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October 28, 1966

The Issue of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in the Conversations of Comrade Gromyko with US Government Officials During the 21st Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA)

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

Secret, Copy No.1

September 28 October 1966





1. Conversation with Rusk on 20 September during lunch at Fanfani’s.

Rusk briefly touched upon the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as one of the problems that need to be discussed during the upcoming meetings with the Americans. On our part, we stressed the great importance of this issue. Rusk also stressed the great importance of the non-proliferation issue and said that he would like to express some ideas during the upcoming talks which possibly the American side had not expressed previously. We on our part expressed our agreement to listen to what Rusk has to say on the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

2. Conversation with Rusk on 22 September [handwritten: 1966]

Considering that the initiative of the meeting, as you know, came from the American side, for tactical reasons we let Rusk have the opportunity to say what he had to say first. Moving on to the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Rusk stressed in the first place that the US government considers the issue of non-proliferation very pressing and important. We are against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, he stated, and we haven’t discussed, either in NATO or anywhere else, any activities related to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The firm position of the USA on this issue is based on our understanding of the threatening nature of nuclear weapons. We also believe, said Rusk, that the Soviet Union is against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Taking into account the similarity in the fundamental positions of our two governments on this issue, the US government, in Rusk’s words, is just wondering how come we cannot reach an agreement.

It seems to us, Rusk continued, that we need to come to an agreement here and now, before it’s too late, since the obstacles on the path to the non-proliferation treaty are quickly growing. The problem in this case is not so much the US or the USSR, who are very decisively against the proliferation of the nuclear weapons, as much as those countries which, under certain conditions, may want to create such weapons for themselves. Some of the countries which possess the potential ability to create nuclear weapons are, for example, already saying that they are not going to sign the non-proliferation treaty until nuclear countries achieve tangible results in the area of disarmament. Reaching such results, of course, would be a good thing. However, I believe, stressed Rusk, that it would be very desirable to reach an agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and not to tie it to the simultaneous conclusion of an agreement with respect to any other aspects of the issue of disarmament.

India, for example, he further noted, is currently expressing the opinion that it should leave open the possibility of conducting nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes. This position is by no means comforting for us, since the ability to conduct explosions for peaceful purposes is equal to the ability to conduct, under certain conditions, such explosions for absolutely different, i.e. military, purposes. Other governments state that they will not sign the non-proliferation treaty until they receive assurances of protection from a potential nuclear attack from nuclear powers.

Rusk finished this thought by saying that the more time passes, the more it will become possible for some of the countries that are currently “in their seventh month of nuclear pregnancy” to become able to produce this weapon themselves.

Rusk moved on to comparing the positions of the USSR and the US on the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. There was a moment, he said, that we thought that our positions on the issue of the non-proliferation were getting closer. The Soviet representative on the Committee of 18 stated that the key part of the issue was that the nuclear weapons should not be transferred to other countries. We agree with that. Sometimes, frankly, when the issue of non-proliferation is discussed, the Soviet side raises questions that, in our opinion, are not directly related to this issue. But in general, based on some of the conversations between our representatives in Geneva, I have formed the opinion that we have made a definite step forward.

So where do the difficulties stem from? Maybe they stem from the fact that both sides are in a way frozen in their respective wording of the articles of the treaty? If that is the case, then maybe we should try to find some new words acceptable for both parties which will encompass the substance of their positions?

Having expressed these ideas, Rusk made a disclaimer that the US have not yet discussed these issues from this angle with their allies, and therefore requested that our exchange of opinions remained strictly confidential.

He then proposed that in the next few days the representatives of the USSR and the US discuss the possibility of overcoming the remaining obstacles on the path to an agreement. Possibly we can work out some mutually acceptable language. In conclusion he stressed the US government’s deep concern over the fact that the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons could slip out of control if immediate measures were not taken. Rusk asked us to express our thoughts. 

