354. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0
365. From Harriman. Harriman, accompanied by Kohler, Kaysen and Akalovsky, met with Khrushchev in latter’s Kremlin office from 3 to 5:45 p.m., July 26. Khrushchev accompanied by Gromyko and Dobrynin.
After exchange of amenities, Harriman opened by congratulating Gromyko on his constructive work in making agreement on TB treaty possible. Said whenever problems had arisen Gromyko tried help find solution.
Khrushchev congratulated Harriman and his associates on flexible and skillful work in making it possible reach a good agreement, which Sovs believed was very good beginning. Accepted Harriman’s congratulations to Gromyko and expressed his own.
Harriman believed we had good agreement; treaty was clear and no one could misunderstand it.
Khrushchev commented it would be difficult for anyone to object to it.
Harriman believed whole world would hail treaty as good effort on part of three parties. In broader context it would be regarded as first step toward further cooperation in achieving even greater results. Observed he had visited West Africa in 1960 and Africans had been very indignant with French tests impending in Sahara. They had been told they would lose their manhood if wind were to blow south and bring radioactive [Page 857] debris; however, when tests occurred they had found out wind was blowing east. Africans would be very happy about our treaty provided France adhered to agreement. Said UK had info, which he had no reason to believe incorrect, that French could not conduct tests for year. Thus we had time to work on de Gaulle. Wondered whether Khrushchev had any suggestions or advice this respect. In any event, believed the less said publicly the better.
Khrushchev said could give no advice, but Sov desire to see France accede to treaty had been stated. In their statements Sovs would not stress or accentuate French problem; in other words they would not say “If France, etc.” Thus Sovs would provide calm situation and give de Gaulle chance consider this problem calmly and take positive stand on it.
Harriman recalled his statement to Gromyko that President had written to de Gaulle. Letter had been delivered yesterday afternoon because President wanted de Gaulle receive letter before he had seen communiqué and treaty. President had indicated in letter importance we place on end of testing and indicated readiness discuss this with de Gaulle. While we did not know what outcome would be, this was at least an opener. de Gaulle would visit US early next year, in January or February.
Khrushchev said that was good.
Harriman said did not know whether Khrushchev knew about agreement we had with UK1 which was outcome of US/UK pooling their scientific knowledge in nuclear field during war. Under this agreement UK got information from us but could not pass it on without our consent. Harriman continued did not know what discussion with de Gaulle would be. However, whatever influence we had would attempt ensure that no additional country became nuclear power. Harriman expressed hope US and Sovs could work together to that end.
At this point Harriman noticed on Khrushchev’s desk model of early vintage car. Khrushchev said he had been given this model by Italian industrialist who had visited him; it was model of first Fiat, produced 1899. Harriman wondered whether this industrialist was capitalist or imperialist. Khrushchev replied this was matter of qualitative change, but essence was same.
Khrushchev then pointed at slab of ore on his desk, saying it was specimen containing nickel, copper and gold. Harriman commented perhaps Sovs could give us some gold.
Khrushchev seized this opportunity to say Sovs all in favor of trade; they were not like US Congress. Sovs were now about to start large-scale [Page 858] development chemical fertilizer industry, and if it were not for obstacles raised by US Congress they could place orders for equipment in US.
Harriman hoped that as relations between our two countries improved trade relations could also be improved. Noted Khrushchev had said in one of his statements that Sov trade with China had been reduced by 60 per cent.
Khrushchev confirmed this. Said Sov trade with China had been reduced to minimum and Sovs could not understand Chinese position on this matter. Commented however that position would not harm USSR.
Harriman said had thought reduction of trade had been at Sov initiative but Khrushchev’s remark implied this had been at China’s initiative.
Khrushchev denied it had been Sov initiative but noted Sovs had been giving credits to Chinese for their trade with USSR.
Harriman commented that Sovs had cut out credits to China.
Khrushchev said Chinese had cancelled orders in USSR and refused use Sov credit.
Harriman wondered whether Khrushchev wanted say anything re China’s progress toward a nuclear explosion, so that he could pass this info on to President.
Khrushchev replied could only say Sovs had no info whatsoever on this matter. Sovs had none of their people there and there was no Sov-Chinese mutual exchange of info, particularly on this question. Sovs knew nothing about this matter except what they saw in the press; however, Khrushchev believed press reports were more inventions than reflection of facts.
Harriman observed Sovs had apparently helped Chinese in this area until 1960.
Khrushchev confirmed this, saying this had been done at initial stage but had not been comprehensive assistance. Chinese scientists and engineers had had access to Sov secrets but this had been at very early stage and he did not believe they had mastered necessary knowledge; he thought Chinese were developing very slowly in this respect.
Harriman said there was impression among public that Chinese would explode nuclear device before end this year or next year.
