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135. Memorandum From the President's Press Secretary (Salinger) to Secretary of State Rusk/1/

Washington, November 28, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, USSR, Adzhubei Interview. Top Secret. Drafted by Salinger, and also sent to Bohlen and Bundy.

I would appreciate your comments on the following draft letter to Alexsei Adzhubei, Editor of Izvestia:

"Dear Alexsei:

"We were all most pleased with the publication of the President's interview in Izvestia. As I told you when you were here, I considered the opportunity for an American President to express his views to the Soviet people of the greatest possible importance and your faithful publication of the President's views has fully met our expectations in this matter.

"As you said in the interview, it is sometimes better to 'begin with small things.' The interview, in my opinion, was a 'big thing' but there are other matters relating to free communication between our two countries which, in my mind, can be improved.

"As you will recall during our first meeting last June, we spent some time on the problem of the restrictions on American and Soviet newsmen in our respective countries. I do not believe these restrictions to be in the interest of either the United States or the Soviet Union. We discussed the same subject again last week in Hyannis and you expressed the belief that should the United States decide to lift its restrictions on Soviet newsmen, the Soviet Union would do likewise with regard to American newsmen. I refer specifically to the travel restrictions which have been imposed by our respective countries.

"I would like to reiterate that should the Soviet government agree to lift such travel restrictions on American newsmen, we are prepared to do the same for Soviet newsmen, on a simultaneous basis. I believe if we were to do this in the very nearest future it could be pointed out as another indication of a lessening of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union as well as the opening up of free communication between our two peoples. I have always felt that this was of the greatest possible importance.

"I would appreciate your using your influence in bringing about this agreement. I shall hold this communication in confidence until you have time to reply to it./2/

/2/The following day Battle sent Salinger a memorandum stating that Rusk felt the draft letter would be most helpful, but also saying that the Secretary of State did not believe that Salinger's letter was the right medium to raise the question of lifting restrictions on newsmen. (Ibid.)

"I would like, again, to thank you for making the trip to the United States; for making the interview with the President possible. Through you, please express my thanks to Chairman Khrushchev for the gifts he sent me and my family.

"My best wishes to your wife and children.


"Pierre Salinger"

Pierre Salinger/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


136. Current Intelligence Weekly Review/1/

Washington, December 1, 1961.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency: Job 79-S01060A. Confidential. Prepared by CIA's Office of Current Intelligence and concurred in by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. The source text comprises pp. 1-3 of the Weekly Review section of the issue.

Nuclear Test Ban Talks

The new Soviet proposal for a simple four-point test ban agreement,/2/ containing provisions which the Soviets have long known were unacceptable to the West, underscores the USSR's intention to use the Geneva talks as a propaganda forum for denouncing the continuation of Western testing, particularly any US decision to undertake atmospheric tests. Moscow hopes to use the talks to repair the damage done to its image abroad by the long Soviet test series. The USSR's "new approach" is also intended to divert the discussions from previous Soviet obstructive demands such as the "troika" scheme in the control system and to exploit the US-UK rejection of a new uncontrolled moratorium on testing during the negotiations.

/2/November 28; for text, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, p. 664.

In a move designed to appear responsive to the Western position, the Soviet statement of 27 November/3/ recalled the 3 September proposal by President Kennedy and Prime Minister Macmillan for a ban on atmospheric testing, relying on existing means of detection, and proposed that this ban be extended to include outer space and underwater tests. On the crucial and unresolved issue of underground tests, Moscow proposed a moratorium pending agreement on a control system which would be a "composite part" of an international system to supervise a general disarmament agreement.

/3/For text, see ibid., pp. 659-663.

This new approach raised the possibility that the Soviet Union, despite Khrushchev's 10 September rejection of the US-UK proposal when the Soviet test series was just getting under way, may eventually propose that this Western proposal be adopted as the basis for an immediate agreement banning atmospheric tests. The Soviets may calculate that such a maneuver could inhibit the US from undertaking atmospheric tests and place the US and UK on the defensive in the talks.

A member of the Soviet delegation, in a conversation with a US delegate on 28 November, feigned surprise over the negative Western reaction to the new Soviet proposal and argued that the Soviet plan in essence went no further than the Western offer to ban atmospheric tests with monitoring left to existing national detection systems. The Soviet representative said the USSR would "emphasize" that the West's negative reaction represents a retreat from the 3 September proposal and insisted that world opinion would not understand this "switch" in position.

A TASS report on the 28 November session of the test ban talks said that the Soviet proposals were rejected by the Western representatives "without even bothering to study them." The report claimed that from the start the Western delegates displayed intractability and insisted on their old positions, while US delegate Dean said that the Western powers would not halt nuclear tests. Soviet delegate Tsarapkin told newsmen after the session that he was "not very happy" about the Western reaction to the Soviet proposals but commented that "after careful study of our proposals, after consideration of our new approach, the West could easily come to an agreement on this basis." Tsarapkin also said that the Soviet Union would not negotiate on the basis of "the ancient treaty proposed by the West."

