446. Preliminary Notes on the Operations Coordinating Board Meeting, Washington, October 15, 19581

[Here follows discussion of items 1–7: international fairs, Yemen, the Pioneer lunar probe, nuclear tests, South Africa, Burma, and Jordan.]

8. Preliminary U.S. Programs for International Cooperation in Outer Space Activities

(The OCB Working Group on Outer Space had prepared a draft report2 for possible use in instructing the USUN delegation. At a pre-meeting briefing, a working group draft was discussed by Under Secretary Herter with senior representatives of L, IO, S/AE. It was their determination that the views expressed could be taken into account in a redraft of the paper for the October 22 meeting.)

The Board had a general discussion of the subject, including certain procedural aspects of the Space Council–OCB relationship. It was noted that the Space Council will meet on October 28 and that Under Secretary Herter would probably report to it the action taken by the OCB at its next meeting.

Governor Herter opened the discussion by pointing out that we are entering a new field and the present knowledge of it does not permit the giving of guidance in more than general terms. Mr. Franklyn W. Phillips (NASA) concurred in this view. He thought, for example, that rather than now issue an invitation to foreign scientists to participate in some of our programs, we should only express a readiness to extend such invitations.

Mr. Harr, Vice Chairman, said he did not see how the U.S. could avoid being confronted at the UN with two basic views which would be expressed by a majority: (1) outer space should be reserved for peaceful uses only, and (2) nothing in outer space can be appropriated or claimed by any nation. He also said he saw no effective way for the U.S. to counter the UN Secretary General’s suggestion that the UN[Page 867]“look ahead toward agreement on a basic rule that outer space and the celestial bodies are not considered as capable of appropriation by any state.” He said he had heard the views of Mr. Becker, Legal Adviser of State, that the U.S. should not acquiesce in having the UN try to make international law on outer space on which the facts are few and our defense needs therein unclear but that it should become formed by the usual process based on facts and issues. He was in agreement with the legal soundness of such views but thought the U.S. would be politically vulnerable in the UN if it should seek to uphold it.

Governor Herter thought it not possible in the present state of knowledge of outer space to set down detailed instructions for U.S. representatives but welcomed ideas. Mr. Allen (USIA) said the U.S. would look “foolish” if it should say that “no one owns the moon.” Mr. Gray suggested that we might wish to reserve on stating a firm U.S. position on outer space, pointing out, with a smile, the impropriety of citing the NSC policy paper3 to the UN.

It was agreed that the Working Group should revise the draft report in the light of the discussion and that the public members of the Space Council should be given a copy of it in its final form prior to the Council meeting.

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430. Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Document 442.