Cde. Gromyko responded to Rusk that the Soviet government, as before, considers the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons vitally important. We have stated our fundamental position on this issue numerous times, and therefore there is no need to restate it in detail now. The issue of non-proliferation, indeed, concerns not only the nuclear countries. It equally concerns all countries of the world. Unfortunately, we have wasted a lot of time. This can be seen even from the fact that as recent as a year ago, for example, the Minister of External Affairs of India in his conversations with us only cautiously expressed interest in whether it would be sufficient to sign the non-proliferation treaty without putting forward other conditions for nuclear countries (certain steps in the area of disarmament, scaling back nuclear materials’ production, etc.) Then, as time has gone by, there has been a more and more noticeable trend in the thought process of Indian government to put forward a number of conditions in this respect, and impossible conditions at that. Now not only India, but also some other countries, raise the question of the need to tie the solution of this problem with reaching an agreement on some other aspects of disarmament, and, in the first place, scaling back or the discontinuation of the production of nuclear materials. It is not yet fully clear whether these states are putting forward a question of scaling back or discontinuing the production of nuclear materials as a mandatory condition for signing the non-proliferation treaty. But if it is so, then there is a legitimate question that will have to be answered: will we be able to sign a treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons at all, especially if there is a delay with it[?]

[The following two paragraphs were highlighted in the left margin] As for the Soviet government, stressed Cde. Gromyko, it is ready to immediately sign an agreement on a prohibition on the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear countries directly or indirectly. Furthermore, by indirect transfer we mean non-nuclear countries giving nuclear weapons via military blocs and groups of countries.  

To gain a more in-depth understanding of the essence of the current American position, we asked Rusk point-blank whether the US agrees to put provisions in the treaty prohibiting non-nuclear states from independently producing nuclear weapons or obtaining them from nuclear powers directly or indirectly, as well as prohibiting nuclear states from transferring nuclear weapons or information about them to non-nuclear states, directly or indirectly. If the US agrees to that, then the main difficulties on the path to the solution of the nuclear non-proliferation issue will be behind us. It is true, that even in this case we will still have some corrections and issues with some of the provisions of the treaty, a number of new elements in the position of the West have emerged since this issue appeared. All of this serves as an argument in support of the speedy signing of the treaty. However, the main obstacle is the one that we have just discussed. And it has to be removed as a matter of priority.

Having presented these observations, he pointed out that in our belief when the issue of the non-proliferation is addressed, one has to approach it not from the point of view of which side has made concessions that allegedly damaged its prestige. The main point is to completely eliminate all possibilities for the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This issue is too serious to allow some false considerations of prestige to have influence, and a decisive influence at that, on reaching the agreement.

Answering questions posed by our side, Rusk unequivocally stated that the US has no intention of transferring nuclear weapons to any non-nuclear states or assisting such states to independently produce nuclear weapons or to bring American nuclear weapons into operation. Even if the US enters into an alliance with someone with the purpose of fighting a war, still the American nuclear weapons can only be brought into operation on the order of the President of the USA. Taking this into account, Rusk continued, it seems to me that our understanding of what should be prohibited under the non-proliferation treaty is in line with your understanding or is close to it.

He then reiterated the idea that the more time is wasted deciding the issue of non-proliferation, the stronger will be the pressure will be in India, Japan, and some other countries to create their own nuclear weapons. As justification for such attitudes, Rusk pointed out, these countries often refer to the threat from China, but in reality it is a mostly false “alibi”, and is used to cover up the desire to possess nuclear weapons.

Taking into consideration that Rusk still did not fully reply to the question posed to him, Cde. Gromyko told him that we would like to receive from him a clarification of a very concrete nature. The American side states that without the agreement of the US Government, and personally of the President, no one can put nuclear weapons into use. But the question is not about this. This was said by the American side numerous times.

[The following paragraph was highlighted:] The main problem is in something else. The Soviet Union proposed to come to agreement on imposing a prohibition on the production of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states and on prohibiting them from gaining national possession of such weapons from nuclear powers. Additionally, according to the treaty, it is necessary to block access to nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states through various blocs, alliances, and military groups.

We are asking, does the US agree that it is necessary to reflect all of these provisions in the treaty? We believe that the US should agree to include these provisions in the treaty so as to effectively prohibit both the direct and indirect proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Rusk responded that, in his opinion, it is necessary to look into the very core of this issue. The Soviet Union supports a ban on production of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states. We agree with that. You speak of the need to prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons from nuclear states to non-nuclear states. We agree with this, too. As to the rest, then, unfortunately, in the past two or three years we have observed too much “theological rhetoric” around words like joint ownership, joint control, access, etc., which complicates mutual understanding. I can firmly state, said Rusk, that the US is not going to transfer or sell nuclear weapons to anyone. Similarly, we will not facilitate anyone acquiring control over a nuclear weapon. This is absolutely clear. And here, it seems to me that we are talking about the same things. If this is so, then let us try to find our way through the fog of words obstructing our agreement.

