Memorandum by William Sanders to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)1

  • Subject:
  • Status Report on Disarmament

A. The Pre-Seventh GA Period

If and when the paper on numerical limitation of armed forces [RAC (NS) D–4]2 is submitted in the Disarmament Commission, we will have reached our immediate objective of demonstrating US initiative in seeking agreement on disarmament. Our proposals will represent the “balanced” approach required by the situation confronting us in the Commission. This will mean, I hope, that the tactical [Page 939] situation will no longer force us to make substantive proposals before we have thought through the entire problem.
Our activities between June 1, the date of the Commission’s first report, and the opening of the Seventh Session of the General Assembly will probably be confined to a holding operation. We should persuade the members of the Disarmament Commission to concentrate discussion on the proposals already submitted, plus the informal suggestion raised by various members, rather than on introducing any comprehensive proposals. However, we may submit a comparatively noncontroversial paper, such as the one on control organs. We should also not rule out entirely the possibility of an additional proposal in the reduction field—the NSRB may come up with a useful idea.
We have considered whether the June report should contain a summary of the proposals and discussions or simply a brief recital of the organization of the Commission, the meetings held, and the text of the substantive proposals in the form of annexes. We have elected the latter alternative as the most suitable for this first step and, in fact, as the only one that would at this stage be supported by our principal friends. The Secretariat has already prepared a draft report along this line and the Commission meets tomorrow to consider the draft.
It is as yet too early to decide what our approach should be to disarmament at the Seventh GA but my present thinking is that the item should not be spot-lighted, unless there is no escaping this because of Soviet propaganda. Although it will by that time be evident that there is an impasse in the Commission I think it will be to our advantage to demonstrate that we want to keep the door open for further discussions in the Commission after the Assembly.

B. The Comprehensive Plan

Following approval of the June report the Disarmament Staff will, in addition to necessary backstopping of the discussions in the Commission, concentrate on developing a comprehensive disarmament plan. The main segments of this program are set out in the attached Annex.

C. The Propaganda Program

Because of pressure of other affairs and the lack of personnel in the P Area, we have not succeeded in our efforts to have a full-time Officer assigned to disarmament work. I recently had conversations on this matter with Mr. Howland Sargeant3 and he has informed me that he is working out some arrangement to take care of our needs. This is, of course, an extremely important aspect of our program [Page 940] and I am concerned that we have accomplished so little in firming up a positive and imaginative approach to the problem.


Paper Drafted in the Bureau of United Nations Affairs


Principal Projects in the Development of a Comprehensive Disarmament Program

(As of May 21, 1952)

Revision of DAC D–64 into a paper on the general views of the US concerning overall limitations and restrictions on all armed forces and all armaments. This revision will suggest studies in specific fields, such as: identifying the other “essential components”; allocation of armed forces; standard armaments for those states with substantial military power; whether it is possible to eliminate certain categories of weapons from standard armaments which support permitted armed forces, etc. Once the main elements have been earmarked, specific studies can be farmed out, within the Government or as special projects financed by outside sources.
A paper on the relationship between disclosure and verification, the atomic energy plan, and reduction of armaments. Preliminary studies on this paper are now under way in the DAC group.
Integration into our general program of the substantial contribution which we expect from the National Security Resources Board. It is anticipated that the NSRB will make suggestions concerning controls of manpower, raw materials and finished products. Such suggestions will be relevant to the development of the disclosure and verification program, as well as to the problems of limitation and reduction.
A paper on the levels of armed forces and armaments preliminary to balanced reduction, which suggests the levels which the West must reach before it will be feasible to commence reductions in the light of Soviet strength. A first draft of this paper has already been produced by UNA/P.
A paper on the time table and procedures for putting into effect the disarmament program and another paper on the control organs necessary for disclosure and verification, atomic energy control [Page 941] and general reduction have been drafted and are in the process of revision.
A summary of the relationship between political settlements and disarmament is in first draft and has been circulated in the Department for clearance prior to submitting it to RAC. With S/P approval, copies have been handed the Panel of Consultants.
Develop, if possible, a two-way traffic of ideas between the Department’s staff and the Panel of Consultants, through the intermediary of Mr. Bundy. While there may appear to be a duplication of effort between the studies suggested in the preceding paragraphs and the work of the Consultants, the government must carry on these studies in order to develop its own ideas on a comprehensive disarmament plan.
  1. Sanders was Special Assistant and Planning Adviser to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs. The memorandum was drafted by Howard Meyers of UNP.
  2. RAC (NS) D–4, Apr. 30, is not printed. (Disarmament files, lot 58 D 133, “RAC (NS) Documents”) Brackets in the source text.
  3. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.
  4. DAC D–6, “General Views of the US Concerning Determination of Over-All Limits and Restrictions on All Armed Forces and Armaments, Including Atomic Weapons”, Apr. 14, 1952, is not printed. (Disarmament files, lot 58 D 133, “DAC”)