zorin.

Ambassador Dean said the Soviet position on total armed forces had gone from 2.5 million to 1.9 million. Mr. Foster and Secretary McNamara said we were studying what our position should be in the light of the difficulties any new position would have for the Joint Chiefs.

With respect to background briefing as to the meeting, Secretary Rusk stated that he felt little more should be said than the President had said in his past press conferences. At the Joint Atomic Energy Committee meeting tomorrow, Ambassador Dean would merely report on what he is now to do.4 The Senate Foreign Relations Committee would be invited to join the Armed Forces Committee to hear Ambassador Dean’s report.5 Mr. Foster has already seen Congressman Holifield and Senator Jackson. He would see Senator Russell separately.

Secretary Rusk said it was important that reports of differences within the Administration be knocked down. We should emphasize the new data we have in the simplest possible terms. We should avoid too much optimism in stating what we thought the Soviet position was. We should avoid discussion of the internationally supervised national control post system.

Mr. Bundy agreed that the last point was the most important.

Director Murrow asked whether our position was that we would accept an atmospheric test ban immediately.

Ambassador Dean said no. He hoped to see Mrs. Myrdal6 first in Geneva to learn what it is the neutrals will be proposing. He noted that Prime Minister Macmillan had told the British Parliament recently of the possibility that all on-site inspections could be eliminated.7 It was acknowledged that Macmillan was under heavy Parliamentary pressure.

In response to questions, both Mr. McCloy and Mr. Lovett stated they agreed in general and had no comments to add.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, ACDA, Disarmament, General, 8/1/62-8/23/62. Top Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text.
  2. In his August 1 message to President Kennedy, Prime Minister Macmillan thanked the President for his July 27 message, summarized their differences on nuclear testing, accepted his proposal for promoting an atmospheric ban treaty, suggested a comprehensive test ban, and “if the treaties were tabled” would agree to keep Christmas Island “on a care and maintenance basis” in case further testing was required. (Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, M-K, 1961-1962) See the Supplement.
  3. Reference is to Luis Padilla Nervo; see footnote 5, Document 193.
  4. Not attached; it was attached to Foster’s memorandum to the President, Document 202.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. No record of Dean’s appearance before the House or Senate Armed Services Committee on August 2 has been found, but on that day he, Foster, and Fisher briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on disarmament in executive session on the Geneva talks. See Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Historical Series), 1962, vol. XIV, p. 671.
  7. Alva Myrdal, Chairman of the Swedish Delegation to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee.
  8. Macmillan told the House of Commons on July 19 that the recent U.S. Department of Defense statement on the Vela program “shows that further progress has been made in work on which the scientists have been engaged for a long time. I hope that this may facilitate all that we hope for, which is a final and comprehensive treaty.” (Parliamentary Debates, vol. 663, col. 631)