280. Telegram From the Delegation to the Western Foreign Ministers Meeting to the Department of State0

Secto 12. Department pass Defense. Western Foreign Ministers’ Meeting: April 29—morning session.

After Couve’s welcoming statement, Secretary stressed need for resolving swiftly the many questions of substance left unsettled by [Page 662] Working Group. Must develop effective Western position and not go to Geneva on Soviet terms with discussion limited to Berlin crisis which USSR precipitated. Western package must be attractive enough to arouse support throughout world, must be indissoluble and should contain proposals for an improved position for Berlin. Work must be conducted in realization that despite more conciliatory tone of recent Soviet pronouncements we are facing issues involving danger of war. Particularly distressing that newspaper speculations have created impression Western disunity. Vital to prevent spread of such impressions.
Selwyn Lloyd suggested Foreign Ministers agree to inform press their discussions confidential and to give no briefings until end of meeting. Generally agreed to give no information to press today and if possible withhold information until end of meetings.
Couve then began review of phased plan.1 After US, French and British all pointed out that present composition of all-German Committee under paragraph 7 too heavily weighted against East Germans to seem appealing to public opinion, Brentano agreed to accept French suggestion to raise composition to 25 for the Federal Republic and 10 for GDR with three-fourths majority required. Couve pointed out this increase in size also decreased the resemblance of committee to a cabinet thus minimizing danger of committee appearing in role of executive body. Agreed to delete last sentence of paragraph 72 on ground this unnecessary limitation on selection of candidates. Words “representatives of” changed to “members from” at suggestion Brentano. Also agreed to refer to GDR as so-called German Democratic Republic in order to simplify paragraph.
Bracketed section of paragraph 10 referred to Working Group for redrafting with directive that language should be altered to eliminate any implication all-German Committee might give directives to governments or stand above the Government of FedRep. Brentano suggested as possible formula that proposals of committee could be implemented through respective legislative procedures applicable in each part of Germany. Considered this would be consistent with requirements of German basic law. Although Couve preferred to delete sentence did not object to referring problem to legal advisers.
Couve then suggested Working Group review reunification section of stage III to Polish language. In this connection Brentano suggested [Page 663] paragraph 24 be carefully examined to eliminate any possibility USSR might utilize it as pretext for extending its influence into FedRep, for example by stationing Soviet troops in West Germany. Secretary suggested problem might be met by providing that each of four powers would exercise reserved rights within its respective zone of responsibility. Agreed to refer reunification sections of phased plan to Working Group session in afternoon.
Foreign Ministers then turned to security sections phased plan. Agreed each would present general views on security measures before engaging in detailed review of phased plan by paragraph.
Germans opened by translating statement which they promised to table in English at afternoon session.3 This statement represented considered position of German Government and had been discussed with Chancellor. Although Federal Government agreed with general principle of establishment of security zones against surprise attack mentioned in paragraph 16 could not accept a more limited zone restricted to Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and possibly Hungary. Such an arrangement would have profound military, political and psychological disadvantages. It would place Germany in special status in NATO. Such special inspection system would probably entail withdrawal from German area of key types of defense installations. It would amount to discrimination against Germany. However, any inspection systems involving wide geographic areas would be acceptable. This especially pertinent in case of ground inspection. Suggested adopting Geneva formula regarding areas of comparable size, depth and importance on both sides of line of demarcation between reunited Germany and Eastern European countries.4 Also referred to 1957 proposals for inspection against surprise attack extending to 60 degrees east, or at any rate zone extending far into Soviet territory. Any zones for aerial and ground inspections should be identical.
German statement also took exception to paragraph 17. It was not possible to subject all-German Government in advance to prohibitions on production ABC weapons. Prohibition very different from prohibition contained in WEU Protocols which had been voluntarily accepted by Federal Government. Language paragraph 17 would result in large scale Soviet inspection of German industry and would be intolerable. Germans suggested paragraph 17 be rewritten to effect that all-German Government be invited to extend renunciation on ABC manufacture accepted by FedRep to all-Germany insofar as comparable [Page 664] waivers accepted by Soviet Bloc countries. Such arrangements thinkable only on basis of reciprocity and would require similar controls in USSR. This provision should be transferred to stage III since consent of an all-German Government would be required.
Germans also opposed to accepting commitment not to station IRBM’s in security zone area. Such a commitment could have farreaching consequences for Western defense planning and West should not tie its hands in advance on this matter. Therefore wished to see paragraph 18 deleted. German paper closed with reiteration opposition to any discriminatory provisions applied to Germany which would reduce her to special status in NATO and impair her development of close ties with West. FedRep could not accept any provisions which would worsen its legal position.

In further clarification of German position on security, Brentano pointed out that the Germans differentiated between two types of zones mentioned in the phased plan. Surprise attack zones should be defined by geographic coordinates, cover as wide an area as possible, and provide for identical coverage by aerial and ground inspection.

