78. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Ambassador S.K. Tsarapkin, U.S.S.R.
  • William C. Foster, Deputy U.S. Representative, UNDC

At my request Ambassador Tsarapkin lunched with me in my suite at the Waldorf Towers. I wanted to continue the discussion with Tsarapkin which we had at the luncheon Ambassador El-Kony gave for us on May 17 (reported in separate memcon).2

It became perfectly clear from Tsarapkin’s first remarks that the position of the Soviet Union has decidedly hardened with reference to a return to Geneva unless and until the U.S. states that it is willing to agree to a number of things, which largely we cannot accept.

We had an extensive discussion as to no first use of nuclear weapons. Tsarapkin contended that as long as the U.S. continued to engage in aggression, such as in Viet Nam and the Dominican Republic, it was impossible to achieve any real agreements. I stated that what we were undertaking in South Viet Nam was not aggression. We had a long argument about the historical background of the 1954 Agreements,3 the election which had been called for in 1955, the line between two parts of the same state, and the introduction of U.S. troops which, he said, was [Page 204] designed through pressure to subjugate South Viet Nam to U.S. desires. Tsarapkin expounded on what he said were U.S. attempts to subjugate many countries around the world where the U.S. had bases, troops under the guise of advisers, etc., etc.

I brought up the subject of non-proliferation, but this was discussed only briefly since he said that this was directly linked to our desire to give nuclear capabilities to the FRG. As long as the U.S. had that approach there was no way possible to achieve a non-proliferation agreement.

I then asked: “What exactly does the U.S.S.R. want as an outcome of the meeting of the UNDC?” He said he felt that the UNDC must agree on specific arrangements by which we could achieve several things: A Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; a non-proliferation agreement without ANF/MLF; a reduction of bases and troops on foreign territory; a no first use agreement; and a decision to call a world conference on disarmament in which the Chinese would participate. Obviously, several of these are non-starters. As to the world conference, I said that while the U.S. recognized that at some point in disarmament discussions it would be essential for the Chinese to be included, we saw no evidence that their inclusion at the moment would further arrangements on arms reduction and disarmament. I reminded him that we had active and current discussions with the Chinese in Warsaw during which proposals for arms control and disarmament had been suggested by the U.S. but that no affirmative response had ever been received. In view of that it was difficult for us to comprehend how progress could be made by present inclusion of the Chinese at the ENDC, or at a world conference, or at the U.N. itself. It was interesting that when I asked him how he would suggest the Chinese could be included in a way to have constructive results, he shrugged his shoulders and said it was up to the U.S.

I told Tsarapkin that we had delivered an aide-mémoire to Ambassador Dobrynin yesterday in response to their questions about the Palanquin shot.4 I said that we were quite clear that the Palanquin shot was not a threat to the continuance of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, but we were not so clear that their shot of January 15 was in the same category. We had previously asked the Soviet Union for further information about that shot and about its possible impact on the treaty,5 and we had reiterated that question because we were concerned about the magnitude of the shot and the extent of radioactivity outside the borders of the Soviet Union. I expressed the personal hope that they continue to believe, as we do, that the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was of great importance and should be supported by both of us.

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We moved from that to a discussion of the Comprehensive Test Ban, and Tsarapkin said that this was one of the things where there is no necessity of returning to Geneva, since they were aware of our point of view concerning the requirements for on-site inspections. If we were unable to accept the realities of the situation—no on-site inspection requirements—no progress could be made at Geneva and therefore there was no reason for returning there. I made no impression on him by reiterating the advances which we had made as a result of the extensive research which we had undertaken. Tsarapkin said both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. knew that it was possible with national capabilities to detect and identify any violations of a treaty and all that was needed was the utilization of national resources.

During the course of the discussion about the Limited Test Ban Treaty, Tsarapkin attacked us on the maintenance of the Guantanamo base in Cuba. He said that the U.S. contends that it has troops and bases only in those countries where the people wanted U.S. assistance for purposes of mutual security. He said obviously that the people of Cuba did not want us and therefore we should withdraw. I said that Guantanamo was there because of a long established treaty,6 promulgated by a desire of the Cuban people, and that a treaty of this nature continued to be binding. We then had a lengthy discourse on the sanctities of treaties. The point Tsarapkin was making was that any time the mood of a people changes, treaties should be abrogated. I said that this was a reason for real concern about their willingness to adhere to treaties and whether we could depend on such arrangements.

My conclusion after this extended luncheon (he departed at 4:30) was that Tsarapkin is operating under harder instructions both as to the return to Geneva and as to the flexibility which he might be able to exhibit on proposals where in the past there has appeared to be some possibility of mutual acceptance.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 18 UN. Confidential; Limdis. Drafted by Foster, who was in New York to attend meetings of the U.N. Disarmament Commission which met from April 21 to June 16.
  2. Not found.
  3. Reference is to the Agreements on Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, done at Geneva, July 20, 1954; texts in American Foreign Policy, Basic Documents: 1950-1955, vol. I, pp. 750-767.
  4. Documents 75 and 76, respectively.
  5. See Document 66.
  6. Reference is to the Agreement for the lease to the United States of lands in Cuba for coaling and naval stations, signed at Havana February 16, 1903, and at Washington February 23, 1903; entered into force February 23, 1903; 6 Bevans 1113; continued in effect by the Treaty signed at Washington May 29, 1934; entered into force June 9, 1934; 6 Bevans 1161.