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Mr. Gromyko interjected that the Palais des Nations in Geneva was a big place with a lot of rooms.
The President said that he wanted to make a comment on Mr. Khrushchev's statement
regarding uniformed US personnel in Laos. He said that this action was taken
when representatives of the Soviet Union and the UK were discussing in Moscow
the question of effecting a cease-fire in Laos. When it became evident that
no progress had been made the action was taken in order to prevent the situation
from deteriorating further and to ensure a more favorable situation in which
the conference could proceed. This is the kind of thing that happens when
both sides are involved, and the United States would wish to avoid such developments.
Mr. Khrushchev then suggested that the questions of disarmament, nuclear
tests and Germany be discussed now because otherwise there would not be
enough time to do it.
The President replied that he wanted to make a final comment on the Laotian
situation. He said that he was anxious to get the US military out of Laos.
He had not supported and had been even reluctant to consider a landing of
Marines, because he recognized that such action would entail retaliation and
counteraction and thus peace in that area might be endangered. What he wanted
to see in that area was an effective cease-fire and peaceful settlement. He
said perhaps Mr. Khrushchev could use his influence on Gromyko to persuade
him to cooperate in bringing about an effective cease-fire in Laos and let
the ICC verify the cease-fire in an effective manner. That was the basis on
which the United States had agreed to come to the conference. The President
then suggested that perhaps the Secretary and Gromyko could discuss this question
/5/For a brief discussion of Laos at lunch, see Document 88.
Mr. Khrushchev said he could add little to what had already been said. He agreed that a cease-fire should be sought. However, other questions should not be delayed by lack of a cease-fire. The point is that the situation at front lines is always unstable and even a shot fired accidentally by a soldier could be regarded by the other side as a violation of the cease-fire. Therefore, other questions should not be made contingent upon a cease-fire. However, the President should not misunderstand this position. The USSR believes that the question of a cease-fire should be handled on a priority basis, but the basic question is to bring about agreement among the three forces in Laos, so that the formation of a truly neutral government could be secured. Mr. Khrushchev agreed that no normal conditions for settlement would exist in the absence of a cease-fire. However, he was not aware of any fighting going on; if the United States had contrary information, it should be verified.
Mr. Gromyko remarked that the ICC was already in Laos and that it could act
by agreement of both sides. In response to an inquiry by the Secretary, Mr.
Gromyko clarified that what he meant by both sides were the two sides fighting
in Laos. The ICC should not be granted the rights of a supragovernment.
The President reiterated his hope that the Secretary and Mr. Gromyko could discuss this problem briefly during lunch.
Mr. Khrushchev then addressed himself to the question of nuclear weapon
tests. He said he would not go into any details because the positions of the
two sides were well known. Furthermore, he was not familiar with all the details
of this intricate problem. However, there were two basic questions: (1) the
number of suspicious events to be inspected and (2) organization of control.
The Soviet Union cannot accept such controls as have been suggested so far.
The events in the Congo taught the Soviet Union a lesson. Before those
events the Soviet Union might have signed a treaty like the one suggested.
However, the events in the Congo indicated that the UN appears to be able
to act against the interests of individual states. The Congo had invited UN
troops and those troops acted against the interests of the Congolese Government.
So if there is a single chairman of the control commission (Mr. Khrushchev
was obviously referring to the administrator) he will be able to set the policy.
The US would not agree to having a Communist chairman and that is understandable.
If it did then the Soviet Union could accept a single chairman (administrator).
But the Soviet Union cannot accept a neutral chairman; after all, Hammarskjold
is also a neutral and an intelligent one at that. He is not the worst neutral
possible. One should try to imagine a situation, Mr. Khrushchev said, where
he, as Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, would have to subject his actions
to such a commission (administrator). The people of the Soviet Union would
never accept such a situation and if the United States wants him to be fired
then it should pursue this line. The Soviet Union does not seek control over
the control organization but it does not wish the United States to have
such control either. This is why the USSR has proposed a three-man body. Such
an arrangement would not be prejudicial to any of the sides. Mr. Khrushchev
said that he believed that the work of other international organizations should
be organized along the same lines. He said that the United States was now
in the majority in the UN, but times may change--one cannot say when--and
the US may find itself in a minority. The UN is not a parliament, it is
an international organization and the majority rule has no place there. Each
group of countries should be equally represented, so that a balance of forces
be established and that no one be able to pursue a policy prejudicial to any
other side. Referring to the number of inspections, Mr. Khrushchev said that
three inspections a year would be sufficient. A larger number would be tantamount
to intelligence, something the Soviet Union cannot accept. Mr. Khrushchev
then said that he wanted to link the question of nuclear tests with disarmament.
