IO Files: US/S/C.3/33

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy United States Representative on the Commission for Conventional Armaments (Nash)


Subject: Commission for Conventional Armaments

Participants: Sir Terence Shone,2 Mr. Dennis Laskey, Mr. David Cole, United Kingdom Delegation
Mr. Harry M. Shooshan, Jr., UNP
Mr. Frank Nash, Mr. Charles Russell, USUN

A meeting was held at the United Kingdom Delegation this morning to discuss the substance of a cable received from the U.K. Foreign Office concerning the desirability of an early resumption of discussions in C.C.A. (See US/S/C.3/32.3) In effect, the Foreign Office took the [Page 62] position that it was inadvisable at this time to press ahead with the consideration of any major political issues without the participation of the Soviet, assimilating the situation in C.C.A. to that existing in the Atomic Energy Commission.

Mr. Nash commented on this position by pointing out the following: (1) In its resolution of December 5, 1949, the Fourth General Assembly called upon the C.C.A. to proceed with the consideration of its Plan of Work in order to achieve such progress “as might be possible”; (2) On January 17, 1950, after the Soviet walk-out, the Security Council transmitted the G.A. resolution to C.C.A., presumably in the expectation that the C.C.A. would proceed with appropriate action in response to it and would take such action despite anticipated Soviet non-participation; (3) In view of the foregoing, it was the opinion of the U.S. Delegation that discussions in C.C.A. should already have been reopened some time ago, and should not be delayed any longer in order to maintain the policy of “business as usual”; (4) The situation in C.C.A. was quite different from that in A.E.C. in that an actual plan had been developed in the latter field to which the U.S.S.R. was strongly opposed whereas no such plan had yet been evolved in C.C.A.; (5) The discussion in C.C.A. of the “adequate safeguards” problem covered by Item III of the Commission’s Plan of Work would involve only a “study” or “planning” exercise in which the Soviet representatives have expressed their lack of interest, professing to be interested only in getting ahead with the consideration of actual plans of disarmament (Item IV of the Plan of Work). Consideration of this item, therefore, in a wholly planning stage would hardly be regarded as any inflammatory action, and might actually go forward more smoothly than would be the case were the Soviet to be present.

Mr. Laskey responded by agreeing that it would certainly be necessary for the C.C.A. to meet before the next G.A. but he would have hoped that such a meeting might be held off until sometime later—as in June—on the possibility that the question of Chinese representation might be resolved in the meantime. He said he thought it doubtful that the principle of “business as usual” had proper application in a field like C.C.A., differentiating it from the economic and social fields where there has never been any large measure of Soviet participation.

After general discussion of the work of C.C.A., both Laskey and Cole conceded that the instructions received from their Foreign Office last August, authorizing them to proceed with the consideration of Item III of the C.C.A. Plan of Work, had not been altered except with respect to the bearing of the question of Chinese representation.

Sir Terence Shone commented on the possibility that the subjects of both atomic energy and regulation and reduction of armaments might come up for discussion in the impending meeting of the three Foreign [Page 63] Ministers,4 and suggested that it might be desirable to abide this event before resuming discussions in C.C.A.

Mr. Cole advanced the suggestion that possibly it would be in order to have a meeting of C.C.A. at which the Commission (presumably after a Soviet walk-out) would take official note of the Security Council’s transmittal of the G.A. resolution of December 5, 1949, and could then refer the matter for further consideration to the Working Committee of C.C.A.

Mr. Nash observed that in the opinion of the U.S. Delegation, it would be unwise to have a meeting of C.C.A. merely to note the transmittal of the G.A. resolution without any intention of proceeding with orderly consideration of the Commission’s substantive business. He added, however, that it would require a certain amount of time for the members of the Commission to review the positions advanced in the Fall of 1947 on Item III of the Plan of Work by those who were on the Commission at that time, and to consult with their respective Foreign Offices on such current views as they might have. During this necessary interval the meeting of the Foreign Ministers would take place and the C.C.A. could have the benefit of such developments as might be forthcoming therefrom. He stated that in his view the referral of the matter to the C.C.A. Working Committee would constitute a recognition by C.C.A. that there was some useful work to be done despite the absence of the Soviet. This view was allowed to stand by the U.K. representatives although the cable from their Foreign Office had stated that if, upon an initial meeting of the C.C.A., the Soviet withdrew, there would appear to be no alternative but the temporary suspension of further activities.

In conclusion, it was agreed that steps should be taken by Mr. Nash to consult with the Delegations of France, Norway, Cuba, and Ecuador to obtain their views on the desirability of arranging for a meeting of C.C.A. before the end of April, looking toward April 18th as a suitable tentative date.

  1. This memorandum, prepared on April 6, was circulated as US/S/C.3/33 on April 7.
  2. Deputy to the Permanent British Representative at the United Nations.
  3. Reference is to a memorandum by Russell of his conversation with Cole on April 4, not printed (IO Files).
  4. For documentation on the meetings between Secretary Acheson, British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, and French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in London, May 11–13, see vol. iii, pp. 828 ff.