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


Washington, December 3, 1962, 8 p.m.

2086. Department pass White House. Eyes only Secretary. Re: Cuba. Fol is summary five and one half hour meeting between McCloy and Yost, Kuznetsov, Zorin and Mendelovich.(1)

High points were fol: Sovs took even stronger position than formerly against 3 points in U.S. declaration: (1) ref to Rio Pact,(2) (2) ref to overflights, and (3) condition that Cuba does not take action to "threaten the peace and security of the Western Hemisphere" attached to our non-invasion assurances. Kuznetsov concluded session by saying that, if these 3 points included in U.S. declaration, it would be very difficult to foresee how long it would be before U.S. and Sovs could reach agreement on presentation to SC. On other hand he at same time emphasized great importance Sovs attach to presentation to SC of documents agreed on main points, if not in all details, which would lead to action by SC expressing satisfaction with work of parties and asking them continue negots to resolve problems still outstanding. Kuznetsov favored working rapidly toward conclusion of this kind which he said repeatedly would create more favorable prospects for solution of other international problems.

Kuznetsov said he "hoped" to have Sov draft declaration in couple of days and it was left that, unless some new ideas occurred to either delegation, we would await completion that draft before holding another mtg.

On points listed above to which Sovs strongly objected, they claimed ref to Rio Pact is part of U.S. attempt to give U.S. commitment conditional character and hence is unacceptable. It was part of effort to give U.S. free hand so it will not have to keep its obligations. It would authorize U.S. to take action against Cuba under Arts 6 and 8, including use of armed force, by alleging Cuba had undertaken aggression not involving the use of armed force including subversion. Kuznetsov also claimed Rio Pact violates UN Charter(3) in that (1) it authorizes armed response against non-armed attack which is not in accord with Art 51, and (2) it authorizes use of armed force without approval of SC as provided in Art 53. Therefore reference to Rio Pact in U.S. declaration would be illegal since pact in conflict with UN Charter. Ref to UN Charter itself in U.S. declaration should be sufficient for our purposes.

As to overflights Kuznetsov said this ref unacceptable and reiterated usual arguments about unilateral actions violating sovereignty of Cuba, norms of international law and UN Charter. He claimed U.S. desires overthrow whole set of legal norms covering relations between states. Question withdrawal missiles and IL-28's settled and no more inspection needed except as agreed between U.S. and USSR. Only Sov obligations concerning non-reintroduction defensive weapons and U.S. obligations concerning non-invasion are outstanding and these both can be met by U Thant plan of observation in Caribbean. Sovs not opposed this kind of observation but must be in accordance with Charter and on basis of equality applied not only to Cuba but to all parties.

Kuznetsov objected to phrase in U.S. draft declaration reading "provided Cuba does not take action to threaten the peace and security of the Western Hemisphere" on grounds this is new subject not covered in exchange of letters. President's letter of Oct 27 offered invasion assurance in return solely for actions by Sov Union. No mention was made of action on part of Cuba. Furthermore this condition would render valueless U.S. commitment not to invade Cuba since U.S. or other Western Hemisphere country could easily undertake provocation against Cuba and then claim Cuba had threatened their security.

Kuznetsov reiterated earlier claim that Khrushchev had not agreed to on-site inspection except with consent of Cuba and that moreover dismantling and withdrawal had been fully inspected by agreed shipside procedure.

He also spoke again of guarantees against invasions by other states of Western Hemisphere and quoted Pres' letter on this point. He claimed U.S. draft contains no provision for U.S. implementing this obligation.

He also objected to phrase "weapons capable of offensive use". He claimed only weapons envisaged in correspondence were those present in Cuba at time of crisis which had been referred to in Khrushchev's letters as weapons you consider offensive. There were only medium range missiles with nuclear warheads and IL-28's. These had also been only weapons referred to in Pres' press conference of Nov 20. Phrase used in U.S. draft would give grounds for arbitrary and expanding definition in future which could be applied to all sorts of other weapons.

As to withdrawal of Sov military personnel, Kuznetsov asserted this need not be referred to in U.S. declaration since it had not been covered in original exchange of correspondence. Sov Govt had mentioned this subsequently as gesture of good will and not part of agreement. U.S. side had made clear in negots that it did not consider this to be "condition" of final settlement.

Kuznetsov repeated very briefly Sov support of Castro points included in protocol, mentioning specifically only economic blockade and Guantanamo.

He mentioned new point, asserting that, even if agreed declaration made by 2 parties in SC, much would remain outstanding, including reestablishment diplomatic relations and economic relations among countries in Caribbean. He hoped draft declarations would refer to continuing negot to clear up these matters.

