500.A15A4 General Committee (Arms)/107: Telegram
The American Delegate ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 26—4:02 p.m.]
992. Your 472, February 25, 7 p.m., most helpful. Thanks. Reference paragraph 2, I have discussed this matter further with [Page 25] the British; they have defended their position publicly by stating that details by numbers would be burdensome and confusing whereas periodic reports on value of various categories would give sufficient indication of trend of production. Privately they state that it is a question of national security. They feel that the details by numbers would jeopardize their security. This is a price they would be willing to pay for a general treaty of limitation but it involves a risk which they are unwilling to take for a limited treaty. They add that their instructions are precise on this subject and that there is no hope of compromise under these instructions.
I have impressed upon them that my own feeling and that of nearly all the continental powers is that the treaty would have no real value unless it included specifications by number of at least the larger weapons such as big guns, tanks and aeroplanes, the construction of which might be an indication of aggressive attempt.
I know they are considering this matter and fully realize that their position may prevent agreement even on technical subjects.