The British Ambassador (Halifax) to the Secretary of State


His Majesty’s Ambassador is instructed to enquire the views of the Secretary of State on the procedure for bringing before the United Nations Organisation the proposal, made in the tripartite statement of November 15th on Atomic Energy,25 to set up a “Commission under the United Nations Organisation to prepare recommendations for submission to the Organisation.”

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom understand that, in the view of the United States Government, action should originate with the General Assembly and that all the United Nations should have a part in the establishment of the Commission. With this His Majesty’s Government are in agreement, but consider that a number of important matters remain to be settled.
In the first place, there is the question of the procedure for bringing the proposal for the Commission before the General Assembly. This could be done by:—
a resolution of the Preparatory Commission26 placing the matter upon the provisional agenda for the General Assembly;
action by one or more of the United Nations proposing an additional item for the General Assembly’s agenda at some time between the close of the Preparatory Commission and prescribed period before the General Assembly meets; or
raising the matter in the General Assembly after it has met and securing its addition to the agenda.
His Majesty’s Government prefers alternative (ii) as the simplest and most natural procedure. They consider it desirable to discourage the Preparatory Commission from embarking on a detailed discussion of the proposed Commission in relation to the Atomic problem. But they recognise that it may in practice not prove possible to delay any further move until the Assembly meets.
His Majesty’s Government feel it would be natural that the initiative in proposing this procedure should be taken jointly by the three Powers which issued the tripartite statement. It has, however, been suggested that the Soviet Government, in particular, ought, if possible, to be associated with the sponsorship of the tripartite proposals before the United Nations Organisation. Clearly it is most important to make every effort to secure the cooperation of the Soviet Government, and any procedure which achieved this would naturally commend itself to His Majesty’s Government, and, they [Page 78]do not doubt, to the Government of the United States. But His Majesty’s Government are very doubtful, on past experience, whether the Soviet Government would be likely to associate themselves with the sponsorship of a proposal in regard to which they had not been previously consulted.
In this connexion Lord Halifax is instructed to enquire:—
Whether the United States Government have had any reaction from the Soviet Government to the advance communication which they are understood to have made in Moscow in regard to the tripartite statement;
Whether the Secretary of State would consider enquiring of the Soviet Government, through the United States Ambassador at Moscow, if the Soviet Government would co-operate in bringing the proposals made in the tripartite statement before the United Nations.
In regard to the constitution and composition of the Commission, His Majesty’s Government assume that the Commission would be initially appointed by the General Assembly, but the question will remain as to the precise working of the Commission and the particular organ of the United Nations to which it should report. One possibility would be that the Commission should make its recommendations to the Assembly so long as it was dealing with the first two stages of its work, as defined in paragraph 8 of the tripartite statement, but that, at the stage when it came to deal with the control and supervision of Atomic Energy to prevent its misuse as a weapon of war, it should report to the Security Council in accordance with Article 24 of the Charter.27 As regards the composition of the Commission this would, no doubt, be influenced by the discussion in the Assembly, but His Majesty’s Government would like to reach an understanding in advance with the United States Government.
His Majesty’s Government would be grateful for the views of the United States Government as a matter of urgency on the foregoing points, and on any other matters that, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, may be held to affect the general question here discussed.
  1. See bracketed note, p. 75.
  2. For documentation relating to the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations, see vol. i, pp. 1433 ff.
  3. For text of the United Nations Charter, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 993; or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031.