Stage II zone of inspection (paragraph 16) is unwise in German view because Soviets would have opportunity to spy on German industry. The Germans, of course, have no objection to the present WEU system of inspection and would be prepared to have this extended to an all-German Government when established.

Pointing out that these German reservations applied to stage II, Couve asked as to German attitude toward paragraph 27 in stage III. Brentano replied that while the Germans have no objection in principle to force ceilings, they are opposed to definition of area of their application in “Rapacki Plan” terms. In response to Couve, Brentano confirmed that formula used in paragraph 3 of the Geneva 1955 Treaty of Assurance5 (areas of comparable size, depth, and importance) would be acceptable.
With regard to paragraph 16, there seemed to be general agreement with the Secretary’s view that since ground inspection would be difficult in Arctic zone, the provision for identical coverage for aerial and ground inspection should apply primarily to a European zone. Couve pointed out that it was important to include non-European inspection zones, since without some provision for inspection of U.S. territory, the Soviets could logically argue that the Western proposals were [Page 665] designed to open up Soviet territory without any adequate compensation.
Couve favored paragraph 17 (ABC weapons) as means of exploiting weakness inherent in the Soviet Bloc’s position. Soviets, unlike West, have not prohibited manufacture of ABC weapons in the Soviet Bloc territory, and there would be considerable advantage in mentioning this as soon as possible in phased plan, preferably in stage II. In Couve’s view, this should be more that a mere reaffirmation of FedRep’s commitment. In order to meet German objection to area definition in “Rapacki Plan” terms, Couve suggested that ABC prohibition be extended only to so-called GDR. Brentano said he was in basic agreement with Couve’s ideas and, while he would prefer area definitions along lines of Geneva 1955 formula, he believed the problem was one of language rather than one of substance.
Lloyd pointed out that if German recommendations accepted, only security provision left in stage II would be paragraph 13 (exchange of information). Even if, as Couve pointed out, first sentence in paragraph 16 were retained and paragraph 17 were revised to meet German objections, stage II would remain largely devoid of significant security provisions and public appeal aspects of package would be reduced accordingly.
In explaining French position on security and general disarmament provisions of phased plan, Couve pointed out that French objections were principally following: (1) French could not agree to force ceiling of 750,000 since they now exceed this level in order to meet Algerian commitments; (2) French oppose formulation of general disarmament proposals which do not mention atomic weapons. French are not convinced in any case of desirability of introducing general disarmament measures into “phased plan” and would be prepared to delete all reference to general disarmament if others agree.
The Secretary said that while he felt that elimination of specific force ceilings from general disarmament provisions would considerably reduce their popular appeal, he could understand French problem. Asked if French would be prepared to accept a ceiling of 1,000,000, Couve replied that while the French could live with this ceiling, it could scarcely be interpreted as a general disarmament measure since it represented a considerable increase over the publicly known 1957 ceilings. Lloyd suggested that since British forces are now below 1957 ceiling, it might be feasible to impose a combined ceiling of 1,500,000 on British and French forces. Couve doubted public acceptability of this formula and suggested instead that four powers be required to announce number of men each now has under arms and to declare their intention not to increase these levels. The Secretary cited disadvantage this formula in view of continuing German build-up and suggested that the problem [Page 666] might best be met by use of general language which would not impose an intolerable ceiling on the French and, at the same time, meet desirable objective of introducing limitations on the Soviets; for example “the four powers would restrict or reduce their armed forces to maximum limits to be agreed, which, for example, for the United States and USSR might be 2,500,000 each”. Similar general language could be substituted for the appropriate paragraphs in stages II and III. The Secretary’s formula was accepted in principle.
Couve wondered if some mention might not be made in the general disarmament provisions of nuclear weapons. The Secretary replied that while United States experts had given much thought to the problem, they had been unable to come up with a satisfactory and adequate formula in view of the great multiplicity of modern nuclear weapons.
Lloyd withdrew British reservation to paragraph 4 and, while favoring retention of paragraph 5, agreed it might be unwise to make a permanent commitment not to station IRBM’s in Germany (paragraph 18). In this connection, Brentano pointed out that retention of paragraph 18 might conceivably induce other NATO countries to cancel their commitments to permit IRBM’s to be stationed on their territories, since in some cases these commitments had been made specifically contingent on acceptance by other NATO partners.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/4–2959. Secret. Transmitted in three sections and repeated to Bonn, London, Moscow, and Berlin.
  2. The Report of the Four-Power Working Group included a four-phase peace plan (see Document 270). For text of the phased plan as presented by the Western powers at the Foreign Ministers Conference on May 14, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 624–629, or Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 55–60.
  3. The last sentence of paragraph 7 reads: “They would not exercise any other public function during the period of their membership.”
  4. No copy of this statement has been found.
  5. Reference here and in the next sentence is to the proposals referred to in footnote 4, Document 278.
  6. For text of MFM/DOC/7, October 27, 1955, which included an “Outline of Terms of Treaty of Assurance on the Reunification of Germany,” see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. I, pp. 529–532.