Minutes of the Sixth Meeting of the United States–United Kingdom–Canada Security Conversations, Held at Washington, April 1, 1948

top secret   security information

Present were the conferees of the fifth meeting. Mr. Hickerson called the meeting to order at 1545; adjourned it at 1730.

A new draft of the position paper under discussion was introduced by Hickerson and examined in detail. An additional paragraph had been added, delineating the area to be covered by the agreement. It was agreed that this question would require further work at a later [Page 72] date. Other alterations in the paper proceeded from points raised at the previous meeting.

It was agreed that no further meetings were necessary.

The State Department now has a position paper1 respecting the formation of regional security arrangement in the North Atlantic Area. The paper appears to be, and will be regarded as, a purely American paper. Accomplishing the objectives of the paper will require:

Approval first by Mr. Lovett and thereafter by Mr. Marshall.
Concurrently, introduction of the paper into the NSC, which will probably be done shortly by Mr. Butler (The paper as now written might well be improved through subjection to NSC staff appraisal.
Approval by Mr. Forrestal, or by the top NSC, and thereafter by the President.
The concurrence of a few Congressional leaders, including Senator Vandenberg.2
Thereafter, implementation of the steps outlined in the paper itself.

Hickerson was careful to impress Jebb with the idea that the paper as it now stands represents only a concept of what is desired at the working level, and that British expectations should be based on nothing more than this.

It was generally agreed that a treaty should be accomplished and as soon as possible, the optimum possibility being that it might be accomplished prior to the end of the current session of Congress. This would have much greater political effect than a mere declaration of intent, no matter how strongly worded for Presidential delivery.

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Final Draft

The purpose of this paper is to recommend a course of action adequate to give effect the declaration of March 17 by the President of support for the free nations of Europe. The recommendations made will require close consultation with political leaders of both parties in order that whatever policy is formulated may be a truly bipartisan American policy.

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Diplomatic approaches to be made by the Government of the United States to the signatories of the Five-Power Treaty signed at Brussels on March 17, 1948 in order to secure their approval to its extension in the manner outlined below and to inform them of plans for the conclusion of a collective defense agreement for the North Atlantic Area, details of which are given below.
An immediate approach then to be made to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, and (if the Italian elections are over) also to Italy, through diplomatic channels, by the United States, United Kingdom and France, with the consent of Benelux, with the object of explaining to them the scheme for a declaration by the President on the lines of that recommended in paragraph 3 below, and of ascertaining whether they would be prepared in such circumstances to accede to the Five-Power Treaty in the near future and to enter into negotiations for the North Atlantic Defense Agreement.
The President to announce that invitations had been issued to the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Eire, Italy, and Portugal (provided that secret inquiries had established the fact that these countries would be prepared to accept the invitations) to take part in a conference with a view to the conclusion of a collective Defense Agreement for the North Atlantic Area designed to give maximum effect, as between the parties, to the provisions of the United Nations Charter. In his statement the President would include a declaration of American intention, in the light of the obligations assumed by the signatories of the Five-Power Treaty and pending the conclusion of the Defense Agreement, to consider an armed attack in the North Atlantic Area against a signatory of the Five-Power Treaty as an armed attack against the United States to be dealt with by the United States in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The declaration would state that the United States would be disposed to extend similar support to any other free democracy in Western Europe which acceded to the Five-Power Treaty. If, as a result of the inquiries referred to in paragraph 2 above, it appears that Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Italy, or any of them, do not wish to accede to the Five-Power Treaty at this stage, consideration would need to be given, in the light of the views of the above states, to the extension to them of some assurance of immediate support in case of an armed attack against them which they resisted resolutely. In any event, the declaration would be so phrased as to avoid inviting aggression against any other free country in Europe.
Simultaneously with this declaration an Anglo-American declaration to be made to the effect that the two countries are not prepared to countenance any attack on the political independence or territorial integrity of Greece, Turkey, or Iran, and that in the event of such an attack and pending the possible negotiations of some general Middle Eastern security system, they would feel bound fully to support these states under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.
It is contemplated that the Defense Agreement referred to in paragraph 3 above would contain the following main provisions:
Preamble combining some of the features of the preambles to the Rio and Five-Power Treaties and making it clear that the main object of the instrument would be to preserve western civilization in the geographical area covered by the agreement. The Preamble should also refer to the desirability of the conclusion of further defense agreements under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations to the end that all free nations should eventually be covered by such agreements.
Provision that each Party shall regard any action in the area covered by the agreement, which it considers an armed attack against any other Party, as an armed attack against itself and that each Party accordingly undertakes to assist in meeting the attack in the exercise of the inherent right of individual or collective self defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter.
Provision following the lines of Article III, paragraph 2 of the Rio Treaty to the effect that, at the request of the State or States directly attacked, and until coordinated measures have been agreed upon, each one of the Parties shall determine the immediate measures which it will individually take in fulfillment of the obligation contained in the preceding paragraph and in accordance with the principle of mutual solidarity.
Provision to the effect that action taken under the agreement shall, as provided in Article 51 of the Charter, be promptly reported to the Security Council and cease when the Security Council shall have taken the necessary steps to maintain or restore peace and security.
Delineation of the area covered by the agreement to include the continental territory in Europe or North America of any Party and the islands in the North Atlantic whether sovereign or belonging to any Party. (This would include Spitzbergen and other Norwegian Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and Alaska.)
Provision for consultation between all the Parties in the event of any Party considering that its territorial integrity or political independence is threatened by armed attack or indirect aggression in any part of the world.
Provision for the establishment of such agencies as may be necessary for effective implementation of the agreement including the working out of plans for prompt and effective action under b and c above.
Duration of ten years, with automatic renewal for five-year periods unless denounced.
When circumstances permit, Germany (or the three Western Zones), Austria (or the three Western Zones) and Spain should be invited to adhere to the Five-Power Treaty and to the Defense Agreement for the North Atlantic Area. This objective, which should not be publicly disclosed, could be provided for by a suitable accession clause in the Defense Agreement.
Political and military conversations to be initiated forthwith with the parties to the Five-Power Treaty with a view to coordinating their military and other efforts and strengthening their collective security.
  1. This paper is presumably the undated “final draft” printed infra and referred to in a related memorandum as the “Pentagon Paper” (840.00/3–1748).
  2. Arthur H. Vandenberg, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee.