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


New York, December 18, 1962, 7:02 p.m.

2401. Re: Cuba. At meeting this morning Stevenson, McCloy and Yost--Kuznetsov, Mendelevich and Counselor of Sov Emb in Wash, Kuznetsov presented new Sov proposal.(1) Gist of it was that four letters, two from President dated Oct 27 and 28 and two from Khrushchev dated Oct 27 and 28, be registered at UN and passed to SC Pres for distribution to SC members as official UN documents. Cuban Rep would follow same procedure and separately submit statement from his Govt. No SC meeting would be held and no further action would be required or taken.

Kuznetsov opened meeting by recapitulating history of attempts to work out draft declarations, emphasizing that U.S. drafts of both separate and joint declarations had contained "completely unacceptable" condition to non-invasion assurance which were not contained in exchange of letters between Pres and Khrushchev and that Sovs could not approve in any form statement implying that U.S. has right to overfly Cuba.

Noting that U.S. does not favor SC mtg, Kuznetsov then put forward proposal summarized above.

Stevenson raised two questions. First, he pointed out it was Khrushchev's letter of Oct 26, not his letter of Oct 27, which was referred to in President's letter of Oct 27 and formed basis of agreement. Second, he asked whether Sovs had draft of joint letter to SYG or whether it was purely letter of transmittal.

McCloy noted that Sov proposal omitted any recitation of progress since exchange of letters, such as dismantling and removing of missiles and bombers, lifting of blockade and assurances in Pres's Nov 20 press conference, as well as omitting any reference to points on which agreement not achieved, such as UN verification system and need for U.S. to use own means of verification in absence of system.

Kuznetsov replied that President's Oct 27 letter does refer to Khrushchev's Oct 26 letter but also refers to its fifth para to Khrushchev's Oct 27 letter. Moreover he claimed President's letter of Oct 27 in its substance dealt with points made in Khrushchev's letter of Oct 27 rather than in his Oct 26 letter. He cited President's reference to Sov willingness to withdraw weapons systems and not to reintroduce them in future, which Kuznetsov claimed were specified in Khrushchev's Oct 27 letter.

As to joint letter of transmittal, he said it should be brief and formal and not set forth differences between us. It should be limited to following points:

1. Rep's report they are sending 4 letters;

2. They ask SYG to register letters in UN;

3. They ask SYG to send letters to SC Pres for distribution to SC members as UN documents.

If U.S. accepts proposal Sovs can then within one day prepare draft letter of transmittal for discussion.

As to McCloy's remarks, Kuznetsov said that if we attempt to include in letter of declarations points which have not been agreed, such as that U.S. will continue overflights, then we would be starting negotiations all over again. Sovs cannot be party to any document containing such provision or give impression they approve it. They cannot also agree in any way to making non-invasion assurance condition of Cuba's not threatening other states. New Sov proposal does not mean that all questions concerning Cuba will be settled. Some points we would like to include and some points they would like to include would be omitted.

Stevenson emphasized we had always understood agreement between us rested essentially on two letters, Khrushchev's of Oct 26 and President's of Oct 27 which says Khrushchev's Oct 26 letter provides basis of agreement. It would be inappropriate to include in group of letters constituting our agreement Oct 27 letter to which U.S. never adverted except in connection with future disarmament. Moreover Khrushchev's Oct 27 letter deals with proposal on concurrent action relating to Cuba and Turkey, which was never adopted and which was irrelevant. Moreover Sov proposal omits all account of what has transpired since exchange of letters. He suggested there might possibly be two letters of transmittal. He welcomed efforts to end negotiations quickly but said his first reaction was to be troubled by difficulties he had mentioned.

McCloy added that if only letters proposed were submitted there would be irresistible pressure to publish also Khrushchev Oct 26 letter which was referred to in President's Oct 27 letter. Moreover there is so much discussion in Khrushchev's Oct 27 letter of weapons in Turkey that inclusion of this letter would disturb rather than tranquilize atmosphere. He also repeated his difficulty with the omission of any statement of what has been accomplished on both sides. He pointed out that U.S. has in fact, taking into account President's Nov 20 press conference, carried out all its obligations even though we have not had benefit of on-site inspection. We must therefore continue overflights. Also if we register with UN our intent not to invade we must also register in document of equal dignity our intent continue observation by our own means until other means of verification can be established. He also pointed out that assurance we had offered in various drafts "not to support invasion" goes beyond what is set forth in exchange of letters and was offered in order to meet objections Sovs had raised.

Kuznetsov replied that he had listened attentively to objections but hopes U.N. will carefully study new proposal with view to reaching final solution. We have negotiated for weeks and if we seek to include in documents all points U.S. wants and all points Sovs want, it will be very difficult ever to conclude. Sov idea is not to raise in these documents points on which we cannot agree but to limit ourselves to letters which are already known to world as basis for settlement which has been achieved. They had selected only four letters which were concerned with settlement and which have been published. If U.S. thinks Khrushchev Oct 26 letter should also be published they would consult their govt whether do so. As to references to Turkey in Oct 27 letter, these are nothing new and Sov views in regard to foreign military bases around its borders are well known. Sovs, as concession to U.S. viewpoint, have given up idea of SC meeting and res. Essence of their proposal is to avoid stirring up all of the moot questions we have been discussing for a long time and on which no agreement has been reached. World is already aware of what has been done since letters were exchanged and is reasonably well satisfied. Sovs are still much interested in all of points covered in protocol, normalization of situation in Caribbean, but are not going to insist on inserting them in these documents. As to overflights, U.S. creates vicious circle by repeating it will continue them until international arrangements are established, while at same time it does not state what sort of international system it contemplates and rejects that which has been put forward by U Thant.

In conclusion he repeated his appeal that U.S. think seriously about latest proposal. There has been attempt on each side to understand position of other side. However, if U.S. insists on putting in documents reference to overflights and conditions as to assurances, we will be once again at very beginning of our negotiations and solution will be far away.

McCloy concluded that we would of course study proposal. However he would not want to give impression through this procedure that we have reached full agreement when in fact we have not. If the documents prove to be inadequate we might find ourselves in position of seeking SC meeting to expound our point of view more fully there. He said he had been more optimistic before this meeting than he now is, as he had hoped we were moving toward separate documents to be submitted to SYG.


1 In a December 18 memorandum to Rusk, Cleveland informed the Secretary of this proposal. Cleveland stated that he talked to McCloy by phone and they agreed it would be appropriate to ask for clarification from Kuznetsov on two points: was it necessary for the Cubans to submit anything as part of the scenario and could the respective two letters be submitted separately by the two delegations? (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/12-1862) See the Supplement. Back

Source: USUN Files: FRC 84-84-001, 1-B December/January meetings. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Yost.

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