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Memo to the Soviet Ambassador to India: Appeal to the Leadership of the Indian Communist Party on the Question of the NPT

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







Urgently meet with the leadership of the Indian Communist Party (R. Rao, Sh. Dange) and, referring to instructions from Moscow, inform them of the following. 

As is well-known on 24 April of this year the 22nd UN General Assembly continued session began its work at which the draft nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty, the result of long and difficult negotiations, is being discussed. 

The CPSU CC and Soviet government attach exceptionally great importance to the problem of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, considering it one of the most important steps in the struggle to relax international tension and improve the entire international situation. When applying comprehensive efforts in particular to get the non-proliferation treaty signed, the Soviet government is guided by the following considerations: 

Right now humanity is faced with a dilemma with the entire course of the development of international relations: either effective measures will be taken capable of averting the proliferation of nuclear weapons or in the coming years the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons will grow sharply and the proliferation of such weapons will proceed like a kind of a chain reaction. The problem is that at the present time West Germany, Japan, Israel, Italy, Canada, the Republic of South Africa, Sweden, Brazil, and a number of other countries, including India, are prepared in their scientific and technical level or almost prepared to begin the production of nuclear weapons. 

The inclusion of new capitalist countries in the nuclear arms race could lead to the nuclear potential of the capitalist camp probably growing faster in the next 10-15 years than the corresponding potential of the member countries of the Warsaw Pact. 

If the latter happens then the threat of a nuclear war arising with all the consequences ensuing from this for the peoples increases. The possession of nuclear weapons would give the forces of aggression, militarism, and revanchism additional capabilities to organize dangerous provocations in various regions of the world. The proliferation of nuclear weapons would unavoidably lead to a further arms race which would involve dozens of countries and divert to the goals of destruction the resources of these countries which they so need to improve the welfare of their peoples. 

The nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty has the goal of not only closing off the path to the proliferation of such weapons, but creating the most favorable conditions for the parties to the treaty which do not have nuclear weapons to make use of the achievements of the peaceful use of the atom. The article and provisions included in the treaty concerning the provision of conditions for the peaceful use of nuclear energy specially indicate the right of parties to the treaty to develop the peaceful use of atomic energy, participate in a broad international exchange of scientific and technical information in this field, and enjoy the benefits of the peaceful use of nuclear technology which might be acquired from the development of nuclear explosive devices by the countries possessing nuclear weapons. 

In addition, the provisions in the treaty which were included in it in accordance with the desires of non-nuclear countries provide that countries which have achieved the highest level of development in the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes will cooperate in the matter of promoting the development of the peaceful atomic activity of countries which do not possess nuclear weapons. Conditions are thereby created for the peaceful use of the advantages of the wide use of the benefits from the peaceful use of atomic energy by non-nuclear countries, including the benefits of conducting nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes. 

The treaty specially provides that non-nuclear countries which are parties to the treaty will be given assistance on the most favorable conditions from the countries which possess nuclear weapons in conducting explosive work with the use of nuclear explosives. 

This means that countries which join the non-proliferation treaty will be in the most favorable position from the point of view of participation in international collaboration in the nuclear field and accordingly they could save considerable resources for the other pressing needs of their development. 

In other words, when working out the draft treaty maximum concern was shown so that it did not negatively reflect on the interests of the countries which joined it in the area of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The treaty is designed to comprehensively promote the use of the power of the atom for peaceful purposes, and to create favorable preconditions so that the countries which are party to the treaty can develop their own atomic industry and national economy at a rapid pace without hindrance. 

The solution of the problem of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons will create more favorable conditions for the struggle to stop the arms race and for disarmament, and to rally together all the peace-loving forces against the forces of aggression and war. 

The conclusion of the non-proliferation treaty ought to also be viewed as a means to protect against West Germany having access to nuclear weapons. 

