352. Telegram From the Delegation at the Foreign Ministers Meetings to the Department of State1

Secto 251. 1. Tenth Ministers session November 10 began consideration disarmament with single round of statements.2 Molotov tabled Soviet resolution (Secto 2463) and Macmillan introduced Western proposal.4

2. Molotov speech noteworthy chiefly for (1) new criticism of President’s inspection proposal,5 (2) renewed notice USSR unwilling accept proposal dependent of comprehensive disarmament agreement, (3) failure to link President’s proposal and Soviet ground control plan.6 Review Soviet May 10 proposals and stressing areas of agreement, Molotov implied lack of progress result of US position. On problem of control, after praising Soviet plan as guarantee against surprise attack, he admitted existence technical difficulties, yet argued confidence could be developed nevertheless by agreement condemning nuclear weapons. On President’s proposal, he reiterated position that Soviet attitude would depend upon degree it (1) stopped arms race and (2) reduced danger of war. President’s proposal said to fail on both points. Molotov repeated Bulganin’s criticism that President’s plan does not cover US bases or allies. In addition, he charged aerial photography would involve enormous cost, would not guarantee against surprise attack since it does not embody ground control posts, and would increase tensions by providing foreign state with military information which might be used for surprise attack. Amplifying Bulganin’s letter to President,7 Molotov concluded USSR would regard US plan favorably as one form of control in connection with the “concluding stage” of implementation of an international [Page 745] agreement to reduce armaments and prohibit atomic weapons. Acceptance Faure plan8 similarly qualified. Eden pilot plan9 uncriticized and called worthy careful consideration.

3. Secretary emphasized necessity of building confidence and stressed President’s initiative in that connection. He underscored value of combining US and Soviet inspection plans as decisive first step toward improving international atmosphere. Although combined system no cure-all, it would be unprecedented in history and could signal end of arms race. Pointing to US demobilization record as evidence US peaceful purposes, Secretary asserted US learned hard way the need to remain strong. He warned US will maintain strength until USSR helps restore confidence, but US continues seek comprehensive system for reduction armaments under effective inspection and control. Foreign Ministers can best contribute by improving atmosphere. Detailed negotiations in UN subcommittee need face realities, recognizing inspection and control crux of problem, but no effective system for nuclear weapons present known.

4. Pinay called for recognition basic facts: disarmament impossible without effective controls and disarmament presupposes disappearance of mistrust. Accordingly, under present circumstances, necessary to recognize objectively that we are not in position to set up general disarmament plan. Consequently most fruitful course is to seek agreement on certain preliminary measures which might later be joined in comprehensive scheme. These preliminary measures would not be inconsequential and once implemented would contribute to security and confidence. As examples, Pinay listed (1) combined US and Soviet inspection plans, (2) Faure budget-review proposal, (3) Eden pilot plan, (4) UN subcommittee consideration technical difficulties inherent in nuclear control.

5. Recalling Soviet admission of possibility for evading nuclear control, Macmillan launched frontal attack against concept of comprehensive disarmament plan at this time. To admit possibility of evasion and at same time call for total abolition nuclear weapons called misleading. In absence of effective control, agreement to abolish nuclear weapons would involve unacceptable risks, since, unlike conventional weapon slight margin of error or deception would have decisive effect. Until means of effective control are discovered, acceptance of complete nuclear disarmament would contribute to false sense of security. Conclusion of all-embracing convention bound to be protracted by need to increase confidence and develop scientific detection. Accordingly, more limited preliminary agreement suggested, including (1) installment disarmament which might achieve a balance [Page 746] of forces—principally conventional—at reduced levels, thereby helping to reduce tensions and taxes yet not endanger security either side, (2) confidence—build pilot schemes, such as merger US and Soviet inspection proposals.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–1155. Secret; Priority. Repeated to London, Paris, Bonn, Moscow, and the Mission at the United Nations. Passed to Defense. Copies of the U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the tenth meeting of the Foreign Ministers, which was held at 4 p.m. on November 10, USDel/Verb/10 Corrected, and the record of decisions, MFM/DOC/RD/10, both dated November 10, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 581.
  2. For texts of the statements by the four Foreign Ministers, circulated as MFM/DOC/46, 48, 49, and 50, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 177–184 and 186–199, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 110–125.
  3. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–1055) For text of the Soviet proposal, circulated as MFM/DOC/45, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 184–186, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 131–132.
  4. For text of the Western proposal, circulated as MFM/DOC/47, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 199–201, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 132–133.
  5. For text of President Eisenhower’s “Open Skies” proposal, see Document 221.
  6. For text of the Soviet proposal of May 10, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, pp. 110–121.
  7. For text of this letter, September 19, see Department of State Bulletin, October 24, 1955, pp. 644–647, or Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, pp. 139–144.
  8. See Document 253.
  9. See Document 254.