WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 22--As a television set blared out President Kennedy's Thursday press conference, 14 Harvard and Radcliffe delegates to the Mid-Atlantic States model U.N. General Assembly entered Russia's ornate Washington embassy for a briefing on Soviet policy. Besides the President they heard a quiet and lucid account of Soviet policy interspersed with blunt references to American politics and Soviet power.
The briefing officer, Second Secretary Nikifor M. Levchenko, told the Harvard group, representing the Soviet Union in the mock U.N. assembly, that America's two-party system is preventing acceptance of Russia's reasonable compromise permitting three on-site inspections annually under a nuclear test ban treaty. He suggested that the Kennedy Administration is forced to press for more "unnecessary" inspections to satisfy its opponents.
By accepting the principle of on-site inspection and permitting the placement of automatic seismographic stations in "black boxes," Russia made a major concession to the United States' position, Levchenko contended. But, he said, America's failure to reciprocate indicates the U.S. "is not eager to end nuclear tests."
America's insistence on an elaborate international control system is unjustified scientifically, Levchenko explained, since the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission announces even the smallest Soviet explosions from Washington. The Soviets have tested the efficiency of the U.S. monitoring system, he said, by setting off small nuclear devices underground.
"And they announce them right away," Levchenko smiled, 'although it would have helped their argument more to have kept quiet."
While emphasizing Soviet concession on disarmament, Levchenko stressed Soviet power in Cuba. He noticed that placing Soviet arms in Cuba "gave Americans a chance to live in the presence of heavy weapons nearby. Was this good for Americans? No. But the Soviet people have lived in the presence of these weapons for 12 years." This taste of danger, he suggested, may make Americans more willing to accept Soviet proposals to withdraw all American weapons to American soil.
The 90-minute discussion was conducted under large portraits of Lenin and Khrushchev in a heavily glided rococo room that one Harvard visitor suggested would have been more appropriate as a Czarist embassy.
The model general assembly itself got off to a slow start with a 90-minute wrangle oer procedure initiated and prolonged by the Yale delegation, representing the United States.