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


New York, December 23, 1962, 2 p.m.

2477. Cuba. McCloy and Yost met this morning two and half hours with Kuznetsov, Zorin, and Mendelevich. Sovs stood adamantly on their last proposal that only four letters exchanged between President and Khrushchev October 27 and 28 without any other documents be transmitted to UN.(1) No progress whatsoever was made. McCloy had impression from earlier conversations that Kuznetsov personally might have favored accepting our proposal that two sets of documents chosen separately be submitted but that Moscow had overruled him.

Kuznetsov opened meeting with long statement commencing with assertion that US proposal to transmit along with President's letters of October 27 and 28 White House press statement of October 27 and President's press statement of November 20 was entirely unacceptable. After careful thought Sovs see no need for additional documents since basic agreement between US and USSR is embodied in four letters of October 27 and 28. Reservations which US put forward in unilateral fashion are after agreement between President and Khrushchev. White House statement October 27 and President's press statement November 20 contain same reservations as in various US draft declarations which Sovs had pronounced unacceptable. Particularly statement November 20 contains new reservations concerning export of communism, political and economic sanctions, ending of Cuban regime. US, Kuznetsov claimed, is trying to undermine value of non-invasion assurances given in President's letters October 27 and 28 by introducing new conditions. After Sovs have removed offensive weapons, given US chance to verify, and stated readiness to give assurances re reintroducing weapons, US changing its position in trying not to reaffirm its obligations. It would appear US wishes to get rid of these obligations and have its hands free not to observe non-invasion guarantee on pretext Cuba committing aggression against US or some other country. Furthermore, from sentence in November 20 statement commencing, "We will not, of course, abandon . . ." it is clear US seeking overthrow Cuban Govt and install old system. This is open attempt export counter-revolution to Cuba. This is dangerous policy and pursuing this course could bring heavy consequences. Sovs cannot appear to agree in any form, directly or indirectly, to US carrying on such policy.

Kuznetsov touched lightly on October 27 White House statement, merely saying it was never considered basic document on settlement Cuban crisis and need not be included. Returning to November 20 statement, he repeated usual arguments against overflights and added they contradict recent GA resolution on "friendly relations".

He asked why US so reluctant adopt UN system of inspection proposed by U Thant, either observation groups in Caribbean area or observation groups stationed in NY with authority visit Caribbean from time to time. US blandly rejects this proposal without even discussing it. Yet at same time US maintains that, since there is no international system, it must continue observation by its own means.

US has said Soviet Union is not obliged to agree with what was said in October 27 and November 20 press statements. However, even if documents are transmitted to SYG separately by two sides, it might appear Soviet Union had no objection to US documents and had even agreed to them to certain extent.

As to "registration" Kuznetsov said Sovs astonished US objecting to common practice wherein thousands of documents registered or filed in UN. However, he would, as further concession, drop this word and he submitted new text for joint letter of transmittal in which word not employed (text this letter set forth at conclusion this telegram).

In summing up, Kuznetsov said position of US side in negotiations in no way strengthens confidence between our govts and is inconsistent with expressed desire of US Govt to strengthen confidence. He urged US reconsider its position and accept Soviet proposal to submit to SYG four letters exchanged between President and Khrushchev October 27 and 28 and indicated these could be transmitted to SYG in either joint or separate covering letters.

McCloy replied had hoped we were close to agreement today but it appears that we have gone backward. He had described previously how US had in fact already done or offered more than was required by exchange letters between President and Khrushchev and said he saw no use going over arguments once again. Sovs have turned down three US proposals as unacceptable. We find latest Sov proposal unacceptable. Perhaps best we can do is for each side transmit SYG whatever documents it wishes without disclosing in advance what it is submitting and thereby not implying there is any approval by other side. This would not be good solution but might be only one available.

As to inspection, there had in fact been no formal U Thant proposal. US would still like inspection on the spot. It is still getting numerous reports from exiles of heavy Cuban armament, of strong Soviet military presence, and camps for training guerrillas. Satisfactory inspection system would have to be elaborate and it would at best take months to work out.

November 20 statement expresses frankly our views concerning Castro. We do not think Cuban people are free and do not like Castro's social system but that does not mean we are gong to invade Cuba. If Sovs include Turkey letter with all its emphasis on Turkish bases we would have to include October 27 press statement. US is sincerely desirous of carrying out its obligations and believes it in vital interest both parties terminate this affair. He described possible solutions as follows:

1. Joint declaration;

2. Separate declarations but ours would have to include what we are going to do in our own defense;

3. Separate transmittal of unagreed documents to UN;

4. Separate unagreed statement outside UN by chiefs of state, Foreign Ministers or UN Reps, simply summing up, stating it had not been possible to reach full agreement but that crisis is terminated, and both sides hope for progress in future.

McCloy concluded by expressing regret that situation cannot be terminated before reconvening of Congress when whole question likely subject of Congressional debate.

Kuznetsov expressed his govt's sincere desire reach agreement and show two govts can do something together. Much has already been done to avert disaster and we should be able to agree on documents to be submitted to UN. He then however reiterated that only document Sovs believed it necessary submit are four letters October 27 and 28.

McCloy emphasized we are not asking Sovs to agree to documents we submit. Yost suggested that there might in separate letters transmittal be clear disclaimer by each party that it did not necessarily approve all documents submitted by other party. Possibility of this suggestion was explored but Kuznetsov concluded by repeating from his instructions that "reservations contained in President's statement of November 20 and White House statement October 27 contradict the understanding which had been reached and Soviet side cannot sanction them in any form whatsoever".

McCloy made it perfectly clear that, while he would of course report Soviet views to Washington, he was convinced US could not accept their proposal to submit four letters alone.

It was agreed that, while there appeared to be total impasse, both parties would reflect and communicate with each other later.

At conclusion of meeting Zorin announced that for reasons of health he is leaving his UN post and returning to Moscow to resume his duties as Deputy FonMin. He emphasized that his health has been poor for some time. Kuzentsov mentioned that Zorin's successor is present Soviet Amb to Japan, has spent more than ten years in China, and is outstanding expert on Chinese affairs.

Following is text of new joint draft letters of transmittal proposed by Sovs.

"Esteemed Mr. Secretary General,

Attached herewith are the letters of the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers N.S. Khrushchev and the President of the United States of America John F. Kennedy of October 27 and 28, 1962 which contain the obligations assumed by the Govts of the USSR and the United States for the settlement of the crisis that arose in the Caribbean area.

It is requested to transmit them to the President of the Security Council for circulating these messages as documents of the Council.


Representative of the USSR

Representative of the United States"


1 See Document 253. Back

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/12-2362. Confidential; Limit Distribution.

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