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


New York, December 12, 1962, 8 p.m.

2292. Dept pass White House. Eyes only Secretary. Cuba. Fol is report of three-hour mtg this afternoon Stevenson, McCloy and Yost with Kuznetsov, Mendelevich and Counselor of Sov Emb in Washington.(1)

Our impression was that Sovs firmly rejected single joint document on grounds (1) that it contains certain elements, particularly provisos on our no-invasion assurance and reference to overflights, to which they cannot in any form lend their name, and (2) that Cubans would not be participants in this declaration. Sovs continued to express strong preference for SC mtg to terminate affair but we had feeling that this position not unshakable and that they might ultimately agree to filing separate declarations with SYG.

Stevenson opened meeting by saying that he thought it was in interest of both sides to reach maximum possible agreement and to demonstrate to public that we are doing so. To this end it seemed preferable to us, after further consideration, to present single agreed declaration signed by both parties than separate declarations. It also seemed decidedly preferable to us to submit such declaration to SYG for transmittal to SC Pres rather than to present declarations at SC mtg. It seemed to us inevitable that latter would result in controversy and recriminations and would tend to destroy the effects of partial agreements which we had reached.

McCloy continued by saying that he had just discussed problem thoroughly with President and Secretary and that it is President's desire to end this affair by stressing note of agreement rather than of disagreement. Therefore we have drawn up single document in which agreements and disagreements are equally frankly stated though fact that there is but one document strengthens impression of overall agreement. If there were too many documents, one or two Sov, one or two US and a Cuban, chance of misinterpretation and confusion in public mind would be great. He too stressed dangers involved in SC meeting which we might not be able to control and in which Cubans as well as some SC members would become involved in acrimonious controversy.

McCloy pointed out following major points omitted from Sov draft declaration which we felt must be included: (1) Indication agreement between President and Khrushchev on verification and future safeguards have not been fulfilled, (2) provisos attached to our non-invasion assurance, and (3) our determination to apply own means of verification pending agreement on international arrangements. He also rejected implication in Sov drafts that we are entering into an agreement with Cubans to normalize our relations with them. He then went over draft joint declaration transmitted Deptel 1593 modified as indicated ourtel 2291,(2) emphasizing that, while this draft based on instructions from Washington, it is informal document prepared here and was passed to Sovs at this time as illustrative rather than final text.

McCloy emphasized President's strong feeling that agreed and disagreed elements of our position must have same status and adduced this as further reason for single, joint document or at least single document on each side. He said Cubans could of course file separate declaration if they wished and, if it were not too provocative, we might not have to reply. If there should however be SC meeting in which Cubans spoke there would almost certainly be LA and probably US replies, Sovs would support Cuba, whole history of Cuban crisis would be rehashed and atmosphere of agreement would be destroyed.

In conclusion McCloy made two points (1) that we would wish to include in joint declaration before it was finally approved paragraph in regard to withdrawal Sov military units, and (2) that if we cannot agree on joint declaration and have to file separate declarations we would probably wish to go back in some cases to language used in our earlier drafts.

Kuznetsov replied that he would of course report our new proposal to his govt but that he was convinced idea of single document would not be acceptable. You have your problems, he said, but you should also take ours into account. If there is joint declaration without Cuba, this will not be understood. If there is to be joint declaration it must be on behalf of all three govts. Stevenson and McCloy interjected that this would be entirely unacceptable to US.

