320/8–2454: Circular Instruction

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions 1

No. CA–1368

[Here follow several pages setting forth the Department of State’s position on various items of the agenda of the forthcoming General Assembly, in which the Department stresses the need for advance diplomatic consultations with some foreign offices and suggests that an aide-mémoire be presented on certain “technical subjects”. A section of some length concerning disarmament (paragraph g) precedes this extract]

(h) nuclear tests in trust territories

In the recent session of the Trusteeship Council a question related to the disarmament question was raised, namely the use of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands for nuclear tests. India proposed that the Council recommend to the General Assembly that it request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of using the Trust Territory for nuclear tests and that, pending the Court’s decision, the United States desist from further tests. This proposal and a Soviet proposal calling upon us to desist from further tests in the Trust Territory were rejected, the key parts of the Indian proposal by 7 votes (Australia, Belgium, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States and China), to 2 (India, Syria), with 3 abstentions (El Salvador, Haiti and the USSR), and the Soviet proposal by 9 votes to 1 (USSR) with 2 abstentions (Syria and India). We supported a UK–French–Belgian resolution which the Council adopted by 9 votes to 3 (India, Syria, USSR). This resolution recognized that the agreement provides that the territory “shall play its part in the maintenance of world peace and security” and recommended that if we, as the administering authority, consider it necessary to continue further nuclear tests in the interests of peace and security, we should take such precautions as will ensure that no inhabitants are endangered.

We anticipate that India may introduce in the General Assembly a proposal similar to its proposal in the Trusteeship Council. We would strongly oppose such a proposal. Our conducting of nuclear tests in the Territory is clearly in conformity with our rights and obligations as set forth in the Charter and the Trusteeship Agreement. Article 84 of the Charter and Article 5 of the Agreement state in almost identical language that the Administering Authority “shall ensure that the [Page 1523] Trust Territory shall play its part in the maintenance of international peace and security”. We are clearly entitled to use the facilities of the Trust Territory to this end. It would be contrary to the security of the United States and of the free world for us to agree to desist from tests which are an essential part of the development of our strength in nuclear weapons. In areas under our jurisdiction there is no place where these tests can be conducted with less danger than in the Trust Territory. We recognize that in conducting such tests we must take every possible precaution to safeguard the welfare of the inhabitants. While we will, of course, continue to take every such precaution, as in the Trusteeship Council, we would not object to and would in fact support a resolution by the General Assembly calling attention to our obligations in this regard.

[Here follows discussion of two other agenda items.]


  • AMembassies–all Latin American capitals
  • AMembassy Addis Ababa
  • ” Ankara
  • ” Athens
  • ” Baghdad
  • ” Bangkok
  • ” Beirut
  • ” Belgrade
  • ” Copenhagen
  • ” Karachi
  • ” Manila
  • ” Monrovia
  • ” Oslo
  • ” Reykjavik
  • ” Stockholm
  • ” Taipei
  • ” Tehran
  • ” Tel Aviv

You are requested in your discretion to leave with the Government to which you are accredited an aide-mémoire containing the substance of paragraphs (g) and (h) above on the questions of disarmament and nuclear tests in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

  1. Sent to 54 posts (including USUN) for action; and to Moscow, Praha, Tokyo, and Warsaw for information only. (The posts listed at the end of this instruction were to take special action vis-à-vis last paragraph.)