Cde. Gromyko objected to Rusk that the problem apparently was not in “theological arguments” about the meaning of one word or another, but in the necessity to reach the same principled approach to this issue.  As you know, not so long ago there were certain plans to create so-called multilateral nuclear NATO forces, or as it was called in English – The Atlantic Multilateral Forces. You, of course, are a better judge whether such plans still exist or not (Rusk tossed a remark that “he himself doesn’t know this, either”), but we are viewing these plans as a form of granting West Germany access to nuclear weapons. Furthermore, there is no significant difference in whether or not under the deck of a single ship carrying nuclear weapons there is a crew that consists of representatives not only of West Germany but of other nationalities – Americans, British, etc. The American side asserted that the creation of such forces would not mean that the FRG would have access to nuclear weapons. We could not and cannot agree to that. We need to put some clarity into this issue.

Anyway, it would be good to know whether these and other similar plans still exist. After all, the US does not inform us of everything, and apparently it does not make everything known to world public opinion. If the US is ready to agree to a prohibition on the proliferation of nuclear weapons, including through military alliances, then we will be satisfied, since in that case all of the loopholes for proliferation will be closed. This question needs to be cleared up, because we got stuck on it at one time and since then have not been able to move forward on the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Rusk responded in a semi-joking manner that the US cannot make the USSR the 16th member of the NATO with a corresponding right of veto, or actually the 15th – depending on how one views De Gaulle’s position, the same as the Soviet Union cannot make the US a member of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, also with a right of veto. However, he then noted (without giving us a direct answer to our question), we are ready to reflect [in the treaty] what we just discussed, and specifically that the US is not going to provide assistance to anyone in obtaining nuclear weapons.

Having then requested that his statement is not made part of the official record of the conversation, [the rest of the paragraph was highlighted in the left margin] Rusk said, that if we talk about West Germany specifically, then for the US the issue is not only, and not so much, in the fact that the Soviet Union does not want the FRG to be given the ability to bring nuclear weapons into operation. There are NATO-specific and America-specific reasons for never giving West Germany such an opportunity. So, Rusk stressed, there should not be any doubts in this respect.

Rusk proposed to go back to the discussion of this issue during our next meeting on 24 September, after the representatives of both sides exchange opinions in accordance with our agreement.

Soviet representatives expressed their agreement with this.

Rusk’s statements on the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons left the Soviet representatives with the impression that right now the Americans were showing a more lively interest in identifying opportunities to find a mutually acceptable approach to agreement on this issue and, specifically, to the development by the countries of the primary language for such an agreement.

3. One-on-one conversation between Cde. Gromyko and Rusk.

Rusk noted that in his belief the latest conversations showed that the divide between the USSR’s and the US’s positions on the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons has considerably narrowed, and that he doesn’t rule out the possibility that an agreement may be reached on some mutually acceptable formula which may become the basis for an international agreement.

Cde. Gromyko responded to Rusk that he has the same impression but as of yet the American side has not agreed to the precise wording of the obligations which would exclude allowing access to nuclear weapons for countries that currently do not possess it.

Rusk expressed a wish that the efforts continue, so that during our stay here we could work out the mutually acceptable wording. Cde. Gromyko expressed his readiness for this but stressed that all this depended on the American side.

Cde. Gromyko asked Rusk what his thoughts were on the procedure for reviewing the treaty, provided that the USSR and the US were able to agree on the framework for such a treaty.

Rusk said that possibly, after such agreement is reached, the issue should be discussed in the Group of 18 (he means the Committee in Geneva), here, in New York.

Cde. Gromyko responded that maybe it would be better to discuss all of this, including the text of the agreement, in Geneva. Moreover, maybe initially (similar to the preparation of the Moscow treaty banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater) with the participation of just the nuclear powers which express consent to this. Then at an appropriate time we could inform the Committee of 18 on the progress of the negotiations.

Rusk said that he does not rule out the possibility of adopting this procedure, too. But he is asking us, in any case, to take into account the following: should an agreement with us be reached, the US government must immediately conduct consultations with its allies, and only after that it will be able to give its agreement for the conclusion of the process by signing the treaty. All of this, in his opinion, could be done while the General Assembly is still in session.

This statement by Rusk implies that the US government, in case they reach an agreement with us, apparently, does not expect to have any serious difficulties in getting their allies’ approval of this issue.

