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Office of the Historian


Memorandum of Conversation With the President, by the Secretary of State1

Top Secret

  • Subject:
  • Atomic Proposal of President, Dec. 8

The President agreed that we should be prepared to listen to talks going beyond the pool proposal and dealing with atomic weapons generally although he was skeptical as to the possibility of any grandiose proposal being acceptable because of mutual suspicions. [Page 1323]He indicated that he did not think it necessary to link atomic-weapon discussions to conventional weapons although there would be no objection to our doing so as a technical or precautionary measure.

The President agreed that it would be in order to ask Howard Peterson to represent the State Department on a team to deal with this problem.


Memorandum for the President


In preparation for possible talks with the Soviet Union on the atomic armaments race resulting from your speech of December 8, it will be necessary to settle the following points:

1. Does the United States prefer that the talks be held in the U.N. Disarmament Commission or in diplomatic channels?

2. What nations in addition to the U.S. and the USSR should participate in the talks?

3. Will the U.S. seek to confine the talks to the atomic pool proposal, or also be prepared to discuss seriously atomic disarmament?

4. Should the U.S. be prepared to accept a control plan limited to atomic weapons under suitable safeguards or should we insist on linking such control with the control of conventional weapons?

5. Whom might we designate to serve as our representative for conducting the negotiations?

(Possibly suggest Howard Peterson; about 42; with a large firm (Cravath (?)) before the war; in War Department during the war, finally as Assistant Secretary; now with one of the main Philadelphia banks; able, balanced judgment, good presence).

  1. Directed to Bowie, Murphy, and Arneson. The following handwritten notation by Dulles appears on the source text: “These Presidential positions on substance agree [in general?] with Defense presentation.” The annex (memorandum for the President), which is attached to the rile copy, presumably provided the basis for the discussion between the Secretary of State and President Eisenhower.