387. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations European Office to the Department of State 1

493. From Goldberg. Subj: Outer Space Legal-Bilateral Discussion with Morozov.2

I met this morning with Morozov at his suggestion for approximately two and one-half hours. The meeting was essentially negative in result; he remained insistent on essential elements of Soviet positions where we have had differences. Detailed account follows.

Morozov opened by stating that the USSR was withdrawing from Article I3 the sentence on “equal conditions”, but wanted to preserve the idea in a new provision that would appear later in the treaty. New provision would be limited to tracking stations and would require countries permitting tracking station to one power to accord MFN treatment to others.

Next, Morozov said the USSR accepted the idea of a provision on reporting information relating to the physical safety of astronauts; however, such information should be furnished directly to governments and not through UNSYG. Then, Morozov said USSR was waiting for US concession on access, reporting, and military equipment.

I said we had hoped for a more forthcoming response since the US has been entirely forthcoming on the major issue of scope; Soviet response this morning had simply not met our needs.
I said US agreed that question of access on celestial bodies presents safety problems. Would Morozov be prepared to accept Japanese proposal of July 2 concerning “maximum precautions”? In regard to the requirement of reporting, I proposed addition of the following qualifying words: “in the greatest feasible and practicable detail”. I commented that the new Soviet proposal on equal conditions opens a Pandora’s box and presents many great problems. It would, for example, have effect of diminishing number of states that would become parties to the treaty. I told Morozov we could accept the Soviet language “without discrimination of any kind” in Article I. As for military equipment, I said the US has no intention of creating a loophole in the obligation to use celestial bodies for peaceful purposes only; we agree on a prohibition [Page 843] of military operations; I asked what kinds of equipment is the USSR worried about. Finally, I pointed out that there are great principles in this treaty—such as incorporation of General Assembly Res. 1884;4 US has met Soviet key demand on scope; USSR should reciprocate and not interject complicating requirements.
Morozov said he was glad US had accepted Soviet proposal on scope, which was not new and was also in interest of US. He said that USSR does not want to see too large a UN umbrella over this treaty which might destroy its universal coverage. He observed we were not too far apart on military equipment, but much has changed since time of Antarctic Treaty5 and now we must be “more careful”. Rations or medical supplies are not military equipment. Such equipment is what can be used exclusively for military purposes. Morozov went on to say USSR considers equal conditions provision important; ban UN discrimination is something else.
I reminded Morozov that non-space powers would ask for reciprocity in regard to launchings if MFN obligations should be laid on non-space powers re furnishing of tracking stations. Morozov simply said that this would be an unreasonable demand: if US and USSR agree, there will be no problems here. He justified the MFN provision as contributing to cosmonaut safety. I observed that his proposal was politically impractical, and that Soviet space program had been highly successful in absence of international MFN commitments on tracking stations.
Morozov said USSR insisted on the voluntary character of reports; US formula would lead to mutual accusations. As to Japanese proposal on access, it would let visitor decide on safety precautions; they are not able to do this alone, and there must be joint efforts. I then sounded him out on rewording of Japanese amendment as follows: “Such representatives and those of all other states parties concerned should take maximum precautions to protect the safety and the normal functioning of activities therein.” As for reporting, I said the US takes a position of principle not of self-interest; there would not be great arguments; the world scientific community can judge, and the reports of other countries will be a standard for determining adequacy. I emphasized that we considered reporting on a voluntary basis unsatisfactory. In reply, Morozov said the USSR insisted on voluntary. As for amended Japanese language on access, he could agree to it if this were an addition to the Soviet language on visit by agreement. I said I thought this Soviet proposal was illogical. I went on to say that advance notification [Page 844] is different from agreement, and perhaps we could get together on this. We could also say that visitors and visited should “join in taking maximum precautions.” Morozov then proposed advance notification for the timing of a visit agreeable to both sides. I said this defeated the purpose of our suggestion, and asked whether he would accept “advance notification sufficient to ensure safety.” Morozov rejected this on ground it would permit visitors to determine timing.
I asked Morozov whether his understanding of “military equipment” would exclude a launching rocket and a capsule. His reply was “this goes without saying” i.e., it is permissible to use an ICBM rocket for this purpose. I pressed him as to whether he meant a rocket usable also for military purposes and he gave the same reply.
At conclusion of meeting I asked for his conception of how we should proceed on bilateral discussion and in the subcommitee. Morozov said he was willing to follow any reasonable procedure. He suggested we present a commonly agreed text where possible, and report the results from the working group to the subcommittee, and later from the subcommittee to the full committee. I said this would not be very constructive; it would mean no agreement but instead a report of failure. I suggested we consider the matter further and also advise the chairman at an appropriate time. Morozov simply said the Soviet delegation was ready to continue the efforts at agreement; there was no need for pessimism; only four items remain: access, reporting, military equipment, and equal conditions. We agreed to be in touch later today.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Celestial Bodies Treaty. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. No time of transmission appears on the telegram. Repeated to NASA, DOD, USUN, and Moscow.
  2. Concerning the Celestial Bodies Treaty; see Document 384 and footnote 1 thereto.
  3. For text of the treaty signed January 27, 1967, see 18 UST 2410.
  4. For text of the resolution adopted October 17, 1963, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1963, pp. 133–134.
  5. For text of the treaty, signed at Washington, December 1, 1959, see 12 UST 794.