501.BB/1–1046: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State ( Acheson )

secret
us urgent

337. Personal for the President from the Secretary.

[Here follows discussion relating to the question of the establishment of international controls over atomic energy; for documentation on this subject, see post, pages 712 ff.]

I found that Adlai Stevenson, representing Stettinius, 6 weeks ago had determined that the only available candidate to preside over the first meeting was Foreign Minister Lie of Norway. He had asked the Norwegian Ambassador if Lie would be available and if he would accept. Subsequently he was advised by Norway that Lie would accept.45 Stevenson also told Gromyko that US representatives on the Preparatory Commission favored the election of Lie as president of the meeting.

Spaak of Belgium was then being considered for Secretary General. More recently it was determined that Spaak would not be urged for that post and he was urged for President of the meeting. Stevenson advised me that a majority of the convention apparently favored Spaak. However, last night Gromyko told me that he had been asked by the US representatives 6 weeks ago to support Lie; that after consulting his govt he had been instructed to do so. In view of this and in view of the fact that US representative had first approached Norway on the subject, I determined it was our duty to vote for Lie regardless of the outcome of the voting.

Who presided over the meeting was not important but it was important that we should not break faith with two govts. I advised Gromyko that because of what had occurred we would vote for Lie but that we would not seek to influence the votes of other govts. The Soviet delegation nominated Lie. Four states friendly to the Soviets and Denmark seconded. We thought he would receive not more than 12 votes but he received 23 votes.46

The Soviets were very much opposed to Spaak. Had Lie received only a few votes, they doubtless would have been humiliated. Having received 23 votes they were agreeably surprised and I am sure they realized that most of those votes came from South American Govts who had learned today of our position and followed us even though we did not ask them to do so.

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The matter was handled badly by the friends of Spaak who did not formally nominate him. The Soviets have a right to think that there was a caucus among the delegates when the man they nominated and whose nomination was seconded by 4 or 5 govts, received 23 votes and a man whose name was not mentioned on the floor received 28 votes. Observers will point out this was not done by chance because Spaak was the only person beside Lie to receive votes.

Our slate for the Security Council has been tentatively agreed upon by the Big Five with the exception of one place not yet decided where the contest is between Belgium and the Netherlands. The election of Spaak from Belgium makes me feel stronger for the Netherlands. But before deciding it tomorrow morning, I will consult the members of the delegation.

Byrnes
  1. See telegram 13620, Copre 677, December 27, 1945, 7 p.m., from London, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. i, p. 1509.
  2. For proceedings and debate in the General Assembly on this subject, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, First Session, First Part, Plenary Meetings, pp. 43 ff. Hereafter cited as GA (I/1), Plenary.