He mentioned U.S. ref to medium and intermediate range missiles and suggested omission of latter since only former were in Cuba. He also objected to use of word "minimum" applied to shipside inspection procedure since he claimed there had been agreement that this procedure was satisfactory.

Summing up his remarks he said U.S. had made substantial step backward from exchange of letters and had introduced many new requirements which made it appear U.S. wishes delay concluding negots. If one side wished to introduce new questions other side will of course do likewise. Sovs wish to confine questions to those covered in exchange of letters and hopes U.S. declaration will be redrafted in this sense.

McCloy replied that there seemed to be very little left in U.S. draft that was acceptable to Sovs. He pointed out U.S. draft designed to move forward and bring about rapid settlement. He listed numerous steps U.S. had taken, including limitation of our quarantine, its lifting before all Sov obligations had been met and on basis of mere Sov assurances about removal IL-28's, our acceptance limited method of verification of withdrawal missiles and bombers, and finally and most significant introduction of words "supporting invasion" in non-invasion assurance which was substantial and positive change in wording Pres' letter Oct 27. If we have inserted additional points in declaration it is only in order to clarify matters not foreseen when letters were exchanged.

McCloy said he did not understand distinction between medium and intermediate missiles since we had identified both types on sites but supposed satisfactory nomenclature could be worked out. More fundamental problem was Sov objection to wording "other weapons capable of offensive use." He was alarmed by thought Sovs considered as offensive only particular weapons which had been removed from Cuba in this instance. Obviously other types of missiles such as ICBM's or other types of bombers were equally offensive. However this might also be matter of language which could be cleared up.

McCloy reiterated that, while we do not suppose either Sov Union or Castro is going to abandon the conditions he has put forward, we repeat once again that we do not accept these conditions and cannot deal with them in any way in our declaration. As to military personnel, McCloy agreed their withdrawal was not considered condition of settlement and emphasized U.S. nevertheless very much relieved when Khrushchev indicated they might be considered almost as component of missile complex and hence would be withdrawn.

McCloy also repeated again that in referring to non-invasion assurances which might be given by other Western Hemisphere nations that Pres was merely expressing an opinion, that while we do not believe other LA countries have any intention of attacking Cuba we are not in position to restrain them. However he emphasized again ref to non-support of invasion in our draft declaration.

McCloy expressed usual objections to so-called U Thant proposal for reciprocal inspection. He then repeated at length reasons why we must have right to use our own means of inspection in absence of acceptable international arrangements. This does not amount to any change in international law or norms of relations between nations but is merely statement that we are going to take this precaution until satisfactory international inspection system is set up. He does not expect Sov Union to agree with what we are doing but we cannot omit mention in our declaration. Possibly language can be improved but subject must be covered. This part of price that has to be paid for false assurances which had previously been given to U.S. Presumably overflights would not continue for all time but would have to continue until certain composure had been restored to area.

As to Rio Pact McCloy recognized there is fundamental difference between us. If Kuznetsov is correct that proposed U.S. declaration is incompatible with Rio Pact Pres would have to go to Senate and seek amendment to that pact. We do not however believe there is any incompatibility. However Rio Pact is principal international instrument dealing with security of Western Hemisphere and it cannot be omitted from our declaration.

McCloy concluded by urging that we not haggle interminably over language but agree to close out this transaction as quickly as possible. If Sov Union maintains all points Kuznetsov has put forward, McCloy would almost despair of reaching agreement on 2 declarations. While promising to consider points Kuznetsov had raised he urged him to take less jaundiced look at U.S. draft. He also urged Sovs to submit their draft soonest.

Yost added that it hardly seemed possible for 2 sides to reach total agreement on 2 declarations. What was important was that they be compatible and as close together as possible.

In concluding rebuttal, which covered most of above points in same general terms, Kuznetsov said it would be impossible to understand if, after all we have done, it should be impossible to prepare agreed documents for SC. Let us stick to exchange of letters of Oct 27-28(4) and cut out new and unacceptable provisions he urged. He then ended with remarks reported at opening this message.


1 A 23-page memorandum of conversation of this meeting, lasting from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is in USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-001, 1-B December/January meetings. In addition, McCloy and Ball discussed the conversation over a secure telephone, December 3, 4:45 p.m. (Ibid., Ball Files: Lot 74 D 272, Telephone Conversations--Cuba) The memorandum of the Ball-McCloy telephone conversation is in the Supplement. Back

2 For text of the Rio Pact, more formally known as the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, September 2, 1947, see A Decade of American Foreign Policy, 1941-1949, pp. 226-229. Back

3 For the U.N. Charter, June 26, 1945, see ibid., pp. 95-110. Back

4 See Documents 95, 102, and 104. Back

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/12-362. Top Secret; Priority.

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