184. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission in Geneva1

144310. Literally Eyes Only for Foster From Secretary. This is not an instruction but a sharing with you of my increasingly grave concern about the possibility that we shall be in a false position on the NPT in the absence of a meeting of the minds with the Russians. I have in mind, of course, the effect of an NPT on European unity.2 I find it hard to see how we could pretend that there was a treaty if the public interpretation given to it by the USSR and the US is directly contradictory on a crucial point. If the Soviets were to permit our public statement of interpretation to stand unchallenged, we would be in a strong position some years hence if the point became operational. But if they challenge it openly and publicly, then they are in position to employ maximum blackmail, threats and pressure to oppose European unity. I realize that the Germans do not require the Soviets to agree with our interpretation but I think we would have a different problem if the Russians were publicly to oppose it. This would give all those in Germany and Italy who might be looking for a pretext a major point on which to oppose the NPT.

This causes me to be very dubious about our joining with the Russians to submit an NPT to the conference with this problem of interpretation unresolved.3 We would look rather silly to join in submitting a treaty and have it become immediately apparent that we and the Russians do not agree at all.

Please give me your best thinking on this point because I am not at all sure we have yet reached the right answer. I will be wanting to discuss this matter with the President very shortly and I want to have your full views.

Best regards.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18-6. Secret; Nodis; Priority. Drafted and approved by Secretary Rusk on February 26.
  2. See Document 180.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 180.