580. Memorandum from Cleveland to Rusk, December 181

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  • Cuba

I have thought a little more about the Kuznetsov proposal and discussed it further with Jack McCloy. As I understand it, the proposal is to file (“register”) with the Secretary General a package consisting of four letters—Chairman Khrushchev’s messages to the President of October 27 and 28, and the corresponding letters from the President to Khrushchev dated October 27 and 28. Kuznetsov also spoke of the Cubans submitting something, but it was a little unclear what the Cubans could submit that would be in parallel with these already published documents which contain the understanding between the President and the Chairman.

In the later telephone conversation with Mr. McCloy, he and I were agreed that it would be appropriate to ask Kuznetsov for clarification on two points:

a. Is it really necessary for the Cubans to submit anything as a part of this scenario? Since the Cubans really don’t have any old document parallel to the Kennedy-Khrushchev exchange, their submission would presumably contain new material, and would thereby force the other participants to submit unilateral statements of their own. In order to avoid this, wouldn’t it be better for the Cubans not to be a part of the scenario at all? (Naturally the Cubans can submit anything they want to the Secretary General at any time, but we don’t have to admit that it’s part of our negotiations with the Russians as long as the Russians will not claim that it is.)

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b. Would it be within Kuznetsov’s instructions for the four letters in question to be submitted separately—the two Khrushchev letters by the Soviet Delegation and the two Presidential letters from the United States Delegation? This would avoid any implication that we were signing on to any of the Khrushchev letters, or lending them any dignity they did not have before. This is particularly important in the case of the reference in Khrushchev’s letter of October 27, to the question of Turkish bases.

My preliminary view is that we could take a procedure for separate but simultaneous submission of these letters to the Secretary General, with an indication that that was an end to the current negotiations. [Typeset Page 1534] Outside the UN context, we would then have to make three things clear, at a minimum:

a. We would need to remind the world that we had not bought, or even considered, bargaining with the Turkish missiles. This could readily be done by reminding the Press about the White House statement pouring cold water on the Turkish missile idea shortly after the Khrushchev message of October 27 was received.

b. We would need to indicate publicly that, in view of non-performance on internationally inspected verification and safeguards, the U.S. would need to continue to use other means of keeping Cuba under observation.

c. We would need to make clear that nothing had happened that affected in any way our rights and obligations under treaties to which we are a party, including the Rio Treaty and the United Nations Charter.

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Mr. McCloy’s preliminary view is that we could live with this. He is going to discuss it with Ambassador Stevenson as soon as he can.

If this seems sensible to you, we could send a message tonight or tomorrow to Nassau, giving the President the benefit of your reaction to the Kuznetsov proposal.

Harlan Cleveland
  1. New Soviet proposal for settlement of Cuban crisis. Top Secret. 3 pp. DOS, CF, 737.00/12–1862.