IO Files: US (P)/A/M(Chr)/13

Minutes of the Thirteenth Meeting of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly, Hotel d’léna, Paris, October 8, 1948


[Here follow a list of those (32) present and discussion of various subjects.]

2. Atomic Energy Developments

Mr. Blaisdell1 referred to the fact that Committee I yesterday had set up a sub-committee which was charged with the task of examining the various proposals on the control of atomic energy and with reaching agreement on a resolution for submission to the Committee.2 Ambassador Austin explained that Committee I had concluded a rather tumultuous debate yesterday with the adoption of a resolution for a sub-committee of 11 members. Among the eleven were the six sponsoring Powers. He noted that the sub-committee had limited terms of reference—to deal with the resolutions offered by various members and to prepare an agreed draft. Mr. Osborn would sit on the sub-committee while Ambassador Austin would participate in the disarmament discussions of Committee I, which would take up disarmament pending the report of the sub-committee on atomic energy.

[Page 454]

Mr. Osborn felt the sub-committee was a strong one and expressed the hope that it would report out a strong resolution for which most Members could vote. Mr. Dulles asked whether it was contemplated that such a resolution would keep the Atomic Energy Commission alive. Mr. Osborn replied that it might be possible to change the wording of the Canadian resolution so that the effect will be the same without using the word “suspended”. He believed the United States should stand firm on its refusal to go back to the Atomic Energy Commission and begin all over again.

Ambassador Austin emphasized two points: (1) the necessity of adhering to the work of the Atomic Energy Commission as clone and of obtaining substantial support for it from the General Assembly, and (2) to keep the fire of hope burning in order to carry out the exact spirit of the General Assembly action on atomic energy. Those were the two points he believed the United States should fight for in the sub-committee.

Mr. Blaisdell noted that the Delegation had already taken a decision on the Canadian and New Zealand resolutions3 so that no further action was necessary. The secretary stated that the Delegation would proceed on the basis outlined.

3. Soviet Disarmament Proposal

The Delegation discussed possible strategy for dealing with the Vishinsky disarmament resolution.4 Mr. Johnson explained that the Soviet proposal called for a reduction of one third in the armaments of the Great Powers. He commented that in his speech yesterday, Mr. Vishinsky had made the strongest attack to date on the Western Powers.5 Mr. Johnson explained that the position which would be recommended arose out of negotiations last summer with the British and French. The British had orginally felt that there should not be separate discussions on atomic energy, disarmament, and Article 43 forces. The British had, however, agreed to separate the atomic energy discussions and in return for this concession, Mr. Johnson believed that the United States was more or less committed to support the British substitute for the Vishinsky proposal (US(P) A/C.1/49/Rev. [Page 455] 1)6 unless there were some serious objections. The British would take the necessary initiative.

Ambassador Austin said he saw no objection to the British draft, provided there was no change in the general views of the Committee. He commented that, there was almost nothing in the British draft. In any event, the United States position was not to encourage anything substantive under present circumstances, and in particular, until the Peace Treaties had been concluded, the control of atomic energy established, and the Article 43 Forces set up. All three things must come before the reduction of conventional armaments. The Soviet proposal for a one-third reduction was, of course, out of the question. Ambassador Austin referred to the speech made by Vishinsky in the Committee yesterday and said he felt it had automatically made everyone feel they would have to oppose the Soviet proposal. After some delay in the Committee, since no one was really prepared on this subject, the British representative had made an effective speech.7 There were no further speakers, and Mr. Manuilsky8 asked for an adjournment to give Members time to read Mr. Vishinsky’s remarks.

Ambassador Austin believed the question of strategy might become very substantial in this case. It seemed to him that silence on the part of the United States might be golden. The Committee would quickly proceed to a vote and the British resolution would, under the rules, be voted on first, as an amendment in the nature of a substitute. There would be plenty of time to find out whether the Soviet resolution would be decisively defeated. He thought this procedural decision was of considerable importance, and said he believed it was better not to rush in but simply to go ahead with the preparation of a speech and watch developments in the Committee. The Secretary wondered whether there were any possibilities that the developments in the Committee might catch us off guard.

Reference was made to a telegram from the Department dealing with procedure in this case.9 but it was decided that circumstances in the Committee supported the strategy discussed above.

If the United States was not putting itself in a position where it might be surprised by developments, the Secretary believed that Ambassador [Page 456] Austin’s recommendations were appropriate. He thought the Delegation should consider how the United States could protect itself in this situation. Ambassador Austin proposed that the United States should prepare a speech, and then simply sit and watch Committee developments. He believed that the United States would be able to find out through its conversations with other Delegations just what the trend in the Committee would be and in that manner could guard against any surprises. The Secretary then stated that he believed the procedure was appropriate. Mr. Dulles agreed and pointed out that there was not any particular propaganda value at the present time in seeking to encourage a resolution on general disarmament. Resolutions of this kind gave rise to hopes that would be thwarted. The Secretary commented that it would be most gratifying if no speeches were made, and the Soviet resolution was voted down. Assuming this would happen, and that the United States could be sure by checking on the way Delegations would vote, he favored the course of action discussed above.

Mr. Pell10 reported briefly on the reaction to Vishinsky’s disarmament speech and said that although there was very little comment in the European press, what there was was very unfavorable. For the first time the French press had been most vigorous in its criticism of the language and unparliamentary manner of Vishinsky. Mr. McKeever noted that this was the first time that there was no great public demand for disarmament since people were sophisticated as to the demands of the situation in 1948, and the usual emotional drive was lacking. Mr. Dulles said he thought most people would regard it as a great disaster if the United States were to disarm.

  1. Donald C. Blaisdell, Adviser, United States Delegation.
  2. For the record of the 152nd Meeting of the First Committee, October 7, 10:30 a. m., see GA (III/1), First Committee, pp. 85–96.
  3. For information on the Canadian resolution, A/C.1/308, see footnoted, p. 441. The New Zealand resolution, A/C.1/314, introduced October 7, read as follows:

    “The General Assembly requests the sponsors of General Assembly resolution 1 (I) of 24 January 1946, who are the permanent members of the Atomic Energy Commission, to consult following this session, in order to determine when there exists a basis for agreement on international control of atomic energy, and thereupon to re-convene the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission in order to resume its activities and in any event to report the results of their consultation to the next regular session of the General Assembly.”

  4. For text, see telegram Delga 117, September 25, p. 431.
  5. For the record of Vyshinsky’s remarks at the 153rd Meeting of the First Committee, October 7, 3 p. m., see GA (III/1), First Committee, pp. 96–101.
  6. The draft resolution contemplated by the British Delegation, circulated in the United States Delegation as US(P)A/C.1/49 Rev. 1, is not printed. It was an antecedent of the draft actually introduced by the United Kingdom on October 10 (A/C.1/319); regarding that resolution, see footnote 7, p. 461.
  7. For the record of the remarks by Sir Hector McNeil at the 153rd Meeting of the First Committee, October 7, 3 p. m., see GA (III/1), First Committee, pp. 101–103.
  8. Dimitri Z. Manuilsky, Chairman of the Ukrainian Delegation: Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
  9. The telegram under reference has not been positively identified; reference is possibly to telegram Gadel 147, October 7, p. 450.
  10. Robert T. Pell, Adviser, United States Delegation.