IO Files: US/A/1143, also US/AEC/20, also US/S/C.3/5

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Frederick Osborn1


Subject: Atomic Energy and Commission for Conventional Armaments

[Page 370]
Participants: Sir Alexander Cadogan and Mr. Falla,2 United Kingdom
General McNaughton and Mr. Starnes,3 Canada
M. Parodi,4 Baron de la Tournelle and Mr. deRose, France
Dr. Wei,5 China
Mr. Frederick Osborn, United States Mission
Mr. Charles Russell,6 United States Mission

The first part of the discussion related to the handling of the atomic energy debate in the General Assembly in Paris. Cadogan stated that the General Assembly should vote approval of the plan developed by the Atomic Energy Commission. He suggested that the resolution should be similar to the resolution voted on in the Security Council and vetoed by the Soviet. Osborn asked who should present the resolution and pointed out that if it was presented by the United States, the Soviet Union would claim that the United States again was attempting to coerce the other powers. Parodi then said he felt strongly that all the states which are or have been members of the Atomic Energy Commission voting with the majority should jointly sponsor the resolution. On discussion all those present agreed.

DeRose then said that he believed the Soviet Union might make the whole debate on the question of suspension instead of on the question of the approval of the report. Osborn said if this likely attempt took place, undoubtedly some of the smaller nations would desire to introduce a resolution in the General Assembly instructing the sponsoring powers to get together and report to the General Assembly at their next Meeting. If such a resolution were introduced the United States would go along with it. DeRose said that such a resolution might be in the form of an amendment to the main resolution. Osborn said that this would be all right. The United States would go along with such an amendment, but thought it most inadvisable that such an amendment or resolution should be originally sponsored by any of the major states.

McNaughton suggested that Brazil might suggest such an amendment, but Parodi and deRose felt that it should be done by some outside country not participating in the resolution, such as Norway or some other Nordic state. Cadogan agreed and McNaughton said he was willing to go along with this point of view.

There was some discussion as to whether arrangements for the introduction of such a resolution or amendment should be made in advance or whether it could be allowed to develop when we get to Paris. The general view was expressed that it could be allowed to develop when we get together in Paris.

[Page 371]

Osborn then advised of the action of the State Department in sending an airgram to its diplomatic representatives in a number of countries instructing them to inform the foreign offices to which they were accredited that the General Assembly would be asked to vote on the question of approving the reports of the Atomic Energy Commission, and that they should study the matter carefully so they would know how they were going to vote and be prepared to take an intelligent part in the debate.

Osborn then said that if agreeable, he would approach the delegations of the States not present at this meeting and who were, or had been, members of the Atomic Energy Commission, to ask them to join in sponsoring the resolution. Osborn then presented a proposed form of resolution, given below, which is in accordance with the Department’s telegram of July 27, No. 5938:7

The General Assembly,

Having Received and Examined the First, Second, and Third Reports of the UNAEC,

Approves the general findings (Part II C) and recommendations (Part III) of the First Report, and the specific proposals of Part II of the Second Report as constituting the necessary basis for establishing an effective system of international control of Atomic Energy in accordance with the Terms of Reference of the UNAEC and,

Approves the ‘Report and Recommendations of the AEC (Part I) of the Third Report of the UNAEC.

Recognizes the grave dangers to international peace and security resulting from the absence of effective international control of Atomic Energy and calls upon all nations to fulfill their responsibilities to the world community by accepting the necessary basis for such control as approved by this body in Second Paragraph of this resolution.”

Osborn stated that the last paragraph was submitted simply for their consideration, but all of those present said they liked it and would consider whether any changes were necessary.

Cadogan suggested that Osborn defer his conversations with the other Delegations until the four delegates present had heard from their governments approving their joining in this resolution. Cadogan said he would require only three days, but Parodi said he would want a week to get in touch with his government and would be ready for another conference next Wednesday or Thursday. Osborn said accordingly he would wait until they had heard from their governments before approaching the other Delegations.

The meeting then turned to the consideration of the Commission for Conventional Armaments. Osborn said that he was preparing a statement for the press for use in Monday’s papers, refuting the articles in [Page 372] yesterday’s Times and Herald Tribune to the effect that the Commission for Conventional Armaments was to be discontinued.8

Cadogan said he hoped that in such a statement the United States would make it clear that there was little hope for progress in the Commission for Conventional Armaments because of Soviet intransigence. Osborn said he would go over the proposed statement with Mr. Falla of the United Kingdom. Cadogan said that the subject of suspension of the work of the Commission for Conventional Armaments had been discussed recently by the British Embassy and the State Department. He would, however, take up with the Foreign Office the subject of today’s discussion and ask for instructions.

Parodi then said that the French position on the Commission for Conventional Armaments is different from that just expressed by Sir Alexander, and that he will not easily get his government to change their position; that the Commission for Conventional Armaments must not quit and that there is no reason to add one more tension with the U.S.S.R. at this time. Further, it would weaken the position and effectiveness of the Commission for Conventional Armaments to make such a statement now. In atomic energy the situation is quite different, and the French fully agree with the action of the majority in which they have joined. In atomic energy a great amount of work has been done, much time has been spent on a careful study of all Soviet proposals and clear statements have been made, including all the reasons for the position taken by the majority. Such is not the case in the Commission for Conventional Armaments and a statement attacking the Soviet for their intransigence at this time would therefore not carry proper authority.

Osborn said that the position of his government was that the Commission for Conventional Armaments must continue its work and the form of the resolution or letter of transmittal, so long as it included a clear statement to this effect, was largely a matter of agreement between the French and the United Kingdom.

McNaughton agreed with Parodi that the work of the Commission for Conventional Armaments has not yet gone far enough to justify pointing the finger of scorn at the Soviet and the Ukraine at this time. To do so now would weaken the position of the Commission for Conventional Armaments when the time comes when they will be forced to report, after much study, that it is evident progress is impossible because of the refusal of the Soviet. Further, that we have not yet got sufficient evidence to justify such an attack on the Soviet.

De la Tournelle asked whether the United States was ready to go on with discussions of Items 3, 4 and 5 of the plan of work Osborn said [Page 373] that the United States was ready to discuss Item 3, but did not desire to go on to Items 4 or 5, as it seemed unrealistic to discuss anything beyond Item 3 until the Soviet showed by their acts that they were serious. Item 3 itself will take some time to discuss and its discussion will carry us well into the winter.

McNaughton said that while Canada was willing and anxious to discuss Item 3 they certainly did not desire to discuss Item 4 until conditions have totally changed.

No decision was taken as to the wording of the interim report to the Security Council. Both Cadogan and Parodi will get in touch with their governments and will try to agree on a form of resolution, which they will then present to a further meeting of the same group.

Frederick Osborn
  1. Deputy United States Representative on the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission; Deputy United States Representative on the Commission for Conventional Armaments.
  2. Paul S. Falla of the Permanent British Delegation to the United Nations.
  3. J. K. Starnes, Adviser, Canadian Delegation to the Atomic Energy Commission.
  4. Alexandre Parodi, Permanent French Representative to the United Nations; French Representative to the Security Council, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Commission for Conventional Armaments.
  5. Hsioh-ren Wei, Adviser, Chinese Delegation to the Atomic Energy Commission.
  6. Charles H. Russell, Special Assistant to Mr. Osborn.
  7. Reference is to telegram 480 to New York, July 27, supra.
  8. For the substance of the statement, see telegram 492 to New York, July 30, infra.