Policy Planning Staff Files2

Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State 3


Foreign Policy of the United States

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

atomic energy

We recognize that the application of recent scientific discoveries to the methods and practice of war has placed at the disposal of mankind means of destruction hitherto unknown, against which there can be no adequate military defense, and in the employment of which no single nation can in fact have a monopoly.

We are aware that the only complete protection for the civilized world from the destructive use of scientific knowledge lies in the prevention of war. No system of safeguards that can be devised will of itself provide an effective guarantee against production of atomic weapons by a nation bent on aggression. Nor can we ignore the possibility [Page 713] of the development of other weapons, or of new methods of warfare, which may constitute as great a threat to civilization as the military use of atomic energy.

We believe that the fruits of scientific research should be made available to all nations, and that freedom of investigation and free interchange of ideas are essential to the progress of knowledge. In pursuance of this policy, the basic scientific information essential to the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes has already been made available to the world. It is our intention that all further information of this character that may become available from time to time shall be similarly treated. We trust that other nations will adopt the same policy, thereby creating an atmosphere of reciprocal confidence in which political agreement and cooperation will flourish.

The military exploitation of atomic energy depends, in large part, upon the same methods and processes as would be required for industrial uses. We are not convinced that the spreading of the specialized information regarding the practical application of atomic energy, before it is possible to devise effective, reciprocal, and enforceable safeguards acceptable to all nations, would contribute to a constructive solution of the problems of the atomic bomb. On the contrary we think it might have the opposite effect. We are, however, prepared to share, on a reciprocal basis with others of the United Nations, detailed information concerning the practical industrial application of atomic energy just as soon as effective enforceable safeguards against its use for destructive purposes can be devised.

In order to attain the most effective means of entirely eliminating the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes and promoting its widest use for industrial and humanitarian purposes, we are of the opinion that at the earliest practicable date a Commission should be set up under the United Nations Organization to prepare recommendations for submission to the Organization. The Commission should be instructed to proceed with the utmost dispatch and should be authorized to submit recommendations from time to time dealing with separate phases of its work. In particular the Commission should make specific proposals: (a) For extending between all nations the exchange of basic scientific information for peaceful ends; (b) for control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes; (c) for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction; and (d) for effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means to protect complying states against the hazards of violations and evasions.

Our declaration of willingness to exchange immediately the basic scientific information and our plans for the setting up of a Commission [Page 714] under United Nations sponsorship have been sent by the Secretary of State to members of the United Nations Organization.

international organization and security

The United Nations. Faced with the terrible realities of the application of science to destruction, we realize more urgently than before the overwhelming need to maintain the rule of law among nations and to banish the scourge of war from the earth. This can only be brought about by giving wholehearted support to the United Nations Organization, and by consolidating and extending its authority, thus creating conditions of mutual trust in which all peoples will be free to devote themselves to the arts of peace. It is our firm resolve to work without reservation to achieve those ends.

Using the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals as a basis, the San Francisco Conference agreed upon the Charter of the United Nations and upon the Statute of the International Court of Justice which is annexed to the Charter.4 The Charter was presented to the Senate of the United States on July 2, 1945; the Senate, by an overwhelming vote, gave advice and consent to ratification on July 28. The President on August 8 signed the formal document by which he ratified the Charter. On that date the instrument of ratification was deposited in the archives of the Department of State and thereby the United States Government became the first to complete action necessary to bring the Charter into force. The Charter was proclaimed in force by the Secretary of State on October 24, 1945, after ratifications had been deposited by the required number of states. It thus became a part of the law of nations.

The objectives of the Charter are to maintain international peace—by force, if necessary; to settle international disputes by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law; to remove the economic and social causes of international conflict and unrest; to promote world-wide progress and better standards of living; and to achieve universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all men and women—without distinction as to race, language, or religion.

At the San Francisco Conference the United Nations agreed to establish a Preparatory Commission, consisting of one representative from each signatory to the Charter, for the purpose of making provisional arrangements for the first sessions of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and the Trusteeship Council; for the establishment of the Secretariat; and for the convening of the International Court of Justice. The functions [Page 715] and powers of the Preparatory Commission, when it is not in session, are exercised by an Executive Committee of fourteen members. The United States is represented on the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee met in London from August 16 to October 27, 1945 and drew up a report covering the above-mentioned points. The report is now being considered by the United Nations Preparatory Commission, on which fifty-one nations are represented, which convened in London on November 24, 1945.5

The Preparatory Commission will not deal with the political and economic problems awaiting action by the United Nations. It will complete the preparatory planning that is required to enable the United Nations to organize itself in order to deal promptly with these problems. The Commission will review the recommendations of the Executive Committee, adopt its own report and then call into session the first Assembly of the United Nations. It is scheduled to complete its work in from three to four weeks. The Executive Committee has recommended that the Commission convene the first Assembly in London between January 2 and January 7, 1946, in order that the United Nations Organization may begin functioning with the least possible delay.

We believe that the Charter constitutes a solid structure upon which the United Nations can build a better world. With all our might we intend to back our obligations and commitments under the Charter. Our action thus far is indicative of our policy of wholehearted cooperation and leadership to make effective the new International Organization. By proposing that the United Nations Organization appoint a commission to consider the subject of atomic energy, we demonstrate our confidence in that Organization as an effective instrumentality for world cooperation and world peace.

Transitional Security Arrangements. The United Nations Organization will be unable to bring force to bear to maintain peace until the conclusion and ratification of special agreements between the Security Council and members of the Organization for the provision of armed forces, assistance, and facilities. The Security Council will determine when sufficient of these agreements have come into effect to enable it to act in enforcement matters. The Charter provides that, pending the coming into force of these agreements, the parties to the Moscow Four-Nation Declaration of October 30, 1943,6 and France shall, in accordance with the provisions of that Declaration, consult with one another and as occasion requires with other members of the United Nations with a view to such joint action on behalf of the Organization [Page 716] as may be necessary for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.

It is the policy of this Government in accordance with the Charter, that action in relation to enemy states shall be taken or authorized by the governments having responsibility for such action, until those governments give the United Nations Organization responsibility in this respect and the Organization accepts that responsibility.

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  1. Lot 64D563, files of the Policy Planning Staff, Department of State, 1947–1953.
  2. For other extracts from this memorandum and a description of it as a whole, see p. 1134.
  3. For documentation on the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, pp. 713 ff. For documentation on the San Francisco Conference, see ibid., 1945, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  4. For documentation on the Executive Committee and the Preparatory Commission, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, pp. 1433 ff.
  5. For text, see ibid., 1943, vol. i, pp. 755756.