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


  • ACDA Draft Message on Disarmament

The attached draft message on disarmament has been circulated by Bill Foster to the Committee of Principals with the suggestion that it be [Page 192] discussed in the near future at a meeting of the Committee of Principals.2 While I believe the attached draft is, in general, pretty good, I think that it is clear that the next pen-pal message should cover a number of current issues in addition to arms control. I hope that Ambassador Thompson will draw on this ACDA draft in the message he is preparing.3 I am afraid he may not, however, since the word I get from both ACDA and Dave Klein is that Thompson does not consider this entire subject as a “starter.” For my own part, I am not prepared to rule out entirely the possibility that we might in the relatively near term reach some sort of an agreement with the Soviets on some modest arms control proposal such as a non-proliferation treaty. Even if one discounts this possibility entirely, I believe that it is still important to restate and develop our ideas on arms control as part of the background mood music for a continuing dialogue with the Soviets.

The ACDA draft calls for exploration of essentially all of the proposals currently being considered within government that appear to have any chance of being cleared by the Principals and negotiable with the Soviets. While I believe we should refer to specific arms control areas in the next pen-pal message, I don’t think we need throw in everything we have at this time. Actually, I believe that ACDA made their package this comprehensive to increase the probability that something would survive. The ACDA draft also names Foster as our negotiator to explore the problems with the Soviets. While I have no objection to Foster doing the job, I wonder if naming him specifically is a wise tactic at this time since it invites a Soviet reply that he should deal with his opposite number, Tsarapkin, (an old-line bureaucrat who, I doubt, is very close to the top of the Soviet Government) rather than opening up the relatively high-level discussion which I believe it called for.

In considering the priority of the items in the ACDA package, I agree with ACDA that the most important is an agreement to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. With regard to the ANF, ACDA has suggested some very cautious language that is calculated not to upset the State Department; however, I am afraid that it will not prove sufficiently reassuring to the Soviets to be of much value. I have, therefore, suggested an alternate, more controversial, text that I believe expresses our actual intentions in this matter.4 In this connection,ACDA suggests that we explore the possibility of joint reassurances to nations that forego the acquisition of nuclear weapons. I like the idea, but I do not think we should open this up until we have further clarified our own thinking and [Page 193] have explored the question further with the Indians who are, of course, the principal nation concerned at the moment.

I believe that the next priority should be to reaffirm our interest in a safeguarded comprehensive test ban. The Soviets seem to be putting out the word that we are no longer interested in such an agreement and we must not let them convince themselves that this is the case. I believe we should also reassert our desire to discontinue the production of fissionable material for weapons, and I agree with ACDA that we should use this opportunity to press the Soviets for a clarification of the steps the Soviets have actually taken to carry out Khrushchev’s announcement of cutbacks last spring.5

I think it is also important that we set forth at least one or two new ideas. I believe the best candidates are the proposal to couple reductions of agreed numbers of strategic missiles and launching sites to our strategic freeze proposal and the proposal for a two-year moratorium on the construction of new land-based facilities for strategic missiles and for anti-ballistic missiles. These are substantive matters that would, of course, require clearance with the Pentagon. They have, however, been previously staffed and I understand that McNamara will support a proposal to explore them. I place a lower priority on, but do not object to, the proposal to explore arrangements to include the destruction of the non-nuclear components of agreed numbers of nuclear weapons in conjunction with the transfer of fissionable materials to peaceful purposes. This idea, which has been worked out in some detail by ACDA, is an interesting response to Soviet charges that our transfer proposals don’t really affect nuclear weapons; however, I don’t really believe the Soviets will be very attracted by the proposal at this time. Similarly, while I strongly support the concept of nuclear free zones and do not object to discussing it with the Soviets, this is not the critical forum since we have correctly taken the position that the initiative for nuclear free zones must come from the areas involved.

I have placed the lowest priority on proposals to explore informal restraints on the proliferation of strategic nuclear vehicles and the proposal to consider reductions in launch facilities and associated strategic vehicles prior to working out a strategic production freeze. I have not thought these proposals through very carefully yet and have some questions about them. Moreover, I think there would be considerable difficulty clearing these two concepts quickly.

Finally, I do not believe that we should include ground observation posts in Europe and the associated question of possible reductions in force levels. While it is true that we have previously proposed observation [Page 194] posts to guard against surprise attack, I am afraid that this creates more political problems in NATO than it is worth. In any event, the suggestion that we explore reductions in force levels seems unwise at this time.

I have indicated a number of detailed editorial changes on the ACDA draft, but have not attempted to rewrite the draft in accordance with the above comments.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Head of State Correspondence File, Pen Pal Correspondence, Kosygin, Box 8. Secret.
  2. Not found.
  3. No record has been found that a message was sent at this time.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. See Document 24.