UNA Files: Lot 4281

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. G. Hayden Raynor, Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)


Participants: Mr. D. D. Maclean, First Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. J. N. Henderson, Second Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. Hayden Raynor, of EUR
Mr. Howard Johnson, of UNS

Mr. Henderson called this morning and said that he and Mr. Maclean wished to come in for further discussion with Mr. Blaisdell and me on Conventional Armaments and on Article 43. (Mr. Howard Johnson is writing up the portion of the conversation pertaining to Article 43.) In Mr. Blaisdell’s absence, I asked Mr. Howard Johnson to attend the meeting.

Messrs. Henderson and Maclean opened the conversation by saying they wanted to be certain that we understood exactly what their proposal is. They stressed that the Foreign Office desires to have the work of the Conventional Armaments Commission suspended or adjourned [Page 356] until after the Assembly and that it is not the British desire to have the Commission itself suppressed or terminated. We explained that we understood that position.

They then gave us some information as to the British thinking as to what the Assembly may do in this field. They stressed that they do not have in mind in the Assembly merely a condemnation of the Russians. They thought the Assembly should perhaps pass a resolution enjoining the Commission to resume work and redouble its efforts in this field. Attached is an extract from a Foreign Office telegram giving this view. They look on the matter as largely a question of tactics rather than as a question of fundamental principle and they realize that, except for some difference of views as to what the best tactics would be, there is no great difference between their position and ours.

As to the matter of tactics, they feel that because we have advocated suspending the work of the Atomic Energy Commission where we are in a stronger position and would be giving up more, and continuing: the work of the Conventional Armaments Commission where the Russians are perhaps in the stronger position and would be asked to give up, we are presenting the Russians with an effective debating point.

Mr. Johnson and I raised the question as to whether the formula outlined in our note of June 10, in answer to the British aide-mémoire, of calling attention to the impasse without suspending work did not, in a large measure, meet what the Foreign Office has in mind. They replied that the British have considered this formula and concluded that it did not meet their objectives. Mr. Henderson, after Mr. Maclean had left, read further from his Foreign Office telegram to the effect that, despite our view, the British propose to instruct Cadogan to advocate suspension.

We talked in some detail about the advantages of our formula, the possibility if suspension would not give the Russians even a more effective debating point than the one the British predict, and about the undesirability of pointing up Conventional Armaments in the Assembly. We explained that this is a field where we are more vulnerable than in that of atomic energy. We added that the Russians always try to confuse and mix up the two. We wondered, therefore, if we were not in a stronger position to stress atomic energy, and not to have Conventional Armaments on the agenda as a special item.

We concluded the matter by stating that we would like to review our position in the light of the additional information which the British had given us with respect to their thinking as to possible Assembly action on this subject.

[Page 357]

Extract From Telegram From British Foreign Office Suggesting Action in the Commission for Conventional Armaments and a Suggested Resolution To Be Brought Forward in the Next General Assembly

2. At the worst the kind of resolution which would be required would be one which, whilst regretting the lack of progress hitherto made, urged the redoubling of efforts. Whether something more constructive can be suggested cannot at present be forecast. We shall be considering this carefully in the meantime and hope that the Americans will do likewise and let us have the benefit of their thinking as we will let them have that of ours. What however we have been aiming at throughout is a frank public recognition of the fact that the present desultory discussions are useless and misleading at the moment. We wish to secure an adjournment so that all concerned may have a breathing space for consideration with the aim of trying to get a concerted plan to restart discussions after a lead has been given at the General Assembly.

  1. Lots 428 and 55D323, files of the Office of United Nations Affairs, Department of State.