370. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Disarmament


  • US
    • The President
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Thompson
    • Assistant Secretary Tyler
    • Mr. Akalovsky, ACDA/IR
  • USSR
    • Foreign Minister Gromyko
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Semenov
    • Ambassador Dobrynin
    • Mr. Sukhodrev, Foreign Ministry

Mr. Gromyko then said he wished to make some comments on the problem of disarmament. Noting that disarmament negotiations had been going on for years on end, he said that the Soviet Government sometimes wondered whether there was any use discussing disarmament in the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee. However, he pointed out that this remark should not be interpreted as meaning that the USSR would not continue to participate in the work of that Committee. He said he had raised the disarmament problem not in order to start arguing about, but because the USSR believed the situation in this field could not be worse. As to the arguments used by both sides in discussing this problem, these were well known to both of them and indeed could be referred to by number. He wondered what the President’s view was as to what could be done in this area. Although perhaps not all the problems in disarmament field could be resolved right away, the Soviet Union believed that the approach of general and complete disarmament was [Page 895] realistic, because if disarmament were to be taken up in pieces many difficulties would arise, such as change in the correlation of forces, etc.

The President agreed that since both our countries had subscribed to the concept of general and complete disarmament, they ought to stay at it in Geneva, although not much progress had been made so far. He hoped the Soviet Union would stay. He said he was not very optimistic that we would disarm totally in one or even three stages, but he believed that it was psychologically good to keep working at this problem because this did have some influence on the levels of arms.

Mr. Gromyko asked whether there was any chance of France’s participating in the discussion.

The President observed that de Gaulle had made some proposals, with the details of which we were not familiar. He said he did not know what chance there was of the French joining in the discussion.

The Secretary said he wished to make two comments on this point: first, he believed that Geneva was a convenient forum for us to talk. Some of our allies were there and we could make preparations for our discussions more easily. Thus the Geneva arrangement could help us to move ahead. The second comment he wanted to make was that in spite of this we were not committed to any particular forum. In other words, while we had not heard anything from them on this score, if the French were to say that they would join, but not in Geneva, we should see what other useful arrangement could be made. However, now we should go ahead in Geneva unless something better should come along.1

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL US-USSR. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Akalovsky and approved by S on October 16 and by the White House on October 21. The ending time of the meeting, which was held at the White House, is from the President’s Appointment Book. (Kennedy Library) Separate memoranda of conversation were prepared on the subjects of Cuba, Berlin, steps to be taken after the Test Ban Treaty, U.S.-USSR relations, U.S.-USSR trade relations, nuclear non-dissemination, observation posts, the proposed non-aggression pact, military budgets, and bombs in orbit. Regarding the last, the President and Gromyko agreed that it should be handled in the form of an agreed U.S.-Soviet draft U.N. resolution, perhaps to be cosponsored by other members of the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee. The memoranda of conversation on U.S.-USSR relations and U.S.-USSR trade relations are printed in vol. V, Documents 222 and 223. The memorandum of conversation on Cuba is printed in Volume XI; that on Berlin in vol. XV, pp. 591594.
  2. Rusk discussed disarmament again with Gromyko on the evening of October 10. A memorandum of the conversation is in Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18. See the Supplement. Rusk also discussed disarmament with Mikoyan in the course of a general conversation held the afternoon of November 26. (Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330) A telegraphic report of the meeting is printed in vol. V, Document 238.

    The Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee did not reconvene in 1963. For U.N. Resolution 1908 (XVIII) of November 27, regarding General and Complete Disarmament, see Documents on Disarmament, 1963, pp. 624-625.