255. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • Nuclear Testing

PARTICIPANTS

  • U.S.
    • The President
    • Llewellyn E. Thompson, Ambassador at Large
    • John C. Guthrie, Director, SOV
  • USSR
    • Vasiliy Vasilyevich Kuznetsov, First Deputy Foreign Minister
    • Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, Soviet Ambassador
    • Lev Isaakovich Mendelevich, Assistant to Mr. Kuznetsov
    • Viktor Pavlovich Karpov, First Secretary of Embassy (Interpreter)

Kuznetsov said that with regard to a nuclear test ban treaty, the Soviet Government agrees that an exchange of views on remaining details may take place in New York. The Soviet United Nations representative, Fedorenko, would represent the U.S.S.R. in these talks. Kuznetsov said that Khrushchev has expressed a sincere hope that now all conditions have been provided for the cessation of tests as soon as possible. The Soviets have moved another step forward by agreeing to two or three on-site inspections per year. He hoped that the United States Government will respond with understanding. The points of view of the two countries are now closer together and the Soviet proposal on inspection meets the U.S. position. Thus, conditions are ripe for the solution of all details. Kuznetsov said he had observed in the course of negotiations seeking a test ban treaty that the main obstacle arose from the United States position of insisting on on-site inspection. In Soviet opinion, national systems and devices are so good now that it is possible to detect and define seismic events. However, the United States has always insisted on inspection so the U.S.S.R. hopes it has now removed the last obstacle to an agreement.

The President said that the United States wished to go ahead on nuclear test ban talks but that the matter was complicated with many technical problems. There was no use in his seeking to get Congress to approve a treaty if following its approval some undefined event took [Page 629]place which could not be looked into because it was outside an agreed inspection area. However, testing is now of diminishing value because both the United States and the U.S.S.R. have enough bombs. The proliferation of these weapons should be stopped. Within the next 10 years there will be 15 or 20 nuclear powers unless this is stopped. The President went on to express concern over Communist China, noting that there was no evidence that it would be governed by any treaty the United States and the U.S.S.R. might make. He said that he would hope the Chinese Communist political outlook, as expressed in recent editorials, would change as currently their attitude is a danger for all.

Kuznetsov replied that while he had not been authorized to speak on this poin the wished to set forth the position of the Soviet Government concerning China. The Soviet Government cannot speak for other socialist countries. China is not a member of the United Nations for reasons well known to the President; the United States is responsible for this unhappy situation. Even so, all countries have a right to be heard. A four power agreement banning nuclear testing will play an important role and other countries would have to take this agreement into consideration. Peoples all over the world expect and await this agreement and if we can solve this problem it may create an atmosphere conducive to the solution of other, especially disarmament, problems.

The President said he agreed and that the head of the Disarmament Agency, Mr. Foster, understood that we are anxious to reach agreement on this problem of nuclear testing. Such agreement would increase the security of both our countries. If a four power agreement assisted other countries to reach similar agreement, then everything would be fine. However, if any power tests, then all agreement becomes meaningless.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 700.5611/1-963. Secret; Limited Distribution. Drafted by John C. Guthrie (EUR/SOV) on January 10 and approved in draft by Thompson and by the White House on January 14. A memorandum of their conversation on Cuba is printed in volume XI. A telegraphic summary of their conversation on U.S.-Soviet relations is printed in vol. V, Document 170.