PPS Files, Lot 64 D 563

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Joseph Chase of the Office of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (Arneson)

top secret

Subject: Possibilities of War with the Soviet Union 1951–52: Use of Atomic Weapons

Participants: United States
Mr. Nitze, Director, Policy Planning Staff
Mr. Arneson, S/AE
Mr. Chase, S/AE
Ambassador Wrong
Mr. Ignatieff, Counselor of Embassy

1. Procedures

Prior to Mr. Nitze’s arrival, Mr. Arneson enquired as to the status of the previously discussed letter setting forth procedures to be established by the Canadians to ensure prompt and expeditious action on any urgent request or notification to the Canadians concerning atomic [Page 860] deployment.1 Mr. Wrong indicated that the letter had been drafted but had been submitted to Ottawa for comment. He asked whether the need for the letter was urgent. Mr. Arneson replied that it would be useful to have it as soon as possible in order to discuss it with appropriate officials in the Department of Defense. Mr. Arneson went on that there was some disposition in the Department of Defense to recommend that the entire matter be put back in PJRD channels. Mr. Wrong stated that his Government would not agree to this. Whatever the channels used, decisions in Ottawa would have to be made by the same Cabinet officials and their response as to the desire of the Department of Defense for prior agreement on the use of Goose Bay and Harmon Air Base for SAC operations would be the same. Moreover, he did not consider it wise to bring additional people into the picture, which would be the case if the PJDB channel were used. In the meantime he indicated that he, Mr. Ignatieff, and Mr. Don Matthews could be reached at all times through the guard duty officer at the Embassy. He also indicated that in view of his and Mr. Ignatieff’s imminent departure on leave, Mr. Don Matthews and Mr. Peter Campbell2 would be brought into the picture to insure full coverage during the period of the above-mentioned leave. As soon as the comment of Ottawa is received, the Canadian letter on procedures would be sent to the Department. Mr. Arneson stated, and Mr. Nitze (who arrived at this point) agreed, that on the U.S. side the Canadians could expect communications on these matters from himself and Mr. Chase, and also from Mr. Matthews and Mr. Nitze.

2. Japanese Peace Treaty3

Mr. Wrong stated that the problem of the Japanese peace treaty and the bilateral security pact raised an interesting point. The Soviet Union would probably not be a party to the peace treaty and would certainly not be a party to the bilateral pact. This would result in a situation wherein the United States was at peace with Japan and would guarantee Japanese security, while at the same time the Soviet Union was technically at war with Japan. Did this situation cause apprehension in the United States? Mr. Nitze replied that this situation has not caused any apprehension as it appeared that this was more of a legal than a real difficulty. Mr. Wrong wondered whether [Page 861] the legal difficulty might not lead to a real difficulty. Mr. Arneson asked Mr. Wrong what developments were foreseen that could make this a problem. Mr. Wrong could not foresee any but emphasized the fact that Japan would not be in a position to defend itself. Mr. Nitze observed that the situation in Japan was quite similar to that in Germany. Legally the two situations would be different, but in fact neither country could protect itself and in both cases our forces would be committed. He believed that no new risk would be added in the case of a peace treaty with Japan.

3. Korean Armistice: Soviet Intentions

Mr. Wrong asked whether we had any new ideas regarding Soviet intentions in view of the Korean armistice developments. Mr. Nitze stated that we did not have any new ideas, in fact not much new has been added to permit any greater insight into Soviet intentions. Mr. Wrong agreed. Mr. Nitze added the fact that the Soviets were prepared to retreat on the withdrawal issue tended to indicate that the Soviets wanted an armistice. Mr. Wrong mentioned that on the trip back from Detroit4 the Secretary had stated that he could not see any resolution beyond an armistice settlement in Korea for a long time to come. Mr. Nitze and Mr. Wrong looked upon the Korean situation as a series of hurdles. Two hurdles had been overcome: The first on the neutral zone, the second on the armistice agenda. There were more, and more difficult, hurdles for the future. Mr. Wrong indicated that he could not go beyond stating that the situation was mildly encouraging, Mr. Arneson pointed out that the Soviets are always in a position to pull the plug and asked whether anything new had come through on the communist build up in North Korea. Mr. Nitze stated that the build up was continuing and that the communist capacity for massive ground attack was now greater than it had ever been. The lull in Korea tends to balance off our favorable logistic position. Even though the UN forces are building up their power, the North Korean forces have gained more from the present lull and the whole situation is very risky.

