456. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations1

647. Re: Outer Space.

1. Dept has noted recent USUN Daily Classified Summary2 comments reporting views other nations questioning ability Ad Hoc Committee do meaningful work without USSR participation.

2. Dept presently studying alternative methods implementing UK suggestion additional approach be made induce USSR participate.3Dept will inform Mission when decision reached.

3. Whether or not additional approach results USSR participation (and Dept believes such participation useful) even without Soviet participation Dept foresees likelihood effective Committee operation within terms resolution which limits Committee action to reporting back to 14th GA on four aspects outer space problems.

4. We believe it is important to counter view that Committee could not do effective job without Soviet participation. Following background for Mission use in discussing this. Specifically, Committee required to:

(a) Prepare survey activities and resources UN or specialized agencies and other international bodies involved peaceful uses outer space. Dept already has completed preliminary survey UN and specialized agencies resources and activities and with cooperation National Science Foundation survey activities non-governmental international [Page 882] groups, i.e., ICSU and COSPAR, presently underway. All this information available and can easily be included in solid Committee report without USSR participation.

(b) Suggest possible programs which might be undertaken by UN this field. US proposals being developed cooperation with NASA and National Academy Sciences. Although USSR contribution this area would be useful, lack USSR participation no way bars Committee studying and effectively surveying wide-range programs all of which could be described in full in Committee’s report. Moreover, many Committee members besides US are in position contribute knowledge and ideas on wide range of subjects within Committee purview.

(c) Make recommendations future organizational arrangements within framework UN to handle outer space problems. Dept exploring various organizational possibilities and preliminary position paper in process formulation. Lack USSR participation insofar making recommendations next GA concerning possible future UN organizational structure provides no impediment.

(d) identify nature legal problems involved outer space. Dept with NASA presently preparing survey and believes Committee can make useful report on this aspect to 14th GA with or without USSR participation.

5. Dept believes political objective of negating Soviet efforts impose boycott on GA actions can be accomplished by Committee producing useful work within terms resolution. This apparently lost sight of by some Committee members who overlook limitations placed on Committee by resolution, i.e., that Committee prepare surveys and recommendations for consideration next GA.

6. Dept believes that should Committee make meaningful recommendations to 14th GA resulting passage new resolution designed implement Committee recommendations, lack of USSR participation whatever subsequent organization designated carry out recommendations could be critical since lack USSR participation such organization could conceivably limit effectiveness. However, this is future problem and useful work present Committee may well serve convince USSR that it is in their own interest participate implementation this Committee’s recommendations. In fact, experience indicates best prospect securing eventual Soviet participation would be demonstration UN capable fruitful work outer space field regardless Soviet participation. This point made evident history IAEA development. If such recommendations reasonable and useful, USSR failure participate might be interpreted as display intransigence and petulance and publicly demonstrate real lack interest furthering peaceful uses outer space.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 320.5701/1–2059. Confidential. Drafted by Grand; cleared by Becker, Murphy, Farinholt, Nunley, and S/AE; and approved by Bruns who signed for Dulles.
  2. Copies of the Mission’s Daily Classified Summaries are ibid., 310.5; but the particular summary has not been identified.
  3. On January 9, C.D. Wiggin, First Secretary of the British Embassy, informed the Department of State that one more effort should be made to secure Soviet participation in the committee before its first meeting. (Memorandum of conversation; ibid., 320.5701/1–959)