Kuznetsov continued by stating that, though our joint draft contained some changes in wording and some new paragraphs, it still contains many points with which Soviet Union does not agree. It would be impossible for Sovs to put their signature on this document since our viewpoints on certain elements differ radically. He claimed sentence commending "it was contemplated by the above-mentioned exchange of letters" was inaccurate insofar as Sovs concerned since Khrushchev in his letter of Oct 27 had made on-site inspection dependent on Cuban agreement. This point had been made many times, Kuznetsov said, issue is closed and he hopes we will not have to come back to it. As to verification for future, Soviet Union is not opposed provided obligations are reciprocal and has therefore supported U Thant plan for inspection throughout Caribbean. Kuznetsov also repeated at length his objections to provisos attached to non-invasion assurance, claiming that they would give us excuse for violating this assurance whenever we desired. As to overflights, he said Sov Union cannot agree to statement of this kind being presented to SC for approval in Soviet Union's name. He claimed paragraph in which it is stated that Sov Union believes any further inspection, observation or verification unnecessary and unjustified does not represent Sov position.

Kuznetsov then returned to Sov draft declaration and resolution submitted to us Dec 6(3) and asked why these were not acceptable. There would be agreement, he said, on short drafts and supplementary disagreed statements could be shown by each side to other in order to minimize SC debate. His govt feels it more expedient that declarations be presented to SC rather than to SYG since subject was raised with SC at beginning of crisis. He was disturbed at McCloy's statement that, if we cannot agree on joint declaration, US will go back to earlier and worse wording in separate declarations. He urged negotiations be carried on sincerely and on the basis of the greatest possible degree of mutual agreement. Our two countries face many important international problems on solution of which destiny of peace depends and manner in which we deal with Cuban problem will affect solution of all others. President and Khrushchev have shown wisdom and patience in solution of this dangerous crisis and it is most important it be wound up in same spirit.

Stevenson went over again advantages of joint declaration over single declaration and of filing with SYG rather than of presenting to SC. If we should go to SC he foresaw great difficulty of working out res acceptable to both sides and suggested consensus statement would be decidedly preferable.

Kuznetsov reiterated his objection to joint declaration and argued in favor of two separate declarations as closely agreed as possible. He agreed to consider again whether SC meeting or more filing of declarations with SYG would be preferable.

McCloy emphasized Sovs had no need to worry about US not fulfilling its obligations. It would certainly do so and that was why it was insisting on citing them fully and clearly. It was impossible for US to give assurance against invasion without provisos which we had included. As to going back to earlier language in case there is no agreement on this document he pointed out he had been authorized to modify our language in some cases in order to obtain agreement, but that if no agreement were reached and separate disagreed declarations were filed, he had previously made it clear we would feel free to revert to some of our earlier language.

There was some discussion of the phrase "those or other weapons systems of a similar or comparable and offensive character". Kuznetsov wished to substitute "those or similar weapons". He objected particularly to the word "offensive". McCloy said he would consider whether the word "offensive" could be dropped leaving the words "similar or comparable" but said he could make no commitment on this score. McCloy also referred at some length to dangers of aggressive acts by Castro, recent Che Guevara interview in London Daily Worker(4) which underlined necessity for second of our provisos on non-invasion assurances.

Meeting concluded with further expanded discussion of procedures in which it once more appeared clear Sovs would not accept single declaration but would press at least for two declarations as closely agreed as possible.

Sovs continued to express preference for SC meeting but were less strong on this point. US side made it clear that if there were SC mtg it could only end in consensus statement more or less along lines of that proposal shown to them. Kuznetsov quoted Khrushchev's statement at today's Supreme Soviet mtg in favor of rapid conclusion of negotiations and sealing the agreement under authority of UN.

Meeting concluded with understanding that Soviets would get in touch with us when they had obtained Moscow reaction to our latest proposals.


1 According to a 16-page memorandum of conversation, the meeting took place at the Soviet delegation headquarters and lasted from 2:30 to 5:45 p.m. (USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-001, 1B December/January Meetings) Passed to the White House at 9:30 p.m. December 12. Back

2 See Document 243 and footnote 4 thereto. Back

3 See Document 234. Back

4 In this interview on December 4 Che Guevera promised subversion in the rest of Latin America based on and inspired by the Cuban model. (Telegram 1531 from London, December 7; Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/12-762) Back

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/12-1262. Top Secret. Priority.

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.