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

233. From Harriman.

Today’s plenary meeting (lasting little more than one and a half hours) focused entirely on test ban matters. Non-aggression pact was not mentioned in meeting although communiqué bears usual reference to “other matters of mutual concern.”

Major point of discussion was withdrawal article. Gromyko, commenting on Harriman’s description of Sov formulation as broader than the US could accept, said this matter had been given particular consideration, as a result of which he had some new language which he thought would meet US needs. Revised Sov draft he then handed us is as follows: (informal translation from Russian draft.)

“This treaty shall be of unlimited duration.

“Each party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the treaty if it decides that extraordinary circumstances, related to the contents of this treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all others parties to the treaty three months in advance.”

In our judgment, this is as far as Sovs will go in specifying tests by others as the basis for withdrawal. With added clause, treaty less subject to criticism that agreement is illusory. On this point, our best judgment is that pressures on Soviets to stick with treaty will not in fact be substantially affected by exact phrasing of the clause, although we appreciate that congressional and public reaction will be sensitive to every word of the article.

Re possibility that new clause may go too far, discussions show that both Khrushchev and Gromyko are perfectly clear in their minds that this clause covers the cases of particular concern: France to them, and China to us.

Our judgment reported Embtel 1951 as to reasons for Sov position is strengthened by report to us from Washington of editorial from ChiCom People’s Daily 19 July:

ChiCom People’s Daily 19 July editorial ‘Expose US Nuclear Fraud’ states more explicitly than past propaganda reasons for ChiCom opposition to test ban. While indicating ChiComs would not be deterred from nuclear-weapons development by test-ban agreement, editorial clearly shows concern that such agreement would receive wide approval from peoples and ‘peace partisans’ throughout world. Says given people’s struggle against nuclear weapons, ‘it is only natural’ they will pin hopes on tripartite Moscow talks. Editorial also says while US goes on manufacturing nuclear weapons, it can use test agreement to ‘create pressure of public opinion to prevent socialist countries other than USSR from conducting tests.’”

CAS Washington comments as follows “Editorial’s expression of hope that Soviets will not fall into trap of partial test ban accord is preceded by blatant jab that USSR alone is keeping nuclear weapons from its allies.”

Fisher and McNaughton agree the Soviet language covers the major part of our problem adequately if not perfectly. The word “contents” [Page 818] is the translation given to us [for?] the Russian “soderzhaniye.” We could translate this word also as “subject matter” although this not normal translation from Russian. (Smirnitsky’s Russian-English dictionary gives “subject matter” among possible alternate translations.) Fisher-McNaughton judgment “subject matter” preferable term for congressional and public use, but not much in it. Perhaps could get this as agreed English text since there is no separate Russian word which translates “subject matter” directly.
Soviet draft gives no peg on which to hang statute of limitations element in our draft since it difficult to date on “extraordinary circumstance” in the same way that nuclear explosion or other specific event can be dated. In our judgment it would not be possible to insist on statute of limitations element in any event since it was not in our August 27, 1962, draft, which tabled at outset of these talks. In any event, long-past event can hardly be reasonably argued to create circumstances which “have jeopardized the supreme interests” of the complaining party. Accordingly, recommend we drop this as necessary element of withdrawal clause.
Harriman requests authority to accept Soviet draft on withdrawal with whatever translation of “soderzhaniye” we can get. Delegation concurs.2
Drafting problems other articles reported separately.3 Full record of meeting follows soonest.4 Next meeting 3 P.M. 22 July: Drafting committee 11 A.M.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 USSR (MO). Secret; Flash; Eyes Only; Ban. Received at 11:19 a.m.
  2. Document 331.
  3. In a July 21 message to Kennedy, Macmillan stated that the new Soviet language met “the real point,” which was that “withdrawal should be related to the contents of the treaty. So I hope that you will have been able to authorize Harriman to accept it.” (Unnumbered telegraphic message received through White House channels; Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Macmillan-Kennedy, 1963-1964, vol. V)
  4. See Document 336.
  5. In telegram 239 from Moscow, July 20. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 USSR (MO)) See the Supplement.