500.A15 Arms Truce/11: Telegram

The Minister in Switzerland ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State


132. I was informed today in strict confidence by Grandi that his truce would probably come up for debate in the Third Committee on September 18, when he plans to offer an amendment to the Scandinavian resolution (see my 124, September 11, 11 p.m.) because he feels under certain obligations to offer a suggestion in a more definite form, having originated the idea. He has not received as enthusiastic backing as he hoped, and it is probable that Japan will object to a curtailment of increase in army stocks and France to a curtailment of her naval program. He has not given up hope, however, and will make his proposal with some expectation that it will be possible to work out something.

Prolonged discussion would be involved in negotiating a treaty, thereby ruining the aim of the truce. Grandi therefore outlined a simple formula along the following lines:

The various states will declare their intention of not increasing their armaments for a 1–year period. In order to make this effective they will declare that it is their intention:

Not to lay down any new keels for vessels.
Not to increase their budgetary appropriations or expenditures for land armaments.
Not to build, other than for replacement, any material for aviation.

Grandi pointed out that he had put the second point in a succinct form in the hope that Japan would find it possible to accept this form rather than a promise under which her army stocks could not be increased. He explained, as to point 3, that the waste and wear on aircraft is so severe that it seemed essential to admit replacement.

Grandi thereupon expressed his fear that certain states which have no wish to give such an undertaking might take shelter behind a declaration to the effect that the absence of the United States, Russia, and Turkey from the discussion would make it impossible to conclude such a truce. He therefore is contemplating the formulation of a declaration by which such an objection could be met. He said he might perhaps suggest that the Third Committee ask Drummond55 to get in touch with the states not represented with a view to obtaining their views on his proposal or to suggest that they be present [Page 446] for this purpose, to which I replied that I would submit this matter to you urgently for such advice as you might wish to supply.

I should very much appreciate, if you deem it advisable, being put in a position to express an opinion both as to the form of the proposal which Grandi contemplates submitting and on the question of expressing our opinion either through representation on the Third Committee or through a communication.

  1. Sir Eric Drummond, Secretary-General of the League of Nations.