It needs to be stressed that in the long and bitter struggle around the non-proliferation treaty the Soviet Union managed to include in the treaty provisions prohibiting any kinds of proliferation of nuclear weapons, any – direct or indirect – transfer of this weapon to anyone whatsoever, as well as the transfer of control over such weapons. Thus, it essentially consolidates an abandonment of plans to create multinational or any other NATO nuclear forces, for which the Soviet Union has fought over the years. In the final account the United States had to concede in this such important a question as control over the observance of treaty obligations. 

The non-proliferation treaty includes a special article designed for parties to it to have to hold negotiations in the spirit of good will about effective steps in the area of halting the nuclear arms race in the near future and nuclear disarmament, and also about a treaty for general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international monitoring. It stands to reason that the Soviet government is ready right now to carry out specific steps in the area of disarmament. However, inasmuch as the experience of disarmament negotiations has shown, the achievement of agreement concerning various aspects of this problem is a difficult matter, it would be incorrect to tie in one ball treaty provisions about non-proliferation and the extremely complex problems of nuclear disarmament, which still await their solution.

The Soviet Union has repeatedly declared that it is ready to immediately come to agreement about the elimination of all nuclear weapons in the world in order to free humanity from the threat of nuclear war. However, in spite of all the efforts of the Soviet Union and the other peace-loving countries, in all these years it has not been found possible to achieve this goal. In addition, instead of the two nuclear powers which there were 20 years ago, now there are already five countries possessing nuclear weapons. In light of this experience it is obvious that if we try right now to tie together the solution of the problem of non-proliferation and the task of halting the production of nuclear weapons and the destruction of their stockpiles, then we will not achieve a solution of either the problem of nuclear disarmament or the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

A continuation of the unrestricted proliferation of nuclear weapons, the inclusion of ever newer and newer countries to it, would threaten the security of all countries wherever they are, including the security of India, inasmuch as new countries from among India’s neighbors would obviously be drawn into the nuclear arms race. At the same time the conclusion of a non-proliferation treaty would create great security for all countries and lay the basis for forward progress in the solution to the questions of disarmament, nuclear weapons first of all.

It ought to be stressed especially that the most rabid opponents of the non-proliferation treaty are the revanchist circles of West Germany, which are striving to get nuclear weapons in their hands, and the group of Mao Zedong.

We would also like to stress that in the course of preparing the draft treaty the Soviet Union sought to get the maximum consideration of the wishes expressed by the non-nuclear powers, including India, and guarantees of the security of non-nuclear countries. The opinions of these countries were taken into consideration in the draft resolution of the UN Security Council on the question of the guarantees proposed in the Committee of 18 by the Soviet Union by agreement with the governments of the US and Britain. Along with this the Soviet government intends to make a special statement during the adoption of the resolution by the Security Council. The Soviet government intends to declare that in the event of aggression with the use of nuclear weapons against countries which do not have nuclear weapons, or the threat of such aggression, a qualitatively new situation would arise in which countries possessing nuclear weapons which are permanent members of the US Security Council should immediately act through the Security Council in order to take the steps necessary to repel such aggression or eliminate the threat of aggression.

Stress that the CPSU CC and the Soviet government think that the conclusion of the non-proliferation treaty will meet the vital interests of the peoples of all countries, and the progressive, peace-loving forces of the world, and that we will seek approval of the treaty at the current UN General Assembly and its signing immediately after the conclusion of this session.

Express the hope that the Indian friends will regard the views expressed above on the question of the nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty with understanding.

In this memo, the Soviet Ambassador to India is urged to meet with the leadership of the Indian Communist Party (Rao and Dange) and inform them, in light of the 22nd UN General Assembly session discussing the NPT, of the Soviet stance on the Treaty. The ambassador is instructed to emphasize the importance of nuclear non-proliferation for international geopolitical reasons, including preventing West Germany and China from acquiring nuclear weapons, as well as increasing domestic prosperity by using the atom for peaceful means. The ambassador is told to emphasize efforts of the USSR to prepare the draft treaty in collaboration with non-nuclear countries, as well as security guarantees in place for non-nuclear countries so that the Indian government greets the Treaty with understanding.

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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): 79-83. Translated by Gary Goldberg.


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