4. Conversation with Rusk on 24 September at the Soviet Mission

The discussion of the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons was mainly focused on the issue of what should be the main substance of the obligations of nuclear powers under the non-proliferation treaty.

Having stated that he supported a frank expression of opinions on this issue devoid of diplomatic innuendos, Cde. Gromyko told Rusk that it seems to him that it is noticeable that the gap between the positions of the parties is getting somewhat narrower. If that is truly the case, if both sides believe that there is a serious basis for such a conclusion, then we should make an effort to find common ground. Cde. Gromyko continued by saying that the conversations between the representatives of both parties, that have taken place in the last two days, show, however, that there is still no clarity on how to find the wording for certain provisions of the treaty which would suit both sides. Additionally, the wording should not give rise to different interpretations of a country’s obligations stipulated by the treaty. One cannot sign an agreement knowing that it sets the stage for contradictory interpretations. It is imperative to work out precise wording for respective obligations of the members to the treaty.

Moving on to the heart of the matter, Cde. Gromyko said that we consider it a vital necessity that the agreement reflects that nuclear powers undertake not to transfer nuclear weapons or information about them to non-nuclear states, not only directly but also indirectly, as members of military alliances or groups. In other words, it needs to be reflected in the agreement that nuclear weapons are not going to be transferred either to non-nuclear countries or to military alliances or groups of countries.

At the meetings of our representatives which have taken place in the past two days, the American side proposed that the treaty prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear countries, both directly and indirectly, through military alliances and groups of states. However this does not resolve the main issue. This approach essentially means that nuclear weapons will not be transferred to the national control of non-nuclear states, whether directly or indirectly through military alliances. However, this leaves the possibility of a transfer of nuclear weapons to the military alliances themselves, i.e. on a collective basis, which would mean the exposure and access of non-nuclear states to nuclear weapons and their access to them specifically as members of this alliance, though there will be no transfer of nuclear weapons under their national control. In any case, this will serve as a basis for such interpretation. We cannot agree to that. The treaty has to ban the transfer of nuclear weapons both to non-nuclear countries and to military alliances and groups, in which they participate alongside nuclear powers. If we have the same understanding of this main thing, then the specific wording is not going to be difficult to agree upon.

Rusk responded that he is beginning to think that the Soviet side somewhat underestimates the resolute position of the US against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Based on its own, one may even say narrow, considerations, the US is resoundingly against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There is a firm pushback inside the NATO against the transfer of nuclear weapons to West Germany. In the Soviet Union people retain grave memories of the Second World War, but the British, the French, the Belgians, the Dutch, the Greeks, and other people, have such memories. Therefore, even if the Soviet Union did not pose its demands, these countries would still be against transferring nuclear weapons to West Germany.

We have to take this into account when developing mutually acceptable wording for the obligations of the countries under the treaty. We support the continuing search of such wording, and we believe that this can be achieved. At the same time we take into consideration that any international agreement in the US has to be reviewed and approved by the Senate, and if we cannot find the wording that will be clear enough for the Senate, then it is fair to say that there will be no treaty.

Then Rusk stated that recently there has actually been certain progress towards closing the gap in the positions of the parties, since both of our countries understand that the more time we waste, the stronger there is a chance that other countries will create their own nuclear weapons. How do we approach the formulation of the wording of the treaty? The US Government believes that 99% of the non-proliferation issue is resolved by the fact that the US will never, under any circumstances, directly or indirectly, transfer nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states, will never assist and never provide technical information to any non-nuclear countries in order to allow them to create nuclear weapons, and will never give anyone the right to bring American nuclear weapons into operation. This constitutes 99% of the whole issue, and this shall be taken as a starting point when determining the countries’ obligations in the treaty. The remaining 1% is possibly due to a misunderstanding and things not directly related to the non-proliferation problem.

In general, said Rusk, I believe that we have to find common ground as soon as possible. Though, even if we manage to reach an agreement, this still does not exclude the fact that we, the US, may encounter some difficulties in our relations with some of our allies, and therefore we reserve for ourselves the right to consult them in the future. There are indications that there will also be difficulties in our relations with some of those countries that are not our allies, such as India and a number of others. But, obviously, the primary goal is for the USSR and the US is to reach an agreement on a mutually acceptable wording.

