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No Neutral Men?


The flat Soviet rejection of the draft treaty proposed by U.S. negotiators at Geneva Wednesday forces this government to re-evaluate Soviet intentions. With the United States making its requirements more flexible, the Russians' unqualified refusal to accept on-site inspection begins to look like a convenient means for circumventing agreement.

But when the history of the Geneva conversations is considered, it becomes clear that U.S. inspection demands were last raised just when the Soviet Union had agreed to a test-ban settlement. Moreover, while the Russian preoccupation with secrecy may be paranoic, it is not artificial. The reaction to the U-2 flight proved the disproportionate but genuine emphasis on military concealment.

Therefore, if the U.S. is to take any negotiable initiative, plans should be entertained which would reduce the Soviet fear of spying, without compromising the extent of our inspection demands. Both purposes could be served if the U.S. stopped discussing inspection in terms of site numbers, and instead suggested specific scientists who would operate and staff the stations.

There are a great many scientists who have, since the end of the Second World War, sacrificed much of their time and creative energy in trying to achieve a disarmament agreement. Moral and deeply responsible men like I. I. Rabi, Hans Bethe, James Franck, Victor Weisskopf, J. R. Zacharias, David Inglis, Leo Szilard, Jay Orear and many, many scientific researchers and administrators might be willing to make the further sacrifice that supervising a station in the U.S.S.R. would entail.

American scientists have met with their Soviet colleagues at the Stowe and Pugwash conferences, and at numerous professional conventions; they know one another personally and by reputation. It would be ludicrous and somewhat repugnant for Mr. Zorin to accuse scientists of this stature of running errands for the C.I.A. Their intellectual honesty is as well known as the U-2 fiasco, and the world would give less credence to Soviet suspicions if they were directed at reputable scientists.

Such a scheme would work reciprocally. As of now, if present U.S. demands were suddenly accepted, we might be forced to accomodate any scientist-politicians the Russians might choose to send. Lysenko is not an isolated case in the Russian scientific establishment, and it would be infinitely preferable if the State Department could choose those Soviet Academicians who have some record of objectivity.

The opposition which might confront the plan suggested here would spring up in the face of any real initiative. The scientists' commitment to peace, it would inevitably be argued, is stronger than their patriotism, and they might overlook violations in an effort to avoid international incidents. But such fears are profoundly illogical: any war preparations, any surreptitious tests would start anew the arms spiral to which the scientists are so implacably opposed; their opposition to arms production is supranational in the finest sense.

It is not the saddest result of the cold war that scientific impartiality might be considered vaguely unpatriotic. But it would be tragic if such suspicions obstructed those efforts which could regear the Geneva negotiations toward areas of possible agreement. President Kennedy should, before ordering the resumption of atmospheric nuclear tests, propose a list of reputable and responsible American scientists willing to implement an inspection scheme. Such an initiative would publicly weaken the contention that there are "no neutral men," and at the same time, undercut the recurrent fear that inspection scheme. Such an initiative would publicly weaken the contention that there are "no neutral men," and at the same time, undercut the recurrent fear that inspection means espionage.

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