313. Memorandum From Walmsley (IO) to Herter1

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  • United States Position in the Security Council on the Soviet Complaint of April 18, 1958

Present instructions to Ambassador Lodge call for completion of consideration of the Soviet complaint in the Security Council as expeditiously as possible. As yet it is unclear whether the USSR intends to submit a resolution. If not, we continue to believe expeditious disposition of the Soviet item, without any resolution, is the preferable course of action. Submission of a resolution, in the absence of a Soviet resolution, does prolong Council action in circumstances where not too much political mileage will be gained.

Moreover, our submission of a resolution has certain disadvantages: (a) there is a strong risk that the USSR will seek Council endorsement of a summit meeting to deal with this and other outstanding issues among the Great Powers (although the USSR may do this in any event); (b) introduction of a resolution dealing with procedures to cover surprise attack or calling for a meeting of the Disarmament Commission risks opening up the overall disarmament problem, thereby providing an opportunity for the USSR to introduce a resolution calling for an independent test ban, a move that would embarrass us and our friends; (c) even with the Security Council weighted in our favor so that we can prevent adoption of a test ban resolution, Council failure to act on this issue might precipitate a move for a special Assembly session. In particular, the United States would have to oppose a Soviet proposal endorsing the unconditional convening of a summit meeting.

If the USSR submits a resolution, there are three alternatives open to us: (a) to reject outright any Soviet resolution submitted; (b) to amend any Soviet resolution; (c) to press for a resolution of our own. Whether outright rejection of the Soviet proposal is a desired course of action depends specifically upon its content. If, for example, the Soviet text is a clumsy attempt to condemn the United States, the Council members would reject it. However, if the resolution is of a more anodyne character, such as a bland endorsement of the need for peaceful and neighborly relations among states, the Council members might be reluctant to reject it outright. The possibility of amending any Soviet resolution depends upon its character. Even if amended and the USSR still votes for it, it will remain as a Soviet initiative, for which the USSR will claim future credit.

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There are, however, advantages to having a resolution, at least on a contingent basis in the event any Soviet proposal is of such a character that its outright defeat would be difficult. In particular, such an alternative resolution would have some or all of the following advantages: (a) to seize the initiative and turn pressure upon the USSR; (b) to maintain a United Nations link with subsequent consideration of the issue of disarmament; (c) to dramatize Soviet intransigence; (d) to maintain the integrity of the Assembly’s resolution on disarmament; (e) to broaden the narrow scope of the Soviet complaint and focus attention on the entire complex of disarmament issues.

The attached draft resolution (TAB 1) has been prepared to stress the Secretary’s interest in an inspection system for the northern zone, but within the disarmament package of August 29, 1957.

It is assumed that it would not be possible, in the time available, to separate out the aerial inspection proposal without a new decision of the United States Government, consultations with France, the United Kingdom and Canada who are associated with the August 29 package, and discussion with Canada and Denmark whose territory would be involved in any Northern Zone proposal. We have nevertheless prepared a draft resolution (Tab 2) covering this possibility.

To counter a possible Soviet proposal for a summit conference we have prepared a draft resolution (TAB 3) stressing the United States position on the need for preparatory diplomatic exchanges. The substance of this draft resolution could also be used to amend a Soviet proposal if this tactic should be desirable.

Tab 1

Draft Resolution

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The Security Council

Having considered the complaint of the USSR of 18 April 1958,

Believing that effective steps toward a disarmament agreement at an early date are essential to the achievement of the purposes of the General Assembly’s resolution 1236 (XII) entitled “Peaceful and Neighbourly Relations among States”,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 1148 (XII) urging states concerned to give priority to reaching a disarmament agreement which, as one of its major elements, provides for: “The progressive establishment of open inspection with ground and aerial components to guard against the possibility of surprise attack”,

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Noting that the Disarmament Commission has not yet met and that the Subcommittee has been requested to report to the Disarmament Commission by April 30, 1958,

1. Urges the Disarmament Commission to meet forthwith and to take immediate steps to implement the recommendations contained in Paragraph 4 of General Assembly Resolution 1148 (XII),

2. Calls upon the members of the Disarmament Commission principally concerned to join in technical discussions looking toward the establishment of a northern zone of inspection against surprise attack, as proposed by the United States, United Kingdom, France and Canada to the USSR on August 29, 1957.

Tab 2

Draft Resolution

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The Security Council

Believing that establishment of zones of aerial and ground inspection would decrease tensions;

Considering the desirability of such confidence-building steps as measures to prevent surprise attacks;

Recalling the General Assembly resolutions 914 (X) and 1148 (XII) which endorse such measures,

Calls upon Canada, France, United Kingdom, the United States, and the USSR to seek early agreement on the establishment of a northern zone of inspection against surprise attack such as proposed by the United States, United Kingdom, France and Canada to the USSR on August 29, 1957;

Requests these parties to join at once in studies of the necessary technical requirements for the establishment of effective inspection in such a zone and to report promptly to the Security Council on the progress of these studies.

Tab 3

Draft Resolution

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The Security Council

Having considered the complaint of the USSR of April 18, 1958,

Noting that certain members are initiating diplomatic exchanges to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the question of disarmament,

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Expresses the hope that such diplomatic exchanges will make possible ultimate agreements on matters of mutual interest, including the question of disarmament.

  1. Source: U.S. position on possible Soviet moves in the Security Council on “fail safe” procedures; includes draft Security Council resolutions. Confidential. 5 pp. NARA, RG 59, Central Files, 330/4–2058.