Since Rusk nonetheless did not provide a clear answer to the question of whether the US government was ready to agree to put in the treaty a prohibition on the transfer of nuclear weapons not only to non-nuclear countries, but also to the military alliances of which they are members, we yet again, in a very direct manner, posed this question to him and provided the relevant supporting arguments. On our side we stressed that we should not limit ourselves to a prohibition on using military alliances as “transfer channels” for transferring nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states. We should also prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons to the military alliances themselves, into their collective ownership or control, so that their non-nuclear members could not get access to nuclear weapons from within the alliance. Let us work in this direction. We believe that the US, like the USSR, should be interested in this.

In his subsequent statements Rusk did not fully disclose his position on the issue that we raised. However, at the same time he did not try to dispute that it was appropriate for us to raise this issue. Though at one time during the exchange of comments, Rusk stated something along the lines that one should bear in mind that NATO states are “targets for Soviet nuclear weapons”. And therefore it may happen that some of the non-nuclear NATO member countries, for example, may want to make some sort of a financial contribution towards the cost of nuclear weapons that belong to the US and are intended for the defense of all of the NATO members.

To this we told Rusk that such statements only cause bewilderment on our side.

He mixes together two things: he talks about political relations between the allies, when at the moment the conversation is about nuclear weapons and their non-proliferation. It is imperative to directly declare in the treaty a prohibition on the transfer of nuclear weapons to individual countries, groups of countries, and military alliances. This is what the conversation should be about.

Rusk said that he would like to take us up on our proposal to drop the diplomacy and to put all cards on the table. We assume that within the framework of the Warsaw Treaty, the Soviet Union fully retains the right to make decisions related to the Soviet nuclear weapons. In the NATO, the US is also the only one who can make decisions on the use of nuclear weapons, though the US believes that in general their allies have the right to participate alongside the US in making decisions about war and peace.

[Handwritten: Gromyko] I responded that again Rusk is raising an issue that is not directly related to the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but is related to the political relations between the member states of this or that alliance. However, what we are discussing now is in essence the physical aspects of this problem, i.e. the issues of the access of non-nuclear countries to nuclear weapons as part of military alliances.

Rask noted in response to this that in his opinion one could make a conclusion that both sides agree to exclude from consideration the issue of general political relations between the member states of military alliances. So we are left with the physical aspects – with the proliferation or non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the need to reflect in some way our common desire not to allow the proliferation of these weapons. Maybe the specific language is not quite clear yet, but it is more or less close.

He expressed the hope that we will be able to develop a mutually acceptable language before our departure from the US.

Rusk added that before the start of this exchange of opinions he had received instructions from President Johnson to make every effort to reach agreement on the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and expressed hope that a similar commitment would be displayed on our side.

I told Rusk that on our side there will be no lack of desire to reach an agreement which would close all the loopholes for the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Though Rusk, after all, did not fully disclose his position with respect to our proposal to ban the transfer of nuclear weapons both to individual countries and to military alliances (possibly this reservation on the part of Rusk is connected with the arrival of Ehrhardt in the US), the other two US representatives who participated in the conversation, Goldberg and Foster, made somewhat more far-reaching comments in our favor.

Goldberg said that our arguments regarding the need to ban the transfer of nuclear weapons to military alliances, “appeal to him”, too.

Foster mentioned that our proposal to ban the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states, as well as to military alliances and groups of states, “does not contradict American nuclear energy legislation” and therefore, from this point of view, does not contain anything unacceptable to the US. Of course in connection with this, the US will have strictly political difficulties with respect to its allies. To accept it would in political terms mean “to rub salt in the wound”, since our proposal openly bans the creation of multilateral or Atlantic nuclear forces. 

Foster spoke in favor of looking for possibilities to say approximately what we want to say in the treaty, but somewhat differently. For example, to say that nuclear weapons will not be transferred to anyone whomsoever, directly or indirectly, through military alliances or groups of states (with that Foster explained that the word “whomsoever” could be interpreted as encompassing not just individual countries but military alliances as well).

In the course of the discussion of the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Rusk asked what thoughts we had with respect to the consultations on nuclear issues between the member states of military alliances. I replied to Rusk that we were not going to raise the issue of consultations, in and of themselves, being included in the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union believes that this treaty should provide for things that are prohibited, specifically prohibited.

Rusk noted that accordingly the issue of the non-proliferation boiled down to a prohibition on non-nuclear countries physically possessing nuclear weapons, bringing them into operation, obtaining nuclear weapons, and the capability of producing them. If that is the case, he stressed, we can work out the language which would fully resolve all the issues related to the physical approach to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. After all, we have 100% clarity on the issues of the physical aspects of nuclear weapons, and we have to put down on paper what we agree on.

