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Cold War: The Nonsigners

4 minute read


In Washington the ambassadors were ushered into a floodlit anteroom and welcomed by Virginia Duke, a chic State Department employee with greying hair, who bears the title of Treaty Depository Officer. In Moscow a variety of Foreign Office types ushered the diplomats into a dazzling gold-and-white marble room in the Spiridonovka Palace. In both cities, and in London as well, the emissaries of nation after na tion lined up to sign the nuclear test ban treaty. Eventually, by State Department estimate, there will be more than 100 signatories. Khrushchev called it “a referendum on all continents.” Inevitably, the world’s attention focused on the nonsigners.

Chief among them is, of course, Red China. Heightening their bitter ideological quarrel with Moscow, the Chinese charged that four years ago Nikita Khrushchev had welshed on a promise to help them make atomic bombs because he wanted to present “a gift” to President Eisenhower on the eve of the Camp David talks. In a bitter radio attack, the Chinese said that the “real aim of the Soviet leaders” in negotiating the nuclear test ban “is to compromise with the U.S. in order to maintain a monopoly of nuclear weapons and lord it over the socialist camp.” Peking added savagely that Khrushchev had committed an act of “betrayal” resulting in “open capitulation by the Soviet leaders to U.S. imperialism.”

The Slow Ones. China’s antitreaty stand was backed by avowedly pro-Peking Albania, North Korea and North Viet Nam. So far, these are the only countries that have formally announced that they will not sign. But chary of angering the Chinese, other Asian nations have been slow to indicate their approval of the pact. They include Nepal, which lies in an exposed position in China’s border conflict with India; Ceylon and Cambodia, both left-wing “neutrals”; and Indonesia, which is hopeful of Chinese support in any future action against the soon-to-be-born Malaysian federation.

To Moscow’s consternation, the only Communist nation that has not yet spoken out one way or the other in the worldwide “referendum” is Cuba. Despite the $1,000,000 a day that Russia is pouring into his island commune, Fidel Castro is still angry over Khrushchev’s withdrawal of Soviet rockets last fall. Trying to make the Soviet leader sweat, Castro is obviously attempting to boost his price for supporting Russia in its struggle with the Chinese. But there is little doubt that Cuba will ultimately sign the treaty, for Castro needs Russia to buy his 3,800,000-ton sugar crop and to continue steady transfusion of economic aid.

The Lonely Ones. The sole nonsigner in the Western camp is France. Even Franco Spain, the only Western country which does not have diplomatic relations with Moscow, has signed the treaty, leaving France isolated from all its continental neighbors. Most galling to Charles de Gaulle was West Germany’s decision to sign the pact after a reassuring pitch in Bonn by U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Bonn’s action was doubly upsetting to France, for it followed an announcement that Germany and the U.S. will cooperate in the development of a new battle tank (TIME, Aug. 16); just three months ago, Paris was unable to reach agreement with the Germans on a similar project.

Both Bonn decisions raised the question of just how much the Franco-German friendship treaty is worth, and brought into the open the fact that West Germany still looks to the U.S. and not to France for leadership. Stubbornly France prepared for another atomic test in the Sahara, but De Gaulle’s aspirations to French leadership of Europe were acidly demolished by Paris’ Le Figaro. “If Khrushchev really becomes disturbed by the campaign conducted against him by China,” said the paper, “and if he wants to have a certainty of peace on his Western front, then he will not come to seek agreement with France, which is negligible in his eyes, even with atomic weapons, but with the U.S., whose influence and power are one hundred times superior. This was proved at the recent conference in Moscow, where we shone by our absence.”

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