Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by Mr. Edmund A. Gullion to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)1

top secret

Mr. Lovett—I learn from New York that the Canadian Ambassador will probably tell you that his Government does not believe that the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission’s Third Report should include in it a specific recommendation that the Report be considered by the General Assembly. Their view is that it is not necessary so long ahead of time to announce our intention to go before the Assembly. All the other nations on the Commission agree with Osborn that consideration by the Assembly is imperative, and that the report should indicate this intention.

I imagine that there is somewhere in the Canadian Department of External Affairs the same reluctance to face up to the impasse as you have encountered here and there in this Department. The provision for reference to the Assembly has come to be the test of a firm intention to bring an end to the filibuster. Those who do not wish to suspend talk are reluctant to go on record in favor of Assembly consideration. There is a Micawberish hope that something will turn up.

The arguments for Assembly consideration are well known to you and I need not review them here. The need for spelling out the intention to go before the Assembly can be summarized briefly:

Unless we really declare ourselves now, there is a possibility that the Security Council could merely hand the case back to the UN [AEC] and the filibuster will continue.
If we do not declare ourselves for Assembly consideration, on the terms of the majority report, the Soviet Union will grasp the tactical opportunity and may propose Assembly consideration on grounds chosen by it.
The Third Report2 contains a “formula” for reopening the door in the case that the Soviet Union should change its attitude. This formula, you will recall, provides that discussions might be resumed only if the General Assembly should determine that the impasse created by the Soviet attitude no longer exists, or if all the sponsoring nations of the General Assembly disarmament resolutions should agree to resume discussions. The formula is in itself some change in the terms of reference given the Commission by the Assembly. Therefore, this matter should be approved by the Assembly itself.
Prior to the General Assembly debate the attention of the states members of the Assembly must be focused on the issues and their support marshalled behind the majority position. This can only be done if we say now that we intend to go before the Assembly. As it is, the months between now and September are few enough in which to accomplish intensive diplomatic preparation for the Assembly debate.3
This Third Report must have something definitive about it which will set it apart from the two reports rendered heretofore, which have been interim in character and have somehow failed to bring before world opinion the nature of the impasse; they were addressed only to the Security Council. The best way in which this can be done is for the Commission, a creature of the Assembly, to report that as an expert body it has been unable to make any progress and, therefore, returns the whole case to the Assembly where the reasons for this state of affairs can be adequately assessed and understood.

Edmund A. Gullion
  1. This memorandum was drafted in connection with Lovett’s impending conversation with Canadian Ambassador Humphrey Hume Wrong.
  2. Reference is to a draft report which was approved in substantially the same form by the UNAEC as its Third Report (AEC, 3rd yr., Special Suppl), or Department of State Publication 3179 (July 1948).

    Following the adoption by the Working Committee of its report on April 5 (see footnote 9, p. 329) the delegations of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France prepared a draft Third Report of the UNAEC, on the basis of instructions from their governments and taking into account the views of other delegations sympathetic to their position. Osborn submitted a version of the report to Washington on April 15. Comments on that document by the Executive Committee on Regulation of Armaments were transmitted to the United States Mission at the United Nations in telegram 230 to New York, April 19, not printed. (501.BC Atomic/4–1948)

    On April 23, Lovett briefed the President and the Cabinet on the contemplated Third Report. His minutes of the meeting include the following: “I reported on the work of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission and gave the cabinet the detail regarding the third report of the AEC in which the experts proposed to report to the General Assembly that they have been unable to make any real progress toward international control in spite of holding well over 200 meetings on the subject.” (Department of State Atomic Energy Files)

  3. In transmitting this memorandum to Arneson on April 23, Gullion stated that Lovett had reported that the Canadian Ambassador had been particularly impressed by item 4 and thought that the Canadian Government would go along (Department of State Atomic Energy Files).