3. Pakistan-Indian Tension5

Mr. Wrong stated that Ottawa was much concerned over what might be done to ease the Pakistan-Indian tension. Canadian officials in Karachi, New Delhi, and London report greater tension now than a year ago and consider the situation quite explosive. He wondered what could be done through diplomatic channels to ameliorate this tension. Mr. Nitze feared that any comment he might make would be confusing, that he was really not in a position to comment on this point. [Page 862] Mr. Wrong stated that his Prime Minister wondered whether he could personally be of some assistance. Mr. Nitze stated that the point raised was not a policy matter. Our policy on this issue is quite clear. The real question asked by Mr. Wrong was a question of tactics rather than of policy and suggested that Mr. McGhee6 would be in the best position to have an opinion on the wisdom or desirability of the suggestion.

4. Extension of NATO to include Greece and Turkey.

Mr. Ignatieff asked whether the U.S. had reviewed the question of including Greece and Turkey in the NATO set-up in the light of the Scandinavian opposition. Mr. Nitze stated that such a review had been made and that the U.S. felt even more strongly than before that we should move ahead to bring in Greece and Turkey and that we should move expeditiously. We felt this to be very important and were convinced that the only real solution would be full membership in NATO. Mr. Ignatieff asked whether any new elements to the problems had arisen. Mr. Nitze replied that there were no new elements, but a review of the problem, particularly the situation within Turkey and the weakness of the Middle East, has convinced us that full membership in NATO must come about soon. The Turks would be extremely disappointed if they were not admitted to NATO. This disappointment would be reflected in a long-range reaction and the Turks would be far less easily persuaded to cooperate wholeheartedly if trouble should arise. He added that this did not mean that the Turks would not fight and fight to the last man for their independence. Mr. Nitze added also that we need strength in the Middle East and that the Turks were the only ones in that area who could supply such strength. Mr. Wrong summed up by stating that the United States wanted positive assistance of Turkey in the event of attack on Europe or other Middle Eastern countries. He also expressed the opinion that NATO was now widely regarded as a pledge of instantaneous support in case of an attack. This feeling about NATO is much stronger than it had been when the NATO treaty was being discussed and ratified and was an indication to him that the public was now willing to support this interpretation where before it might not have been so willing. Mr. Nitze generally agreed, stating that NATO is really a registration of the state of affairs that exists and that it did not by itself bring about this state of affairs. In response to a question put to him by Mr. Nitze, Mr. Wrong stated that originally he personally had been quite leery of including Greece and Turkey in NATO. He was primarily worried by possible public opposition but admitted that he was much less concerned now. He was also concerned over the [Page 863] fact that the North Atlantic concept would be stretched considerably in this instance, and indicated that this was of concern to Ottawa. In his case he has argued that this question is a matter of interpreting Article 2. He has pointed out to Ottawa that there are other activities of the North Atlantic community that extend beyond the strict limits of that community and would hope that Ottawa would see his point of view. Mr. Ignatieff wondered whether the emphasis on the military aspects detracted from the social and economic. Mr. Nitze said that even though the social and economic problems become more difficult as one progresses with building defense, they remain equally or more important.

