375. Memorandum of a Conversation, Molotov’s Suite, Palais des Nations, Geneva, November 15, 1955, 6:15 p.m.1



  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Gov. Stassen
    • Amb. Bohlen
  • USSR
    • Mr. Molotov
    • Mr. Sobolev
    • Mr. Troyanovsky


  • Disarmament
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The Secretary said that Mr. Macmillan, M. Pinay and he had examined the Soviet draft on disarmament and did not find it acceptable.2 There were a number of reasons. Among others, it seemed to replace the directive to the Subcommittee from the Heads of Government and to turn over to the Four Powers, together with “other interested states” which were not named, a new formula. In the earlier part of the draft, he said, the positions regarding the prohibition of atomic weapons had become closer. He did not know that this was true. It was possible that the Soviet position had become closer to ours, but there was nothing to show that.

The reference to the proposals of the Heads of Government were identical with that in the original Soviet draft which he had already told Mr. Molotov was not acceptable.3 The last paragraph is new, and he was authorized to say that, if the tripartite proposal he had given Mr. Molotov is acceptable, the three Powers were willing to add the paragraph to the effect that they were in accord to renounce the use of force, except when not in conformity with the Charter of the U.N.

Mr. Molotov said that in regard to Mr. Dulles’ first point regarding the other states concerned that meant the other members of the U.N. since all were interested. It might, however, be better to leave out those words, i.e. “other interested states.”

In regard to the reference to atomic weapons, they had assumed that, in accepting the three Powers’ proposal, the prohibition of atomic weapons would enter into force when 75% of the agreed reduction of conventional armaments had gone into effect. He thought this indicated that their positions had come closer.

The Secretary said that this was not a correct assumption.

Mr. Molotov said that he assumed it since they had accepted the three Powers’ proposal, but if the assumption was wrong, he would have to take that into consideration. He said they would consider the proposed amendment to the last paragraph.

Regarding the proposals of the Heads of Government—paragraphs a, b, c, and d, reference is made to the Directive which is not in the first Soviet draft and it, therefore, leaves the list of proposals in the context of the Directive. The Western draft did not make any mention of the proposals of the Heads of Government and he inquired whether it would not be possible to mention them.

The Secretary replied in the affirmative, provided they were stated in the form quoted in the original tripartite proposal.

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Mr. Molotov remarked that the formulation was not quite exact. For example, the Soviet proposal was not limited to the question of control points, which were merely a part of a comprehensive plan. He inquired whether there was any objection to mentioning the Soviet proposals of May 10 and July 21.4

The Secretary said they would object to their being mentioned first.

Mr. Molotov answered that they were still proposals of the Heads of Government.

The Secretary explained that this formulation would mean the examination, in the first instance, of the prohibition of atomic weapons which they were not prepared to start with.

Mr. Molotov said the item had been listed by the title of the Soviet proposal, which contained not only the question of the prohibition of atomic weapons but many other points. He said the tripartite draft makes no mention of atomic weapons and this was not acceptable. He said also that any draft which ignored the proposals of the Heads of Government would not commend itself to them.

The Secretary pointed out that the Directive was to the Subcommittee and they could not change it.

Mr. Molotov said that the Directive was not only to the Subcommittee but also to the Foreign Ministers. (He sent out for the Directive and in the interval asked the Secretary if he had any suggestions on other items of the agenda of the conference: for example, point 1. The Secretary replied in the negative.)

Mr. Molotov then read from the Directive, the instructions to the Ministers to take note of the work of the Subcommittee and to take into account the views of the Heads of Government.

The Secretary said that he thought we had already fulfilled that but the second part of the Directive was directed to the Subcommittee.

Mr. Molotov said since they had not finished and reached no agreement that they must continue to take into account the view and proposals of the Heads of Government.

The Secretary agreed that they must be taken into consideration since they came from our superiors, and assumed that when the Heads of Government instructed the Ministers and members of the Subcommittee to take into consideration certain questions, this would be done by both.

Mr. Molotov remarked that this was all the more reason to make reference in the draft to the proposal from the Heads of Government.

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The Secretary said it would, of course, be possible to merely repeat the words of the Directive, instructing the Ministers and the Subcommittee, but this would hardly mark a step forward.

Mr. Molotov said that if they did not stress the proposal of the Heads of Government they would not be fulfilling their duty.

The Secretary replied that, so far as he and Mr. Stassen were concerned, that they would be guided by the instructions received from President Eisenhower and it was not necessary to repeat them.

Mr. Molotov said that there could be no doubt of that but public opinion should be taken into account.

The Secretary stated that all the French and British delegations had authorized him to say was that this draft is unacceptable, and he had given some reasons. In addition, he was authorized to state that, if the tripartite draft were accepted by the Soviet government, they could accept the last paragraph, with the addition to the reference to the Charter of the U.N.

Mr. Molotov said he felt that that would be a step backward from the Directive received from the Heads of Government.

The Secretary remarked that, perhaps, in that case, as in others, they could only agree to disagree. Mr. Molotov replied that possibly it would be something to think over if they could not reach agreement on such an elementary thing as the reference to the proposals of the Heads of Government contained in the Directive. He thought that they could not weaken the Directive.

The Secretary said that they had no authority to weaken or detract from the Directive.

Mr. Molotov agreed that they were not authorized to weaken the Directive from the Heads of Government in any way.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 586. Secret. Drafted by Bohlen on November 16.
  2. For text of the Soviet proposal on disarmament, circulated as MFM/DOC/69, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 225–226, or Cmd. 9633, pp. 133–134.
  3. See the attachment to Document 359.
  4. For text of the Soviet proposal of May 10, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, pp. 110–121; for the proposal of July 21, see Document 252.