Disarmament Files, Lot 58 D 133

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Howard Meyers of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs

top secret

Subject: Working Papers Advancing Disarmament Proposals on the basis of NSC 112.

Participants: Mr. Harry Hohler, UK Foreign Office
Mr. C. A. Gerald Meade, Counselor, UK Embassy
Miss Barbara Salt, First Secretary, UK Embassy
Mr. John D. Hickerson, UNA
Mr. Gordon Arneson, S/AE
Mr. Joseph Chase, S/AE
Mr. John Ferguson, S/P
Mr. Ward P. Allen, EUR
Mr. B. G. Bechhoefer, UNP
Mr. Howard Meyers, UNP

The first meeting convened at 3:30 in the afternoon of 1 October in Mr. Hickerson’s office.

Mr. Hickerson asked whether the United Kingdom had given further consideration to the United States papers on disarmament proposals, handed to Sir Oliver Franks on August 20,1 explaining that we would be most interested in British views which would supplement those expressed previously by Sir Pierson Dixon on September 12. He wished to adopt an informal procedure by which the group present at this meeting, including the British representatives, would go over the working papers which were before this group. These papers presented the outline of proposals which might possibly be advanced in the Sixth General Assembly concerning regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments. The papers did not represent [Page 524]a United States Government position, although they were based on a policy paper which had Government approval. There still remained the problem of clearing elsewhere in the United States Government any papers agreed upon by this group. However, we wanted to go over our working draft with the British representatives, making our own criticisms and hoping that the United Kingdom officials would join in the redrafting.

Mr. Hickerson explained that these papers had not been shown to the French; that we would not do so much before we were ready to make our proposals. Although the papers were set up in the form of a United States proposal, we were by no means adverse to a joint UK-US-French proposal. Because of United States and United Kingdom commitments to France, a US–UK proposal without France would not be possible. The proposal must be either by all three or by one country. The previous paper given to Sir Oliver Franks was only the bare bones of a possible program, and these papers sought to present the case for public use.

Mr. Hohler said that the Official Committee on Disarmament in the Foreign Office had prepared another paper in draft form,2 approved by the Foreign Office, which was being considered by the Cabinet’s Disarmament Committee on October 2. The United Kingdom hoped that it could reach agreement with the United States on the form of a disarmament proposal and the manner of its presentation, and then reach agreement with the French. The United States paper handed to Sir Oliver Franks had been very helpful, although the United Kingdom had two major points of disagreement with the United States position.

Presentation, If the United States idea was to bring forward disclosure and verification proposals and couple with them, as possibilities, the general concepts of a 1 pereent–1 million man limitation on forces and a percentage limitation on the amount of national production available for military purposes, then the United Kingdom felt that there was great danger of getting involved at the beginning of the presentation of these proposals in an argument about the basic principles of disclosure and verification. Thus, the Soviet Union might draw the United States and its Western allies into an argument which would be so complex that the general public would not understand what was involved. Therefore, the United Kingdom preferred the idea that the disarmament proposals made should stress the limitation of the number of military effectives, and that then the disclosure and verification concept could be advanced. In this connection, the Committee on Disarmament had developed more fully its thoughts on disclosure and verification.
Universality of Approach. The United Kingdom appreciated the strong political advantages in advancing proposals for limiting and [Page 525]reducing armed forces and armaments which would be of general application, and which would not look as if advanced purely for the advantage of the Western democracies. His Government saw no difficulty in general with the concept of a 1-million man limitation on effectives, so far as the older Dominions were concerned. However, the United Kingdom was much concerned that this limitation would be unacceptable to Pakistan in view of its difficulties with India. In addition, he could think of other similar situations, such as Haiti and Santo Domingo, which would cause objections to the percentage limitation suggested by the United States.

Mr. Hickerson pointed out that we could always explain to the Governments of India and Pakistan that these limitations were only proposals; that the likelihood of Soviet acceptance of these proposals was so slight that we doubted this 1-million man limitation could affect them as a matter of practical application. In addition, we could not make our proposals only for propaganda purposes; they must be honest concepts with which we could live if accepted. If these were dishonest proposals, their dishonesty would soon be apparent and cause us considerable harm. If the United Kingdom and the United States could agree on a disarmament program, assuming that the Soviet Union would agree in addition, we should not refrain from making our proposals because of possible local difficulties. We could not meet in advance all of the objections because of local situations; otherwise, we would never make proposals. The concept of universality in the United States approach had real pulling-power, and should not be held back because of the difficulty of local application.

