IO Files: Lot 71 D 440

Memorandum of Conversations Held on March 16 and 19, Prepared in the United States Mission at the United Nations



Subject: Additional Measures Committee

Participants: Mr. John Coulson and
Mr. Dennis Laskey, UK Delegation
Mr. Francis Lacoste and
Mr. Jacques Tine, French Delegation
Sir Gladwyn Jebb (second conversation only), UK Delegation
Ambassador Ernest Gross,
Mr. John C. Ross and
Mr. J. N. Hyde, US Mission

Ambassador Gross requested this meeting to continue the discussions of the program of work for the Additional Measures Committee based on the list of questions which its bureau had prepared (confidential paper No. 2—US/A/AC.52/12).1

Ambassador Gross pointed out the desirability of the subcommitee, which is charged with drafting a plan of work, meeting within the next few days. He had called this meeting so that the UK, France and UK might perhaps have an agreed position before going into the subcommittee. He pointed out that the State Department considers it undesirable to attempt through the AMC to obtain additional military support for operations in Korea. It would prefer to see troops on a more selective basis by bilateral negotiations and not through an appeal in the General Assembly. He suggested that the subcommittee should simply take note of this problem in its report.

Turning then to economic measures, he wanted to impress upon our UK and French colleagues the importance which we attach to these. He referred to the policy of the US to emphasize the importance and interest it has in seeing all members of the UN apply maximum economic controls. Then he went on to state the “irreducible minimum” which the US considers consistent with our own thoughts on the matter [Page 1932] and less than which it does not feel the UN can do. He then described a resolution calling for an embargo on the selected items mentioned in our instructions and the plan for having each member determining what items qualify together with a body for reviewing and reporting action pursuant to such embargo. He added that a committee for this purpose would review and report to the GA with appropriate recommendations in terms of operating expense. Lacoste commented at this point that France has a very different line in that it would like nothing to come from the AMC or from its subcommittee but a report. He stressed the undesirability of having any recommendations in this field originate either from this Committee or a proposed new review committee.

Ambassador Gross continued that the US would urge its general policy in the Committee of maximum economic controls but will take into account different points of view which might lead to the sort of resolution outlined. He stressed the importance of advance agreement to get broad sponsorship for the sort of resolution described. He restated the importance we attach to giving the highest priority to economic measures and what we consider the “irreducible minimum” in this respect.

Coulson commented that the UK would like the subsequent talks completed in the State Department before going into the substance in New York. Therefore, he would prefer to limit discussion here to the procedure for arriving at a program of work. He stated the British view that the first priority in framing such a plan should be an appeal for more support from contributing and non-contributing powers. He thought a general recommendation in this sense could be put into practice in a way consistent with the thinking of the State Department by having the Unified Command originate a request pursuant to a policy that might be formulated by the Committee itself.

Coulson indicated that he thought the Committee should get on with a discussion of additional military assistance as soon as possible; he in effect agreed with a comment by Mr. Gross that part of the British reason for this view was to delay or defer discussion of economic sanctions which he said the British basically do not feel should be discussed in the Committee at all.

Lacoste wondered whether a distinction could not be drawn between punitive measures and those that would really cripple the war potential of the enemy.

Coulson indicated that he did not believe that the question of a pure arms embargo as such had ever been put to the Foreign Office. He said the Foreign Office was anxious to avoid all publicity concerning economic measures.

[Page 1933]

Lacoste wondered whether it were not true that at least certain economic measures would help cripple the enemy effort in Korea.

Mr. Gross reviewed our objections to taking up military measures in the Committee. The publicity attendant on such a move would inevitably raise such questions as why the UN should not go further, for example, bombing of Chinese territory, making clear that we do want more military assistance. He had felt that such assistance might best be provided through bilateral channels. Mr. Gross then commented, explaining that he was speaking quite personally, that he wondered whether some very simple form of request for additional assistance might be worked out which could be disposed of in perhaps a very few days. Provision might be made for concurrent consideration of the economic measures.

Lacoste said that his Government very definitely favored the objective that a limited economic embargo should come first. He said his Government felt that the timing was very bad to issue some “sonorous appeal” for more help, particularly of a military character. He said this would have a very unsettling effect now that there was a lull, if not actually a stalemate in Korea.

Mr. Gross summarized the views expressed by indicating that there seemed to be three shades of opinion. First, the UK wanted to take up the question of military assistance first of all. Second, the French wanted to take up the question of military assistance at a later time. The US was not interested in taking up this question at all.

Lacoste explained that in the French view the question of military assistance should be taken up at the end of the list, but they would not insist that it should be taken up at all.

Coulson observed that we would be playing the Chinese game if we were “lulled by a lull”. He said we should take advantage of any lull and not give the impression that we were weakening. He agreed with Mr. Gross’ summary of the three shades of view expressed and said that he thought that perhaps what we should seek was a “Triboro Bridge”.

Continuing the discussion on March 19, Ambassador Gross, in the light of the differing UK approach on the matter of priority, suggested combining the work on military measures with that on economic measures. He saw no complex issue involved in the study of the military questions. He suggested putting the economic measures in subcommittee and perhaps keeping the other before the full Committee. This would take care of both topics on parallel lines and avoid a possible road block. Sir Gladwyn, who was not present at the first meeting on March 16, agreed to put this suggestion to London. He commented that under his present instructions the Foreign Office dislikes even discussing the matter of economic sanctions until the [Page 1934] GOC has reached a result. In this connection he observed that Mr. Rusk had recently raised the issue of the 38th parallel at a briefing in Washington and suggested that there might soon be a statement on that and suggested a possible declaration. Sir Gladwyn thought this might have a considerable effect on the wisdom of going ahead with the study of economic sanctions.

