251. Editorial Note

On December 19, 1962, Chairman Khrushchev wrote President Kennedy a letter expressing his views on nuclear testing. After asserting that the Soviet Union believed that national means of detection were adequate for the verification of underground nuclear shots, he said that his government would accept automatic seismological stations, which had been discussed by Soviet and U.S. scientists at the Pugwash meeting in London in early September. While he thought the sealed devices could be transported to the Soviet Union in Soviet planes and monitored by Soviet personnel, he would agree to the participation of foreign personnel, if required, thus accepting “elements of international control.” He also conceded that because of U.S. insistence on on-site inspections, he was prepared to accept the statement of Ambassador Dean who allegedly [Page 624] said in a meeting with Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister V.V. Kuznetsov in New York on October 30 that “in the opinion of the United States Government 2-4 on-site inspections a year in the territory of the Soviet Union would be sufficient.”

President Kennedy responded to Khrushchev on December 28 that he was “encouraged that you are prepared to accept the principle of on-site inspections.” He noted, however, that Ambassador Dean had advised him “that the only number which he mentioned in his discussions with Deputy Minister Kuznetsov was a number between eight and ten,” and that this range “represented a substantial decrease in the request of the United States as we had previously been insisting upon a number between twelve and twenty.” The President also expressed other reservations concerning Khrushchev’s proposals. Regarding the U.S. scientists who signed the Pugwash statement, he pointed out that “none represented the United States Government or had discussed the matter with responsible officials. All were speaking as individuals and none were seismologists. Their agreement does not signify anything other than that this area was an area which justified further study.”

For the full texts of Khrushchev’s letter and President Kennedy’s reply, see Documents on Disarmament, 1962, volume II, pages 1239-1242 and 1277-1279, and volume VI, Documents 84 and 86.

No record of Dean’s conversation with Kuznetsov on October 30 referred to in this exchange of correspondence has been found. Because Soviet negotiators continued to refer to Dean’s supposed offer of two to four on-site inspections per year even after the President’s disclaimer to Khrushchev, Kennedy administration officials considered additional responses to the Soviet claims. In an account of the President’s meeting with Cabinet officers and White House officials on February 8, 1963, Seaborg noted:

“In the recent discussions, the USSR has been rigid on its insistence on no more than two to three on-site inspections. They claim that the U.S. has said that two to four would be adequate. There is apparently some feeling by them that Wiesner has said this, and that Dean said it to Kuznetsov. (Dean denies this and points out that no interpreter was present during this informal conversation.) Dobrynin has apparently told columnist Walter Lippmann that the U.S. has changed its position and had earlier suggested that two to four on-site inspections would be adequate. The President suggested that we might get for the record a letter from Dean to Rusk, pointing out that he never suggested so small a number of on-site inspections. Foster said that Akalovsky confirms Dean’s claims on this matter.” (Seaborg, Journal, volume 5, page 140)

Regarding Wiesner’s role in this matter, Seaborg much later talked with Wiesner, who explained how a Soviet scientist with whom he had [Page 625] discussed the inspection issue might have misunderstood him. (Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Test Ban, pages 180-181)

Ultimately Dean wrote Foster a long account of his October 30 and November 7 meetings with Kuznetsov, February 23, 1963. (Telegram 3127 from USUN, February 25; Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 SWITZ (GE)) See the Supplement. Moreover, in plenary session of the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee on March 1, 1963, Foster pointed out that on October 30 Dean had mentioned to Kuznetsov a “small number” of inspections but did not cite a specific figure. At their November 7 meeting, Dean had said the United States might be prepared to accept eight to ten on-site inspections, only two of which might have to be in aseismic areas. Akalovsky, who accompanied Dean to both meetings, confirmed Dean’s figures after the November 7 meeting when Timerbaev, Kuznetsov’s aide, questioned him further about them. Foster regretted if the Soviets misunderstood Dean’s statements at these meetings. (Disto 1129 from Geneva, March 1, 1963; Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 SWITZ (GE)) See the Supplement.

Foster’s account of the two meetings was probably derived from Dean’s February 23 letter. He may also have gained information on the November 7 meeting from an earlier summary of it. (Telegram 1678 from USUN, November 7, 1962; Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/11-762)