The Deputy United States Representative at the united Nations (Wadsworth) to the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Wainhouse)

official use only

Dear Dave: Prior to his departure for Africa, Mason Sears sent Ambassador Lodge his views on a number of questions relating to nuclear tests in the Pacific Trust Territories. Mr. Sears pointed out that the Indian proposal for an International Court of Justice opinion on the legality of our using the Trust Territories for tests will probably be on the agenda of the 9th General Assembly and that information on the consequences of the radio-active fall-out after the test of March 1, 1954 will have to be included in the United States Report to the United Nations on its administration of the Trust Territory. He felt in particular that two aspects of the problem should be followed up promptly to minimize possible future repercussions on this issue that could be damaging to United States interests.

The first of these is that we must avoid a recurrence of the accident which caused injury to a number of Marshallese, as well as Americans and Japanese. Should there be a repetition of the accident we might have difficulty obtaining the support of even our closest allies in the United Nations in our attempt to justify continuation of nuclear experiments in the Trust Territory. The second matter relates to our undertakings to compensate the peoples of the Trust Territory who, as a result of nuclear tests, have suffered damage to their health, property, or capacity to gain a livelihood. In this connection Mr. Sears [Page 1516] points out that the slowness in making a settlement of compensation promised the people of Bikini who were removed from their home island in 1946 is causing increasing criticism in the Trusteeship Council. This criticism is heightened by the fact that conditions on Kili Island where they have been resettled are not satisfactory to the Bikinians, and this is the second resettlement scheme that has proved unsatisfactory to them.

Finally, since just compensation has been promised to the Rongelap and Uterik peoples affected by the hydrogen bomb tests, he points out that attention will be focused in the Trusteeship Council next year on whether just and prompt settlements have been made to these people.

It seems to us that Mr. Sears has made a strong case for United States action in working out settlements of the above questions promptly and effectively so that the United States will not be placed in a disadvantageous position in the United Nations on a matter vital to our security. I would appreciate receiving the Department’s comments and advice as to the steps being taken in this matter.1


James J. Wadsworth
  1. Wainhouse responded in a letter drafted on Aug. 9:

    “I have received your letter of August 4 concerning MASON SEARS’ expression of views to Ambassador Lodge on questions relating to nuclear tests in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. I agree with you that Mr. Sears has made a strong case for US follow-up action and I feel it would be helpful to have something additional from the Mission which would give impetus to consideration of these problems on our side, and which would give the opportunity for further State Department action with other agencies of the Government. I feel personally that it would be most appropriate for the letter to come to the Secretary from our Representative on the Trusteeship Council and believe that Mr. Sears’ suggestion that copies be sent to the Department of the Interior and the Atomic Energy Commission is a good one. A letter from Mr. Sears to the Secretary would undoubtedly enable us to spur these other agencies into more rapid action in resolving which we agree are most important matters on which we will have continuing obligation to report in the United Nations.

    “I trust that you will agree with me on this and will have Mr. Sears’ letter sent to the Secretary. In this connection I believe it would be helpful if Ambassador Lodge wished to send a covering letter of endorsement as suggested by Mr. Sears.” (ODA files, lot 62 D 225, “Trust Territory of Pacific Islands”)