If agreement could be reached on disarmament, then the USSR could agree
to any controls and it would then drop the troika arrangement and the requirement
for unanimity. The Soviet position on disarmament is well known; it was stated
at the UN and the USSR still proceeds on that basis. Under the conditions
of general and complete disarmament control must be most extensive so that
no country could arm itself clandestinely. If there were general and complete
disarmament there would be no question of espionage because there would
be no armaments. Then there would be no secrets and all doors must be open
so that complete verification could be ensured. This would include nuclear
plants. In view of the fact that apparently no agreement can be reached on
the question of nuclear tests, this question should be linked to disarmament.
The disarmament group should combine the two questions and work out a general
plan. Given good will, two years should be sufficient to develop an agreement
on general and complete disarmament. Mr. Khrushchev said that he could give
the President an aide-memoire setting forth the Soviet position on this
question. (The aide-memoire was received from the Soviets after the meeting.)/6/
/6/For the text of this aide-memoire, see Department of State Bulletin, July 3, 1961, pp. 22-24.
The President said that he wanted to ask Mr. Khrushchev whether he believed
it to be impossible to find any person that would be neutral both to the US
and the USSR.
Mr. Khrushchev replied in the affirmative.
The President then said that the result of the Soviet proposal could be compared
to a situation where if he were living in this room and Mr. Khrushchev in
the adjacent room, they could not go to each other's rooms without the consent
of the occupant. Under such conditions, how could any of the two be certain
that nothing suspicious is going on in his neighbor's room. The President
then said that a treaty along such lines could not be confirmed by the Senate.
In sending any treaty to the Senate the President would have to give assurance
that the treaty provides if not for a fool-proof control system, at least
for a reasonable deterrent against violations. However, if the Soviet proposal
were accepted, no such assurance could be given. Likewise, how could Mr. Khrushchev
give such assurance to those people in his country who may think that the
United States is testing clandestinely. True, Mr. Khrushchev is in an
advantageous position because of the open way in which the United States acts.
Mr. Khrushchev smiled and said: "But what about Allen Dulles?/7/
Isn't that secret?" The President replied he wished it were. Furthermore,
the President continued, how can we inspect events in the Soviet Union if
any such inspection would be subject to Soviet approval? Under such an agreement
any party that might have tested clandestinely would simply refuse to accept
inspection in the area where the test had occurred.
/7/Allen W. Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence.
Mr. Khrushchev referred to his statement about three inspections a year to
verify suspicious events and also noted that the President had failed to address
himself to his statement regarding the dropping of the troika proposal if
nuclear tests were linked with disarmament. If this arrangement were adopted,
then full control could be exercised any time and at any place. Mr. Khrushchev
went on to say that a nuclear test ban alone would not be very important
to the national security of the people. The danger of war would remain, because
the production of nuclear energy, rockets, and bombs would continue full blast.
What people want is peace. Therefore, agreement should be reached on general
and complete disarmament. Then the troika would be dropped and the USSR would
subscribe to any controls developed by the US, even without looking at the
The President said that he agreed that a nuclear test ban would not of itself
lessen the number of nuclear weapons possessed by the USSR and the US. Nor
would it reduce the production of such weapons. However, a test ban would
make development of nuclear weapons by other countries less likely, although,
of course, no one can guess what will happen in the future. At this time,
the United States and the USSR possess great stocks of nuclear weapons;
Great Britain possesses certain quantities of such weapons and France is also
getting some capability. If we fail to reach agreement on a nuclear test ban
then other countries will undoubtedly launch a nuclear weapons program. While
a nuclear test ban would be no certain guarantee against the proliferation
of nuclear weapons, it would certainly impede such proliferation. If no agreement
is reached, then in a few years there might be ten or even fifteen nuclear
powers. So in considering this question of what Mr. Khrushchev calls espionage
one should balance its risks against the risks involved in the proliferation
of nuclear weapons. If we are successful in reaching agreement on a nuclear
test ban then it will certainly at least put a brake on the spread of nuclear
Mr. Khrushchev agreed that there was some logic in the President's position
and said that this was why the Soviet Union had entered the negotiations.
However, practice has demonstrated that this logic is not quite correct because
while the three powers are negotiating in Geneva, France simply spits
at them and goes on testing. Thus if there is no link between a nuclear test
ban and disarmament other countries may say that they are in an unequal position
and might act like France. Other countries may say that if the great powers
possess stockpiles of nuclear weapons they should also acquire such stockpiles.
On the other hand, if there were disarmament, then nuclear weapons would be
eliminated and other countries would be in an equal position and would not
have to spend money on the development of nuclear weapons. General and complete
disarmament is the most radical means of preventing war. The Soviet Union
has always regarded the question of a nuclear test ban merely as a small step
toward general and complete disarmament. But let us now begin with the main
issue and include the test ban in it.
