Department of State Disarmament Files

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Acheson) to the Secretary of State


Establishment of a United States Commission on the Regulation of Armaments

An aide-mémoire left with me yesterday by the British Ambassador1 states among other things that the United Kingdom Government has decided to establish forthwith an official Committee on Disarmament under the chairmanship of one of the Under Secretaries in the Foreign Office and with senior representatives of the Dominions Office, the three service Departments, and the Ministry of Supply. The terms of reference of this Committee are set forth in the aide-mémoire. It is requested that this information be considered as strictly confidential. The British Ambassador in Moscow has been instructed to inform the Soviet Government.

We have given considerable thought to the organization of this work within the United States Government and have reached the conclusion that we should establish a committee similar to that which has now been established in the United Kingdom Government. I should therefore like to suggest the following points for your consideration:

That we establish informally and without publicity a Committee on the Regulation of Armaments.
This Committee should be composed of the Secretary of State as Chairman with the following as members: The Secretaries of War and Navy, Senator Austin, General Eisenhower, Admiral Nimitz2 and General Spaatz,3 and the Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. From time to time the Chairman of the House and Senate Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Atomic Energy Committees might be asked to participate.
Each of the members of the Committee might be represented in his absence by a deputy. I would suggest that I be named as your deputy and serve as Chairman of the Committee in your absence.
The principal function of this Committee would be to determine the policy of the United States with regard to the matters dealt with in the Report of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, and the General Assembly resolution of December 14. It would receive and act upon reports from the State, War and Navy Coordinating Committee and it would issue appropriate directives to the staffs of the [Page 380] various member Departments and agencies concerning the program of work in this field.
More detailed terms of reference can be worked out at a later date should this be necessary. Meanwhile, I think this proposal might usefully be discussed with the two service Secretaries, the Chiefs of Staff and tentatively, pending his confirmation by the Senate, with Mr. Lilienthal. It has been discussed with Senator Austin who agrees.

  1. Annex 1 to Acheson’s memorandum of conversation, January 27, supra.
  2. Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Chief of Naval Operations.
  3. Gen. Carl Spaatz, Commanding General, Army Air Forces.