74. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Disarmament


  • Ambassador Dobrynin, U.S.S.R.
  • William C. Foster, Director,ACDA

At Ambassador Dobrynin’s invitation, I joined him at luncheon at the Soviet Embassy about 12:30 p.m. Before sitting down to luncheon, he first asked about the intent of Long Shot.2 He outlined his own interpretation [Page 198] which was that from this experiment we would prove out our theories that we would be able to detect and identify all underground events. With that information added to our present information, he stated his own belief that from a scientific viewpoint there would be no questionable events and, therefore, there would be no need for on-site inspection. He stated his further conclusion that the only reason for on-site inspections was political and in view of the fact that there was no risk to the security of the U.S. because of the possibility of a few unidentified events, it would be well to proceed to a comprehensive test ban, if, indeed, the U.S. still wanted it. I explained that from our viewpoint, while our ability to detect and identify had improved, there was little likelihood that all events could be identified. In view of this, both from a scientific viewpoint and a political viewpoint, there continued to be a requirement for some on-site inspections, even though, as we had stated on a number of occasions, our approach to this requirement is flexible.

At luncheon two basic points were discussed. The first had to do with the Ambassador’s puzzlement as to why we had not responded to the confidential note on the matter of arms control and disarmament which had now been in our hands almost three months.3 I stated this, in my opinion, was a reasonable question, but that the conditions in the world had been such in the interval, that so far it had not seemed appropriate to respond. The other basic point, and the primary reason that he had asked me to luncheon, concerned a formal Soviet Government proposal which will be made to the U.N. Secretary General, I presume almost immediately, and which calls on their part for a convening of the U.N. Disarmament Commission in order to discuss disarmament proposals, as they say, consistent with the statement issued in Geneva by the ENDC at the time of their adjourning last September.4 He read to me an English version of what presumably will be the content of their note5 in which the Soviet Government called attention to the wording of the recess statement and said that, due to “the futility of the discussions at the last session,” it was necessary to discuss the disarmament situation at the U.N.G.A. and, following that discussion, the question of a further return to the ENDC might be decided. The note will apparently call for a convening of the Commission at the earliest possible moment in order to [Page 199] move ahead with the important work of disarmament. I said that, of course, we would give attention to this immediately when it was officially set forth. I said also that in a preliminary way I had some question regarding the utility of such a discussion, since without instruction from the G.A. on an established procedure or definite time limitations such a Commission with 100 or 115 participants could degenerate into a futile exercise. However, the U.S. Government obviously would give appropriate consideration to the proposal and we would be in touch with him further when the official version had been presented.

I suggested that it might be useful to consider on a concurrent time basis some bilateral discussion of what might be the most fruitful specific areas for discussion when, as, and if we returned to Geneva.

I also said that I would make inquiry as to the status of a response to their earlier official government note on disarmament.

Our discussion ended at 2:15.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18. Confidential;Exdis. Drafted by Foster.
  2. Long Shot, a Department of Defense nuclear test detection experiment of about 80 kilotons, took place at Amchitka Island, Alaska, October 29, 1965. (United States Nuclear Tests, July 1945 through September 1992, p. 21)
  3. Reference presumably is to February 1 message from Chairman Kosygin to President Johnson, Document 68.
  4. Reference is to the Fifth Interim Progress Report by the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee to the U.N. Disarmament Commission and the U.N. General Assembly, September 17, 1964. (Documents on Disarmament, 1964, pp. 435-440)
  5. A letter from Soviet U.N. Representative Fedorenko to U.N. Secretary-General Thant, March 31, 1965, proposed convening the U.N. Disarmament Commission, on which all members of the United Nations were represented, as soon as possible in the first half of April 1965. (Ibid., pp. 30-31)