209. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting of the Delegation at the Geneva Conference, President’s Villa, Geneva, July 20, 1955, 6 p.m.1


  • The President
  • Secretary Dulles
  • Mr. Dillon Anderson
  • General Gruenther
  • Governor Stassen
  • Admiral Radford
  • Mr. Rockefeller
  • Deputy Secretary Anderson
  • Colonel Goodpaster

Governor Stassen handed out a draft statement on Disarmament,2 of which the most striking idea was that of indicating willingness to agree to permit overflights of the U.S. and the USSR for aerial photography as a device for inspection. Mr. Robert Anderson indicated that the furnishing of lists of military installations should be coupled with that.

The President thought the great value of an inspection system placed in actual operations would be to begin to enable confidence to be developed on the part of the various nations as to just what military forces and installations existed in the other countries.

Secretary Dulles asked whether this proposal would pertain just to the United States and USSR or whether it would be applied to the NATO area, in line with the interest of the British. General Gruenther brought out that there are some special secure areas within Western Europe—some special geographical arrangements for putting the scheme into effect might therefore have to be developed. Governor Stassen commented on this scheme, as well as on schemes which have a zonal basis. He said that it would tend to fix the “iron curtain” more firmly. The President thought the effect would be just the opposite, if it were measured from the present—since there would be inspection teams going into areas now behind the iron curtain. Mr. Stassen also pointed out that inspection might let the USSR obtain information on our own advanced technology and insist on looking at our nuclear weapons, etc. in detail.

Mr. Robert Anderson felt that a scheme with the three principal elements—1) photograph; 2) application to the US and USSR; 3) concurrent ground inspection—would provide a useful beginning, and would not extend so far as to permit detailed inspection of new technological [Page 429] developments. The President asked if it would not be better to suggest that all four countries permit inspection of this type. Mr. Dulles said that if this proposal were made, we would be under some obligation to discuss it with our allies before advancing it. Mr. Anderson recalled his point of requiring that lists of military installations be furnished, but said that inspection would not be limited simply to the sites named in the list. General Gruenther asked whether there would be ground inspection, and Mr. Robert Anderson said there would be but not everything would be available for examination. Admiral Radford said that we would agree to a proposal of this kind, and Governor Stassen repeated that advanced technology should be excluded from the items to be inspected. General Gruenther said he felt that the overflight proposal had a great deal to recommend it. Mr. Stassen said this proposal could constitute a splendid opening step in the move toward disarmament. Mr. Dulles thought that from the standpoints both of drama and substance the proposal was very promising and should have a very great effect. He added, however, that if word got out in advance about this idea, much of the impact would be lost.

There was extended discussion as to the tactics to be used, resulting in agreement that it would be best for the President to make a broad and basic opening statement giving his over-all views in the matter, and then on the “second round” put forward the proposal for over-flights as a specific, more or less spontaneous, suggestion.3

A.J. Goodpaster 4
Colonel, CE, US Army
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File. Drafted by Goodpaster on July 25. For two other accounts of this conversation, see supra .
  2. Not printed. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File)
  3. On July 22 Goodpaster drafted the following addendum to this memorandum of conversation:

    “At the close of the discussion at 6 PM on 20 July separately reported by Dillon Anderson, Deputy Secretary Anderson suggested that Secretary Hoover might inform Senator George, Congressman Richards and one or two others of the proposal on inspection which the President has in mind to make. They would not be caught by surprise as a result. The President suggested to Secretary Dulles that he might do this at once, stressing the need for secrecy, and indicating that he hoped Congressional leaders would be able to express quick support of the idea. (This was done by Secretary Dulles’ cable of early 21 July.)” (See Document 215.)

  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.