Moscow's current proposal for the first time includes a demand for French participation in the talks and adherence to the agreement, although Moscow began warning last March that French testing while the talks were in progress could make the talks pointless. One of reasons Khrushchev advanced for his 10 September rejection of the US-UK proposal to ban atmospheric tests was its failure to include France. Khrushchev said the USSR would not tolerate such an "impermissible situation."

During the 28 November session Tsarapkin repeated the call for French participation but without making continuation of the talks dependent on fulfillment of this demand. His failure to do so and his mild comment that a pledge to refrain from testing would "facilitate" negotiations suggest that the Soviets are preparing for a long stay at Geneva and will try to place the onus for any breakoff of the talks on the Western powers. A Soviet delegate has already expressed "hope" that the Western delegations would follow the custom of proposing a Christmas recess.

By coming out in favor of an immediate ban on all tests, the Soviet leaders probably hope to convince neutral opinion that the Western desire for further tests is the main obstacle to an early agreement. In this connection Khrushchev explicitly stated in a recent letter to the president of the World Peace Council that if the Western powers conduct tests, "we too shall be obliged to return to them in order to keep our armed forces at the modern level." In an obvious attempt to attract neutralist support for the "new approach," the Soviet Foreign Ministry immediately passed copies of its latest proposals to the ambassadors of neutral countries. The 21 November Soviet note/4/ agreeing to return to the Geneva talks had similarly been distributed promptly to neutralist representatives.

/4/For text, see ibid., pp. 635-636.

The draft treaty was released by the Soviets on 27 November, the day before the Geneva test ban talks resumed after a recess of almost three months. It marks a further shift from the position taken by Moscow that a test ban agreement could be considered only as part of an agreement on complete and general disarmament. Whereas last spring and summer the Soviet delegation in Geneva insisted that a ban on tests apart from general disarmament would be unacceptable unless the Western powers accepted the "troika" principle for controlling a test agreement, the new Soviet proposal avoids the controversial control issues and pays only lip service to a general disarmament agreement.

The plan in effect calls for a separate, uncontrolled ban on all tests and is a reversion to the position taken in early 1960, when the USSR made a similar proposal for a permanent ban on all tests except small underground explosions, which would have been covered by a voluntary moratorium. That proposal was eventually modified to link the duration of the moratorium to a research program to improve detection and identification techniques; the current plan, however, would extend the moratorium on underground tests until agreement could be reached on a system of controls for such tests, which would form part of an international control system for general disarmament. In this way Moscow would avoid submitting to a system of foreign inspection, which it had earlier claimed was far too extensive for an agreement limited in scope. Moscow would also avoid having to defend the "troika" plan, which it contends would not be necessary under general disarmament.

The Soviet statement accompanying the new draft treaty asserts that it represents a "new approach" and is intended to "direct" the Geneva talks into a "practical current" in order to exclude the "difficulties and obstacles which stood in the way of an agreement in the past." This line suggests that in the face of widespread criticism of Soviet testing, the Soviet leaders probably felt they could not afford to stand on either of their previous positions of linking a test treaty to agreement on general and complete disarmament, or demanding a "troika" system for controls. The proposal indicates, however, that no international controls over a test ban agreement would be implemented until a disarmament agreement was reached. (Concurred in by OSI)


137. Despatch From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State/1/

No. 474

Moscow, December 4, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.1161/12-461. Confidential. Drafted by Thompson.

Cultural Exchanges Involving Members of Congress

During my recent consultation in the Department when discussing the possible inclusion of exchanges between the Congress and the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet I was informed that the Congress was opposed to any exchange of delegations. I was therefore somewhat surprised to receive a copy of a letter from Assistant Secretary Hays to the Vice President dated October 3, 1961/2/ requesting the opinion of the Vice President on this problem. The Assistant Secretary's letter itself expressed the Department's opposition to any formal exchange.

/2/Not found.

As the Department is aware, the Soviet authorities went out of their way to treat Senator Javits as a tourist and to refuse him interviews with higher Soviet officials connected with foreign trade, which was the specific sphere in which he was interested./3/ Congressional visits have always been a problem for the Embassy. While according to the Department's instructions the Embassy is absolved from making arrangements for interviews of congressmen visiting the Soviet Union as tourists, in practice it is clearly impracticable for the Embassy to refuse its assistance to such congressional visitors. While these have not been numerous in the past year, I believe it can be anticipated that such visits will be more numerous in the future. I am thoroughly in agreement with the Department in insisting upon control over the actual arrangements for visits from members of the Supreme Soviet remaining in the hands of the Department. I believe that Senator Javits had considerable success in explaining to the Soviet officials concerned, in particular Mr. Zhukov of the State Committee for Cultural Relations With Foreign Countries, that the Congress does not have the function nor the facilities to handle the details of such visits. On the other hand I believe it would be to the interest of both the Department and the Embassy if some better system of handling congressional visits could be arranged. While I do not wish to push unduly my point of view as we can of course live with the present system, I believe Senator Javits' experience justifies a re-examination of this question. In my opinion an official exchange of delegations between the Congress and the Supreme Soviet would be to the advantage of the United States. It is to our interest to encourage visits from Soviet officials who play an important role in their country. Although the Supreme Soviet is gradually growing somewhat in importance it is of course basically a rubber-stamp organization, the chief purpose of which is to enable the Soviet leadership to advocate its current policies to a cross section of its own officials. Nevertheless the members of the Supreme Soviet do play an important role in their own communities and are people who could be influenced by a visit to the United States. I am not impressed by the argument that a formal exchange of visits would tend to equate the undemocratic Supreme Soviet with the freely-elected Congress, since the character of the two organizations appears already to be widely known.

