500.A15A4 General Committee (Arms)/88: Telegram

The American Delegate (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

969. 1. Reference my telegram January 24th [25th] from Paris, the following is a statement of the technical matters considered at the Conference and the tentative solutions thereon.

2. Explosives. The French reiterated their former position that all explosives should be included in category I. We suggested a compromise [Page 8] by which strictly military explosives could be included by adding a subhead to category I covering “propellants and fillers” as directed in Department’s instruction December 24th.23 This was tentatively accepted by the French subject to approval of their military authorities.

3. Civil aviation. The French stressed the necessity for absolute control of civil aviation at all times. We offered a compromise by including civil aviation and aeronautical engines in a new heading in category V in accordance with Department’s instruction December 24th. This was accepted by the French provided they could be given the right to inspect the production of civil aviation factories with the understanding that the details should be worked out between Strong24 and General Mouchard who is the principal adviser of General Denain, the Air Minister.

4. Stockages. The French were insistent that some steps be taken to prohibit the production and stockage of material of all categories in the hands of manufacturers without bona fide orders. They contended that this step was necessary to prevent the creation of a large concealed reserve of material which might be used in the event of a sudden aggression. We stated that such a provision could not be accepted in regard to categories IV and V but that it appeared reasonable for items appearing in categories I, II, and III and to that end we would consider favorably the amendment of article 5 along the lines indicated in Department’s instruction December 24. This was acceptable to the French.

5. Article 30. The French pointed out the shortcomings of article 30 in regard to inspection on the spot. I stated that we contemplate amendment to this article.

6. Declaration of intention. The French again raised the question referred to under heading 8, page 9 of my despatch No. 107, November 26th.25 I asked that we be furnished a text as soon as practicable in order that we might make a detailed study of it. The French agreed to furnish such a text at an early date.

7. From the foregoing it will be noted that the points raised by the French have, with the exception of declaration of intention and with the exception of the application of the doctrine of inspection on the spot for production of civil aviation material, been covered by existing instructions. The declaration of intention proposal need be given no study until the submission of the French text. In regard to inspection on the spot for production of civil aviation material it appears [Page 9] to me that in view of the set-up of our aviation factories where both civil and military planes are to a large extent produced in the same plants, where reports of production are already provided for, where inspection on the spot for military material is contemplated, it might appear a reasonable price to pay for getting a workable and comprehensive convention to defer to the French on this point.

8. We would greatly appreciate your ideas on the subject in order that the necessary steps may be taken to prepare the required amendments to the draft text prior to February 14th.

  1. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. i, p. 211.
  2. Gen. George V. Strong, military adviser to the American delegation to the General Disarmament Conference at Geneva.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1934, vol. i, p. 193.