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132. Editorial Note

On November 21, 1961, the intelligence community issued Special National Intelligence Estimate 11-14-61, "The Soviet Strategic Military Posture, 1961-1967." The estimate sought to "reassess the broad outlines of the USSR's military doctrine and posture in the light of recent information on Soviet strategic thinking, present military capabilities, and R&D in major weapons systems, and to estimate future trends in Soviet military strategy and force structure." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VIII, pages 198-209.


133. Editorial Note

In a November 22, 1961, memorandum to Secretary of State Rusk, Arthur Dean reported that earlier that day the President had called him and expressed concern that "public opinion might believe that we did not have complete freedom of action to test in all environments while negotiations were going on in Geneva. He suggested that I should make this absolutely clear at the opening of negotiations." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VII, pages 235-236. In the course of his opening statement to the conference on November 28, Dean emphasized that because of the Soviet Union's "unwarranted attempt to gain for itself a unilateral advantage in the nuclear field," there was "naturally no chance whatsoever--and I want to make this very clear--of any pre-treaty commitment by the United States not to conduct any nuclear tests of any character in any environment which it deems essential for the national security of itself and its associates." For text of Dean's statement, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, pages 665-673.

In a letter to President Kennedy, November 22, Glenn Seaborg, Chairman of the NSC Committee on Atmospheric Testing Policy, stated that for a major portion of nuclear weapons technology, above-ground testing was "essential to any substantial future progress" and that urgency had been "added to the need for progress by the substantial advances made by the USSR." He recommended implementation of a program to consist of a minimum of 27 test shots in the atmosphere over a period of approximately 3 months beginning in the spring of 1962. In National Security Action Memorandum 116, December 1, the President approved Seaborg's list of 27 atmospheric tests "for the purpose of proceeding with preparations," subject to several provisos, including a review of the list "with a view to reduction in the numbers of atmospheric tests, in the length of time of the test series, and in the resulting radioactive fall-out." The President also "reserved judgment on the final decision for or against resumption of atmospheric testing." For text of Seaborg's letter and NSAM 116, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VII, pages 241-248 and 252-253.


134. Transcript of an Interview Between President Kennedy and the Editor of Izvestia (Adzhubei)/1/

Hyannis Port, November 25, 1961, 10:20 a.m.

/1/Source: Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pp. 741-752. The meeting was held in the living room of the President's residence. The text was transcribed by the official White House reporter, Jack Romagna, translated into Russian by Akalovsky and Bolshakov, and then retranslated into English by Akalovsky for release to the press. Other than the difference noted in footnote 3, the Russian text published in Izvestia on November 28 is the same as the source text. Salinger was also present at the interview.

Mr. Adzhubei: Mr. President, I am happy to get this interview from you, and I would like to tell you quite frankly that your election to the high post of President of the United States office was met with great hope by public opinion in our country. In connection with this, I would like to ask you the following question--

The President. May I just say that I appreciate very much your coming to the United States. I also appreciate the opportunity to talk, through you and through your newspaper, to the people of the Soviet Union. I think that communication, an exchange of views, an honest report of what our countries are like and what they want and what the people wish, is in the interests of both our countries and in the interests of peace. So we are delighted to have this opportunity.

Mr. Adzhubei: I would like to ask you the following question. Mr. President, during the election campaign, on several occasions you expressed good intentions with respect to the necessity of improving Soviet-American relations. On the occasion of your Inauguration as President of a great country, Nikita Khrushchev, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, and Leonid Brezhnev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, in their message to you/2/ expressed the hope that by their joint efforts our countries can succeed in radically improving our relations and the international situation. They also expressed confidence that we can, step by step, liquidate the existing suspicion and distrust, and thus bring cooperation between our peoples. On its part, the Soviet government is always ready to support any good endeavor in that direction, and to do its best for the establishment of a stable peace in the world, in order that all peoples may live in friendship and without hatred among them.

/2/See Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. VI, p. 2.

Mr. President, what do you think about the present state of Soviet-American relations, and what in your opinion must be done by the American as well as the Soviet governments to improve the relations between our two countries?

The President. Well, I would say that the relations today are not as satisfactory as I had hoped they would be when I first took office. In fact, one of the first things that I did on becoming President was to commit the United States to an earnest effort to achieve a satisfactory agreement with the Soviet Union on the cessation of nuclear tests. As a result of that effort, at the end of March, we sent our representatives, along with Great Britain's, to Geneva for the first time with a complete treaty which we tabled for discussion./3/ I had hoped that this would be one area where we could make real progress. It would lessen the contamination of the air, it would be a first step towards disarmament, and I felt that if we could achieve an agreement in this area, we could then move on to the other areas of disarmament which required action.

/3/For text of this March 21 draft, see Documents on Disarmament, 1961, pp. 55-65.