In this connection, Cde. Gromyko again drew Rusk’s attention to the need to reach full accord with respect to the prohibition on the transfer of nuclear weapons to military alliances as well, and not just to individual non-nuclear countries, and [we need to] directly state this in the treaty without limiting ourselves to a mere agreed upon interpretation, even if in essence it coincides with our proposal.

Cde. Gromyko and Rusk agreed that starting 27 September the representatives of both sides will continue their meetings with the purpose of working out mutually acceptable language for the obligations of nuclear countries under the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

5. 2 October. A number of countries, including the US, decided to join in as co-authors of our draft resolution “On Refraining from Actions that Might Hinder the Achievement of Agreement on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” Rusk personally informed Cde. Gromyko of the decision of the US government to support our draft, and he stressed the importance of this fact. The Americans decided to act this way given the popularity of our proposal among the delegations. In Cde. Gromyko’s opinion, this step by the Americans demonstrates that apparently the Americans are prepared to bury their plans to create multilateral nuclear forces, obviously connecting this with possible agreement about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.


6. 3 October. The discussion of the nuclear non-proliferation issue was in the forefront during the conversations with Rusk. In the course of the conversations the Americans showed noticeable interest in the consideration of this issue. It was agreed with Rusk that the confidential exchange of opinions would continue at the level of the representatives of both countries in the Committee of 18 with the purpose of finding a possible solution.

Recently several meetings of our representatives have taken place in New York. The main item, which continued to be the center of discussion, was our demand that the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons clearly stipulate the ban on the transfer of such weapons not only into the national hands of individual non-nuclear countries, but also into the collective control of military alliances and groups of states.

The American representatives expressed a certain understanding of the essence of our approach, having acknowledged that this issue was crucial for overcoming the currently existing differences between us. At the most recent meeting at the end of last week they said that they would think over the whole issue once again and would continue the exchange of opinions with the Soviet side in the next few days. With this purpose Foster, who represents the American side, left for Washington to consult with the government. He will return to New York on 4 October.

7. Conversation with Goldberg on 3 October. The meeting took place at the American side’s initiative. Goldberg said that last Sunday he had a meeting with Johnson, who, according to him, places a high priority on the upcoming meeting on 10 October. In this conversation Goldberg would like to express his preliminary thoughts on the issues which will be touched upon during the exchange of opinions with Johnson. Goldberg said that in his conversation with Gromyko Johnson would undoubtedly touch upon the issue of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. (At that point Goldberg explained that he himself was not an expert on this issue and therefore could not discuss it.) Johnson asked Goldberg to relay that he had familiarized himself with the transcript of the conversation between Gromyko and Rusk, and intended to genuinely make an effort to sign the non-proliferation treaty. In his yesterday’s conversation with me, Goldberg continued yesterday, the President said that he would never make a recommendation to change the current US legislation in accordance with which only the President of the USA, and he alone, could make decisions on the use of nuclear weapons.

Cde. Gromyko, this time again, explained the position of the Soviet government on the issue of the non-proliferation.

It is noteworthy that in the course of the conversation on the topic of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Goldberg stated twice that there was a difference of opinions in Washington. There are too many cooks there, he said, who spoil the broth. He indicated a number of times that he not only supported the treaty, but that he also supported our interpretation of the objectives for such an agreement.


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This document includes accounts of several conversations between Soviet officials and US diplomats, including Andrei Gromyko for the Soviets, and Dean Rusk and Arthur Goldberg for the Americans. The most pressing topic discussed during these meetings was figuring out mutually acceptable language to mollify Soviet demands that the NPT contain explicit prohibitions on the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear countries not just directly but through a military alliance, namely, NATO, remembering previous US attempts to nuclearize NATO through the Multilateral Force (MLF). Some attention is paid to fears not just of the Soviet Union but the US and other NATO allies as well about the FRG acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition to the focus on the semantic differences in the Soviet and American drafts of the NPT, the document emphasizes that one key area of common ground between the Soviets and Americans is the importance that an agreement be reached sooner rather than later before more countries acquire nuclear capabilities.

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Sokhraniaia nasledie: Initsiativa gosudarstv-depozitariev v sviazi s 50-letiem vstupleniia DNIaO v silu [Preserving the Legacy: A Depository-hosted Initiative on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the NPT's Entry into Force] (Moscow: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2020): 111-126. Translated by Angela Greenfield.


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