Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State to the President 1

  • Subject:
  • Working Paper for Submission to United Nations Disarmament Commission.

Enclosed herewith for your information is copy of a working paper which the United States, the United Kingdom, and France intend to submit to the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations prior to June 1st—probably on May 28.2

The paper suggests that one essential element in the regulation, limitation, and balanced reduction of armed forces and armaments is the numerical limitation of armed forces. It goes on to advance, for purposes of discussion, a formula along the general lines set forth in your address of November 7, 1951.3 The proposed formula is (1) that the United States, the USSR and China have equal armed forces, of say, 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 and France and the United Kingdom have equal armed forces of, say, 700,000 to 800,000; (2) that all other countries agree on ceilings fixed in relation to the armed forces of the five powers and with a view of avoiding a disequilibrium of power dangerous to international peace and security in any area of the world. Such ceilings would normally be less than one percent of the population and not in excess of current levels.

The Soviet Union has contended with some success on the propaganda front that the Western Democracies do not wish reduction in arms but merely wish a vast intelligence operation. It is believed that if this proposal can be introduced in time to be included in the First Report of the Disarmament Commission, which will be submitted to the Security Council about June 1st, some of the effect of the Soviet propaganda will be offset.

The submission of a document along these lines as a working paper in the Disarmament Commission has been approved by the Executive Committee on the Regulation of Armaments (RAC), consisting [Page 955] of representatives of the Department of State, Department of Defense and Atomic Energy Commission. It is fully within the framework of NSC 1124 approved by you.

David Bruce
  1. Drafted by Bechhoefer on May 27. Telegram 7043 to Secretary Acheson at Paris, May 27, also drafted by Bechhoefer, transmitted substantially the same information contained in this memorandum. (330.13/5–2752)
  2. The enclosed working paper, not printed, was introduced (with minor drafting changes) at the 12th Meeting of the UN Disarmament Commission, May 28, 1952, as UN doc. DC/10, “Proposals for Fixing Numerical Limitations on All Armed Forces”. For the text of DC/10 and the remarks delivered by U.S. Representative Cohen on the occasion of its submission, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. I, pp. 365–369, or Department of State Bulletin, June 9, 1952, pp. 907–911.
  3. See footnote 4, p. 898.
  4. For text of NSC 112, “Formulation of a U.S. Position With Respect to the Regulation, Limitation and Balanced Reduction of Armed Forces and Armaments”, July 6, 1951, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. i, p. 477.