372. Memorandum of a Conversation, Geneva, November 15, 1955, 10:15 a.m.1



  • USSR
    • Mr. Molotov
    • Mr. Sobolev
    • Mr. Troyanovsky
  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Governor Stassen
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Ambassador Bohlen

The Secretary handed Mr. Molotov a draft of the Tripartite proposal for a statement on Disarmament, which was translated into Russian by Troyanovsky. The Secretary said this was a suggestion on [Page 781] behalf of the Foreign Ministers of the UK, US and France. No doubt Mr. Molotov would wish to study it but if he had any immediate questions he would be glad to try and answer them.

Mr. Molotov inquired if it would not be a good idea to make reference to the proposals on the subject made by the Heads of Government last July—those of President Eisenhower, Bulganin, Faure and Eden. He thought it would be a good idea to take these into account. The Secretary replied that they had made references to these proposals of the Heads of Government in their Tripartite proposal2 but since this had seemed unacceptable to the Soviet Delegation it had seemed best to leave it out in the present formulation. If, however, the Soviet Delegation was prepared to accept the original formulation on this point of the three Western Powers, that could be considered. The failure to mention this point in this draft did not in any sense mean that the proposals of the Heads of Government had been wiped out, since they were specified in the Directive3 which was in the first instance directed to the Subcommittee, and our representatives there will continue to be guided by it. They were instructed by the Heads of Government to carry out the Directive and will still be bound. Mr. Molotov said he wanted to refer to the Subcommittee in a moment but first he had a further comment on the point under discussion. It might not be possible to decide now whether to take the Soviet4 or Tripartite formulation on this point but they could decide in principle that it would be useful to mention the proposals of the Heads of Government. They might try to work out a formula which would be acceptable to all four. The Secretary said they would be glad to consider any thoughts that Mr. Molotov had in regard to such a formulation. He assumed, however, that the instructions to the Subcommittee still stood. It had appeared to them that the Tripartite formula on this point was unacceptable to the Soviet Delegation and the Soviet formulation was unacceptable to them. It involved questions of order and emphasis. Mr. Molotov remarked that without a reference to this point their communiqué on Disarmament would not have much content. He thought the provisions in the proposals on this subject by the Heads of Government were important and they might be mentioned in such a way as not to commit any party.

As to the Subcommittee he inquired if there was any need to refer to it in this draft. Its organization was composed of representatives of the Four Powers and Canada and he assumed that their representatives [Page 782] would be guided by the views of the four Ministers. For example, Mr. Stassen and Mr. Sobolev who were present would certainly carry out the instructions of their Ministers and the same was true for the representatives of France and the UK. The Secretary replied that he assumed that the Directive of the Heads of Government, which was primarily directed to the Subcommittee, still stood. The Ministers had not been charged with the Disarmament question but only to take note of the work of the Subcommittee and to try and move it forward and help its work by discussions here. He assumed that the Directive still stood and that the Subcommittee was the chief body dealing with Disarmament. If the Soviet Government had any different views on this point he would like to hear them. Mr. Molotov said there is no doubt but that the Subcommittee is charged with these questions but that there is another question now whether the whole question should be narrowed down to the Subcommittee alone or whether as the Heads of Government had done while stressing the work of the Subcommittee the Ministers also were instructed to work on the question.

At this point the meeting broke up in order to attend the session of the conference. Mr. Molotov said he would give study to the Tripartite proposal.


Paper Prepared by the United States Delegation


Guided by the desire to contribute to lessening international tension, strengthening confidence between states and reducing the burden of armaments.

The Foreign Ministers of the Soviet Union, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the French Republic remain convinced of the need to continue to seek agreement on a comprehensive program for disarmament which will promote international peace and security with the least diversion for armament of the world’s human and economic resources.

Their discussions showed that, while there was agreement on this objective, it was not yet possible to reach agreement on effective methods and safeguards for achieving it.

The Ministers will transmit the record of these discussions to their representatives on the United Nations Disarmament Sub-Committee. [Page 783] They believe that their exchange of views has been useful in clarifying their respective positions and should assist the Sub-Committee in its efforts to reach agreement.

In the meantime the Ministers agree that the studies of methods of control which are now proceeding in different countries should be designed to facilitate a settlement of the disarmament problem.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 586. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen.
  2. For text of the tripartite proposal on disarmament, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 199–201, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 132–133.
  3. Document 257.
  4. For text of the Soviet proposal on disarmament, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 184–186, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 131–132.