Mr. Meyers remarked that the present Indian military superiority over Pakistan was roughly 2½ to 1. It was difficult to believe that Pakistan would object to a program which would cut India’s superiority to 1¼ to 1.

Mr. Meade said that the United Kingdom proposal benefitted from being simple to understand, whereas the United States approach was complicated. He was also concerned to know the manner in which the proposals would be presented in the United Nations. Would they be made jointly? Would the French join in them? Should they be made by the respective Secretaries of State? Should we say that the proposals had been the subject of UK–US and French discussion? In regard to the last query, he thought that all three governments would like to say that they had been studying the disarmament question, both because of domestic and international relations.

Mr. Hickerson referred to Mr. Holder’s point “a”, the difficulty of presenting the United States idea in simple form. He said that our new paper would show that Ave would present the program for a continuing disclosure and verification as part of a general disarmament program.

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Mr. Ferguson added that we would want to get across the idea of limitation on armed forces and armaments, in which disclosure and verification would be the first step. In any detailed discussions, it would be inadvisable to emphasize or concentrate on the limitation aspect.

Mr. Hickerson stated that it would be unfortunate if we were drawn into detailed discussions on reduction of armaments and armed forces when we know that the Soviet Union has never agreed up to now on any system of verification. Concentration on limitation of the number of effectives, as suggested by the British, would emphasize disarmament at the expense of the present rearmament program necessary to meet the threat of aggression from the Soviet Union and its satellites. In connection with the difficulties inherent in presenting any disarmament program, he inquired what would happen to the disarmament proposals if the Conservatives should win the general elections to be held on October 25 in England.

Mr. Hohler replied that the Foreign Office Committee on Disarmament and the military people had not yet reached conclusions on this point. However, in his personal opinion, he did not believe that a change in government would affect the disarmament proposals, since any United Kingdom Government would want to put forward such proposals, for both domestic and foreign political reasons.

Mr. Meade thought that any new government would have so recently come to power at the time of the General Assembly that it would have to accept most if not all of the General Assembly programs previously worked out.

Mr. Hickerson handed the United Kingdom Representative Tab A of the United States papers,3 which outlined the general United States program as part of proposed points to be included in the speech of the United States Representative in the Political Committee at the time General Assembly debate would be open on this item. He explained that the general idea of the program would be presented earlier by the Secretary of State in the general debate.

Mr. Ferguson thought that the paper needed revision to bring forward more clearly the United States ideas on a general program for regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments, and that the disclosure and verification program would be part of that general regulatory system. He was afraid that there was too much emphasis in the present paper on the fact that we would have to go a long way with disclosure before we might start negotiations on the general disarmament program.

Mr. Hohler agreed with this. The initial statement appeared to be the most important question, from the propaganda view.

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It was agreed that the paper should be revised by Messrs. Bechhoefer and Meyers that evening and the new paper would be presented for discussion at 11:00 a. m. the next day.

2 October.

The meeting convened at 10:00 a. m. in Mr. Hickerson’s office. The revised paper4 was discussed and suggestions for revision were made by both the United States and United Kingdom participants. It was agreed that the text would be further revised and that discussion would continue that afternoon. The meeting adjourned until 4:30 p. m.

At 4: 30 in the afternoon, the newly revised text5 was considered, and Mr. Hohler stated that he liked the revised text; that it was much better in terms of presenting first the general concept of armed forces and armaments limitation and then the disclosure and verification program as an indispensable first step. He would recommend to London that the United Kingdom agree with the United States position. He would like to know our views regarding the timing of presentation.

Mr. Hickerson explained that our present thinking visualized first a Presidential speech. If we worked out a joint or tri-partite program, the British Prime Minister and French Foreign Minister would have to coordinate their actions with this Presidential speech. There might be a joint or tri-partite statement about the time the General Assembly would open, possibly November 7. If it was agreed that there should be a joint presentation, there should be a delay of any joint announcement until there was an agreed statement. In terms of General Assembly presentation, we would have to make arrangements to be sure that the US–UK and French Delegation Heads spoke before Vyshinsky in the general debate. This was desirable, but not indispensable.

The meeting was adjourned until 10:00 a.m. the next day.

3 October.

When the meeting convened, the first item discussed was tactics.

1. Informing the French.

Mr. Meade wondered whether the French would be annoyed if they were only given the plan by the first of November, and we contemplated a public statement of our disarmament proposals on the 7th of November. However, the French might regard this matter as an academic exercise anyhow, and so not be bothered too much by this short space of time between notification and public announcement.

