500.A15 Arms Truce/23: Telegram

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

147. Third Committee meets Monday afternoon. I shall probably have to speak. I have prepared remarks embodying in early paragraphs our sympathy with Grandi’s proposal based largely on your views as expressed in recent press conferences and pointing out the undoubted advantages which lie in a simple form of undertaking. I should appreciate urgently an expression as to whether you approve concluding paragraphs quoted herewith.

“May I now turn to the more specific undertaking which it is suggested that the states might accept in carrying out a renunciation of increase of armament. In general I may say that the suggestions relating to land and air appear to me to be practicable and of a nature acceptable to my Government.

You all know that matters touching naval armament are of more vital concern to us. My Government has not been able in the time at its disposal to survey this problem insofar as it relates to the Navy with that careful scrutiny which would enable us to give final approval at this moment to any particular form. I will ask you gentlemen to bear with me for a moment if I go back into past history merely for the purpose of pointing out that the London Conference provides for certain cruiser levels limiting the various significations up to the year 1936. Certainly those who participated in that conference are aware, as are doubtless many others who are present, that the present cruiser level of the United States is considerably below the figures provided for in the London agreement. Thus any undertaking on our part not to augment existing naval strength for a year, causes us, and I say it frankly, an embarrassment and a dislocation of construction plans. Nevertheless we regard the general guestion of disarmament as so important and the necessity of creating a psychological condition propitious for the Conference, as so urgent, that we are willing to forego our treaty rights in this respect.

The brief survey that my Government has been able to give to the effects of this proposal, if successful, has brought to light certain difficulties. I have no doubt that many of you present have found that the proposal entails difficulties of an administrative, budgetary and technical nature, not to mention difficulties arising from relations with neighboring states, [but?] it seems at the moment unnecessary for me to apprehend these particular problems which confront us. Should this debate develop, as I sincerely hope it will, in such a manner that it shows the possibility of real achievement, then I shall perhaps ask permission to lay before you the particular difficulties that confront the American Government and ask for the benefit of your sympathetic consideration of these problems. For the moment it seems to me that we should endeavor to gauge the sentiment [Page 451] of the members of this body towards the broader aspects of the problem which confronts us.”