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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 05, 1962

TELEGRAM FROM USSR FOREIGN MINISTER GROMYKO TO DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER KUZNETSOV AND AMBASSADOR TO THE UN ZORIN IN NEW YORK

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    Gromyko relays instructions to Kuznetsov and Zorin regarding negotiations on lifting the blockade, elimination of tension and normalization of the situation around in the Caribbean Sea.
    "Telegram from USSR Foreign Minister Gromyko to Deputy Foreign Minister Kuznetsov and Ambassador to the UN Zorin in New York," November 05, 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 https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110434
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You must adhere to the following position in your negotiations on the lifting of the blockade, elimination of tension, and normalization of the situation in the Caribbean Sea.


The negotiations are being conducted with the aim of eliminating the tense situation which has been threatening to explode into thermonuclear war.


The basis of these negotiations is the agreement reached through an exchange of messages between Comrade N.S. Khrushchev and President Kennedy. The essence of this agreement is as follows.


The USA is giving assurances that no invasion will be inflicted on Cuba, not only on the part of the United States, but also on the part of their allies-- the other countries of the Western hemisphere. The Soviet Union for its part will remove from the Cuba the missile weaponry that the President of the USA has called offensive, and will not install such types of weaponry in Cuba again.


Such is the basis of the agreement, and we are adhering to it, because it is the only possible basis now for eliminating the tense situation that has been created. The agreement is the result of a compromise reached through mutual concessions, and it satisfied both parties.


In accordance with this agreement the Soviets undertook on 28 October the dismantling of the missiles. The dismantling was completed on 2 November, and the dismantled missiles have been transported to ports for shipping. As you have already been informed, these missiles will be removed from Cuba on 7 or 8 or at the latest 10 November of this year.
Tell the Americans that if they wish to raise other issues, then they will find many such issues on our side as well, issues which really affect the vital interests of our country and which create concerns about our security. But we are not raising any of these issues at present, because they are too broad, and their resolution will take a great amount of time; moreover, these issues affect not only our two states, but the large circle of states, i. e. they belong to the category of global problems.


If the USA representatives say that President Kennedy, in his speech on 22 October speaking about offensive weaponry, mentioned bombers in this category, then say the following:


In Cuba there are none of our bombers which could be put in the category of offensive weaponry. They do so with the IL-28 bomber. But this machine is 15 years old. The American military figures surely know very well that this was the first Soviet plane with a turboreactive engine. Fifteen years ago they indeed were rather cutting-edge machines. But now technology has made so many steps ahead that we have not only removed these machines from the arsenal of our army, but have even refused to use them as targets for the training of anti-aircraft units in the Soviet Union. These machines are soon going to be scrapped, and if we sold them to some country, it would only be for using them as training machines for pilot instruction, and to some extent as defensive means-- for the coastal defense of a territory with the escort of anti-aircraft machines, and nothing more. These planes are so far from answering the currents needs for speed and altitude that their use for other purposes would mean sending people to certain death. We are sure that the American military and USA intelligence understands this well.


Indicate that if the representatives of the USA insist on their demand concerning the IL-28 planes, then by doing so they will only put the USA in a position in which the whole world will see that the United States is not keeping its word, and is imposing unacceptable conditions that create the possibility of a prolongation of the conflict. At that time the whole world will understand that this is precisely the purpose behind the imposition of such conditions.


In Stevenson's letter of 3 November, another issue is raised--it asserts that according to the reports of American intelligence in Cuba, the assembling of IL-28 bombers is still going on. In response to this, say that such assertions are an invention of American intelligence, because it is impossible to see what is not there. Moreover, American photos do not corroborate this. It is clear that this false information is pursuing the aim of avoiding a settlement of the conflict and a normalization of our relations, and indeed a tightening of tensions.


As far as other sorts of weaponry are concerned which the American representatives are now trying to put in the offensive category, tell the Americans that it is necessary to rigorously proceed from the agreement reached through the exchange of letters, that it is necessary for the Americans to hold to the statement of their own President. He said that he was against offensive weaponry, but in favor of the right of each side to possess defensive weaponry.


Say that in general we are not presently authorized to carry on negotiations on points that directly concern the defense interests of the Republic of Cuba. We have not been authorized by Cuba to carry on such negotiations. For this reason, if the Americans insist on this, it will only complicate the settlement.


If the Americans take as their goal a return to an incendiary situation, it will scarcely be in the interests of either the USA or the USSR, or in the interests of the world. We propose to choose reasonable positions, and to proceed in the negotiations from the agreement that has been reached. We have already fulfilled our obligations, have dismantled our missiles, have loaded them onto ships, and in the coming days, that is, not later than 10 November, all these materials will be removed from Cuba. The other side, the United States, should also carry out its obligations, and lift the blockade that has been called a "quarantine." Let us formalize this in documents with the aim that each side affirm its statements in documents, that is, let us formalize this agreement on the basis of which this dangerous moment in the history of our countries, which really could erupt in a catastrophic thermonuclear war, can be eliminated.


Say that we believe that the elimination of this especially difficult situation, and the formalization of this in documents, would serve as a good beginning in the resolution of issues that our states and indeed the whole world faces. This is the issue of disarmament, the issue of the elimination of bases, the prohibition of thermonuclear arms testing, the signing of agreements on non-aggression between Warsaw Pact and NATO countries.


Emphasize that if the USA intends to insist on discussing the issues it has raised, because the President spoke about them and because they allegedly also relate to the conditions of the agreement, then it is fitting to remind them that N.S. Khrushchev also raised other issues in his messages. Both we and the Americans know that USA missile bases are distributed throughout many countries around the Soviet Union.


For this reason, if the parties talk about what was mentioned in the course of the polemic, and it was indeed a polemic, and if each side insists on having things its own way, then it will render impossible an agreement and the elimination of the tense situation-- in other words, we will return to the same incendiary situation that existed before, and that was escaped with such difficulty.


For this reason it is necessary to show understanding and respect for the sovereignty of each state, and to recognize the equal rights of all countries to self-defense.

5.XI A. G.