Khrushchev commented such reports had been appearing in press over past two years. But US and USSR knew it quite insufficient to hand over secrets of bomb design because for development of nuclear capability it was also necessary to have necessary industry to back up such project.
Harriman asked whether Khrushchev was not concerned that China would explode nuclear device soon.[Page 859]
Khrushchev said he was not concerned at all, even if Chinese were to do it soon. UK and France had also exploded nuclear bombs but who was concerned? There were only two countries which could, because of economic might, solve fully problem of nuclear weapons, and those countries were US and USSR. Khrushchev continued US had developed nuclear weapons earlier than USSR but had developed delivery vehicles only later. US had had considerable difficulties in developing delivery vehicles and Sovs believed it had not overcome those difficulties even now, in spite of fact that US possessed excellent industry. US had emphasized bombers too long. He believed US bases in Europe had played dirty trick on US because US had believed it could keep USSR in fear with bombers stationed at those bases. On other hand, USSR had no bases and had therefore concentrated on rockets and thus overtaken US. McNamara has expressed similar thoughts in one of his speeches, and he, Khrushchev, agreed with him.
Harriman said could agree with what Khrushchev had said provided Khrushchev took out reference to US wanting keep USSR in fear. US did not wish frighten USSR.
Khrushchev wondered what other purpose US bases and bombers had been designed for.
Harriman recalled a conversation he had had with Malinovski2 4 years ago in which latter had also said US had made mistake by concentrating on long-range bombers. In response to his, Harriman’s, question how many bombers Sovs had, Malinovski had said too many. Harriman agreed with Khrushchev US had not gone into ICBM’s soon enough and was still behind Sovs with respect power rocket fuel. Reverting to China, said it would certainly take long time for China to catch up, but many people US took seriously Sov accusations re China’s recklessness, and even few missiles in Chinese hands could create great difficulties.
Khrushchev said this of course correct. However, Sovs believed US had realized as far back as 7 years ago that it should concentrate on missiles. US would of course catch up, although he did not know when, because no special wisdom was required in this field, and science was making progress everywhere. Noted, however, that this would not be easy to do. He could recall that when he had made statement re obsolescence of bombers under present conditions, his speech had been attacked by Generals and others in US, who denied accuracy of that statement. Said although those denials must have been made by reasonable people they were unwise. Thought those people simply had not wished to admit what everyone knew, i.e., that US did not have missiles, because that would have meant US was disarmed. Of course, when Chinese [Page 860] developed nuclear weapons and rockets, that would ease situation for USSR because strength of socialist camp in juxtaposition to imperialism would be enhanced and thus lesser effort would be required on part USSR. Such development would be directed against US and other imperialists.
Harriman asked Khrushchev if he was sure it would not be directed against Sovs one day.
Khrushchev asked whether US was distressed about UK and French nuclear capability, noting US also had differences with UK and France but basically was in agreement with them. Same situation applied to USSR and China; USSR had common basic Communist concepts with China. If sometimes irresponsible or militant statements were made, that was only natural because whenever someone lacked means he was one who shouted loudest. On other hand, when one possessed means he was more restrained because he knew that his adversary was aware of what he had for defense and even for attack. (Gromyko interjected attacked should be understood as retaliation, and Khrushchev agreed he had meant attack in return for aggression.)
Khrushchev continued when US would have more sense and would leave Taiwan, which would help cause of peace. However, most reasonable thing to do would be not wait until China possessed nuclear weapons and do it in advance. US should recognize China and allow it to take its rightful place in UN. As to Chiang, that was Chinese problem which they should solve. Khrushchev then commented he had digressed; Chinese question was special question and Sovs had no authority speak on Chinese behalf. Suggested conversation return to matters relating to US-USSR relations.
Harriman said before subject nuclear capability dropped he wished note that while US behind in power rocket propellents, it had surpassed long time since in lighter weight nuclear weapons. Said willing drop matter here. Also, said wished point out US relations with UK were different than those with France, because US had pooled its scientific knowledge with UK during war. As to France, we had never been enthusiastic about the de Gaulle’s activities which we believed were wasteful and were step in wrong direction. We believed world would be safer if no more nuclear powers develop, and certainly if China did not develop nuclear capability. Hoped Sovs could get Chinese adhere to treaty before they became nuclear power. Also, hoped by time China acquired the ability develop nuclear powers, more comprehensive control of armaments could be had.
Khrushchev agreed and said Sovs making effort prevent increase in number nuclear powers. However, these efforts would of necessity be weak until agreement on disarmament had been reached, because in absence such agreement China and de Gaulle would say why US, UK [Page 861] and USSR may have nuclear weapons and they may not. Therefore, we should concentrate our efforts on reaching agreement on disarmament. This was cardinal problem which would solve this problem.
Harriman inquired what next important steps should be taken in Khrushchev’s view.
