6. Telegram From the United States Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State 1

Polto 2265. Following is summary of third NAC session Tuesday morning May 10.2 (Session restricted to Foreign Ministers, Permanent Representatives and three Advisers of each Del.)

Discussion opened on Agenda Item 2c (Disarmament). Canada spoke first with Pearson emphasizing disarmament purpose as establishment peace by collective action. This policy furthered by deterrent, particularly nuclear strength; unity in non-military as well as military sense; negotiations so as to remove fears; and universal system limiting arms.

Disarmament results thus far discouraging. Solution other problems would improve prospects success. Meanwhile must try find means lightening burden armaments and fears. Must counter Commie propaganda and at same time put forward constructive ideas.

Pearson reviewed London talks. Difficult say whether some progress as distinct juggling with words. Soviet initial proposals added up to stopping race with their side ahead and then starting over from scratch. This unacceptable and so intended. May have been linked with NATO’s MC 483 decisions. When West made clear Soviet obstruction would wreck conference, Soviet reversed position and agreed discuss Anglo-French memo and USSR resolution.4 Then discussed points of agreement: (1) freeze at existing levels; (2) reduction by stages of armed forces and non-atomic weapons; (3) prohibition nuclear weapons; (4) some form of international control. Following disagreements still formidable: (1) control organ powers; (2) levels [Page 18] of reduction; (3) timing of prohibition atomic weapons. Reviewed Western and Soviet positions these items and Western efforts compromise.

Pearson continued UN will undoubtedly continue efforts. Some modest headway made. But Canadian Delegation feels difficult make real headway in isolation other international security questions. Pearson wondered whether there might therefore be more hope if disarmament considered in four power talks.

Compelling reasons for pessimism re any disarmament progress. International control difficult for Soviet totalitarianism. Control complicated by hydrogen developments and creation stockpile. Mutual trust and confidence lacking.

But suspect many past propositions no longer well-founded. Therefore welcomed Stassen appointment to re-examine U.S. policy bases. West must keep own ideas constantly under review to assure best and most realistic approach.

Pearson concluded with two observations: (1) Plea for more info on atomic matters. Welcomed US–NATO agreement.5 Hoped for more info in private on radiation hazards. (2) NATO countries cannot afford take false step affecting security, but cannot abandon efforts find sure foundation for lasting peace. Peace now rests on uneasy balance of atomic terror. However effective nuclear deterrent, must satisfy public to which responsible that search continues for alternative means keeping peace. This necessary ease economic burdens and as proof our good will. We thus call bluff professional peace propagandists, who prepared disarm us to last atom bomb.

Suggested therefore our efforts continue disarmament negotiation go on along with supplementary “dogged search” for negotiated solution international problems.

Macmillan (UK) spoke next supporting what Canada had said. He said while true that UN Disarmament Committee in London had been on surface disappointing, nonetheless much useful work had been done in canvassing different positions. Examination of a complicated plan had been carried on and West should continue seek a realistic plan which could be agreed upon by Soviets. Work done in London might serve as basis for future progress, particularly if new impetus to disarmament given. UK passionately interested in real not sham disarmament which is world’s most vital need. A Four Power talk with Soviets might provide new impetus to disarmament without [Page 19] bypassing UN procedure and might induce Soviets to take more positive attitude.

Turkey said disarmament should be most important subject in Four Power meeting because it is touchstone of Soviet sincerity. Unless Soviets agree to effective disarmament all Soviet tactical changes are simply zig-zags. Disarmament should be mentioned in communiqué.

. . . . . . .

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/5–1155. Secret; Routine. Drafted by Palmer and MacArthur and approved by MacArthur. Repeated to the other NATO capitals.
  2. The summary, C–R(55)20, and verbatim, C–VR(55)20, records of this session, both dated May 10, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 444.
  3. At its meeting in Paris on December 18, 1954, the NAC approved MC 48, “The Most Effective Pattern of Military Strength for the Next Few Years” as a basis for planning and preparation by NATO military authorities. This document has not yet been declassified by NATO authorities.
  4. References are to the “Anglo-French Memorandum Submitted to the Disarmament Subcommittee: Reduction of Armed Forces, March 29, 1955” presented to the Subcommittee of the U.N. Disarmament Commission in London, and to the “Soviet Draft Resolution Introduced in the Disarmament Subcommittee: Conclusion of an International Convention (Treaty) on the Reduction of Armaments and the Prohibition of Atomic, Hydrogen, and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, March 19, 1955.” For text of these documents, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. I (Washington, 1960), pp. 450–453.
  5. Reference is to the NATO Agreement for Cooperation Regarding Atomic Information, signed by the President April 13, 1955, which provided that the United States and other NATO members could make various categories of atomic information available to the organization. For text of the agreement, signed at Paris on June 22, 1955, and entered into force March 29, 1956, see Department of State Bulletin, April 25, 1955, pp. 686–689.