Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Bernhard G. Bechhoefer of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs1

top secret

Subject: Committee of Twelve—
Meeting in Mr. Hickerson’s Office, 10:15 AM, July 26, 1951

Participants: Mr. John D. Hickerson, Department of State
Mr. C. E. Steel, Minister, British Embassy
Mr. J. G. Boyd, First Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. Frank Nash, USUN
Mr. Bernhard G. Bechhoefer, Department of State

Mr. Hickerson recalled that the Committee of Twelve had already had four meetings, and a fifth would take place next Tuesday.2 The United States had submitted a proposal calling for a merger of the International Atomic Energy Commission and the Commission for [Page 498] Conventional Armaments.3 He had the feeling that the UK Representative was inclined to drag his feet somewhat in the Committee, and sensed that the reason for this attitude was the fear that the United States had some objective beyond the procedural proposal. Mr. Hickerson stated that the initiative in this matter last fall had come from the White House and that at that time the Department had had no plans whatever on this subject. Since then, the United States Government had done considerable thinking on the general subject of regulation of armaments and might in the future wish to submit substantive proposals on the subject. Any substantive proposals, however, would be unrelated to this procedural proposal, excepting that it would be easier to submit the proposals to a combined Commission, since they involved both conventional arms and atomic energy. The United States program was still very tentative, and no decisions had been made as to the forum where the proposals would be made, or even that the proposals would be made at all. Prior to making any proposals, the United States would consult with the UK and with a number of other States, and there would be full opportunity for exchange of ideas.

Mr. Steel stated that the British Foreign Office had likewise done some planning on the substantive issue of regulation of armaments and atomic energy, and had a number of ideas which likewise were tentative. Mr. Steel stated that the UK planning was designed primarily to wrest from the Soviet Union the propaganda advantages of their peace movement. He asked whether the United States program implied any change in fundamental attitudes towards the Soviet Union.

Mr. Hickerson replied that while the United States would be happy if its proposals were accepted by the Soviet Union, he did not think that there was one chance in a thousand that the Soviet Union would accept the proposals. Mr. Nash amended the odds to one chance in a million. Mr. Hickerson stated that the United States was in general thinking along the same lines as the UK.

Mr. Steel indicated that on the subject of the procedural proposal in the Committee of Twelve, the British view was substantially the same as that of the United States. However, the British did not assign a high priority to this question, and for this reason, there had doubtless been delay in the UK Delegation securing its instructions.

  1. The source text was initialed by John D. Hickerson, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs.
  2. July 31.
  3. Reference is to U.N. doc. A/AC.50/1, “General Views of the United States with Respect to the Coordination of the work of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Commission for Conventional Armaments,” a working paper dated May 17, 1951, and submitted to the Committee of Twelve on May 25; for text, see Department of State, Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, 2 vols. (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1960), vol. i, pp. 271-273. For text of the statement by Frank C. Nash, Deputy U.S. Representative before the Committee of Twelve on May 25 and the text of the working paper, see Department of State Bulletin, June 18, 1951, pp. 991–993.