157. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Non-Proliferation


  • U.S.
    • The President
    • The Secretary
    • Llewellyn E. Thompson
    • Mr. Walt Rostow
  • U.S.S.R.
    • Mr. Gromyko
    • Ambassador Dobrynin
    • Mr. Sukodrev

Mr. Gromyko said he would like to raise the question of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. He had had an exchange of views with Secretary Rusk.2 The Soviet Union considered that every lost day made the problem more difficult. They believed that every nation in the world was interested in achieving an agreement on this subject. He said that every government had its advisers and there were perhaps some that thought the Soviet Union was not interested in signing such an agreement, but he urged the President not to believe this. The Soviet Union was ready to sign an agreement in two weeks when an agreed text was achieved. The Soviet position was that nuclear weapons must not fall into individual national control of non-nuclear powers or into the collective hands of any grouping that included non-nuclear powers. He would like to have [Page 387] the President’s views on this subject and said that if the conditions he had outlined could be met, the Soviet Union was prepared to conclude an agreement and perhaps the Foreign Ministers might meet before the end of the year, perhaps at Geneva for this purpose.

The President, in referring to Mr. Gromyko’s remark about advisers, said that there were no two men in which he had more trust than Secretary Rusk and Ambassador Thompson. He said when they speak, they have my complete confidence and he said that sometimes he thought he trusted them more than he trusted himself. He said that he had been happy that we appeared to be on the verge of reaching an agreement on civil aviation and he would do all he could to conclude the Consular agreement. He appreciated the Soviet handling of the fisheries question. He was also interested in dealing with the question of trade, and settling other problems.

The President said that we had a law in this country which said we could not transfer the power of decision to fire nuclear weapons to anyone else.3 Mr. Gromyko could be sure that only the President of the United States would exercise power over nuclear weapons. He presumed that the Soviet Government could give a similar assurance, but he did not ask the Soviet Union to tear up the Warsaw Pact and to have no allies. He did not see why we could not get our pencils out and work out an agreement. Sometimes he thought that we did not understand each other.

The President concluded the discussion by saying that no country was more against the proliferation of nuclear weapons than the United States.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-I Files: Lot 79 D 246, US-USSR Officials, Memoranda of Conversation, 1966. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Thompson (S/AL) and approved by the White House, October 13. The time of the meeting is taken from Rusk’s Appointment Book. (Johnson Library)
  2. Document 153.
  3. Reference presumably is to Section 92 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended; 42 USC 2122.