5. Spain

Mr. Wrong pointed out that at the previous meeting Mr. Matthews had referred to relations with Spain. He wondered whether we might not get ourselves in a situation whereby we would take a first step which would indicate the necessity for additional steps and ultimately lead to including Spain within NATO. He felt that there were two aspects to such a development that were of concern: The first was the fact that the extent of popular resistance to Franco Spain7 in France and the U.K. in particular, could decrease popular support for NATO and thus weaken it. The second aspect was that the progressive tying in of Spain in the military field could be construed as provocative to the Soviet Union and would reinforce fears that the West is pursuing a deliberate policy of encirclement. Mr. Nitze replied that Admiral Sherman8 had made no agreements with Spain and that he had just had a talk and in a very preliminary way. Regarding the point on provocation, Mr. Nitze pointed out that we want to build up the strength of the free world in as unprovocative a way as possible, but build it we must. He did not believe that a good geographic case could be made that Spain encircled the Soviet Union, or that Spain could be any more provocative to the Soviet Union than it now is. Of course, the Soviet Union would use this development for propaganda purposes. He pointed out that in case of trouble Spain would be against the Soviet Union and for us, and its assistance should be made effective. Speaking to the point of provocativeness, Mr. Arneson pointed out that most of the world is against the Soviet Union, a situation which is of its own choosing. Mr. Nitze pointed out that the question of provoking the Soviet Union is directly connected with the problem of neutralism. He stated that neutralism stems from the fear that the [Page 864] free world is not strong enough to defeat the communists. If we can convince ourselves and our friends that the situation is not hopeless, neutralism will decline.

6. Iran

Mr. Ignatieff asked whether anything new had developed in Iran. It appeared that the situation was unchanged.

7. Deployment

Mr. Ignatieff asked whether the U.S. contemplated any deployments this summer. Mr. Arneson stated that although this was not firm, his understanding of the present status was that the storage facilities in Goose Bay were under construction but would probably not be completed this season. Therefore the question of deployment to Goose Bay would probably not arise. There may, however, be rotational over-flights in connection with the U.K. deployment. He was not certain whether any over-flights would take place to Ladd Field.

8. Constitutional Problems

Mr. Arneson asked whether anything had developed on the constitutional problems discussed at the previous meeting. Mr. Wrong did not believe that he would have any answer from Ottawa until late September. As he understood the problem, we were faced with the fact that declarations of war were outdated and the problem boils down to what decisions would have to be taken depending upon the various ways that war might be thrust upon us. He thought that what might be required in the case of Canada would be a general statement of government policy made in the Parliament. The real problem is at what point and to what extent would the Parliament be consulted. Mr. Arneson reported that he had talked the matter over with Jack Tate9 who stated that he saw no constitutional problems involved. Fortunately, in connection with the action taken in Korea, two analyses of the constitutional problem had been prepared, which Mr. Arneson handed to Mr. Wrong and Mr. Ignatieff (copy attached).10 Mr. Wrong stated that he had raised this question with Sir Oliver Franks and that it was his understanding that the U.K. was looking into the constitutional problem also. As the meeting broke up, Mr. Wrong pointed out that the integrated Western European troops pose very novel political and military questions which might have quite a bearing on the problems that face us.

The meeting adjourned at 5 p. m.

  1. The procedural arrangements were set forth in detail in a letter from Canadian Chargé d’Affaires W. D. Matthews to Arneson, August 6, 1951, not printed. Requests were to be addressed by the Department of State through certain designated officers of the Canadian Embassy to the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa; urgent requests were to be brought immediately to the attention of the Prime Minister (700.5611/8–651). This letter was subsequently replaced by an almost identical letter from Matthews to Arneson, August 17, 1951 (711.56342/8–1751).
  2. Second Secretary, Canadian Embassy.
  3. For documentation on the Japanese Peace Treaty, see vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 777 ff.
  4. Acheson and Wrong had been in Detroit on July 24 for a speech by the Secretary in honor of Detroit’s 250th anniversary.
  5. For documentation on U.S. relations with India and with Pakistan and on the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir, see vol. vi, Part 2, pp. 2085 ff., pp. 2203 ff., and pp. 1699 ff., respectively.
  6. George C. McGhee, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs.
  7. Gen. Francisco Franco Bahamonde was Chief of State and Premier of Spain.
  8. Adm. Forrest P. Sherman, Chief of Naval Operations, 1949–1951 (deceased July 22, 1951).
  9. Deputy Legal Adviser, Department of State.
  10. Not printed.