/3/Senator Jacob K. Javits of New York had visited the Soviet Union for the last 9 days of November. Documentation on his visit including a memorandum of his conversation with Zhukov, referred to below, is in Department of State, Central Files, 033.1100-JA. Senator Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana also visited the Soviet Union for 7 weeks beginning October 2. For his report on the visit, see U.S. Foreign Policy and Operations; additional documentation on his visit, including memoranda of his conversations with various Soviet officials, is in Department of State, Central File, 033.1100-EL.

Even if a formal exchange of delegations is not agreed to by the Department, I believe it would be useful if the Congress could be persuaded to make some arrangements to coordinate visits of congressmen to the U.S.S.R. If this is not done it is quite likely that we will have separate visits from a number of congressmen interested in the same subject, and the Soviet authorities cannot be expected to make satisfactory arrangements for a number of individuals investigating the same field. A large number of requests to the Soviet authorities for assistance in arranging congressional visits in a given field, for example education, could also interfere with arrangements for specialized delegations in such field. Moreover, as matters now stand the Soviet authorities can give preference to congressmen whom they believe will give more favorable publicity to conditions in the Soviet Union rather than to congressmen who are likely to be more critical. If the Congress itself would set up some means of coordination it seems probable that balanced delegations would be formed which would avoid this difficulty.

L E Thompson


138. Editorial Note

On December 9, 1961, Ambassador Thompson reported that a "usually reliable source" had told him that Anatoly F. Dobrynin, Chief of the American Section of the Foreign Ministry, would be nominated as Ambassador to the United States. Thompson stated his belief that this was an excellent choice of an official who would like to see an improvement in U.S.-Soviet relations, probably was a personal choice of Gromyko, and whose appointment had some significance as an indication of Soviet policy. (Telegram 1714 from Moscow; Department of State, Central Files, 601.6111/12-961)

Twelve days later Ambassador Menshikov called on Acting Secretary of State Ball to say that he was being relieved by his government and to ask for agrement for Dobrynin. (Memorandum of conversation, December 12; ibid., 601.6111/12-2161) On December 26 Secretary of State Rusk sent President Kennedy a memorandum recording this demarche and indicating his support for Dobrynin. (Ibid., 601.6111/12-2661) The following day McGeorge Bundy informed Rusk that the President approved the appointment, and the same day the Department of State informed the Soviet Embassy and Ambassador Thompson. (Memorandum for the Secretary of State; ibid., 601.6111/12-2761, and telegram 1507 to Moscow; ibid.) As the final act in his tenure as Ambassador, Menshikov called on Rusk on December 29 to report that he was leaving Washington on January 1, 1962. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., 601.6111/12-2961)


139. Editorial Note

During the Kennedy-Macmillan summit in Bermuda on December 22, 1961, British Foreign Secretary Lord Home asked President Kennedy if he really intended to link the decision to test nuclear weapons in the atmosphere to the Berlin issue. According to the memorandum of conversation, Kennedy "replied in the affirmative. If a really good settlement could be achieved on Berlin, he believed--as a private matter, not for publication--that it would be easier to make a decision not to test. The Secretary of State emphasized that these two propositions would never be linked formally with the Soviets." For text of the memorandum of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VII, pages 278-281.

On December 30 President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Bundy forwarded to Kennedy a memorandum by President's Special Assistant Schlesinger which Bundy described in his covering memorandum as "a really powerful paper arguing for a last effort to avoid atmospheric testing, by announcement that we will not test in the air unless and until the Soviets do it again." Schlesinger's memorandum, Bundy continued, "satisfies a feeling I have had for some time that you have a right to hear a better argument against testing now than you have yet heard from advisers nearly all of whom personally favor testing. I believe that if you personally care enough, and want to make the argument strongly enough, you can carry a decision against atmospheric testing with the Congress and the country. I also believe it is safe." For text of Bundy's and Schlesinger's memoranda, see ibid., pages 282-287.

On January 17, 1962, Bundy forwarded to Kennedy a memorandum by his deputy, Carl Kaysen, which Bundy called in his covering memorandum "really of high importance" and capsulized as follows: "1. You can safely offer an atmospheric test-ban, because without atmospheric tests we can be sure of a nuclear stand-off, and even with them we cannot get anything better after 1963. 2. If Russians accept, you get a real step towards arms control. 3. If Russians reject, you shift much of the weight of our test series on them." For text of Bundy's and Kaysen's memoranda, see ibid., pages 297-303 and 306.

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