412. Memorandum From the Deputy Legal Adviser of the Department of State (Meeker) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Johnson)1


  • Cooperation with the Soviets on a Joint Expedition to the Moon

In accordance with the suggestion of SCI, we are addressing to you our comments on the NASA paper of November 19, concerning cooperation with the Soviets on a joint expedition to the moon.2

President Kennedy in September included in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly a generalized proposal of United States-Soviet cooperation on a manned lunar landing. The proposal was referred to by Ambassador Stevenson in his speech of December 2 to the General Assembly’s Political Committee. He said: “President Johnson has instructed me to reaffirm that offer today.”3

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It is possible that the Soviets do not feel that they are called upon to make any particular reply to a proposal set forth and repeated in speeches before the United Nations. Therefore, it would seem advisable at some time early in 1964 to make a private bilateral approach to the USSR, asking whether the Soviets would like to discuss the possibilities of cooperation on a manned lunar landing.

Since Soviet performance is already overdue under the Dryden-Blagonravov Agreement, we would presumably not wish to propose further agreements until the Soviet attitude toward the existing arrangements has been clarified. This might be done in a high-level approach, by Ambassador Kohler or perhaps in a Presidential letter to Chairman Khrushchev, embodying the following elements:

The United States remains committed to the principle of international cooperation in outer space and believes that the United States and the USSR should work together constructively in the exploration of space;
The new Administration in this country fully intends to carry forward the implementation of the Dryden-Blagonravov Agreement, and wishes to confirm that the Soviet Government will do likewise;
If the Soviet Government shares these views, the United States proposes that there should be bilateral discussions to consider further prospects for United States-Soviet cooperation in space, to include, if the Soviet Government desires, a discussion of ways in which the two countries could work together toward a manned lunar landing.

We would want to know that the Soviets intend to go ahead with the Dryden-Blagonravov Agreement before we enter into discussions with them of more ambitious cooperative projects. And we would want to see actual performance by the Soviets under their existing commitments before we embarked on other programs of cooperation in space.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1960–63, SP 1–1 US–USSR. Confidential.
  2. Not found.
  3. For text of Ambassador Stevenson’s speech, see Department of State Bulletin, December 30, 1963, pp. 1005–1012.