500.A14/286: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chairman of the American Delegation (Burton)


50. Your 54, June 1, 11 a.m. I wholly agree that your course should be consistent with original action of delegation. As means of retaining initiative in matter which you have proposed and of offering substitute which would indicate no wavering from principle involved, I offer the suggestion that you propose resolution for adoption by Conference which could be inserted in any final act (should there be one) somewhat as follows:

“The Conference expresses hope that each of signatory and adhering powers will make appropriate endeavor to prohibit in their respective territories the export of any asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases intended or designed for use in connection with the operations of war.”

On receipt by Conference of report of Military and Naval Committee, it would appear entirely appropriate, furthermore, for you to refer to article 5 of Washington treaty relating to use of noxious gases in warfare, and to point out that article 5 affords machinery necessary to give effect to proposed resolution in that any nonsignatory power may adhere to the treaty by communicating to this Government an instrument of adherence; this adherence by nonsignatory powers could be made to apply solely to provision regarding noxious gases.

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In the belief, however, that it is very important to keep initiative of this matter in our hands, and that these proposals may not be sufficient, I shall consult the President tomorrow in regard to whether he will be willing to call a conference in event the other powers indicated willingness to attend. He might desire appropriation for expenses unless he should under present authorization of Congress call a further naval disarmament conference, when the other could be made a part of it as it was during the last one. I shall cable you after consultation with the President.