101. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)1

SUBJECT

  • Proposed Policy of the United States on the Question of Disarmament
1.
In their memorandum to you dated 20 January 1956,2 subject as above, the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted their comments on a report by the Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament scheduled for consideration by the National Security Council at its meeting on 26 January 1956.3
2.
During the past year, the Special Assistant to the President has, pursuant to his assigned functions, circulated a number of reports for comments of the interested departments and agencies. It is understood that another report is about ready for release which will recommend a United States position with respect to a comprehensive inspection system. The Joint Chiefs of Staff feel that, in commenting on these reports and at the same time submitting their views on comments by other agencies of the Government, their basic position on the question of disarmament risks being obscured. Further, the necessity for formulating a United States negotiating position for forthcoming disarmament talks, with attendant pressures, will compel basic Council decisions in the very near future. In the light of the foregoing, they [Page 284]consider it necessary to present at the 26 January meeting of the Council, a more positive approach than is embodied in their more recent comments.
3.
Attached hereto is a brief statement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff relative to the problem of disarmament, which includes a concise and simplified statement of United States policy. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that this statement with its Appendix, as approved by you, be presented for consideration by the National Security Council at its 26 January meeting. It is to be noted that paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the simplified statement of United States policy in the Appendix hereto are essentially paragraphs (1), (2) and (3) agreed to by the National Security Council in NSC Action Number 1419b. For this reason, they were not reworded, although the Joint Chiefs of Staff would prefer that paragraphs 1 and 2 be combined and modified to read as follows:

“1. Continue intensive efforts to resolve current major international issues to such an extent as to indicate evidence of Soviet sincerity as a prerequisite to:

“2. Seeking an international system for the regulation and reduction of ALL armaments and armed forces, taking into account the President’s proposal for an international pool of atomic materials for “peaceful use’, under an adequately safeguarded and comprehensive plan.”

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Arthur Radford4
Chairman

[Attachment]

BRIEF STATEMENT OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF RELATIVE TO THE PROBLEM OF DISARMAMENT

1.
With the termination of hostilities in 1945 the United States disarmed at a precipitous rate; Soviet military capability was not reduced comparably. By 1950 our military forces were down to the lowest level they had been since before World War II and moreover, by that time, the Soviets had developed an atomic bomb. During this five-year period, while the United States was sponsoring effective disarmament efforts in various ways, and while Soviet conventional military strength was pre-eminent, the governments of ten countries, with a population of nearly 700 million people, were overthrown and Communist regimes installed.
2.
When our military forces were at their lowest level the Communists commenced hostilities in Korea. Our initial weak military posture increased the time and effort required to terminate those hostilities. During the period 1950 to 1955, despite a Communist-initiated and Soviet-supported war, the United States continued its efforts, largely through the United Nations, to bring about an effective disarmament arrangement.
3.
Recent United States actions in the disarmament field include:
a.
A National Security Council decision5 on 30 June 1955, which agreed the United States should: (1) actively seek an international system for regulation and reduction of armaments, (2) concurrently make intensive efforts to resolve other major international issues, and (3) meanwhile continue the steady development of strength in the United States and the Free World coalition;
b.
On the same date the President directed5 Mr. Stassen to (1) develop feasible methods of inspection that would be acceptable on a reciprocal basis, (2) modify his (Mr. Stassen’s) proposed plan to conform with such an inspection system, (3) take into account the President’s proposals6 for an international pool of atomic materials for peaceful purposes, and (4) further report to the President and Council after these steps had been completed;
c.
At Geneva the President proposed7 that the Soviet Union and United States exchange complete blueprints of their military establishments and provide within their countries facilities for aerial photography; and asserted that” … 8 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 … “;
d.
The acceptance of United Nations Resolution9 of 12 December10 which urges States concerned (1) to continue their endeavors to reach agreement on a comprehensive disarmament plan, and (2) as initial steps to give priority to early agreement on and implementation of (a) confidence-building measures, such as the President’s “blueprint” plan, and (b) all such measures of adequately safeguarded disarmament as are now feasible.
4.
During the past ten years, while sponsoring disarmament on an international basis, the United States has practiced it at home. Ample proof has been given to the world that our position has been inflexible [Page 286]only in the requirement for a foolproof system which would insure compliance with agreements. Soviet tactics permit no other realistic procedure.
5.
Today Europe remains divided, insurrection smolders from Morocco to Egypt, the situation in the Middle East is critical, the Communists are making inroads in South and Southeast Asia, conditions in Korea and Vietnam are unstable, and hostilities threaten in the Taiwan area. These and other recent events give no justification for a view that the Communist objectives have changed, or that the Soviets are now willing in fact to scale down their military capability. They also influence materially the political thinking of the remaining Free World nations, and add to the feeling of insecurity among those that continue determined to resist Communist aggression. The strength and moral leadership of the United States are the indispensable factors in the several collective security arrangements. The military strength of the United States continues to be the major deterrent to aggression. Our military posture for the “long pull” was and is designed to meet these purposes.
6.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff therefore conclude that United States disarmament policy must give assurance, beyond question, that any plan derived therefrom would not diminish the security of the United States.
7.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff submit for consideration a policy11 which they feel, from a military security aspect, would permit such a plan to be developed.

Appendix

UNITED STATES POLICY ON DISARMAMENT

1.
Actively seek an international system for the regulation and reduction of ALL armaments and armed forces, taking into account the President’s proposal for an international pool of atomic materials for “peaceful use”, under an adequately safeguarded and comprehensive plan.
2.
Concurrently make intensive efforts to resolve other major international issues.
3.
Meanwhile, continue the steady development of strength in the United States and the Free World coalition required for United States security.
4.
Continue to press for the implementation of the President’s Geneva Proposal as a first priority objective of United States disarmament policy.
5.
Avoid the regulation of nuclear weapons, their means of delivery or tests, except as a part of the final phase of a comprehensive disarmament arrangement.
6.
Recognize that the acceptability and character of any international plan for the regulation and reduction of armed forces and armaments depends primarily on the scope and effectiveness of the safeguards against violations and evasions, and especially the inspection system.
7.
Emphasize that “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, THEN12 to reduce armaments with all others to the extent that the system will provide assured results”.
8.
Accelerate United States efforts to elicit favorable world opinion as regards the sincerity, soundness, and objectivity of our disarmament proposals derived from United States policy.
  1. Source: Department of State, Disarmament Files: Lot 58 C 133, Disarmament Policy. Top Secret. No drafting information is given on the source text.
  2. Document 95.
  3. See Document 103.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.
  5. NSC Action 1419. [Footnote in the source text.]
  6. NSC Action 1419. [Footnote in the source text.]
  7. State Department Bulletin, dated 27 April 1953. [Footnote in the source text.]
  8. State Department Bulletin, dated 4 August 1955. [Footnote in the source text.]
  9. All ellipses are in the source text.
  10. State Department Bulletin, dated 9 January 1956. [Footnote in the source text.]
  11. Regarding the U.N. resolution on disarmament, adopted by the First Committee on December 12, 1955, and approved as Resolution 914 (X) by the General Assembly on December 16, see Document 88.
  12. Appendix hereto. [Footnote in the source text.]
  13. Capitalized for emphasis. [Footnote in the source text.]