Khrushchev said perhaps we should move from particular to general. Of course, it would be better if we solved general problem because in such case particulars would fall in place. However, great efforts would be required to resolve general problem and apparently we unable do it now. Yet, particular, or individual measures would also mean progress towards disarmament and they were easier to achieve. Noted we were celebrating today agreement on what was also a partial disarmament measure. At this point Gromyko whispered in Khrushchev’s ear.
[Here follows discussion of the proposed non-aggression pact and of Germany.]
Harriman referred to further steps that could be taken. Said some people were thinking of what was called in technical terms separable first stage. Such stage could include cut-off of production fissionable materials for weapons uses and perhaps dismantling certain percentage nuclear weapons on each side and making fissionable materials thus derived available for peaceful uses. Wondered whether Khrushchev had any interest in this and commented such steps might reduce Sov military expenditures.
Khrushchev replied he had no interest whatsoever; moreover, he could say Sovs would never agree to this. US position on this matter was well known and had been stated over many years. Sovs had also stated their position, and still held that position. No results could be derived from such an approach. After all, why should Sovs destroy their bombs in which they put so much money; why should Sovs destroy some bombs and build others. Bombs could be destroyed only under a disarmament arrangement. Sovs could not squander their money, particularly as their money was people’s money. Sovs were no capitalists, and to capitalists such an arrangement would of course mean no loss. US should not waste its time developing such proposals; they were totally unrealistic.
Harriman noted Khrushchev had neglected his reference to cut-off.
Khrushchev said such arrangement would be of no use. Other people would say cut-off could yield no result in a situation where US and USSR had accumulated enough bombs to blow up whole world. Others would say they did not possess such material and therefore must produce it. Thus this too was waste of time. As for USSR, it had stopped expanding its production fissionable materials and now producing such materials at same rate as before. Although he did not know when precisely this would happen, it very possible Sovs would stop production [Page 862] fissionable materials in near future; however, that would be without any agreement and Sovs would not tell anybody about it. Sovs had enough such materials and US was probably in same position. What Sovs were now engaged in was refabrication all bombs on basis results latest tests.
Harriman referred to press reports Khrushchev might have seen re cutback US production nuclear weapons. Those reports were premature, although he did not know what would happen in future. Wondered whether Khrushchev did not really believe it would be useful to come to agreement as between our two countries, to stop production and commented world would regard this as useful step.
Khrushchev said no. World would assess such arrangement properly because it would yield nothing and would in effect mean deceiving hopes of world.
[Here follows discussion of Germany, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba.]
Harriman said President very interested in pursuing other questions. Khrushchev had noted President’s June 10 speech.
Khrushchev interjected June 10 speech was best statement made by any President since Roosevelt.
Harriman said sure President would appreciate this comment. TB treaty gratifying and good step in right direction. We hoped other steps could also be made but that would of course require give and take. Commented Sovs would soon experience invasion by US Senate.
Khrushchev asked whether those Senators would be clean or unclean. Wondered whether President had pulled them out of Noah’s Ark, but said would welcome both kinds.
Harriman remarked President had his political difficulties in open, whereas Khrushchev has his political difficulties behind these walls here.
Khrushchev denied this, saying he now saw Harriman more useful as his adviser when serving as adviser President rather than himself. Harriman had convinced himself USSR society, but Harriman wrong as USSR most open society. Said he never used casuistry in talking to other people, whereas Molotov had always done so and only confused issue. Did not agree with dictum ascribed to Talleyrand that diplomats should [use] their words only to conceal their thoughts.
Harriman reiterated President would be happy hear Khrushchev comment on June 10 speech. Hoped Khrushchev took President’s words seriously so that progress could be achieved toward peaceful world.
Khrushchev wished President would consolidate his position on basis that speech. Positions expounded in that speech were good and strong but should be made even stronger; those positions promised yield good dividends both for President personally and for US in general. Concluded here was concrete proof that Sovs did not always use bad [Page 863] words about capitalists, they also used good words about some capitalists if those capitalists deserved them. As it was now dinner time the party walked together to palace.3
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/Harriman. Secret; Eyes Only. Received at 8:30 a.m. and passed to the White House. The portions of this telegram concerning Germany are printed in vol. XV, pp. 539–544.↩
- Agreement for cooperation on the uses of atomic energy for mutual defense purposes; signed at Washington on July 3, 1958. (9 UST (Pt. 1) 1028)↩
- Marshal Rodion Y. Malinovsky, Soviet Minister of Defense.↩
- In a brief memorandum Harriman told the following story to illustrate the contrast between Khrushchev and Stalin: as the party crossed Kremlin Square on the way to dinner, Khrushchev “shook hands with some of the bystanders who applauded him. He introduced me as ‘Gaspodin Garriman,’ saying, ‘He has just signed a test ban treaty and I am going to take him to dinner. Do you think he deserves dinner?’ They applauded loudly and cheered.” (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-4)↩