27. Memorandum of a Conversation, New York, May 11, 19551


  • Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General, United Nations
  • Ambassador Morehead Patterson, S/IAE
  • Mr. William Hall, USUN
  • Mr. Eric Stein, S/IAE
[Page 82]


  • Review of Negotiations for International Atomic Energy Agency

Ambassador Patterson called on the Secretary General to inform him of the progress in the negotiations for an International Atomic Energy Agency. Ambassador Patterson reviewed the debate in the General Assembly last fall and said that following the adoption of the General Assembly resolution2 the U.S. exchanged ideas with other governments and a draft of a Statute was given to the seven states of the negotiating group.3 Subsequently these states were given certain supplementary provisions which were omitted from the original draft. Under the Statute the Agency will begin operating as a broker but the Board of Governors will have the authority to set up the necessary facilities for receiving and storing fissionable material at such time as it will be considered advisable. The draft Statute is a simple document based upon the idea that the Agency should be set up as quickly as possible; membership in the Agency would not impose any specific obligations and as many problems as possible would be left for decision by the Board of Governors once the Agency was a going concern. Mr. Stein added that the five governments4 were asked to let us have their comments by the end of this month; when these comments are received we would hope to have a document agreed to in principle by the entire negotiating group, at which point we were thinking of extending the consultation to other members of the UN.

Mr. Hammarskjold expressed great pleasure at the progress of the negotiations. He said that the Agency must of necessity start as a brokerage enterprise and that it was most gratifying that the Agency would be given the authority, if and when circumstances warrant it, to go beyond the brokerage function; the important thing was to provide an opportunity for growth and development. He said that he was officially interested in two aspects: (1) that there be an efficient agency; and (2) in the tie between the UN and the Agency. He was entirely in agreement with our concept of seeking an agreement in principle within a small group so that the document on which broader consultations are held would have some standing; it will be made clear that the broader consultations will not be allowed to delay or impair the establishment of an efficient agency. He was delighted to hear that we were contemplating to consult with other UN members because that would [Page 83] ease his problem with India and with others. He referred to the recent protest he had received from the Indian Representative concerning the lack of information on the present negotiations5 and he felt that unless the Indians were given some satisfaction they will again seek to assume the role of mediator between the Soviets and the West and generally be troublesome. He said the Indians obviously were curious and would like to play a part in the negotiations. He said that the Indian Representative requested him to circulate the Indian protest to all members but that he talked the Indian out of it. However, it will be necessary for the Secretary General to reply to the Indian letter and the ideal reply would be to the effect that the Secretary General (a) was studying the problem of the relationship between the proposed Agency and the UN and (b) was told by the U.S. Government that broader consultations on the Agency’s Statute were contemplated in due course.

The Secretary General thought it was important for him to initiate a study of the UN–Agency relationship in close cooperation with the U.S., so that the General Assembly debate next fall, which might very well concentrate on this point, could be given some acceptable direction. He felt that the Agency should not be a specialized agency of the UN, one reason being that specialized agencies have to report to the ECOSOC and this would not be a good idea in the case of the Atomic Energy Agency; in a sense the formal tie between the UN and the specialized agencies was too close; on the other hand, the “substantive” tie in the practical sense between the UN and the new Agency should be closer than the presently existing tie between the UN and the specialized agencies.

Ambassador Patterson said that we have been proceeding on the assumption that the relationship between the UN and the new Agency would be determined only after the Agency was established. Mr. Stein pointed out that there was a provision in the draft Statute which would authorize the Board of Governors to develop an arrangement with the UN. Both Mr. Hall and Mr. Stein pointed out that we would want to consider further the idea of a Secretariat study and that the problem of timing and publicity in connection with any such study was particularly important.

Mr. Hammarskjold said that he had been surprised by the degree of cooperation he has been getting from the Russian scientists Skobeltsyn6 and Vavilov7 in organizing the Geneva Scientific Conference; with a bit of special handling he had managed to carry them along [Page 84] step by step on the entire arrangement; they have been paying lip service to their instructions and have been acting independently of their instructions. He was wondering whether it would not be a good idea for him to seek their support for Russian participation in the Agency.

Mr. Hall wondered whether these scientists in fact deviated from their instructions.

Ambassador Patterson said that he was not acquainted with the negotiations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. on the Agency since these negotiations have been handled separately. Mr. Stein added that as was announced by the Department of State, we handed a Note on this subject to the Russians a few weeks ago,8 and the ball, therefore, was in the Soviet court. Ambassador Patterson thought that it was not very likely that the Russians would want to come into the Agency, at least at the start; we propose to have the Agency established and going and the Russians might choose to come in at a later date.

Mr. Hammarskjold thought that the Russians might conclude that they would have to pay too high a price for staying out; they might decide to come in at once or later on as they did in connection with the technical assistance program; he was, however, very much concerned that we do not end up with two agencies—a Western one and a Russian one; this, he thought, would be very bad.

Returning to Ambassador Patterson’s statement that members of the Agency will not undertake any specific obligations when joining the Agency, Mr. Hammarskjold thought that there was an important policy question as to whether the emphasis will be put upon bilateral agreements in the atomic energy field or upon Agency operations; he hoped that the Agency would not be considered solely as means to obtain UN blessing for a program of bilateral agreements.

Ambassador Patterson said that we were in the process of negotiating several bilateral agreements as an intermediary program and pending the negotiations for the Agency. He said that we have not yet worked out the prospective relationship between the Agency and the bilateral agreements but that it might well be possible in some instances for the Agency to take over the servicing of the bilateral agreements; on the other hand, it has never been contemplated that the Agency would serve as an exclusive medium in this field.

Mr. Hammarskjold wondered how he could be helpful in the next stages of negotiations for the Agency; he thought, for example, that he might distribute to the UN members the draft Statute agreed to by the eight governments. He said that he would like to follow up this question and the question of the UN–Agency tie study with Mr. Hall. He expressed his appreciation for this exchange of views.

  1. Source: Department of State, USUN Files, Atomic Energy, 1955. Confidential. Drafted by Stein.
  2. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 810 (IX); see footnote 7, Document 20.
  3. Given to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Belgium, South Africa, Portugal, and France on March 29. (Department of State, Atomic Energy Files: Lot 57 D 688, IAEA—General)
  4. A March 30 memorandum from Spiers to Popper indicated that the draft of the statute was developed in close consultation with the British and Canadian representatives and then distributed to the other five negotiating states. (Ibid.) Presumably Stein is referring to the same five governments.
  5. Not found in Department of State files.
  6. D.V. Skobeltsyn, Soviet nuclear and cosmic ray physicist.
  7. Reference is either to V.S. Vavilov, Soviet physicist, or P.P. Vavilov, Chairman, Komi Affiliate, Siberian Department and Regional Affiliates of the USSR Academy of Scientists.
  8. Document 20.