Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Letter to Nikita Khrushchev, Chairman, Council of Ministers, U.S.S.R.

April 28, 1958

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I have your communication of April twenty-second in reply to mine of April eighth. I regret that it is not an affirmative response to my proposal.

You refer in your letter to the question raised recently by the Soviet Union in the United Nations Security Council which also touches upon the disarmament question. I am sure that you would agree that with the growing capabilities in the Soviet Union and the United States of massive surprise attack it is necessary to establish measures to allay fears. The United States has just asked the Security Council to reconvene in order to consider the establishment of an international inspection system for the Arctic zone. The United States has submitted a constructive proposal to this end. I urge you to join with us in supporting the resolution of the United States now before the Council. Your support of this proposal and subsequent cooperation would help to achieve a significant first step. It would help to reduce tensions, it would contribute to an increase of confidence among states, and help to reduce the mutual fears of surprise attack.

The United States is determined that we will ultimately reach an agreement on disarmament. In my letter of April eighth, I again proposed an internationally supervised cutoff of the use of new fissionable materials for weapons purposes and the reduction of existing weapons stocks by transfer to peaceful purposes; an agreed limitation or suspension of testing; "open skies," and the international use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

As an effective means of moving toward ultimate agreement on these matters and other disarmament matters, I proposed that we start our technical people to work immediately upon the practical problems involved. These studies were called for by the United Nations General Assembly. They would include the practical problems of supervision and control which, you and I agree, are in any event indispensable to dependable disarmament agreements.

The solution of these practical problems will take time. I am unhappy that valuable time is now being wasted.

You say that we must first reach a final political agreement before it is worthwhile even to initiate the technical studies. But such studies would, in fact, facilitate the reaching of the final agreement you state you desire.

For example, why could not designated technical people agree on what would be required so that you would know if we violated an agreement to suspend testing and we would know if you should commit a violation?

Would not both sides be in a better position to reach agreements if we had a common accepted understanding as to feasibility of detection or as to method of inspecting against surprise attack?

Studies of this kind are the necessary preliminaries to putting political decisions actually into effect. The completion of such technical studies in advance of a political agreement would obviate a considerable period of delay and uncertainty. In other words, with the practicalities already worked out, the political agreement could begin to operate very shortly after it was signed and ratified.

I reemphasize that these studies are without prejudice to our respective positions on the timing and interdependence of various aspects of disarmament.

Mr. Chairman, my offer to you still and always will remain open. I hope you will reconsider and accept it. In that way we both can make an important contribution to the cause of just and lasting peace.



Note: Mr. Khrushchev's letter of April 22 is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 3801 p. 812 ). The President's letter of April 8 appears as Item 67, above.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to Nikita Khrushchev, Chairman, Council of Ministers, U.S.S.R. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234714

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