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National Security Action Memorandum No. 239

Washington, May 6, 1963.

    The Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
    The Committee of Principals [namely the already-mentioned Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee, Director of Central Intelligence, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology]649

    U.S. Disarmament Proposals

    1. Discussions in the 18 Nation Disarmament Conference at Geneva on both general and complete disarmament and a nuclear test ban treaty have unfortunately resulted in almost no progress. There has been no serious discussion of general and complete disarmament for some time. While discussions of a test ban treaty have shown important developments since the beginning of the 18 Nation Conference, they are now stalled.
    2. I have in no way changed my views of the desirability of a test ban treaty or the value of our proposals on general and complete disarmament. Further, the events of the last two years have increased my concern for the consequences of an un-checked continuation of the arms race between ourselves and the Soviet Bloc.
    3. We now expect the 18 Nation Disarmament Committee in Geneva to recess shortly for six weeks to two months. I should like the interval to be used for an urgent re-examination of the possibilities of new approaches to significant measures short of general and complete disarmament which it would be in the interest of the United States to propose in the resumed session of the Geneva Conference. ACDA will, in accordance with its statutory responsibilities, take the leadership in this effort and coordinate with the other agencies concerned through the usual procedures of the Committee of Principals. I should like to review the results at an appropriate time in the process.

John Kennedy650

  1. National Security Council, “Organization and Membership of the Committee of Principals,” April 1963. National Security Files, Box 267, JFK Library.
  2. “National Security Action Memorandum No. 239,” May 6, 1963. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume VII: Arms Control and Disarmament (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995), p. 692 (emphasis added).

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