171. Memorandum by the Special Assistant to the President (Stassen)1

Suggested U.S. position with reference to Prime Minister Faure’s proposal for reduction of armaments.

On July 12, Prime Minister Faure stated “... Why not, along with a program of general disarmament, begin immediately by taking a certain percentage of the military expenses of each of the four great powers—thus setting an example—and put the equivalent amount into a four-power fund—open to all—which could be used, no longer for destructive, sterile, negative purposes, but for general social and positive ends?”2

The proposal is very undesirable and perhaps can be most easily handled by stating that it should be referred to the United Nations Sub-Committee on Disarmament, to be taken up along with other proposals now before that Sub-Committee or which are subsequently made to it.

If necessary, by raising questions, the following undesirable features of the Faure proposal may be indicated:

Such a step is not enforceable as the satellite budgets, the Red China budget, and the military and civilian portions of the USSR budget are all partially interchangeable.
In which underdeveloped territories would the funds be used? Inside the Soviet Union? Inside Red China? Inside French North Africa? In Northern Viet Nam?
The budget reduction in the form proposed would not contribute to security or to the prospect of peace. It would not affect production of modern atomic weapons and the capacity to deliver them.
It would not add any safeguard against the danger of surprise attack.
It would lead to a false sense of security and a let-down in the alertness of the people of the free nations. It is they who would assume the agreement meant something.
It would open additional Soviet opportunities for subversion. For example, would Soviet technicians be admitted under this special big-four fund to underdeveloped territories—where they are not now admitted? Would they be admitted to French North Africa, South Viet Nam, South America, Ceylon, Egypt?
At best, it would grant the Soviets some easing of arms burden, while the free nations, who have already adjusted their armament budgets downward, would reduce their actual security force.
The adoption of the proposal would result in a loss of momentum in the public opinion pressure seeking real inspection results.
Would the savings proposed for underdeveloped territories be available in foreign exchange, gold or in rubles?
How would percentage reductions be measured if there is inflation or deflation in an economy?

An alternative might be suggested, if there is a strong desire to take some immediate token step. This alternative would be for the USSR to put up a quantity of nuclear material for peaceful purposes, in accordance with the President’s suggestion of December, 1953.3 The U.K. and France could put up a similar value, to be available for the purchase within their countries of machinery and equipment used in peaceful atomic research by the lesser developed countries. In other words, all nations make a token move on the President’s peaceful atomic initiative.

Harold E. Stassen
  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 515. Secret. A handwritten notation on the source text indicates that Secretary Dulles saw it.
  2. Ellipsis in the source text. Regarding this statement, see Document 163.
  3. For text of President Eisenhower’s address to the U.N. General Assembly on December 8, 1953, entitled “Atoms for Peace,” see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953, pp. 813–822, or American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955, vol. ii, pp. 2798–2805.