500.A15A4 Naval Armaments/163: Telegram

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

457. From Norman Davis. Your 244, November 12, 1 p.m., shows that we are in full accord as to the method of carrying forward the naval conversations. In individual conversations with British, French and Italians we are exploring the basis for bringing France and Italy into the London Treaty. Both the French and Italian representatives here now seem most favorably disposed and Sir John Simon and I are considering the best means of bridging the existing difficulties. We have told British that pending further progress toward bringing France and Italy into London Treaty which would permit them to discuss all categories we prefer to postpone for the time being further conversations regarding our joint naval problems.

From your cable I gather that you fully appreciate that completion of London Treaty to 1936 may not in itself permit any reductions although we shall endeavor to work out a formula for submarines which if eventually carried on beyond 1936 would effect gradual reduction of French submarine tonnage to the London Treaty level.

If we should succeed in finding a basis between French and Italians it is then my understanding that the next step would be to carry forward the task which was the primary one we discussed before I left Washington, namely, endeavoring to find a basis for real naval [Page 560]reductions along the lines of the Hoover proposal. To effect any substantial reduction we must contemplate a treaty extending beyond 1936.

If in connection with endeavoring to complete London Treaty we run up against questions which require consideration of naval programs after 1936 I shall request your further guidance but meanwhile shall endeavor to restrict scope of work to completing London Treaty to 1936.

Of course you will appreciate that in so far as our general work on naval matters is related to the Disarmament Conference work we must inevitably envisage an agreement extending over a considerable period possibly 10 years, that is, the life of any general treaty covering all branches of armaments. Further, if there is to be any agreement for the limitation and reduction of land and air forces there must be a corresponding agreement for navies as the land powers would not bind themselves for a period of years unless the naval powers were similarly bound. [Davis.]

Wilson