The Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson) to the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Nash)1


Dear Frank: We are enclosing for your consideration a re-draft of a working paper intended for submission in Committee I of the Disarmament Commission, entitled “Numerical Limitation of Armed Forces” (RAC (NS) D–4).2 This paper has been revised in the light of the comments made during the April 29 meeting of the Executive Committee on the Regulation of Armaments (RAC), to take account of the views advanced by yourself and Ambassador Cohen, as well as my own remarks.

This paper was prepared at the urgent request of Ambassador Cohen who stated in a memorandum to me dated April 17:

“As I have indicated in previous conversations and memoranda, there is an immediate need for concrete proposals in specific areas where early agreement might be reached. This need has been emphasized also by the French, British and Canadian Delegations in [Page 913] their discussions with the United States Delegation. In particular, it has been felt by all of us that concrete proposals in the field of limitation and reduction which could be related to an early stage of disclosure and verification would provide a fertile field for the work of the Commission and would be an effective answer to the Soviet charges that we are seeking only intelligence information, without being prepared to carry out any actual disarmament.

“If such a proposal can be presented to the Disarmament Commission for consideration at this stage of the work, it seems to me that we would have achieved a major portion of our immediate objective. By having ourselves made proposals for a relatively comprehensive system of disclosure and verification and an immediate program of reduction and limitation, we would have retained the initiative and demonstrated the seriousness of our purpose. Such proposals, taken as a whole, would be not only defensible before the General Assembly and world opinion but might provide the starting point for serious and concrete progress in the field of disarmament. I should like to feel that we could begin discussions on something of this kind at the earliest possible date with our French, British and Canadian colleagues, and therefore hope that you will find it possible to initiate immediate consideration within the RAC group.”

We believe that these proposals should be submitted by the United States Representative as a working paper, rather than as a position to which the United States Government is formally committed. The Committee of the Disarmament Commission dealing with the proposals would produce recommendations which would be submitted to you and cleared prior to their formal adoption by the Commission. As stated in a previous letter, this procedure has a number of advantages among which are that it gives our representative a desirable latitude in his tactical approach to the Commission’s problem. We are, accordingly, at this time suggesting general guidance concerning the positions taken in this paper rather than a formal clearance of the paper. The formal clearance of the United States position will take place prior to formal Commission action.

From the standpoint of the tactical situation existing in the Disarmament Commission, it would seem desirable to submit a working paper to the Commission sometime during the first week of May. In view of the early deadline, we should appreciate your consideration of this paper as a matter of importance. The paper will be considered simultaneously in the Department of State and the Department of Defense. We are also submitting the paper at this time to the Atomic Energy Commission for its comments, although the paper does not directly involve problems relating to atomic energy.

Sincerely yours,

John D. Hickerson
  1. Drafted by Bechhoefer and Meyers of UNP on Apr. 30.
  2. Dated Apr. 30, 1952, not printed. (Disarmament files, lot 58 D 133, “RAC (NS) Documents”)