SWNCC Files31

Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee 32

SWNCC 219/4

Subject: U.S. Position on Traffic in Arms Phase of the Regulation of Armaments.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered the paper on U.S. position on the traffic in arms phase of the regulation of armaments (Appendix.),33 approved by the Department of State for the guidance of the United States Delegation at the forthcoming meeting of the United Nations Organization, and submit the following comments and recommendations:

It is believed that the discussion in the Appendix does not emphasize that Article 11 of the Charter provides that the General Assembly may only “consider … the principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments, and may make recommendations with regard to such principles to the Members or to the Security Council or to both” whereas Article 26 charges the Security Council with the responsibility of “formulating, with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee …, plans to be submitted to the Members of the United Nations for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments.” From the military point of view, it is highly desirable that the United States should clearly maintain the position that while principles may be discussed and recommended by the General Assembly, the actual formulation of specific plans and proposals is the function of the Security Council acting with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee.

In paragraph C of the Annex to Appendix it is proposed that the [Page 731] United States “shall insist on remaining free in the future as in the past to impose prohibitions …” on the export of arms and munitions. In addition, it is highly desirable from a military point of view that the United States maintain freedom as to our rights to export arms and munitions to those nations with which we may reach agreement in this respect. It is recommended that such a statement be included, as this point is of particular importance to the United States in view of our current plans to provide arms and munitions to other nations of the Western Hemisphere, the Philippine Commonwealth and to China. It should, however, be provided to the Delegation as supplementary guidance with the understanding that it is not to be advanced in connection with a discussion on private traffic in arms unless the developments of such discussion clearly require.

It is desirable further, that the basic paper be amended to indicate clearly that the position defined therein is applicable to the limited question of private traffic in arms.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
A. J. McFarland

Brigadier General, U.S.A. Secretary
  1. Lot 52M45, the Files of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee which are located in the National Archives under the administration of the Department of State.
  2. Regarding the organization and functions of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee, see footnote 73, p. 754, and footnote 3, p. 1112.
  3. Document USGA/GEN/1, December 28, 1945, p. 716.