157. Editorial Note

In November 1966, the Soviets requested consideration of a renewal of the 2-year-old bilateral desalting agreement (see Document 135), scheduled to expire at the end of the month. When Seaborg met Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs-Designate Foy Kohler on November 25 to discuss the U.S. response, the AEC Chairman expressed concern over Soviet unresponsiveness to both the terms of the 1964 agreement and to his efforts to renew the general “peaceful uses agreement” between the two countries. (Seaborg, Journal, Volume 13, page 547) According to an undated Atomic Energy Commission chronology, since the 1964 agreement the United States had sent at least four letters proposing methods of implementation and six technical reports on desalting but had received neither documents nor firm responses in return. (Department of Energy, Archives, Records of the Atomic Energy Commission, Secretariat Files, Folder 7) According to Seaborg’s journal entry, Kohler said that the Soviets “have a basic posture on this thing—there won’t be anything that gets a lot of publicity or anything new … until the Vietnam situation is over.” He recommended renewal as “consistent with the President’s philosophy.” (Seaborg, Journal, Volume 13, page 547)

In early December the Embassy in Moscow delivered a positive response to the Soviet request, following Department instructions to “express hope that level of cooperative activity during the next two years will be substantially higher than under lifespan of original agreement.” (Telegram 95767 to Moscow, December 2; Department of Energy, Archives, Records of the Atomic Energy Commission, Secretariat Files, Folder 7) Officials at the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs were surprised to hear of their own government’s lack of responsiveness. (Telegram 3472 from Moscow, December 5; ibid.) According to a Department of Energy report, 35 reports and 2 books on desalination were sent by the Soviets under cover of a December 24 letter, which also promised responses to the other proposals. (Ibid.)