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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 03, 1962


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    The number and location of U.S. ships, along with International Red Cross and UN observers, in and around Cuba.
    "Telegram from Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister V.V. Kuznetsov and Ambassador to the UN V.A. Zorin to USSR Foreign Ministry," November 03, 1962, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, AVP RF; copy obtained by NHK, provided to CWIHP, and on file at National Security Archive, Washington, D.C.; translation by John Henriksen, Harvard University
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3 November 1962

On 3 November Morozov, Mendel-evich, and Timerbaev had a meeting with Narasimhan and Loutfi (replacing U Thant) for the examination of technical issues connected with the sending of observers from the International Red Cross Committee to ascertain that on the Soviet vessels bound for Cuba there is no weaponry considered offensive by the USA.

Narasimhan said that the secretariat of the UN in New York had not yet received the definitive consent of the International Red Cross to its participation in the organization of the monitoring. An answer from the Red Cross could be received today, 3 November.

Narasimhan also laid out the thoughts of the Americans, as he understood them, regarding the Red Cross's monitoring procedure.

The USA considers it expedient to deploy two vessels with observers from the International Red Cross on the open sea near the Cuban coast--one 8 to 10 miles off Havana, and another in the strait between Cuba and Haiti. The vessels should have radio contact with the UN. On each vessel there should be two groups of International Red Cross observers. Each group should contain eight observers. In this way, 32 observers will be needed in all.

In response to our question about how to manage such a large number of observers, especially when bearing in mind that Stevenson in his talks with us on 1 November of this year had expressed his view that the International Red Cross inspections could be reduced to radio interrogations of passing ships, Narasimhan answered that in many cases it will be precisely that, but that the International Red Cross observers should have the right to carry out inspections (to check documents, to inspect ship holds, and so on), if such a necessity should arise.

Our representatives remarked that such a proposal from Narasimhan concerning the conferral to the International Red Cross groups of inspection rights contradicts the views expressed earlier by Stevenson. We will continue to insist that the inspections be limited to interrogations by radio.

The USA, Narasimhan continued, is prepared to provide its own transportation for the International Red Cross inspectors. This may be ordinary transportation for the conveyance of troops, even though they would be unarmed and would contain on board civilian passengers.

We told Narasimhan that the Soviet Union, as had already been declared to U Thant, had given its consent to the conveyance of the International Red Cross observers either by Soviet or by neutral vessels. Narasimhan responded that he knew about this, but all the same considered it possible to inform the Soviet Union of this proposal by the USA, which, Narasimhan said, works towards the interests of a speedy organization of the inspections. The USA, in his words, has no objections to the use of Soviet ships. Narasimhan asked us to explain, if possible by 5 November, how soon the Soviet Union could prepare its ships for the International Red Cross observers. For his part, Narasimhan will make inquiries by this time about the possibility of chartering neutral vessels located near Cuba.

Narasimhan raised the issue of reimbursing the costs of chartering the vessels and constituting the International Red Cross groups. In response to the question of how the USA imagines covering the costs associated with the carrying out of inspections by the International Red Cross, Narasimhan said that it was proposing two possible variants--either through the UN (that is, according to their pay scale), or to divide the costs equally between the USSR and the USA.
Our representatives answered that the USA had illegally imposed the so-called "quarantine," that they were now pushing for inspections on vessels bound for Cuba, and that it was completely clear that it is they who should covers the expenses for the carrying out of such inspections. In future negotiations we should proceed from the assumption that the Soviet Union will assume expenses only for the maintenance of Soviet vessels. As far as the maintenance of the International Red Cross vessels is concerned, we will push for the USA or the UN bearing the burden of these expenses. (It is not out of the question that the International Red Cross will itself pay the expenses for the upkeep of the groups.)

On the issue of how long the inspection procedure by the International Red Cross would be continued, Narasimhan said that it should be carried out for a period of three to four weeks. But it is possible that the duration could be shorter. Everything depends on how long the removal of weaponry from Cuba would continue. As soon as all the weaponry is removed, the inspections, it seems, should cease.

We emphasized that the inspections on vessels by the International Red Cross should be of a short-term nature, as was declared by U Thant in his provisional proposal concerning this issue, which was approved by the Soviet Union. In the future, with regard to time limits we will proceed with aim of imposing the shortest possible limits. We will aim for ceasing the inspections immediately after the removal of the dismantled installations, and the approval by the Security Council of corresponding resolutions for the conclusive settlement of the Cuban crisis.

If our approval of the conveyance of the International Red Cross representatives on Soviet ships is still valid, we ask that you inform us immediately of which vessels in particular are being selected for this purpose, and when they can arrive in the Caribbean Sea area.

Since the Cubans will evidently not agree to admit the International Red Cross observers onto the territory of Cuba in order to then admit them onto Soviet ships, we ask that you inform us what would the most appropriate port in the Caribbean Sea area in which to take on board these International Red Cross observers.

The next meeting with Narasimhan is slated for the morning of 5 November.