98. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Cleveland) to Secretary of State Rusk0


  • Telephone Conversation with the President, November 22

The President called me at home at breakfast time this morning to discuss nuclear test ban negotiations, and (as it turned out) a number of other subjects as well—some of them IO business, some of them not. A summary of his concerns and requests, and the action taken on them, follows:

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1. Nuclear Tests

The President was concerned at the way the press was playing the forthcoming resumption of test ban negotiations. He referred particularly to an article by Joseph Newman in the New York Herald Tribune,1 to the effect that the United States had now been mouse-trapped on this issue.

The President developed his thinking about the line we ought to take publicly on this subject, and thought that we probably should have a background press conference on the matter today.1 He did not contemplate making any statement himself on the subject before the negotiations get underway, but thought that he might be having something to say on the U.S. testing program in a couple of weeks.

The line he seemed to be suggesting was the following:

To remind the world of our record in recent weeks, which is replete with clear statements by U.S. spokesmen, that we are free to test and that we are not buying any moratoriums.
In view of Soviet performance we intend to be very tough about the need for adequate inspection and control arrangements in the resumed Geneva talks.
If we can get agreement that would be strong enough to stick, and there is some prospect of getting other countries to adhere to it, and thus “lessen the proliferation” of nuclear arms, it would be a good deal from the U.S. point of view. In other words, we still do want a test ban treaty.
No risk to the U.S. security attaches to this line of negotiations.
We should stay off flat claims about the respects in which we’re ahead on weapons development as a result of testing so far.

I passed these comments for action to Adrian Fisher in ACDA.

[Here follows discussion of Angola, Chinese representation at the United Nations, the Dominican Republic, the Congo, and India.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149, August-December 1961. Secret.
  2. Not further identified.