221. Telegram From the Delegation at the Geneva Conference to the Department of State1

Secto 63. Fifth meeting Heads of Government convened 3:35 p.m., July 21. Bulganin presided.

On Chairman’s suggestion, agreed Foreign Ministers should continue attempt reach agreement on directive.

Bulganin then made new proposal. Said all agreed that proposals of all Powers made in course of discussion European security should be referred to Foreign Ministers. But work of Foreign Ministers would involve time. Situation in Europe requires measures be taken right now to prevent situation which might represent threat to peace and security of European States. Treaty to refrain from using armed force or threat thereof and to settle disputes by peaceful means between States parties to groupings now in existence in Europe might serve this purpose and contribute to lessening of tension and consolidation of peace. He then read following proposal:

Begin verbatim

“Basic principles of treaty between groupings of states now in existence in Europe.

“Guided by desire strengthen peace, and recognizing need contribute in every way to lessening international tension and establishment confidence in relations between nations.

“Soviet Union, United States, France, and United Kingdom agree that interests of maintaining peace in Europe would be met by conclusion of treaty between states parties to North Atlantic Pact and Western European Union on one hand and states parties to Warsaw treaty on other. This treaty might be based on following principles:

  • “First, states parties to North Atlantic Treaty and to Paris Agreements on one hand and states parties to Warsaw treaty on other, undertake not to use armed force against each other. That undertaking [Page 448]should not be prejudicial to rights of nations to individual or collective self-defense in case of armed attack, as provided for in Article 51 of United Nations Charter.
  • “Second, states parties to treaty undertake to enter into mutual consultations in case any differences and disputes arise between them which might represent threat to maintenance of peace in Europe.
  • “Three, treaty would be of temporary character and would remain in force until replaced by another treaty relating to setting up of collective security system in Europe.”2

End verbatim text.

Bulganin asked whether Heads of Government should have preliminary exchange of views on his proposal or refer matter to Foreign Ministers, as text his proposal not yet circulated.

President said should be referred to Foreign Ministers, as it should be studied before presented to Heads of Government for decision.

President then asked permission to clarify statement he made yesterday3 which had been taken out of context in press reports and made to appear something he had not meant. He referred to statement he made discussion European security, “consequently any advance should be made dependent on nothing else whatsoever”. He said this had been taken to mean that he no longer meant another thing he had also said yesterday: that European security and reunification of Germany are inseparable. President said he wanted to make it clear that his later statement with reference to the fact that advances in security should be made dependent upon nothing whatsoever had not meant that he had forgone his conviction of the inseparability of the two questions referred to. He said he was sure this had not been misunderstood by the Conference, but wanted to clear up the point as it had been in the press.

Faure agreed Bulganin’s new proposal should be referred to Foreign Ministers. Eden, while agreeable giving Foreign Ministers additional day to prepare directive, prepared discuss new proposal, but said it seems to be related to documents already remitted to Foreign Ministers.

Bulganin said proposal was not new, having been included in main statement of Soviet Delegation on European security. Asked Eden to agree as others had.

Eden noted matters referred to Foreign Ministers had been discussed before reference, which procedure he said was generally preferable. Said he did not object if others wish to refer matter, but would like to reserve right to put in paper to Foreign Ministers in [Page 449]view lack opportunity to discuss before. President asked Secretary Dulles comment on Ministers aspect of matter. Chair agreed. Secretary said that as one of Foreign Ministers he would like clarification. Yesterday Foreign Ministers instructed draft directive in light discussion up to that time. Said he thought it was sense of Conference that that phase of discussion, at least as far as Heads of Government concerned, had been terminated. Said he wondered whether directive to Foreign Ministers now changed from that of yesterday.

Bulganin called on Molotov who said directive to Foreign Ministers of yesterday remained in force and had not yet been accomplished. Said all realized that matters involved would require time to discuss and therefore question arose as to whether Geneva Conference could not come to a decision which would enter into force soonest. Said Soviet proposal follows out of discussion which had already taken place.

Bulganin said no decision had been taken as to conclusion of discussion on matter Heads of Government discussed yesterday.

President said new proposal should be studied by Foreign Ministers before Heads of Government can take any action, as Soviet proposal poses entirely new question on formulation of Treaty by Four Powers that effects some 25 or 30. Said he was not prepared to discuss proposal on an informed basis much less take decision at this time.

Eden had no objection to Foreign Ministers studying new proposal so long as study should be subsequent to report called for in yesterday’s directive.

Bulganin suggested his proposal be referred to Foreign Ministers to make recommendations.

Eden agreed only on condition that it be dealt with as separate item, as was not based on two days discussion as was subject yesterday’s directive.

