501.BC Armaments/7–3048: Telegram

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


492. Dept like USUN is concerned about press reports on action taken this week by CCA.1 In these circumstances Dept suggests that the Deputy US Representative on the CCA should make a statement along the following lines:2

“The US Govt wishes to draw the attention of the Commission to the action which it took in approving the British resolution on Principles at the last meeting of the Working Committee, and to make abundantly clear at this time its position with respect to the continuance of the work undertaken by this body. The responsibility of my Government and other governments represented on this Committee arises from [Page 374] Article 26 of the Charter and previous actions of the GA and the SC.

Article 26 of the Charter provides that ‘the Security Council shall be responsible for formulating … plans to be submitted to the Members of the UN for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments.’

In the General Assembly resolution of December 14 the GA recommended to the SC that it give ‘prompt consideration to formulating the practical measures, according to their priority, which are essential to provide for general regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces … plans formulated by the SC shall be submitted by the Secretary-General to the Members of the United Nations.… ’

The SC resolution establishing this Commission provided that the Commission will submit to the SC proposals (a) for the general regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces, and (b) for practical and effective safeguards in connection with the general regulation and reduction of armaments.

The plan of work for the Commission for Conventional Armaments approved by the SC on July 8, 1947 contains the following items:

(Here quote at least first four items of CCA Plan of Work.)3

The Commission for Conventional Armaments has now completed its consideration of Items 1 and 2 of this Plan of Work. The Chairman of the Commission has suggested that the Commission submit an interim progress report to the SC indicating the status of its work.

The US will support the proposal of the Chairman for the submission of an interim status report to the SC. At this time I would like to make it clear that the position of the US with respect to the future work of the Commission has not changed. This position is best expressed in the words of Secretary Marshall to the GA on Sept 17, 1947:

‘The United States … recognizes the importance of regulating conventional armaments. We regret that much more progress has not been made in this field . . . . it is very easy to pay lip service to the sincere aspirations of all peoples for the limitation and reduction of armed forces. This is a serious matter which should not be the subject of demagogic appeals and irresponsible propaganda. I say frankly to the General Assembly that it is the conviction of my Government that a workable system for the regulation of armaments cannot be put into operation until conditions of international confidence prevail. We have consistently and repeatedly made it clear that the regulation of armaments presupposes enough international understanding to make possible the settlement of peace terms with Germany and Japan, the implementation of agreements putting military forces and facilities at the disposal of the Security Council, and an international arrangement for the control of atomic energy.

Nevertheless, we believe it is important not to delay the formulation of a system of arms regulation for implementation when conditions permit. The Security Council has accepted a logical plan of work for the Commission for Conventional Armaments. [Page 375] We believe that the Commission should proceed vigorously to develop a system for the regulation of armaments in the businesslike manner outlined in its plan of work.’

The work of this Commission has continued to be hampered by ‘demagogic appeals and irresponsible propaganda’. We cannot but note regretfully that the Soviet system of obstructionism in this Commission is the same as that employed by them in the AEC. Nevertheless, the U.S. believes that the Commission must proceed with its work.”

The above statement should be made at the next meeting of the CCA. If the meeting is closed a press release along these lines should be issued immediately following the meeting.

  1. At its 17th Meeting, July 26, the Working Committee of the Commission on Conventional Armaments adopted a revised British resolution on Item 2 of the CCA Plan of Work (Principles). This resolution reflected Canadian and United States amendments; for text, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Fourth Session, Supplement No. 2, Report of the Security Council to the General Assembly, p. 71 (hereafter cited as GA (IV), Suppl. No. 2), or Department of State Bulletin, August 29, 1948, pp. 267–268. The Working Committee did not discuss a Soviet counter-proposal, S/C.3/SC.3/17; for text, see GA (IV), Suppl. No. 2, p. 72, or Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. i, pp. 173–174.

    The Working Committee also decided to transmit to the CCA its resolution on Item 1 (Terms of Reference) approved September 9, 1947 (for text, see footnote 3, p. 311); the resolution on Item 2; and a progress report, S/C.3/27, not printed.

  2. At the 11th Meeting of the Commission, August 2, 1948, at which time the report of the Working Committee was taken under Consideration, Osborn presented a statement which followed very closely the text contained in this telegram. Osborn’s statement was included as Annex IT in the Second Progress Report of the Commission to the Security Council, August 12, not printed. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, August 15, 1948, pp.194–195.
  3. For text, see footnote 3, p. 311.