284. National Security Action Memorandum No. 2390


  • The Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • The Committee of Principals


  • U.S. Disarmament Proposals
Discussions in the 18 Nation Disarmament Conference at Geneva on both general and complete disarmament and a nuclear test ban treaty have unfortunately resulted in almost no progress. There has been no serious discussion of general and complete disarmament for some time. While discussions of a test ban treaty have shown important developments since the beginning of the 18 Nation Conference, they are now stalled.
I have in no way changed my views of the desirability of a test ban treaty or the value of our proposals on general and complete disarmament. Further, the events of the last two years have increased my concern for the consequences of an un-checked continuation of the arms race between ourselves and the Soviet Bloc.
We now expect the 18 Nation Disarmament Committee in Geneva to recess shortly for six weeks to two months. I should like the interval to be used for an urgent re-examination of the possibilities of new approaches to significant measures short of general and complete disarmament which it would be in the interest of the United States to propose in the resumed session of the Geneva Conference. ACDA will, in accordance with its statutory responsibilities, take the leadership in this effort and coordinate with the other agencies concerned through the usual procedures of the Committee of Principals. I should like to review the results at an appropriate time in the process.1
John Kennedy
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Kaysen Series, Disarmament, Policy Review. Secret. This NSAM was apparently occasioned by a request made by Nitze to McGeorge Bundy in a May 2 memorandum. Nitze pointed out that the U.S.-Soviet dialog had been almost exclusively on the test ban and on general and complete disarmament and that the United States had not responded to Soviet initiatives regarding potential agreed force levels. The “present possibility of changes in the Soviet leadership” made it essential to make the U.S. position clear to the Soviets, but before that, “we must make our measures clear to ourselves.” (Ibid., Departments and Agencies Series, ACDA, Disarmament, General, 4/15-5/31/63)
  2. In a May 18 memorandum that set up working groups to implement NSAM No. 239, Foster stated that they should have in mind proposals for the U.N. General Assembly as well as the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 SWITZ (GE))