Bulganin suggested refer matter to Ministers for consideration with Ministers taking into account observations made here. Agreed.

Bulganin then claimed privilege of chair and opened discussion of disarmament. Stated that on May 10 Soviets had made proposal regarding reduction of armaments prohibiting use of atomic weapons and removal threat of new war.4 Said Governments US, UK and France had not yet given their views on this proposal and would like to know their position. Wide program disarmament would be possible only if end put to cold war and necessary degree of confidence established between nations and efforts should be directed towards that purpose. Soviets had made appropriate proposals on May 10. [Page 450]Cold war is incompatible with good relations between nations. Advisable to present UN with joint recommendation to adopt such a declaration or similar one directed to termination of cold war. Soviets also think it advisable for Conference to agree about need implement certain basic measures in disarmament field. Would be well record agreement achieved regarding levels of armed forces Five Great Powers. Soviets agreed to Western proposals for establishment levels for USA, USSR and China of one to one and one-half million and 650 thousand for UK and France. Matters relating to Chinese armed forces are of course subject consideration with participation CPR. Level for other nations should not exceed 150 to 200 thousand which should be agreed in appropriate international conference. Soviet Government has agreed prohibition atomic and hydrogen weapons should be carried through by stages. Soviet offered appropriate proposals drafted in consideration of positions of US, Britain and France, in draft resolution which submitted for consideration by Conference.5 Prior to entry into force agreement on full scale prohibition atomic and hydrogen weapons States should undertake not to use those weapons with exception purpose of defense against aggression, on decision of Security Council. Effective international controls should be established over measures to reduce armed forces and prohibit atomic weapons. Conference agreement on these matters would facilitate drafting of convention on disarmament in UN. Before any international convention is concluded which would require time, 4-Powers could agree not to be first to use atomic and hydrogen weapons against any country. Such agreement prior to complete prohibition would be big step forward in putting end to cold war.6

Bulganin then tabled Soviet draft resolution sent separately Secto 62.7

[Here follows a note in the source text which reads: “President then delivered statement on disarmament. Full text being sent by USIA.” Because of the importance of the statement the editors have included here the full text of President Eisenhower’s speech, as recorded in the United States Delegation record of the Fifth Plenary, USDEL/Verb/5, July 21. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 510)

[“President Eisenhower: Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, we are approaching here a very vast and complex subject, one that has troubled the minds of statesmen and soldiers for centuries. One could take a very great deal of time speaking of theory and philosophy in [Page 451]this matter. For my part, I think that each of us has formed his own conclusions in those fields and I want to try to bring this as nearly as I can to a practical basis. I don’t want to be discouraging and in talking of practical material steps I would try to indicate, if I possibly can, those that I think it is practicable for us now to take and that we can move ahead in this field.

[“Disarmament of course is one of the most important subjects on our agenda, and I note on the agenda that subject is listed as disarmament. Now, this is also an extremely difficult subject. In recent years scientists have discovered methods of making weapons many, many times more destructive of opposing armed forces, but also of homes, and industries and lives, than ever known or even imagined before. These same scientific discoveries have made more complex the problems of limitation and control and reduction of armament.

[“After our victory as Allies in World War II, my country rapidly disarmed. Within a few years our armament was at a very low level. Then events occurred beyond our borders which caused us to realize that we had disarmed too much. For our own security and to safeguard peace we needed greater strength. Therefore, we proceeded to rearm and to associate with others in a partnership for peace and for mutual security.

[“The American people are determined to maintain and, if necessary, increase this armed strength for as long a period as is necessary to safeguard peace and to maintain our security, but we know that a mutually dependable system for less armament on the part of all nations would be a better way to safeguard peace and to maintain our security.

[“It would ease the fears of war in the anxious hearts of people everywhere. It would lighten the burdens upon the backs of the people.

[“It would make it possible for every nation, great and small, developed and less developed, to advance the standards of living of its people, to attain better food, better clothing, better shelter, more of education and larger enjoyment of life.

[“Therefore, the United States Government is prepared to enter into a sound and reliable agreement making possible the reduction of armament. I have directed that an intensive and thorough study of this subject be made within our own Government. From these studies which are continuing a very important principle is emerging to which I referred in my opening statement on Monday.8

[“No sound and reliable agreement can be made unless it is completely covered by an inspection and reporting system adequate to support every portion of the agreement. The lessons of history teach [Page 452]us that disarmament agreements without adequate reciprocal inspection increase the dangers of war and do not brighten the prospects of peace.

[“Thus, it is my view that the priority attention of our combined study of disarmament should be upon the subject of inspection and reporting. Questions suggest themselves. How effective an inspection system can be designed which would be mutually and reciprocally acceptable within our countries and the other nations of the world? How would such a system operate? What could it accomplish?

