239. Editorial Note

In the last weeks of October 1962, President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev exchanged several messages in their efforts to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the Cuban missile crisis. Once Khrushchev agreed to the prompt dismantling and withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba and other concessions, the two leaders began to consider other outstanding issues between the two nations. Concerning disarmament, Khrushchev wrote in his message to President Kennedy on October 28: “We should like to continue the exchange of views on the prohibition of atomic and thermonuclear weapons, general disarmament, and other problems relating to the relaxation of international tensions.” (Documents on Disarmament, 1962, volume II, page 997; the letter is also printed in volume VI, Document 67)

President Kennedy immediately responded with a message to Khrushchev on October 28. In the final paragraph of this message, the President wrote:

“I agree with you that we must devote urgent attention to the problem of disarmament, as it relates to the whole world and also to critical areas. Perhaps now, as we step back from danger, we can together make real progress in this vital field. I think we should give priority to questions relating to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, on earth and in outer space, and to the great effort for a nuclear test ban. But we should also work hard to see if wider measures of disarmament can be agreed and put into operation at an early date. The United States government will be prepared to discuss these questions urgently, and in a constructive spirit, at Geneva or elsewhere.” (Documents on Disarmament, 1962, volume II, page 1001; the letter is also printed in volume VI, Document 68)

Extensive documentation on the Cuban missile crisis is printed in volume XI.