293. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0

3104. Embassy’s translation of Khrushchev’s June 8 letter to President1 follows:

Begin text:

Dear Mr. President: I have received your message of May 312 on question of cessation nuclear tests and, it goes without saying, have studied it with due attention. I received an analogous message from Prime Minister H. Macmillan.

In your letters, you and Mr. H. Macmillan repeat your proposal to send to Moscow high-ranking representatives of USA and Great Britain, who would be empowered “to discuss ways of overcoming existing differences between us” regarding conditions of agreement on cessation nuclear tests. Well, in my previous letter I already expressed my readiness to try even such a method of negotiations. Whole question is where and in what direction to search for way of overcoming those differences between our positions, which really exist.

It is our profound conviction that success of any further negotiations on cessation of tests, wherever these negotiations may be conducted—in Moscow, in Geneva, or in any other place—depends completely, as I [Page 715] wrote to you, on whether both parties are ready to agree on that realistic and equal basis which is prompted by life itself. And that basis is well known. In resolving question of cessation of tests, as well as any other international question, it consists in necessity of strictly following principle of equality of parties and of taking into account interests of each of them. This means that attainment of agreement on cessation of nuclear tests can only be arrived at if neither of parties attempts to receive any special advantages at expense of other party, and, consequently, does not insist on demands which are unacceptable to other party.

Moreover, we have recently become more and more convinced that those with whom we are negotiating are not inclined to conduct negotiations by proceeding from principle of equality of parties, and still want to receive from us some kind of bonus for cessation of nuclear-weapons tests. It is not possible otherwise to understand their stubborn attempt to obtain from us agreement on conducting inspections which would open up possibility of peeping into places at which stranger’s eye should not look.

The fact that Soviet Union will not agree to conducting of espionage inspections has been mentioned in nearly every one of our documents on question of cessation of tests, and this question, it would seem, should be clear to the utmost degree. For, under present conditions, when problem of disarmament has not only not been solved, but nuclear-armaments race is taking on ever greater proportions and, day-in, day-out, is being spurred on more and more by the leading NATO powers, we are compelled to display particular concern in order in no way to endanger security of our country. And permit me to note, Mr. President, that steps recently undertaken on creation of NATO nuclear fist in Western Europe with participation of West German revanchists, can in no way stimulate us to relax our vigilance; the opposite is rather the case.

You write that goal of espionage is not being pursued by Western powers in question of inspections of cessation of nuclear tests. But, unfortunately, facts of most recent time, which have been scrupulously verified and have become public knowledge, have shown with all possible certainty how strong is interest of intelligence services of some powers in secrets of our defense and, at the same time, how unscrupulous they are in choice of methods. One would have to have an exceptional share of naivete to rely on the possibility that appropriate agencies in NATO countries, which, it can be said, day and night devote themselves to study of, and as they themselves put it, selection of, targets on territory of Soviet Union and other peaceloving states for nuclear strikes, would shrink from using for these same purposes the channels which would be opened up if we were to agree to demands of Western powers on inspection. If we displayed such naivete, it would not be difficult to imagine what attitude Soviet people would take towards such leaders.

[Page 716]

Therefore, when you say that representatives of USA and Great Britain would be prepared to discuss with us in detail guarantees which should remove our doubts concerning inspections, I do not think, to tell the truth, that this would settle the matter. Root of everything is not in guarantees with which inspections might be surrounded, but in why such insistence is displayed by Western powers on question of inspections, when actually there is no need for them, when, indeed, there is in fact no need for them at all, if one bears in mind only interests of control in fulfillment by states of their obligations under agreement on cessation of nuclear tests.

In your message of May 31, you seem to wish again to urge us into starting discussion on whether national means of detection of underground nuclear explosions are sufficient or insufficient for controlling fulfillment of such an agreement. But what is there here to argue about, what is there to discuss? Facts, which confirm complete sufficiency of national means, are at hand. And you, too, it seems, have no doubts about, for example, fact mentioned in my message—namely, that seismic tremors from French underground nuclear tests in Sahara were registered by national means of states at distance of many thousands of kilometers. And nevertheless, for some reason, you do not consider it possible to accept as proof even such indisputable data.

