Minutes of a Meeting of the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy, Washington, January 8, 1947, 11 a.m.

top secret

[Here follows discussion of various subjects.]

Disarmament in UN

Mr. Forrestal 1 asked whether in Mr. Byrnes’ opinion Senator Austin would hold the position that an atomic agreement must come first in connection with the disarmament discussions. Mr. Byrnes replied that he was confident Senator Austin would maintain this position. Mr. Forrestal asked whether the British and French would support us. The Secretary said that he thought the British would support us but he was less definite about the position of the French. Mr. Patterson pointed out that the UN Assembly resolution of last month stipulated that agreement should first be won on atomic energy and other weapons of mass destruction. He said that he felt that it was important that everybody understand that the reference to other weapons of mass destruction stemmed from the Tripartite Declaration of late 1945 issued by President Truman, Prime Minister Attlee and Prime Minister King2 and that this reference clearly meant new means of mass destruction. He said that as a matter of fact the only means of mass destruction discussed at the meeting which lead to the statement dealt with biological warfare. In any event, he said that it should be clearly understood that it relates to new weapons or means of mass destruction. He said the Russians would undoubtedly try to [Page 346] stretch this to mean major weapons such as bombers and perhaps even 16” guns.

[Here follows discussion of another subject.]

  1. James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy; appointed first Secretary of Defense, July 26, 1947.
  2. Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1504, or 60 Stat. (pt. 2) 1479.