[“Is certainty against surprise aggression attainable by inspection? Could violations be discovered promptly and effectively counteracted?

[“We have not as yet been able to discover any scientific or other inspection method which would make certain of the elimination of nuclear weapons. So far as we are aware no other nation has made such a discovery. Our study of this problem is continuing. We have not as yet been able to discover any accounting or other inspection method of being certain of the true budgetary facts of total expenditures for armament. Our study of this problem is continuing. We by no means exclude the possibility of finding useful checks in these fields.

[“As you can see from these statements, it is our impression that many past proposals of disarmament are more sweeping than can be insured by effective inspection.

[“Gentlemen, since I have been working on this little paper to present to this Conference, I have been searching my heart and mind for something that I could say here that could convince everyone of the great sincerity of the United States in approaching this problem of disarmament. I should address myself for a moment principally to the Delegates from the Soviet Union, because our two great countries possess, admittedly possess, this new and terrible weapon in quantities which do give rise in other parts of the world or reciprocally to the risks and dangers of surprise attack. I propose, therefore, that we take a practical step, and we begin an arrangement, very quickly, as between ourselves, immediately. These steps would include: To give to each other a complete blueprint of our military establishments, from beginning to end, from one end of our countries to the other, lay out the establishments and provide them to each other. Next, to provide within our countries facilities for aerial photography to the other country—we to provide you the facilities within our country, ample facilities for aerial reconnaissance, where you can make all the pictures you choose and take them to your own country to study; you to provide exactly the same facilities for us and we to make these examinations, and by this step to convince the world that we are providing as between ourselves against the possibility of great [Page 453]surprise attack, and so lessening the dangers, relaxing tensions, and making more easily attainable a more definite and comprehensive and better system of inspection and disarmament, because what I propose, I assure you, would, I think, be but a beginning.

[“Now, from my statements, I believe you will anticipate my suggestion. It is that we instruct our representatives in the Subcommittee on Disarmament in discharge of their mandate from the United Nations to give priority effort to the study of inspection and reporting. Such a study could well include a step by step testing of inspection and reporting methods.

[“The United States is ready to proceed in the study and testing of a reliable system of inspection and reporting, and when that system is proved, then to reduce armaments with all others to the extent that the system will provide assured results.

[“The successful working out of such a system would do much to develop the mutual confidence which will open wide the avenues of progress for all our peoples.

[“The quest for peace is the statesman’s most exacting duty. Security of the nation entrusted to his care is his greatest responsibility. Practical progress to lasting peace is his fondest hope. Yet in pursuit of his hope he must not betray the trust placed in him as guardian of the people’s security. A sound peace—with security, justice, well-being, and freedom for the people of the world—can be achieved, but only by patiently and thoughtfully following a hard and sure and tested road.

[“(The lights went out at 4:42 p.m.)

[“President Eisenhower: Well, I didn’t know I would put out the lights with that.

[“(Laughter.)”]9

[Page 454]

Faure spoke next. Stated he was affected by interesting and moving statement of President. Agreed that disarmament was issue which should be treated in entirely practical spirit. Greatest enemy of disarmament is skepticism and that is an attitude to be overcome. Should proceed along parallel tracks as advocated by President. First, devise practical measures to overcome problem and second overcome skepticism in this field. Believed President’s statement of over-riding importance. If people of world could have heard would agree that twenty-first of July marked change and opening of new course on question of disarmament. Faure paid tribute to work of UN Subcommittee. Believed work of Committee should not be interrupted by Conference and agreements that might be reached could be new impulse that work and arouse public support. Conference should give recommendations to representatives on Subcommittee. Question of control is at heart of question of disarmament. President’s conviction and examples he has given should be convincing that something can be done in particular field of control. This should not preclude other ways and means for control. Faure believed some advantages inherent in system budgetary control to eke out control by inspection. Inspection or supervision must have contractual or legal basis and on this point Faure wanted to express views.

Central point of disarmament consists in reductions but first must be agreement on a given level which cannot be exceeded. Faure believed it might be useful to have such arrangements preceded by previous stage of publicity about armaments. His proposal for publicity not meant delay agreements on limitation or reduction. But publicity could be immediately organized. States could make known publicly levels armed forces and military programs from both budgetary and physical points view. Inspection and controls could be applied check accuracy of statements. Publicity system would promote frankness and sincerity in relations between States, and provide element confidence prior to armaments reduction.

