158. Memorandum From the Acting Director of the Office of International Scientific Affairs (Pollack) to the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Thompson)1


  • USSR Participation in Water for Peace Conference

The United States will host in Washington on May 23–31, 1967 an International Conference on Water for Peace. Our posts abroad were authorized in October to extend to all countries with whom we maintain diplomatic relations invitations to participate in the Conference.

On November 28, Soviet Embassy Counselor Chernyakov delivered an oral statement to Mr. Stoessel rejecting the invitation. The refusal to attend was said to be based on the fact that invitations had been extended to “Germany, China, Korea, Viet-Nam, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.” The refusal sharply protested the inclusion of “emigre governments of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.”2

On December 1, Mr. Stoessel called in Counselor Chernyakov to explain that the Baltic countries have not and will not be invited to the Conference; that other invited countries are all members of the UN or specialized agencies of it; and, that the only UN members not invited are those with which US does not maintain diplomatic relations. Mr. Stoessel expressed our “earnest hope” that the Soviets will reconsider their decision not to attend the Conference.3

The Water for Peace Conference is an initiative of the President, himself. He has referred to the Conference in three public statements. When the authorizing legislation was in jeopardy of being passed over in the closing hours of the last Congress, the President personally intervened to assure its passage. We have ample evidence of the President’s commitment to this Conference.

Failure of the Soviets to participate in the Conference would be a serious blow not only from the loss of the technical contribution which we know the Soviets can make but also to the theme of the Conference. Should the occasion present itself during your lunch with Ambassador [Page 285] Dobrynin, I believe it would be constructive for you to express the hope that the USSR will participate in the Water for Peace Conference.4

  1. Source: Department of State,SCI Files: Lot 68 D 383. No classification marking. Drafted by Nelson Sievering, Jr. (SCI)
  2. As reported in a November 28 memorandum of conversation. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, E–11 WATER RESOURCES)
  3. Transmitted in telegram 105317 to Moscow, December 19. (Ibid.)
  4. Ambassador Thompson discussed this with Anatoly Dobrynin on December 6, but received no response. (Memorandum of conversation, December 6; ibid.) U.S. officials tried repeatedly to secure Soviet participation: “Ambassador Kohler agreed to attempt to secure Soviet participation at the forthcoming Water for Peace Conference as an extension of their participation in the Desalination Agreement. Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, had written to Ambassador Dobrynin to urge that the Soviets reconsider their prior refusals. Secretary Udall’s approach received such a flat turndown that the Department, and Ambassador Thompson agreed, has abandoned the effort to obtain Soviet participation. Other Soviet bloc countries are following the USSR lead in this matter and none have accepted invitations to attend or observe the Conference.” (Memorandum from Kratzer to Hollingsworth, March 28, 1967; Department of Energy, Archives, Records of the Atomic Energy Commission, Secretariat Files, Folder 9)