500.A15A4 Steering Committee/509: Telegram

The Chairman of the American Delegation to the General Disarmament Conference ( Davis ) to the Secretary of State

I have discussed the situation which may arise at the Disarmament Bureau meeting on May 6 with the technical expert of the Foreign Office and also with the Swedish Minister who was instructed by Sandler12 to acquaint me in strict confidence with the intentions of the so-called neutral bloc.

The British although obviously not enthusiastic at the prospect of having to take part in a Bureau meeting at this time have decided to put forward a proposal for budgetary publicity on armaments, [Page 4] briefly that the Bureau should instruct the Secretary General of the Disarmament Conference to circulate all Governments with a request that there be communicated to a central clearing house at Geneva full budgetary statistics with regard to armaments expenditures. Germany and Italy would be included in this request and should they fail to reply or reply in the negative, as is most likely, it would be added justification for the British rearmament program.

Sandler will announce to the Bureau that the neutral bloc consisting of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, The Netherlands and Belgium have agreed on the terms of a convention which will be open to adherence by all other powers providing (1) a system of publicity on expenditures for armaments based on the recommendation of the Technical Committee of the Disarmament Conference, (2) a system of publicity regarding the manufacture of and traffic in arms combining provisions for licensing and publicity, (3) a system of control including a central organization tied up in some manner which is not clearly defined with the Disarmament Section of the League of Nations Secretariat. Eden informed me he would be unable to go to Geneva but asked me to discuss the question with Cranborne13 who will head the British delegation. I shall see him early next week and report further. In general the British may be said to feel that although it is perhaps unfortunate that a Bureau meeting has been called at this time the fact cannot be overlooked that it has been called at the behest of the French and the Scandinavians and something may be gained by using the occasion to keep the issue of disarmament clear and to feel out the general situation from this angle of approach. The British expressed the hope that it will be possible for me to attend the meeting and that we should work out beforehand a parallel attitude and line of action. I have stated that no decision has been made as to whether I should go to the Bureau and that personally I still am in some doubt as to what I should recommend; but after my talk with Cranborne I will report to you in order that a decision may be taken.

I am now rather inclined to believe that if neither Eden nor Delbos14 go to Geneva it would perhaps be advisable for me not to go and for Wilson to represent us at the Bureau meeting unless you think that being over here my failure to attend the meeting might appear to indicate a lack of interest.

If the Sugar Conference can reach an agreement at all, which now seems fairly hopeful, it will be in the next few days in which case the agreement should be signed around the end of this month; and we [Page 5] would sail for home not later than the 6th of May unless I go to Geneva.

  1. Richard Sandler, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Robert A. J. C. Cranborne, British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Yvon Delbos, French Minister for Foreign Affairs, and delegate to the League of Nations Assembly.