Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President

top secret

Subject: Possible United States Program in the Sixth General Assembly Proposing Regulation of All Armed Forces and Armaments

1. In your speech to the Fifth General Assembly on October 24, 1950, and in several subsequent speeches, you emphasized the need for exploring every avenue offering any chance of bringing success to United Nations activities in the disarmament field. Since this time, much consideration has been given in the Departments of State and Defense to the substance of a program for regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and armaments. The attached outline of such a program reports the views of the Department of State, based on NSC 112, and has been informally and tentatively cleared with the Department of Defense.1

2. It is the Department’s belief that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will probably introduce in this coming General Assembly [Page 547] some disarmament proposals. These may take the form of advocating a one-third reduction of armed forces by the Big Five and destruction of atomic weapons, plus a call for a Five Power Peace Pact. While in past General Assemblies the United States has taken the line of demonstrating the dishonesty of similar Soviet appeals, I think there is much to be gained by a positive approach—that is, by putting forward our own proposals.

3. Simultaneously with our efforts, the United Kingdom has been developing its own disarmament proposals. At the United Kingdom’s request, Department of State and British Foreign Office officials have held informal working-level discussions on tentative British and United States programs. The Foreign Office has indicated that the United Kingdom would like to join with the United States in presenting a disarmament program to the Sixth General Assembly. While the United Kingdom officials have not seen the particular paper attached hereto, they know the Department’s general views and probably would join the United States in bringing such a program to the General Assembly. I think we should invite both the British and the French to join with us in this presentation.

4. If you approve of this program, I believe that the proposals should be presented in the following manner:

Identical statements containing a brief explanation of the program should be released simultaneously by the United States, United Kingdom and France on or about November 7. The Department believes it would be advisable that you make a speech at that time expanding the tripartite statement in the light of our domestic situation, and explaining our willingness to disarm but our unshakable determination to build up our strength until Soviet good faith is proved and a dependable agreement enters into force.
The program would be elaborated in my opening statement in the general debate at the commencement of the General Assembly, and also through statements made by the United Kingdom and France. I would attempt to speak first, and we would endeavor to see to it that the United Kingdom and France also speak before Vyshinsky.
We would request that this matter be considered by the General Assembly as an additional item to be included on the agenda as a matter of urgency and importance.


I recommend that you approve of this program and its presentation to the General Assembly along the lines set forth above. In view of the short time remaining before the opening of the General Assembly, I am anxious that you consider the program as soon as possible.

Dean Acheson
  1. The attachment, “Outline of Program for Regulation, Limitation and Balanced Reduction of All Armed Forces and Armaments,” October 19, not printed, does not accompany the source text. The memorandum for the President and the attachment are present in the Disarmament Files, Lot 58 D 133. For the version of the “Outline of Program” which was approved by President Truman, see telegram 2418 to Paris, October 24, p. 559.

    For NSC 112, July 6, see p. 477.