Disarmament Files, Lot 58 D 133

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson) to the Secretary of State

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Subject: Regulation of Armed Forces and Armaments


You will recall that over the past several months, considerable effort both in State and Defense has been devoted to the development of a program for the regulation of armed forces and armaments. The general principles to govern such a program have been approved in NSC 112. Simultaneously and independently, the U.K. has developed a similar program.

About three weeks ago, I arranged with Sir Pierson Dixon that a representative of the Foreign Office should come to Washington with a view to coordinating the two programs. During the past week, we have engaged in extended discussions with the British and have jointly drafted the attached “Outline of Program for Regulation, Limitation and Balanced Reduction of All Armed Forces and Armaments”. This paper goes as far as possible to meet the British point of view without in any way altering the basic U.S. position as set forth in NSC 112. The paper is acceptable to the expert of the British Foreign Office, who believed that in the light of the comments he had already received, it would be approved by his government. We pointed out to the British that the paper at this time does not represent a U.S. position and that you had not yet seen it.

I have informally transmitted a copy of the paper to Frank Nash,1 likewise explaining to him that you have not yet seen the paper. Pending your approval of the paper, he is proceeding informally to ascertain the reactions of Defense.

It is our view that the program should be advanced jointly by U.S., U.K. and France. With this in mind, we would commence discussions with the French as soon as possible after the program receives Presidential approval—perhaps during the week of October 15. We contemplated presenting the program as follows:

Identical statements containing a brief explanation of the program would be released simultaneously by U.S., U.K., and France on or about November 7. The President would issue the statement here.
Simultaneously, the President would make a speech to the country built on the statement and our willingness to disarm but our unshakable determination to continue to build upon our strength until Soviet good faith is proved and a dependable agreement enters into force. Presumably, U.K. and France would take similar steps.
The program would be elaborated in your statement and in the [Page 534]British and French statements in the General Debate during the forthcoming General Assembly. It would be important to arrange for you to speak in the debate before Vishinsky speaks and I shall endeavor to do this as soon as you approve this program.
We would request that the matter be considered by the General Assembly as an additional item to be included on its agenda as a matter of urgency and importance.


In view of the extremely tight time schedule which we must follow in order to reap the maximum benefits in the General Assembly from this program, I am anxious that you should consider this program as soon as possible and let me know if you approve it.


This program has been approved by S/P, EUR, Gordon Arneson, and myself.


“Outline of Program”.


Agreed United States–United Kingdom Working Level Paper

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Outline of Program for Regulation, Limitation and Balanced Reduction of All Armed Forces and Armaments

1. The United States has proposed in this General Assembly a program for regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments. We expect to introduce more detailed proposals in the new unified commission which we hope will be set up as a result of the recommendations of the General Assembly’s Committee of Twelve that functions of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Commission for Conventional Armaments be merged in a new unified commission which would carry forward their work. The United States will merely outline its views at this time, leaving the details for later presentation.

2. The United States proposes that such a disarmament program include the following elements:

The objective should be to secure the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments to a level which would decrease substantially the possibility of successful aggression, and thereby decrease the chances that armed aggression would be used to further national objectives.
In working out the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of armed forces and armaments, the following criteria are examples [Page 535]of those which might be used and which we would be prepared to consider:
Limiting the size of armed forces, including para-military and security forces to 1 percent of population, and establishing a ceiling for any one country of 1 million.
Limiting stocks of military equipment for authorized armed forces and restricting the portion of national resources and industrial production which can be used for military purposes, to say, 5 percent of the national product, as contrasted with the much higher percentages today.
Developing mutually agreed national programs, within the overall limitations, concerning the composition of armed forces and armaments that each country would maintain.
There must be an adequate system of safeguards to ensure observance of any acceptable disarmament program. The safeguards should provide for the prompt detection of violations, while at the same time causing the minimum necessary degree of interference in the internal life of each country.
In the atomic energy field, the United Nations plan for international control of atomic energy and the prohibition of atomic weapons should continue to serve as the basis for any program, unless and until a better and more effective plan can be devised.
The program must be open for adherence to all States and initially it must include at least those States whose military resources are so substantial that their absence from the program would endanger it.
Once a program for the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments has been agreed upon in the United Nations, the details of the mutually agreed national programs under paragraph 2 b (3) above should be developed within the framework of the United Nations program through conferences under United Nations auspices.

3. In any honest program for regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments, a first and indispensable step is a system for continuing international disclosure and verification of all armed forces and armaments. This means revealing in appropriate stages all armed forces—including para-military, security and police forces—and all armaments, including atomic, and providing for proper international inspection to verify the adequacy and accuracy of this information.

The United States believes that a proper system of disclosure and verification should be based on the following principles:

The system of disclosure and verification must be on a continuing basis. Disclosure as of a particular date on a “one time” basis and subsequent verification of such disclosure would not meet the requirements of a continuing program for regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments.
The disclosure and verification should be carried out stage by stage, with appropriate provisions for proceeding to the next stage when, and only when, previous stages have been satisfactorily completed.
The early stages of the disclosure would have to include the numbers of all types of armed forces, including para-military, security and police forces, and the organized reserve components of those forces, as well as the types and amounts of armaments and matériel of such forces in service and reserve.
With respect to atomic energy, also, the disclosure would have to be carried out in stages.* The United States is aware that in due course this program would require the United States to disclose the atomic weapons in its possession. It is prepared to take such a step.
The United Nations should establish, at the time of the adoption of the general principles governing this program, the necessary inspection machinery to ensure effective verification of the armed forces and armaments, including those involving atomic energy, disclosed pursuant to the program.

4. When such a program is in force, there will be large savings in national military expenditures, which will become available for other purposes. States adhering to a disarmament program could then devote a substantial portion of the money and resources which would otherwise have been spent for military purposes to a great program to provide aid to those areas of the world which need help. This would make possible an intensified and concerted campaign under the auspices of the United Nations against poverty, hunger, disease and ignorance.

5. It is obvious that a disarmament program cannot be carried out while fighting continues in Korea. Discussions on the subject can, however, begin now. The United States desires to emphasize that disarmament proposals are intimately related to progress on the concurrent settlement of other political issues. The United States is ready to move forward on other political issues and, indeed, it is our view that we cannot permit our desire for a program of regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments to blind us to the pressing need for finding ways to resolve other problems.

6. It is our desire to see a world in which international peace and security are assured. The present proposals for a program of regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments will move us forward toward that objective.

7. We should all be willing to serve the cause of peace by deeds instead of words. The United States is prepared to begin negotiations in the United Nations on a system of continuing disclosure and verification of all armed forces and armaments as a necessary first step and an integral part of an honest program for the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of armed forces to the level of, say, 1 percent of population—with a ceiling for any one country of one million—and with comparable restrictions on the armaments of such force.

  1. Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
  2. Note: Further consideration is being given to the question of setting forth the stages at this time. [Footnote in the source text.]