Learn about the beta

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

328. 1. Initialing took place 7:15 p.m.1 This was only general business following private meeting of over two hours with Harriman, Gromyko and Hailsham discussing problem of unrecognized regimes dealt with in Deptel 3052 and problem of interpretation of Article One dealt with in Deptel 304,3 and telephone conversation Kaysen/Bundy at 7 p.m.4

[Page 854]

2. With respect to unrecognized regimes, an explicit oral understanding was reached as follows: any such regime could deposit with any depositary or depositaries which would take it and this depositary in turn could send notice to other depositaries. If this notice is accepted by the other depositaries, there is a full, binding accession all around. But no depositary is bound to accept either directly or indirectly through notice, accession by a regime which it did not recognize. If notice is not accepted the obligation between the depositor and the receiving depositary is nonetheless valid, although the refusing party recognizes no relation. If notice is refused, no further comment will be made either by the party refusing notice or any other party.5

Gromyko made it clear that with respect to a regime which they did not recognize whose accession they would not accept, they would consider any action by that regime to adhere to the treaty illegal, but was aware that the US would have different views and would accept the accession. Gromyko was explicitly referring to the GDR. The Soviet Union would not object to our action, unless we made some statement to insist that the Soviet position was incorrect. Gromyko indicated that he recognized that the US would have the same rights. He gave as hypothetical case, US refusal to recognize adherence of GDR: US would not recognize the legality of a deposit by GDR; but USSR would accept adherence and GDR would be regarded by USSR as party to treaty.

Gromyko indicated that both countries might well accept notification of accession of regimes which they did not recognize and did not propose to recognize. He hoped that we would in the case of the GDR and similar cases and stated the USSR would in all cases except one.

Gromyko said that if we attempted to write anything on the subject he would have to include a reference to the one country he had in mind and thought it was best that the matter remain on the basis of the explicit oral understanding we had reached. Harriman explained we must pre-sent this matter to Senate, and it was agreed that Harriman and other US officials were free to present the understanding and explain it in any appropriate way to Senate in presentation of treaty. Gromyko further stated he did not want to write our testimony to the Senate for us, nor did he want to edit it; we were free to say whatever we wished to about the understanding; as long as we stuck to the facts then Soviets would remain silent. Soviet Government would of course have to correct any [Page 855]incorrect statement. In course of discussion, it was agreed that Harriman-Gromyko letter referred to in Embtel 3216 should be treated as memorandum already overtaken by events.7

3. In the private session, I made the statement contained in Embtel 3208 regarding possibility that Article One might be read to outlaw use of nuclear weapons in war. Gromyko looked baffled.9 He said “this treaty deals with the prohibition of nuclear tests in three environments. Of course it is not a prohibition of nuclear weapons or weapons in general, although the USSR is in favor of general and complete disarmament. The scope of the treaty is self-explanatory.”10

[Page 856]

4. Full report follows soonest.11

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 USSR (MO). Secret. Received at 6:28 p.m.
  2. For text of the tripartite communiqué, dated July 25, which was released with the text of the treaty simultaneously in Moscow, London, and Paris, see Department of State Bulletin, August 12, 1963, p. 239. Text of President Kennedy’s radio and television address delivered July 26 is ibid., pp. 234-238.
  3. See footnote 1, Document 351.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 344.
  5. See footnote 11 below.
  6. In a telephone call to Rusk at 11:45 a.m. on July 25, Bundy stated that Macmillan, acting on a message from Hailsham received before that day’s meetings in Moscow, thought that the United States should not insist on pursuit of either the depository or the wartime explosion issue. Bundy pointed out that the White House, however, thought both could be pursued for another 24 hours. “Sec agrees. If we seem to agree when we don't we are in trouble.” (Memorandum by Bernau; Department of State, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations)
  7. Telegram 321 from Moscow, July 25, reported in part on the presentation to the Soviets on the morning of July 25 of a letter from Harriman to Gromyko that embodied the instructions in telegram 321, Document 351. Hailsham disassociated himself from the U.S. position on this matter. Text of the letter, marked “Returned,” is in the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Test Ban 8, Miscellaneous.
  8. Gromyko gave Harriman a letter in reply. It purportedly stated that the Soviets would “under no circumstances” recognize “as legitimate the deposit of ratification instruments by the Chiang Kai-shek regime, which represents no one, or accession by that regime to the said treaty.” A reconstructed text, marked “restored from memory by Akalovsky,” is ibid. After Harriman at the private session pointed out that this letter would force him to write a similar letter to Gromyko with reference to the PRC, despite U.S. desire that the PRC would adhere to the treaty, the two agreed to take back their letters and went on to reach the agreement described here. (Telegram 333 from Moscow, July 25; Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-4) See the Supplement.
  9. The statement actually was contained in telegram 322 from Moscow, July 25. Harriman first mentioned Khrushchev’s remark in the opening meeting. He then said that the test ban would not remove the risk of nuclear war but that “some people” might say that Article I made illegal the use of nuclear weapons in war, in which case the United States might have to “explain” that the test ban treaty did not prevent a country from using any weapons, including nuclear weapons, in self defense as permitted under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 USSR (MO)) Regarding the opening meeting, see Document 325.
  10. In his interview with Bunn, McNaughton stated that Harriman was “upset” by the instruction to raise the issue of use of nuclear weapons in war. “He felt that it was insane to think that anyone would construe Article I as barring the use of nuclear weapons in anger.” In reporting to Washington, the delegation “spent 30 minutes trying to think of a word” to describe Gromyko’s reaction. “We ended up with ‘baffled.’ Harriman cherished this word. It pleased him very much. He read this sentence over and over to himself.” See footnote 1, Document 350.
  11. In a telephone call to Bundy after the private meeting, at approximately 7 p.m. Moscow time, Kaysen described the terms of the understanding on depositories and indicated that the Soviets had made no objection to the statement on nuclear explosions in time of war. Bundy obtained approval of these actions by consulting the President while Kaysen was on the line, and while Kennedy apparently was on the telephone with Macmillan. The principals in Moscow then initialed the treaty in plenary session. While no record of Kennedy’s conversation with Macmillan has been found, there are two of the Kaysen-Bundy conversation. One is part of Kaysen’s memorandum on the private meeting. (Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Test Ban 12, Post-trip) The other is a partial transcript, drafter not indicated. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Kaysen Series, Disarmament, Harriman Mission, Records/Action) Both are in the Supplement.
  12. Telegram 321; see footnote 7 above. Telegram 347 from Moscow, July 26, gives details of the plenary session. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-3 USSR (MO)) See the Supplement.