264. Editorial Note

Following discussions between concerned agency principals and the President on February 8, 1963, and among agency representatives on February 9 and 15 (see Document 262), ACDA developed a revised paper containing recommended U.S. positions at the Geneva test ban talks. Fisher, Acting Director of ACDA, circulated this 30-page paper, which included Annexes A-D, under cover of a February 17 memorandum to the Committee of Principals, for discussion at a meeting with the President the following day. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, ACDA, Disarmament, General, 2/15-28/63) Fisher also forwarded a copy of the ACDA paper to the President, under cover of a February 17 memorandum. His memorandum summarized the recommendations of the paper as follows:

  • “1. The U.S. should be prepared to accept a number of on-site inspections which would serve as a reasonable deterrent to clandestine [Page 649] underground testing. In view of the total assessment of the probable number of events of real interest for on-site inspections, the U.S. should be prepared to accept a quota of six on-site inspections annually.
  • “2. The U.S. should propose an on-site inspection procedure under which the U.S.-U.K. and the U.S.S.R. inspect each other on the basis of agreed criteria, rather than relying on an international commission for the inspection. The agreed criteria should include scientific criteria for the location of a seismic event on the basis of U.S.-U.K. data and an agreed area surrounding this location. The proposed area is a circle of 500 square kilometers, or alternatively a 300 square kilometer ellipse with specified orientation and with a maximum length of semi-major axis of not over 15 kilometers. The agreed criteria would permit both the U.S.-U.K. and the U.S.S.R. to exclude from inspection a building in the area if they justified this exclusion in a report explaining that it was a sensitive defense installation. An abuse of this provision would be stated to be a violation of the treaty.
  • “3. The U.S. should continue to propose that 7 automatic recording seismic stations should be installed in the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. as a supplement to the national systems of the U.S.-U.K. and the U.S.S.R., respectively, but should be prepared to accept 5. This is a question on which opinions differ and it is recommended that you consider the argument set forth on pages 19-22 of the attached paper. The U.S. should not regard these stations as playing a major role in the inspection system and should not reduce its minimum needs for on-site inspections in return for concessions with respect to automatic recording seismic stations.
  • “4. The U.S. would not insist that France or Communist China be part of the treaty but the U.S. would include a withdrawal clause (for testing by a non-party) that would permit withdrawal only after two years from notice which would have to be given no later than six months after a test of a non-party. A recommended fall-back would be a withdrawal clause similar to that in the August 27, 1962 comprehensive test ban treaty which permits withdrawal after 60 days by a party if it judges that a test by a non-party has jeopardized its national security and calls a conference to present its case.”

Fisher added that following the President’s decision on these proposals, ACDA would promptly circulate a draft treaty. (Ibid.)

The only record found of the meeting between the Committee of Principals and the President on February 18 is McCone’s 1-page memorandum for the record of February 19, which he prepared from handwritten notes. This memorandum provided only an outline of the major points of discussion on intelligence capabilities, threshold levels, test areas, black boxes, and the withdrawal clause. Attached to this memorandum for the record is a 2-page memorandum by McCone, February 18, which is critical of ACDA’s February 17 position paper. Among other [Page 650] criticisms, McCone believed that the Soviets could conduct a series of underground tests without detection by available intelligence sources. McCone may have used this paper in his report on intelligence at the February 18 meeting. (Central Intelligence Agency, McCone Files, Meetings with President, 1/1/63-3/31/63) See the Supplement.

As a result of this February 18 meeting, instructions mainly covering the question of inspection were transmitted to the U.S. Delegation to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee. (Todis 806 to Geneva, February 18; Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 SWITZ (GE)) See the Supplement. According to Seaborg (who did not attend the February 18 meeting but was represented by Haworth), the Committee of Principals accepted the ACDA proposals on inspection procedures at this meeting, and these procedures were formally submitted by the United States and the United Kingdom to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee on April 1. (Seaborg, Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Test Ban, pages 189-190) For text of this U.S.-U.K. memorandum (U.N. doc. ENDC/78), see Documents on Disarmament, 1963, pages 141-145.