The Cuban Missile Crisis
Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State


New York, November 25, 1962, 11 a.m.

1941. Dept pass White House. Eyes only for the Secretary. Cuba--Meeting McCloy/Kuznetsov, Sat 24 Nov 62. Long session with Kuznetsov and Mendelevich this evening. No one else present. Dinner at McCloy's New York apartment.

First McCloy paraphrased instructions, emphasizing desire for prompt windup and real efforts which had been made to present Kuznetsov with draft declaration carrying out spirit of October 27/28 letters, despite fact full compliance not possible due largely Cuban recalcitrance. Also suggested possibility avoiding long wrangle at UN by Presidential declaration if this seemed more compatible with their interests. First read and then delivered him our draft.

Kuznetsov immediately replied he was disappointed in it as it did not contain any suggestion of thinking which he felt we should have been prompted to include as result of great Soviet concessions, etc.(1) Nothing in document embodied matters that Chairman had brought up in correspondence with President such as stabilization and normalization of conditions in Caribbean. Then went through the paragraphs of the protocol for our reaction.

When McCloy asked Kuznetsov specifically what he had in mind, Kuznetsov then referred to paragraphs in his protocol which are mainly rehash of Castro conditions. McCloy simply said they were out. Kuznetsov argued at some length but McCloy thought rather perfunctorily on this point. Kuznetsov seemed seek some comments from us on willingness discuss outstanding issues with Cubans. McCloy replied that we always prepared discuss things with Cuba if they wanted but no such conditions could be part of this transaction. Believe may hear again on this after Mikoyan arrives but believe it only matter of record.

Next Kuznetsov objected to long statement of Soviet concessions sounding as if Soviets compelled to treat for ignoble peace. McCloy replied simply evidenced clear effort put things right with no inference of indignity involved. Moreover showed U.S. moved substantially from original position, particularly in abandoning quarantine before all conditions met. Really statesmanlike document.

These preliminaries. Kuznetsov's real objection was to overflight reservation, stating this simply put us back to where we had started from. Referred to our same old insistence on-site inspection, which should now be discarded in light of their display of good faith. They had felt that if they agreed to take out their military units all further need for overflight would have passed. This clause defeats Kuznetsov's hopes for rapid settlement and did not know how to put his failure on this to his government.

McCloy replied this was cardinal issue with us. Overflights our only reliable means checking compliance. Even they not complete. Overflights which pinpointed missile bases played large part in avoiding war. Inconceivable abandon them without thorough verification on ground though we prepared to seek more satisfactory method verification. We not asking him agree to overflights. Simply stating in all honesty we intended reserve this precaution and wanted world know our commitments made in light of this fact, etc.

Kuznetsov stated whole paper would have to be sent to his government. Was certain they probably have number comments but sure overflight paragraph considered unsatisfactory and objectionable. Complained about references to unfulfilled obligations of Soviet Union. McCloy agreed use phrase "had not been capable of fulfillment" in place of language of draft. Kuznetsov also stated withdrawal military units not part of original agreement.

McCloy admitted this arguable but at any rate was to their as well as our interest to have it stated. Indicated this might not be point of issue if we agreed on other things and so long as they got military units out soon as possible. Overflights however were essential and fundamental element of our position. Kuznetsov kept coming back to this clause, pointing out its difficulties for them. Suggested we accept what he called latest U Thant proposal which had some element reciprocity in it so Castro would have basis for giving us some on-site inspection.

McCloy said we had not agreed to U Thant proposals and no inspection U.S could be made without inspection USSR. Any proposal take time to work out even if acceptable. Thing was to get on with declaration and move on to other important matters.

Further talk by Kuznetsov about U.S. not doing its share to which McCloy made usual reactions. Declaration not easy for U.S. local and hemispheric objections to thought U.S. providing sanctuary for Castro subversion of continent. We had made deal and prepared to live up to it and adopt all reasonable compromises necessary. This declaration gave Khrushchev all and more than he had asked for. Conditions were clear and overflight paragraph though understandably difficult for them was necessary for us and essential for us to make it clear.

Finally Kuznetsov almost pleaded with McCloy to take out this overflight clause, stating that we could made some reservation outside UN.(2) McCloy told him he had no authority modify it and personally did not see how position adequately covered unless we did state understanding on this in UN, pointing out they did not have to agree to it. Kuznetsov strongly requested U.S. give some further thought to this clause. In essence he kept asking us to find a way to maintain our position without rubbing their noses in it.

Then talked of procedure. McCloy made clear U.S. not refusing go to UN, but were merely suggesting some alternative. In so doing insisted U.S. would not sign any protocol or agreement such as Sovs had in mind but would make declaration on basis of their declaration with thought SYG would note declaration had been made, perhaps congratulating leaders involved for statesmanship in avoiding disaster, and no more. Kuznetsov seemed feel no resolution of SC other than noting declarations necessary. McCloy repeated possible advantages declaration outside SC but gathered Kuznetsov inclined toward UN record and anxious confirm U.S. not refusing UN record.(3)

Kuznetsov repeated would in due course give us their draft and their comments on our draft. Then we discuss both together, but Kuznetsov sure overflight clause unsatisfactory. Kuznetsov did not object specifically to use of word "intend" but Mendelevich picked it up. McCloy argued that constitutionally this best way for us handle it and Kuznetsov did not carry argument further. McCloy believes it will come up again when we receive their full comments as will "threat to peace and security" phrase. McCloy senses Sovs want declaration badly but overflight clause is bone in throat.

McCloy suggested that at appropriate time it might be well for Kuznetsov see President, perhaps with Mikoyan. Left that Kuznetsov would not get in touch with McCloy at least until Monday, that Mikoyan due back on Monday but Kuznetsov did not know for how long a stay. Kuznetsov said he would very much appreciate opportunity of paying respects to President at appropriate time.


1 According to telegram 1942 from USUN, November 25, Yost reported that on the morning of November 25 Kuznetnov telephoned McCloy and stated "that he had slept badly last night and liked U.S. draft even less this morning than he had last evening." (Ibid.) See the Supplement. Back

2 In telegram 1992 from USUN, November 28, Stevenson corrected the following two sentences to read: "McCloy told Kuznetsov he had no authority modify it and personally did not see how we could fail to make this clear in any statement we made in UN or elsewhere regarding invasions, since we could not risk being charged with bad faith in regard to assurances against invasion if in fact we did employ these overflight facilities and had said nothing publicly about it. McCloy pointed out that the Soviets did not necessarily have to agree explicitly with our statement regarding overflights and could make such reservations with respect to this point as they might desire." (Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/11-2862) Back

3 According to telegram 1953 from New York, November 26, McCloy, Stevenson, and Yost saw U.N. Secretary General U Thant and brought him up to date on the conversation with Kuznetsov. They also gave U Thant a copy of the U.S. draft declaration and reported that his reaction was "good." (Ibid., 737.56361/11-2662) See the Supplement. Back

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/11-2562. Top Secret; Priority.

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