The President said he agreed that a test ban would not be a basic part, but it would be a most important part. He said that the treaty as drafted now provides for abrogation of the treaty if any country associated with any party to the treaty should conduct tests. The United States does not support French testing. We hope that once a treaty has been concluded most other countries will join in it. The question of a nuclear test ban is a relatively easy problem to resolve because the controls required are based on scientific instrumentation, such as seismographs, etc. So why not start with this relatively easy question. The President then inquired whether the Soviet conception was that if we used the term general and complete disarmament--or general and comprehensive disarmament as used by us last year--the process would be carried out step by step with the necessary parallel inspection. Or is it the Soviet view that we would simply announce that goal as an objective of national policy and countries would carry out inspection on their own.
Mr. Khrushchev replied he wanted to make a complaint: The President apparently had not read the Soviet proposals with sufficient attention. Otherwise, he would know that the Soviet proposals provide for disarmament in stages and for control in stages.
The President then inquired whether this was to be understood that, if both
sides accepted general and complete disarmament and agreed to reduce their
armed forces, the number of their aircraft or submarines, or to disarm
outer space, the Soviet Union would accept inspection any place in the USSR.
Mr. Khrushchev replied in the affirmative, using the word "absolutely".
In other words, the President inquired further, if general and complete disarmament
were accepted as a commitment of national policy and a nuclear test ban
were included in the first stage, would that mean that the test ban would
be subject to inspection without a veto?
Mr. Khrushchev replied that in that event he would try to persuade the
President not to start with this measure because it is not the most important
In response to the President's question what should come first, Mr. Khrushchev
replied that any other measure would be acceptable, such as, for instance,
prohibition of nuclear weapons, prohibition of the manufacture of such weapons,
or elimination of military and missile bases. (At this point Mr. Gromyko corrected
the interpreter saying that Mr. [Khrushchev had not mentioned prohibition
of the manufacture of nuclear weapons. However, Mr. Khrushchev confirmed that
he had mentioned this item.) The Soviet proposals on disarmament contain all
the details and there is logic in those proposals. The proposals also provide
for complete control. In any event, both sides should try to reach agreement
on the priority of individual measures so that neither side would have its
interests prejudiced by the other.
The President said that Mr. Khrushchev appeared to feel that a link should
be established between a nuclear test ban and disarmament and that these two
questions are inter-related and should be discussed together. We, on the other
hand, believe that a nuclear test ban would be if not the most important step,
at least a very significant step and would facilitate a disarmament agreement.
There is a Chinese proverb saying that a thousand-mile journey begins with
one step. So let us make that step.
Mr. Khrushchev rejoined by saying that the President apparently knew the Chinese very well but that he too knew them quite well. To this the President replied that Mr. Khrushchev might get to know them even better. Mr. Khrushchev retorted that he already knew them very well.
Referring to the President's statement about the significance of a nuclear
test ban, Mr. Khrushchev said that the USSR could agree to a nuclear test
ban provided it was subject to the troika arrangement.
The President then said that it appeared to him that the conversation was
back where it had started. Therefore, he wanted to conclude this discussion
by saying that the United States is greatly concerned by the uninspected
moratorium that has been going on for three years in connection with the negotiations.
This indicates how long it takes to reach agreements. The prospect of an indefinite
continuance of a moratorium without controls is a matter of great concern
to the United States. Therefore, it is difficult to envisage how the question
of nuclear tests could be included in disarmament negotiations, which we hope
will be successful but which will probably require a long time. Perhaps it
would be best to go back to Geneva to make another effort and to see what
each of us should do in this matter. Perhaps then the conference might be
recessed or some other action taken. Whether or not there is agreement on
nuclear tests we would start our discussions on disarmament on June 19.
Mr. Khrushchev replied that he was agreeable to conducting negotiations
in Geneva and said that there was a Soviet representative there. However,
the Soviet Union could not accept such controls as would be tantamount to
espionage if weapons themselves were not eliminated. This, in effect, is what
the Pentagon has wanted all along. Eisenhower's open skies proposal in 1955/8/
was a part of that scheme. Now ground posts are envisaged and this is also
reconnaissance. The Soviet Union has agreed to negotiate on a nuclear test
ban in the hope of reaching agreement and proceeding to general and complete
disarmament. If the US refuses to accept general and complete disarmament
then the Soviet Union cannot agree to accept such an arrangement. The Soviet
Union cannot accept a situation where controls would prejudice its national
security and where the Soviet Government would be subject to the will of
a third party and would not be free to act on its own.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P48