16. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

2691. Gromyko on Disarmament and NAP.

After discussion on bilateral issues (reported separately),2 Gromyko commented that he had impression from recent speech in New York3 that Secretary was now considerably less sanguine as to prospects of reducing world tensions than he had been last summer in Moscow after signature Test Ban Treaty and even last fall in talks with Gromyko during the General Assembly. I pointed out that obviously Secretary in major speech on foreign policy must inevitably react to world developments and Soviets own behavior in giving his assessment of detente prospects. Thus the Secretary was obliged to take into account recent TASS statement with regard to Vietnam,4 certain unfounded Soviet press allegations with regard to use of chemical warfare by US forces, and failure of Sovs play more vigorous co-chairman role on Laos problem. Nonetheless, it was clear from Secretary’s speech that he intended to continue search for avenues to agreement in order reduce world tensions. The Secretary obviously had not forsaken his belief that the Test Ban Treaty was a good start on which to build, but he felt the world should not be deluded into thinking that this was any more than an initial step. There was still a long way to go before we could be sure the world had ceased to be a dangerous place in which to live. I knew from personal knowledge that the Secretary hopes that among the many items now on ENDC agenda, we would find it possible to agree on further partial measures which would constitute useful sequel to Test Ban Treaty in our mutual efforts to reduce tensions. I understood Secretary had discussed problem with Dobrynin yesterday, although I was not yet informed of details.5

Despite my remarks Gromyko said he could not avoid feeling the Secretary was less positive now in his approach than last year. He agreed, of course, that proper approach was to single out partial measures on which we could agree and in this connection he felt the Soviet proposal [Page 36] for destruction of all bombers was ideally suited. Proposal, in Gromyko’s view, sufficiently limited to avoid impairing present balance of forces and at same time radical enough to impress world.

I said that we had hoped to find common interest in measure of this type, but we feared that radical extension of proposal by Sovs to cover all bombers might in fact result in killing off chances for agreement. Best approach, in our view, was to agree now on limited step of B-47-Badger destruction in order not to upset balance of forces—UK for example relies exclusively on bomber force—and perhaps ultimately reach understanding on destruction of all bombers.

Gromyko said that perhaps compromise could be reached under which we might agree on general policy of destroying all bombers and in implementing this policy decide on one or two particular types for initial destruction. In his view, it would be difficult to convince world that this genuine disarmament measure if agreement confined only to destruction obsolete weapons. Important thing was to agree in principle; question of timing, he was sure, could be worked out to satisfaction both sides.

[Here follows discussion of a non-aggression pact.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18. Confidential. Repeated to Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, USUN, and Geneva.
  2. Reported in telegram 2690, February 28 (ibid., POL 27 LAOS), telegram 2692, February 28 (ibid., POL 7 US-USSR), telegram 2693, February 28 (ibid., POL 28-8 CYP), and telegram 2694, February 28 (ibid., POL 3 UN).
  3. Reference apparently is to Secretary Rusk’s address at Barnard College in New York on January 22; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, February 10, 1964, pp. 190-195.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. See Document 13.