As I recall, Mr. President, in one of your press conferences you stressed that treaty on cessation of nuclear tests must give assurance that, if any country carries out series of secret underground tests, these tests will be detected. Recently, I had occasion to become acquainted with statement on question of cessation of tests, made by group of well-known American scientists, representing scientific centers and universities of USA known the world over. I think that you read it too. What did these American scientists have to say, what ideas did they come out with, these scientists who, as they say, know what they’re talking about, if one takes into account that it is precisely USA which has great experience in carrying out of underground nuclear explosions? They declare that, given contemporary means of detection, it is impossible to conceal series of underground nuclear explosions, even one of small yield. Consequently, those means of detection already in existence satisfy principal demand which you make for a treaty.

If one considers that national means of detection can be supplemented by automatic seismic stations, how can one fail to admit that all this is more than sufficient for most reliable control over cessation of all nuclear tests? Under these conditions no state would undertake secretly to violate agreement, since such a step would be fraught for it with risk of being exposed and of receiving such a blow to its prestige on international scene from which it would be difficult for any state to recover. National means of detection, combined with automatic seismic stations—this, [Page 717] certainly, is fully reliable guarantee against any attempts to produce secret nuclear explosions in circumvention of agreement on cessation of tests. And we are agreeable to installation of automatic seismic stations; you know this.

In light of all this, is it necessary for me to repeat once more that, if in December last year we agreed to conducting of certain minimum number of inspections on cessation of underground tests, we did so only and exclusively out of political considerations, with view to making easier for you, Mr. President, ratification of treaty on cessation of tests by Senate of USA? From point of view of essence of matter, however, resolution of question of tests could be handled perfectly well without any inspections. That was true in December, 1962, and is all the more true now as well.

Thus, it is completely possible to conclude agreement on cessation of nuclear tests on basis of equality, if only all the participants want this. We are, of course, prepared to discuss this, too, with high-ranking representatives of USA and Great Britain, whom you and Mr. H. Macmillan propose to send to Moscow. You express desire that these representatives should have opportunity to talk with me personally. I agree to this too, if it can be hoped that such meetings would prove useful. With regard to time of arrival in Moscow of representatives of USA and Great Britain, it would be most convenient for us, taking into account other, earlier planned, arrangements of foreign-political character, for them to come, if this is suitable for you as well, let us say, on July 15, 1963. Question of publication of appropriate announcement in this regard can be agreed upon through diplomatic channels.

We should like to count upon success of projected exchange of opinions in Moscow on question of cessation of nuclear tests. Soviet Union sincerely wishes to reach agreement as quickly as possible on conducting of any and all tests of nuclear weapons for all time. People throughout world desire conclusion of such agreement. Consequently, I cannot be silent about fact that heavy responsibility would be assumed by those who might continue to impede achievement of agreement and, at same time, in connection with forthcoming exchange of opinions in Moscow, might sow deceptive illusions among peoples to effect that matter was now already approaching a resolution of question of cessation of tests.

Quite recently, we have already had an experience on this score which cannot be called anything else but painful. You recall, Mr. President, that, after Soviet Union in December last year had made important step to meet Western powers, in that it agreed to a certain number of inspections, a proposal ensued from Government of USA to send representatives of USSR to United States for talks, with goal of most rapid achievement of agreement. We immediately responded to that proposal and sent our representatives to USA. Whole world expected that, under [Page 718] the favorable conditions which had developed as result of our December step, talks in USA would be final step before signing of treaty on cessation of tests.

But it turned out quite differently. Western powers did not wish, as it is your custom to say, “to go their half of the way”, remained on old, notoriously unacceptable, positions, and, instead of serious, political talks, attempted to draw our representatives into discussions of technical details, which could not fail to remain pointless until political questions of principle had been agreed upon. What is more, your representative declared to our representatives that he would have no occasion at all to cross the ocean if Soviet Union did not intend to accept demands of Western powers. It was this sort of position on part of those with whom we were negotiating which led at that time to break-down of talks, which consequently left nothing but disillusionment behind them.

Repetition of this sort of experience would only damage the matter and I should like to express hope that you are aware of this also. Success now depends only upon question of what baggage representatives of Western powers bring with them to Moscow.

I am sending analogous message to Prime Minister H. Macmillan.

Sincerely, N. Khrushchev.

End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-4. Secret; Operational Immediate; Eyes Only. Received at 4:48 a.m. on June 9. Also printed in vol. VI, Document 103.
  2. Gromyko handed Ambassador Kohler this letter at 4 p.m. Moscow time. (Telegram 3101 from Moscow, June 8; ibid., POL US-USSR)
  3. See Document 289.