5. Memorandum From Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Summary of Arms Control Activities for Period 17 January-3 February, 1964

I have prepared for your information the following summary of the principal activities of White House interest in the arms control field during your absence from 17 January-3 February.2

On Friday, 17 January, shortly after your departure, Fisher and I agreed on an amended version of Sorensen’s draft of the Presidential statement for Geneva. Fisher then circulated the draft, which to the best of my knowledge reflected the agreements reached by Rusk, McNamara, Fisher and yourself the previous day, to all interested agencies for clearance by close of business on the 17th.3 There were immediate objections from all sides and it looked for awhile as though it would be impossible to clear a paper with anything new in it at all. The JCS objected to the production freeze and the nuclear free zones.4 There was also strong opposition within the State Department to the nuclear free zones. Finally, the AEC managed to find some alleged security reasons to object to our offer to permit inspection of all four reactors involved in the present U.S. cut-back of plutonium production (i.e., one reactor scheduled for shut down at Hanford is immediately adjacent to a reactor that will continue operations and consideration is now being given to operating the closed down Savannah River pile as a commercial power reactor).

On Saturday, 18 January, Rusk, McNamara, Taylor and Fisher held a private meeting in which it was concluded that the JCS and State Department would only go along with the statement if the reference to nuclear free zones was eliminated and production freeze was presented in terms of “agree to explore” rather than as an actual proposal.5 Separately, AEC support was obtained by fuzzing the language a bit so that it did not necessarily offer to permit international inspection of all closed down U.S. reactors. Later Saturday afternoon, Rusk, McNamara, Taylor and Fisher [Page 10]were joined by Seaborg and Carter and they met with the President who approved the attached statement for Geneva (see attachment 1).6 Actually, in the eyes of the world, I doubt that the final statement was very much weakened over the original draft since the full significance of the semantics was not apparent to anyone who was not acquainted with the internal debate.

On Sunday, 19 January, Rusk, McNamara and members of their staffs held a series of meetings to develop a program to reassure NATO that the Presidential proposal would not affect any U.S. NATO commitments. The attached cable of instructions (see attachment 2) forwarded copies of the Presidential statement for Geneva to all NATO capitals.7 This cable, which makes quite a few policy decisions that to my knowledge had not previously been agreed to, was not cleared by anyone in the White House. I complained about neither having been included in the preparation of these instructions nor informed of the results and to my knowledge all subsequent substantive cables have been cleared with either Bromley or myself. Fisher has actually been very good about keeping me informed on day to day developments.

On Tuesday, 21 January, the President delivered the attached television statement to coincide with Foster’s delivery of the Presidential message at Geneva8 (see attachment 3). The draft was prepared by Sorensen and cleared with interested agencies just prior to delivery. At the last moment (30 minutes before the President went on the air), the AEC formally took the position that the statement in the speech that, “This country and the Soviet Union already have produced enough explosive force to equal 10 tons of T.N.T. for every man, woman and child on the face of the earth.” was Restricted Data and wanted it removed from the speech. They persisted in this ridiculous position up until the moment before the President went on the air.9 It is also interesting to note that the President himself, at the last moment, added the “excellent” next to last paragraph referring to the importance of individuals interesting themselves in the problems of arms control.

[Page 11]

In the week following the Presidential statement, there were a series of meetings and cables aimed at further reassuring our allies.10 There appears to be a major effort in some quarters to use this opportunity to establish as large a “safeguards” program with NATO as possible and tie up possible negotiations with commitments to make future proposals only on a joint NATO basis. I objected to a number of cables on the grounds that they implied positions and commitments that had not been agreed to and managed to tone things down a little.

At the same time, the control post proposal ran into anticipated troubles in NAC. Finletter and the Germans and French objected to both the schedule and the proposed method of procedure. The Timberlake mission appears to have accomplished little and he has returned to Washington. Finletter asked that the control post proposals be advanced as formal NAC proposals and that all deadlines be removed. I objected to an EUR cable which would have authorized Finletter to agree to handle the control post proposal only as joint NAC proposal since it should be much easier to get the key members of NATO to go along with a U.S. initiative in this field than to create a formal joint NATO control post proposal. The final instructions, which although weak are acceptable, are attached (see attachment 4). As I understand it, formal discussion of the control post proposal will begin in Paris today but there is no longer any official date by which a decision will be reached.

At the end of last week, ACDA circulated for staff consideration the attached paper setting forth in more detail the basic elements of a production freeze proposal (see attachment 5). This will be considered at a Principals meeting next Monday, 10 February.11 ACDA also circulated the attached position paper on non-dissemination of nuclear weapons to formalize the changes involved in clearing the Geneva statement (see attachment 6).12 This has now been agreed upon.