We were not successful. And, as you know, we were in fact still at the table in Geneva in August when, still negotiating, the Soviet Union resumed its tests which must have been in preparation for many months, at the very time that the conversations were going on. So that has been a disappointment.

In addition, Berlin and Germany have become, I think, areas of heightened crisis since the Vienna meeting, and I think extremely dangerous to the peace, which I am sure--I know--both of our people want.

I think that the Soviet Union and the United States should live together in peace. We are large countries, energetic people, we are steadily providing in both our countries an increase in the standard of living. If we can keep the peace for 20 years, the life of the people of the Soviet Union and the life of the people of the United States will be far richer and will be far happier as the standard of living steadily rises.

Where we feel the difficulty comes is the effort by the Soviet Union to communize, in a sense, the entire world. If the Soviet Union were merely seeking to protect its own national interests, to protect its own national security, and would permit other countries to live as they wish--to live in peace--then I believe that the problems which now cause so much tension would fade away.

We want the people of the Soviet Union to live in peace--we want the same for our own people. It is this effort to push outward the communist system, on to country after country, that represents, I think, the great threat to peace. If the Soviet Union looked only to its national interest and to providing a better life for its people under conditions of peace, I think there would be nothing that would disturb the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Mr. Adzhubei: That is very interesting. However, as a citizen of the Soviet Union, as a member of the Communist Party, I cannot agree with you, in that part of your answer where you are saying that we are trying to "communize" the world. At the 22nd Party Congress, which, in our opinion, was an historic event, we adopted a program of communist development and we said that we are against any export of revolution, but we are also against any export of counter-revolution. If we turn to facts, there are many countries in the world in the affairs of which, from our point of view the United States is interfering. Yesterday, I saw a TV program which was being shown to millions of Americans, where your commentator asserted that the whole world is under complete threat of the communists to capture the world. We would like to see an end put to this situation.

Our government and our party believe that every people chooses such a system of government as they like. Austria chose the capitalist way of development, although American and Soviet troops were there. But Cuba has chosen another way of development. And we would be happy if you, Mr. President, were to state that the interference in the affairs of Cuba was a mistake. We hope that the Cuban people will consolidate their own way of life--as well as the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Brazil, and many other countries.

The President. May I just say, without getting into a debate, that the United States supports the idea that every people shall have the right to make a free choice as to the kind of government they want. In the case of Cuba, let me remind you that the Castro revolution was originally supported by the great majority of the people. When Castro was leading the revolution, the statement was made that there would be free elections, and freedom for the people, and progress for the people. But Castro has not kept that commitment. Until the present government of Cuba will allow free and honest elections, in our opinion, it cannot claim to represent the majority of the people. That is our dispute with Cuba.

Mr. Jagan, on the other hand, who was recently elected Prime Minister in British Guiana is a Marxist, but the United States doesn't object--because that choice was made by an honest election, which he won.

If the people of any country choose to follow a communist system in a free election, after a fair opportunity for a number of views to be presented, the United States would accept that. What we find to be objectionable, and a threat to the peace, is when a system is imposed by a small militant group by subversion, infiltration, and all the rest.

If the Soviet Union and this country could develop their own resources, and if you permitted the peoples of the world to develop in the way they wish to develop, then, if any nation should choose a communist system, we would recognize and accept that. And if they chose another system, then we would hope that you would recognize and accept that, too. If we could get that on both sides, I believe the Soviet Union and the United States, which have so much to gain from peace, could live in peace.

Mr. Adzhubei: I understand you, Mr. President, and I am very happy to hear these words from you, because as you know, the future of the world depends in many respects on the relations between the United States and our country. Let the people decide what way of development they want to choose. However I would like to draw your attention to the following historical parallel. When the Bolsheviks, headed by V.I. Lenin, came to power, all the capitalist world was shouting that they were plotters and that there was no freedom in Russia but in 44 years our country became a great power. But this is not the issue. I would like to ask you another question--

The President. You are a newspaper man and a politician.

Mr. Adzhubei: In our country every citizen is a politician, because we like our country very much. The young and the old like the socialist system of our country and we are ready to fight for it until its victorious end. You are proud of your country, Mr. President, and we are also very much proud of our own country, and we are very proud of our party, and we are proud of V.I. Lenin.

Mr. President, sometimes it's said that in order to improve the relations between our countries, it is necessary to start with the settlement of small problems. Others believe that too many small issues have accumulated and that perhaps it would be better to start with a big act. We believe that such a big act was the visit by Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev to the United States in 1959. But unfortunately the results of that trip were not completely satisfactory./4/ Mr. President, what is your attitude toward the idea of concluding a pact of peace between the United States and the Soviet Union? That would be a great step forward.

/4/This sentence, as published in Izvestia, reads: "But the positive results of that trip were wrecked and brought to nothing by the well-known actions of the then American administration". Footnote in the source text.

FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P70

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