360. Telegram From the Delegation at the Foreign Ministers Meetings to the Department of State 1

Secto 271. 1. Twelfth Ministers session November 12 concluded disarmament discussion with four delegations agreeing exchange had been useful in defining areas of agreement and disagreement.

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2. Speaking in Pinay’s absence, De Margerie reiterated Western position. Other three Ministers declined to speak and meeting was recessed for one hour.

3. After recess Secretary reviewed disarmament debate,2 pointing out Western powers put emphasis on need for development of inspection and control whereas USSR stresses priority of reduction of arms and prohibition of nuclear weapons, relying on moral force of world opinion to insure compliance. Western powers do not feel moral sanctions are yet an adequate assurance and continue to seek effective inspection methods as part of prudent advance towards substantial reduction of arms. Secretary recalled point in his November 10 statement3 on possibility of finding effective means to control future output of nuclear weapon-grade material, despite special problem of accounting for past production, and suggested four powers and Canada might usefully study possibility.

4. Molotov returned to theme that most important task is to end arms race.4 Unless general agreement reached on this point, difficult to agree on details of disarmament. He admitted problem of technical difficulties, but argued for moral condemnation of nuclear weapons as way to move ahead. He called for four powers to declare they would not be first to use nuclear weapons and pointed to 1925 Geneva convention on chemical warfare as example of moral undertaking.

5. Secretary observed Soviet demand for mobilizing public opinion against nuclear weapons ran risk of being interpreted to mean other kinds of war all right and expressed hope that moral opinion could stop all kinds of war.5 Regarding 1925 Geneva convention Secretary asserted reason gas was not used was because of mutual deterrent rather than moral effect of convention on Hitler.

6. Molotov concluded by suggesting useful if four powers would express unanimously their intention to refrain from use of force.

7. Ministers will take up Item 3 Monday afternoon.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–1255. Secret; Priority. Repeated to London, Paris, and Moscow. Passed to Defense and the Mission at the United Nations. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the twelfth Foreign Ministers meeting, which took place at 10:30 a.m. on November 12, USDEL/Verb/12 (Corrected), and the record of decisions for the meeting, MFM/DOC/RD/12, both dated November 12, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 583.
  2. For text of Dulles’ statement, circulated as MFM/DOC/57, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 220–222.
  3. See Document 352.
  4. For text of Molotov’s statement, circulated as MFM/DOC/56, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 222–225.
  5. For text of Dulles’ second statement, circulated as MFM/DOC/58, see ibid., p.225.