Meanwhile in Geneva, the Presidential statement appears to have been well received although Foster has not been able to elaborate on it in much detail. Most of the initial concern has been with what the proposal would not do rather than with what it would do and this does not make very good text for Geneva. The most interesting development in Geneva was probably the discussion of the much anticipated Polish proposal. The Poles are clearly going out of their way to indicate that they are very flexible and I believe that it may eventually be possible to build something [Page 12]on it. The U.S. response has been non-committal and a series of questions are being posed to clarify the proposal (see attachment 7).13 The Soviet Union has also tabled a proposal which appears to have been rather hastily put together in response to the U.S. initiative (see attachment 8).14

When the U.S. jet was shot down over Germany last week,15 Foster, lacking instructions, did not make his planned presentation to the ENDC. He has now been instructed to continue his participation as previously planned without further comment on the incident.

On Friday, 31 January, at the request of the President, Fisher prepared the attached useful summary of actions in the field of disarmament (see attachment 9).

Looking into the immediate future, a Deputy Principals meeting is scheduled for 6 February and a Principals meeting for 10 February to consider the ACDA paper on the basic elements of the freeze on nuclear vehicles. A second item for consideration is the ACDA proposal to set up a Verification Advisory Committee (VERAC), which you will recall we have discussed with Foster and Fisher in the past. As I anticipated, this has run into some AEC-CIA opposition. With all of the unfinished business before us, I do not really believe the Principals should occupy themselves with this VERAC question at this time if there is strong opposition.

Looking back over the past two weeks, I conclude that although our present Geneva position is much less impressive than we had hoped, it is a substantial improvement over the one we would have had if you had not given things a strong push the week before you left. I think that the initiatives that have been started, if not allowed to die on the vine, could evolve into some rather interesting and conceivably negotiable proposals.

The action or lack of action of the past two weeks present the following immediate problems:

Need for agreement within U.S. Government on the basic elements of our proposal for a production freeze so that the Geneva delegation can expound on these ideas at an early date.
Prevention of proliferation of “safeguards” for NATO prior to any indication of Soviet interest in our present proposals.
Prevention of any commitments to NATO limiting our arms control initiatives to formal joint NATO proposals.
Need for continued consideration within Government of both strategic and conventional reductions that might be coupled with the production freeze.
Need for follow-up action to assure that the control post proposal does not bog down indefinitely in NAC debate.
Need for careful consideration of the Polish proposals to see if new counter-proposals can be built upon them.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Disarmament, Vol. 1, Box 10. Secret.
  2. Bundy was on vacation during this period.
  3. Sorensen’s draft has not been found; but regarding the draft submitted to the interested agencies, January 17, and the President’s message to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee in Geneva, January 21, see footnote 3, Document 4.
  4. See footnote 4, Document 4.
  5. No record of this private meeting has been found.
  6. No attachments are filed with the source text and have not been further identified except as indicated in footnotes below. Regarding the Saturday afternoon meeting, see Document 4.
  7. The President’s statement was sent to all NATO capitals and USRO in circular telegram 1300, January 19 (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18) and the instructions in circular telegram 1301, January 19. (Ibid.)
  8. Regarding the President’s televised statement at 11:30 a.m., January 21, see footnote 5, Document 4.
  9. Item 4 in the minutes of the AEC’s Information Meeting 243, which began on January 21 at 10:50 a.m., notes approval of the declassification of the President’s statement, with Howard Brown,AEC Assistant General Manager for Administration, informing Bromley Smith “telephonically of the Commission’s decision regarding language.” The meeting was held in the absence of Seaborg who was giving a speech in Denver, but the minutes are in Seaborg, Journal, Vol. 7, p. 258.
  10. Examples of this exchange of cables are Disto 1496 from Geneva, January 24 (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18) and Todis 1208 to Geneva, January 25. (Ibid.)
  11. No record of a February 10 meeting of the Committee of Principals has been found.
  12. The ACDA position paper has not been found. The “Geneva statement” apparently refers to Foster’s remarks on dissemination, which he made to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee on February 6; for text, see Documents on Disarmament, 1964, pp. 32-36.
  13. On December 28, 1963, Polish First Secretary Wladyslaw Gomulka proposed a nuclear freeze in Central Europe. For extracts from his statement, see Documents on Disarmament, 1963, pp. 651-652.
  14. Reference is presumably to the Soviet memorandum submitted to the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee, January 28. For text, see Documents on Disarmament, 1964, pp. 12-17.
  15. Reference is to a USAF jet trainer that was shot down by Soviet aircraft on January 28 after it strayed across the East German border near Erfurt.