501.BC Armaments/1–2048: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin)


23. For Osborn.2 Re present phase of work in CCA it is desirable to have CCA vote on a resolution on Item II prior to becoming deeply involved in discussion on Item III in order to clarify the question of general principles and to have the CCA proceed in the orderly sequence of its Plan of Work.3

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At RAC4 meeting Jan 7 with Osborn it was agreed that it would be inadvisable for CCA to report differences to SC at present due to likelihood precipitation full scale debate in SC of armaments problems, including atomic energy, thus interfering with US objectives re further SC debate of the atomic energy problem.

In view of foregoing it seems advisable at this time to record majority views on Item II (and anticipated Soviet opposition) merely by a vote in CCA on resolution on this item prior to full discussion of Item III. Revision US resolution on Item II will follow today.5

  1. On January 10, 1948, Frederick H. Osborn, Deputy United States Representative to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, was appointed by President Truman to succeed Ralph H. Bard as Deputy United States Representative to the United Nations Commission for Conventional Armaments. Bard had submitted his resignation on December 19, 1947, effective December 31. Osborn assumed his additional responsibilities officially on February 12. Senator Warren R. Austin, United States Representative at the United Nations, was formally United States Representative to both the UNAEC and the CCA. Osborn, however, usually represented the United States on those commissions and was the ranking official at the United States Mission at the United Nations concerned with the work of those bodies on a day by day basis:
  2. For text of the resolution adopted by the Security Council on February 13, 1947, establishing the Commission’ for Conventional Armaments, see United Nations, Official Records of the Security Council, Second Year, Supplement No. 5, pp. 58–59. On June 18, 1947, the CCA adopted a plan of work which the Security Council approved on July 8. It read as follows:

    “1. Consider and make recommendations to the Security Council concerning armaments and armed forces which fall within the jurisdiction of the Commission for Conventional Armaments.

    2. Consideration and determination of general principles in connection with the regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces.

    3. Consideration of practical and effective safeguards, by means of an international system of control operating through special organs (and by other means) to protect complying States against the hazards of violations and evasions.

    4. Formulate practical proposals for the regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces.

    5. Extension of the principles and proposals 1 set forth in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 above to States which are not Members of the United Nations.

    6. Submission of a report or reports to the Security Council including, if possible, a Draft Convention.”

    On July 16, the CCA established a Working Committee of the whole to which it assigned the plan of work as terms of reference. At its 4th Meeting, September 9, 1947, the Working Committee approved a revised United States resolution on item 1 (terms of reference) over Soviet opposition by a vote of 7 to 2 with 2 abstentions. The resolution read as follows:

    “The Working Committee resolves to advise the Security Council

    (1) that it considers that all armaments and: armed forces, except atomic weapons and weapons of mass destruction, fall within its jurisdiction and that weapons of mass destruction should be defined to include atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological Weapons and any weapons developed in the future which have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above;

    (2) that it proposes to proceed with its work on the basis of the above definition.”

    The Working Committee thereafter devoted its efforts to consideration of item 2 (basic principles).

    The records of the Commission for Conventional Armaments have not been published; sets are in the files of the Records and Documents Section of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Department of State (hereafter ref erred to as IO Files), and in United Nations Depository; Libraries.

  3. The Executive Committee on Regulation of Armaments (RAC) was established to facilitate interdepartmental coordination in the development of policy on this subject. Regarding the establishment and functions of RAC, see letter from the Under Secretary of State to the Assistant Secretary of, War, February 20, 1947, Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. i, p. 418. Documentation of the Executive Committee is in Lot 58D133, a consolidated lot file in the Department of State containing documentation on armaments, regulation of armaments, and disarmament, 1942–1962. (Hereafter referred to as Department of State Disarmament Files.)
  4. Reference is to the draft resolution contained in document RAC D–13/12c, dated January 22, not printed. Among the characteristics of a system of regulation of armaments mentioned by this draft were the following: 1) It should be universal 2) It can be put into effect only in an atmosphere of international confidence 3) It should limit armaments and armed forces to a level consistent with the maintenance of international peace and security 4) It must contain safeguards and means of enforcement. (Department of State Disarmament Files)