Ambassador Gross felt that the time is coming when we should discuss these questions with others and he had refrained from going into it with other members of the Committee in spite of heavy pressure to do so. Jebb saw no objection to bringing in the other two members of the, subcommittee, Venezuela and Australia, after perhaps one more meeting of this group, and it was agreed that the chairman of the subcommittee would then be Lacoste. Lacoste was insistent that first priority be given to economic matters, although he did not object to considering military items after that. He was impressed with Gross’ argument on the reasons for not going into military matters in the GA. Gross commented that he thought bilateral discussions hold the greatest promise for obtaining greater military assistance and doubted whether an appeal would be helpful and it might cause more ill feeling. Jebb restated the UK opposition to going ahead with economic measures while there was any hope for the GOC. Coulson did not feel that the UK is in any way committed to sanctions. If they were to be considered he rather preferred the US approach of a formula that would not involve the Committee getting into a list of embargoed articles, but the UK had no further reaction from the Foreign Office on the substance of the US suggestion. He did feel that the idea of a committee to coordinate and review was too broad. Lacoste, on the other hand, preferred not having a committee at all and at least suggested the idea of a specific embargo list. Gross pointed out the endless difficulties of definition and debate that this might involve for the Committee. Coulson argued that the way to get an extension of the Coordinating Committee system of embargoes is to proceed privately with powers who are not members of that group. He is certain that India would not identify itself with any UN move and he did not think it desirable to publicize in any way the Coordinating Committee list.

Developing his thinking somewhat further, Coulson inquired what good it would do to try to repeat in the UN the very complicated and time-consuming process of drawing up lists. This was a process which took weeks of time of the experts who frequently found it difficult to agree even on a proper nomenclature in the English language. He reiterated his view that we should continue with the process of the [Page 1935] Consultative Committee since most of the producing countries were involved in COCOM.

It was agreed that there were two problems under consideration: (a) what measures the UN should recommend and (b) what would be the best means of implementing UN recommendations. We were assuming that there would be UN recommendations and were now discussing the question of means.

Lacoste felt that for GA recommendations to be effective, it would be essential to have some list which the customs people could use.

Jebb, assuming a general recommendation by the GA, wondered whether COCOM might secretly draw up appropriate lists which in turn, without revealing the origin of these lists, might be communicated to the AMC by some one of us. Mr. Gross wondered whether, alternatively, instead of introducing lists in the AMC, such lists might not be passed around through bilateral channels to governments concerned. Coulson and Jebb felt that it was very doubtful whether a country such as Argentina would have any idea how to proceed when confronted with a general recommendation that certain items should be embargoed (petroleum, arms, ammunition, implements of war), A good deal of our discussion centered around the question of how implements of war should be defined.

Mr. Gross wondered whether the US, UK and France might separately report to the AMC what it was doing. These lists could be used by other governments for their guidance. Coulson objected on the grounds that this might involve revealing information concerning classified items; Gross indicated that classified items could of course be eliminated from any list we might circulate.

Laskey said that if lists were circulated of items embargoed so far as Communist China was concerned the question would immediately arise of extending the embargo to the USSR. This would tend to force into the open the COCOM activities concerning the USSR and satellites.

Mr. Gross pointed out that we contemplated a GA resolution calling upon all Member Governments to give assurances that they would not negate measures taken by other Member Governments. If such assurances were not forthcoming, as in the case of the USSR, the UN might then call on all Members to embargo the items in question to the countries which refused to give such assurances.

Jebb observed that this would amount to extending the COCOM system to India since he did not at all anticipate that India would give assurances that it would not export embargoed items to Communist China. Jebb went on to say that he thought the best we could do would [Page 1936] be to lay down broad categories and that each country would then do what it thought best.

Lacoste queried what we were really after. Were we attempting to meet the problems presented by our own public opinion or were we attempting to have a psychological effect on the Chinese Communists? Mr. Gross responded that while we felt that the moral and psychological effects of a program of limited economic sanctions might even outweigh the material effects, nevertheless, we felt that the material effects might be very great since the effect of controls was the coefficient of the severity of controls and the generality of their application. He said that in suggesting a program of limited economic controls, we were not putting forward a maximum program but only the program which we considered an irreducible minimum. We really hoped that we could get all countries to go at least as far as COCOM had gone and we hoped we could get COCOM to go as far as we had gone.

Laskey observed that the maximum moral impact would be achieved by a GA resolution but that no reporting or exchanging of lists was required because suppliers outside of the COCOM group were not important with the exception of one or two, such as Australia, which could be dealt with bilaterally. Laskey then inquired with reference to Mr. Gross’ last remarks whether we had in mind a reporting and reviewing system as a means of getting people lined up for an initial program which would provide the basis for building up and extending economic measures against Communist China beyond the COCOM system. Mr. Gross made clear that we were not now pressing nor did we now contemplate such an extension of economic measures.

At this point, the hour being late, it was agreed to continue the discussion on Thursday morning, March 22.

  1. Not printed.