500.A15A5/798: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Atherton) to the Secretary of State

333. I deposited today the President’s instrument of ratifications of the Naval Treaty of March 25, 1936.2 Certified copy of protocol of [Page 103] deposit will be forwarded by mail as soon as received from the Foreign Office.

As regards the Russian naval negotiations Craigie3 stated Soviets were [at?] present [ready?] to accept the London Naval Treaty under certain reservations, that is:

They would abide by the treaty as long as Japan also restricted herself within those limits. Even should Japan not conform Russia would be prepared to continue the exchange of information, et cetera as regards that portion of her fleet intended for European waters, but would not be bound by restrictions for vessels intended for Asiatic waters.
The Soviets’ first demand was for 16-inch [gun] battleships but Craigie feels negotiations have practically reached a point where they will be satisfied with the construction of two 15-inch gun battleships.
The Russians point out the difficulty, since all Soviet vessels are state-owned, of supplying lists of auxiliary vessels laid down under the treaty. Foreign Office inclined to waive this for the present with the understanding that should all other interested nations adhere and desire this information from Russia, Soviets would agree.
Russia desires to build 8,000-ton cruisers with 7.1-inch guns (from Soviet sources I learn they desire to lay down nine new ships of this type, four for Far Eastern waters and five for European). British have pointed out however that any such extended construction will enlarge the German demands for five cruisers (see my confidential letter to Dunn of June 5th4) and consequently the French and the Italians and probably the Japanese would likewise start increased cruiser construction which would mean an end of the cruiser holiday. This point is still under negotiation between the Foreign Office and the Soviets.

As regards Germany the British are continuing technical discussions on the June 1935 Anglo-German agreement5 now that the qualitative limitations are defined.

The French Government have proposed a new procedure for the submarine protocol, details of which go forward by pouch today.

Early next week Ambassador Bingham will be handed at the Foreign Office a formal notice by Great Britain of her intention to escalate (see your 191, June 4, noon6). At the same time an oral inquiry will be addressed to the Ambassador with specific reference to the American memorandum whether, if the proposed conversion of the four [Page 104] Hawkins class cruisers is undertaken by the British, any objection would be entered either formally or informally by the American Government. I venture to urge that instructions on this point be telegraphed to enable the Ambassador to make an oral reply.

  1. For correspondence concerning negotiations leading to the signature of the London Naval Treaty on March 25, see pp. 22 ff.
  2. Sir Robert Leslie Craigie, British Assistant Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Letter to James Clement Dunn, Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs, not found in Department files.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1935, vol. i, pp. 162 ff.
  5. Post, p. 134.