195. Memorandum of Conversation1
Conversation with Vorontsov
I saw Vorontsov at the request of the President to give him the following communication.[Page 596]
We have noticed with satisfaction the assurance of the Soviet Government that the understandings of 1962 are still in full force. We take this to mean that the Soviet Union will not emplace any offensive weapons of any kind or any nuclear weapons on Cuban soil.
For our part, the President wishes to point out that although we have heard repeated reports of increased Soviet activity in Cuba, he was exercising the utmost restraint in not increasing reconnaissance activities. He was maintaining the understandings of 1962 which I was hereby authorized to reaffirm. Specifically, the United States would not use military force to bring about a change in the governmental structure of Cuba.
I then said I wanted to add a personal observation to the formal communication. It had come to our attention that Soviet long-range airplanes of a type that were suitable to nuclear bombing missions were flying with increasing regularity to Cuba. While we believed that these planes were on reconnaissance missions, we thought, nevertheless, that this might provide a basis for approaching the limit of our understandings. It would certainly be noticed if the Soviet Union kept such operations to an absolute minimum. The same went for Soviet fleet activity in the Caribbean. I pointed out that these were not conditional but rather atmospheric.
I then added that we were showing our good faith by having assigned two Coast Guard cutters in recent days to shadow a Soviet ship which we believed was in imminent danger of being attacked by some Cuban exile groups.2
Vorontsov said he appreciated the good spirit in which I had made these observations and he was certain that the Kremlin would be very happy to receive them. It was in sharp contrast, he added, to our last conversation on April 303 when he had been in a position (correctly) to point out to me that a Soviet reaction to our Cambodian venture would be extremely unfortunate. I told Vorontsov that the major problem now was to see what concrete progress could be made in the area of negotiations.