Faure repeated proposition of Monday that reduction of armaments should lead to transfer resources to peaceful purposes. Believed this would provide automatic penalty against violation because if country had agreed make contributions would have made these regardless whether had actually reduced armaments. Faure stated he would table French memorandum on disarmament tomorrow.10

Eden spoke next. Said UK like US had reduced forces after war and later reluctantly had had to engage in rearmament. As part of that rearmament UK had made atomic bomb and now engaged [Page 455]making hydrogen bomb. UK would like nothing better than comprehensive scheme disarmament. Eden referred Soviet proposals May 10. Welcomed proposals as including number points which UK and French had put forward and as bringing points view closer together. Hoped Soviet proposals and others would be pursued in UN Subcommittee at early date. Eden stated crucial point was necessity of establishing effective international control. Fully supported President’s principle that no disarmament plan acceptable which does not contain adequate system inspection and reporting. Believed disarmament difficult problem because complex on technical side and because bound up with international confidence.

Soviets were right in proposals of May 10 to link disarmament with reduction international tension since two closely connected. Should not wait until confidence so strong that general disarmament could be adopted all in one move. Objective must be approached by stages. We should make a start now.

Eden said was deeply moved by sincerity and warm feeling for peace which characterized President’s speech in putting forward proposals for exchange military information between US and USSR. If proposal could be adopted would make striking contribution to confidence between nations.

Endorsed Faure proposal for publicity and put forward his own proposal for setting up joint inspection of forces now confronting each other in Europe.11 There could be specified agreed area of fixed depth on either side of line dividing East and West Europe. Should be supervision by inspecting teams appointed by military commanders. Suggestion could be practical experience in inspection of armaments and might help to establish sense of security in Europe. His proposal and wider proposal made by President would not cut across work of UN Subcommittee, but supplementary proposals might give fresh impetus to that work.

Bulganin stated Conference had heard frank statements by Heads of Government which would no doubt be of importance to reaching favorable solutions on question disarmament. Asked whether might not be feasible instruct Foreign Ministers draft agreed recommendation to UN.

President stated thought Bulganin had described exactly the way to proceed with question.

Faure agreed with suggestions made on procedure summed up ideas emerging from discussion as first of all President’s idea of mutual inspection of military forces. Second, Eden’s proposal for inspection forces in Europe on either side of demarcation line. Third, proposal which Soviets had tabled and finally his own proposals for [Page 456]publicity about armaments and study of reductions and transfers of resources.

Eden agreed that Foreign Ministers should determine procedure for further handling these suggestions.

Conference agreed that Foreign Ministers should meet at 10 o’clock July 22.

Meeting adjourned at 5:45 p.m.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 524. Secret; Priority. Repeated to London, Paris, Moscow, and Bonn. Copies of the U.S. Delegation verbatim record, USDEL/Verb/5, July 21, and the record of decisions, CF/DOC/RD/8, July 22, for this session are ibid., CF 510.
  2. Circulated as CF/DOC/10, July 21, in the records of the conference.
  3. See Document 207.
  4. For text of the Soviet proposal of May 10, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, pp. 110–121, or Department of State Bulletin, May 30, 1955, pp. 900–905.
  5. For text of the Soviet proposal, see Document 252.
  6. The text of Bulganin’s statement was circulated as CF/DOC/12, July 21, in the records of the conference.
  7. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–2155) For text of the Soviet proposal, see Document 252.
  8. See Document 182.
  9. President Eisenhower’s statement was circulated as CF/DOC/16, July 21, in the records of the conference. The proposal for aerial inspection immediately became known as the “Open Skies” proposal and became an integral part of the U.S. position on disarmament.

    Its genesis lies in the Quantico Vulnerabilities Panel which met in June (see Document 134) and called for, inter alia, “free overflights of aircraft” (Part IV, paragraph 8) and “for a mutual inspection of military installations” (Appendix B). These concepts were subsequently discussed in Paris by Rockefeller, Radford, Stassen, Anderson, and Gruenther, who supported them, and recommended them to President Eisenhower in a telegram on Tuesday, July 19. (Eisenhower Library, White House Office, Geneva—Notes and Observations) President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles discussed the ideas further with Rockefeller, et al. when they arrived from Paris (see Document 208) and incorporated them into the text of the President’s speech on disarmament. All agreed to keep the proposal secret from the rest of the U.S. Delegation and the British and French, although hinting that such a statement might be made. (Eisenhower Library, C.D. Jackson Papers, Time File–Log 1955)

    For two accounts of the presentation of the speech, and the reaction immediately following it when the lights went out because of a thunderstorm, see Merchant, Recollections, p. 41, or the Diary of John D. Eisenhower for July 21. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File) For President Eisenhower’s account of this session, see Mandate for Change, pp. 520–521.

  10. See Document 255.
  11. See Document 254.