Mr. Hickerson thought that, in view of the possibility of leaking, we should leave as little time as possible between the date on which the [Page 528]French were informed of our ideas and the date on which a public statement would be issued on the subject. The French know, from the Paris meetings of the Foreign Ministers’ Deputies this Spring, that the United Kingdom has had a group working on disarmament proposals, and we could explain that there had been UK–US meetings on the subject at a staff level only. He thought that Ambassador Bruce6 might alert M. Parodi7 and M. Derose8 to the possibility of disarmament proposals during the last week in October, saying that the United States hoped to be able to talk to the French about these disarmament proposals in the very near future. Bruce’s statement would ease French annoyance at the late date of disclosure of our disarmament proposals.

Mr. Hickerson continued on the assumption that a tri-partite statement would be issued in the three capitals on November 7. If there were speeches accompanying this statement, the context of each speech would be a matter for each government, although the contents should not go beyond the framework of the tri-partite statement. There was some question in his mind as to whether we wanted to mention the 1 percent–1 million man effectives limitation in the tri-partite statement.

Mr. Hohler and Mr. Meyers thought that it would be valuable to make the statement in order to get the maximum propaganda benefit, particularly because the three Secretaries of State would speak in the General Assembly very shortly thereafter.

Mr. Ferguson thought that it was better not to make mention of these limitations in the tri-partite statement. He agreed that this was largely a question of timing and that the matter needed further examination.

2. Procedure in the General Assembly.

Mr. Hickerson pointed out that we could follow two procedures: (a) proposing a new agenda item; (b) linking the disarmament proposals with the existing item for implementation of the recommendations of the Committee of Twelve.9 He preferred a new agenda item.

There was general agreement that the disarmament proposals should be presented as a new item for the agenda; that the first one of the three Secretaries of State to speak in the general debate should ask that these disarmament proposals be added to the agenda as an urgent and important matter. Later, it would probably be desirable to consolidate this item with the implementation of the Committee of Twelve’s recommendations. However, there should be two separate resolutions: one creating a merged commission and the other calling upon the commission to consider this program.

Regarding whether the item should be discussed in the Ad Hoc [Page 529]Political Committee [or] in Committee One, there was no particular feeling one way or the other. It was generally agreed that there should be a resolution as a result of the statement and debate in Committee; that the resolution should note with approval the desire of the UK, US and France to put forward disarmament proposals and should recommend that the new unified commission (to be set up as a result of the recommendations of the Committee of Twelve) should take up the disclosure and verification program as the first item on its agenda. This resolution should be sponsored by the UK, US and France, and might have other sponsors. The question of additional sponsorship could be decided later, and it was agreed that the three governments should consult at the time of introducing the resolution in regard to other sponsors. With respect to the timing of this resolution, it might be advisable to say in Committee that we would withhold a resolution until the new unified commission was set up.

3. Additional Questions.

Mr. Hohler requested clarification regarding United States ideas on the application of the 1 percent–1 million man limitation on effectives. Mr. Hickerson explained in response to Mr. Hohler’s specific question:

Algiers should be included in Metropolitan France since it was a Department of Metropolitan France.
Colonial territories should be excluded in estimating the populations of their home countries.
We considered the USSR as one country, and not as 16 individual republics.

  1. The papers under reference are 1) the Policy Planning Staff memorandum titled “Manner of Advancing Disarmament Proposals,” p. 515; and, 2) a report containing proposals on limitation and reduction of armaments, which is described in footnote 3, p. 513.
  2. A 5-page paper on disarmament, bearing the notation “British paper delivered to us Oct. 1, 1951,” accompanies the file copy of the present memorandum. It is not printed. (Disarmament Files, Lot 58 D 133)
  3. The source text is not accompanied by attachments. The paper under reference has not been identified specifically, but for a revised version, see the Agreed United States–United Kingdom Working Level Paper, p. 534.
  4. The specific text under reference has not been identified, but for the subsequently agreed paper, see p. 534.
  5. Not specifically identified, but presumably identical with or very similar to the Agreed United States–United Kingdom Working Level Paper, ibid.
  6. David K. E. Bruce, United States Ambassador in France.
  7. Alexandre Parodi, Secretary General of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  8. François de Rose of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  9. Regarding the recommendations of the Committee of Twelve, see its report, October 23, p. 552.