353. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

4694. For Secretary from Stevenson and Foster.

As our reports indicate, there is mounting pressure in DC for Yugoslav resolution on calling world disarmament conference, latest draft of which sent USUN 4652.2 As we see it, Afro-Asian plus Soviet bloc support and lack of opposition by our friends will probably produce strong majority for this proposal. Decision to convene world conference would be seriously inimical to our interests. Not only would it threaten ENDC, but such conference would provide effective forum for Soviets and Chicoms in which we would find ourselves in small minority on disarmament and other questions certain to be raised.

In considering ways to head off world conference, we have considered several possibilities:

Our main hope has been that resolution being prepared by eight non-aligned members of ENDC (see USUN 4606)3 could be made acceptable to US and would achieve sufficient support, so that with its adoption we might buy the time while question of world conf is first considered at ENDC. But at best this would only buy several months, since issue is certain to be put before GA next fall. Furthermore, there is growing doubt that Sovs will permit an ENDC session prior to GA. Moreover, there is strong trend, even among the eight, to endorse Yugoslav [Page 767] proposal which would bypass ENDC and recommend that GA organize world conference.
Another possibility is to let it be known that we would be prepared to see an enlargement of ENDC to include Chicoms and one or more others for balance. Since it is generally assumed here Chicoms and French would continue boycott ENDC even if enlarged, however, this would not strike many as a viable alternative. Moreover, once ENDC membership opened up, there is no telling how long it would take to get agreement on new composition, nor what composition might ultimately emerge. These considerations will occur to most representatives here and, while we feel this idea needs further study, we strongly doubt that ENDC enlargement proposal here will serve to head off a call for a world conference. Indeed proponents of world conference view it, inter alia as aimed at reconstituting disarmament negotiating forum.
As we see it, our broad objectives in present situation should be: (1) to deprive Soviets and Chinese of forum which would be responsive to their propaganda on disarmament as well as other issues, and (2) conversely, to attempt to engage both of them in a dialogue, preferably private, on the various outstanding problems. Neither A. nor B. above would in our opinion meet these objectives.

Therefore, a third possibility which we believe should be explored is to consider a five power conference along lines mentioned in Franco-Soviet communiqué in Paris.4 This has advantage of being perhaps the only effective counter to a world conference. French and Sovs would find it difficult to object and Chicoms might be attracted. Involvement of Chicoms has been principal argument for world conference.

Moreover, it occurs to us that there is at least a possibility that a five-power meeting called to consider nuclear disarmament questions might serve as a forum for quiet exploration of other current questions in which the five have, or at least have asserted, an interest.

Our support for a five-power meeting would, of course, irritate India which dislikes the prospect of Chicoms being “rewarded for their nuclear tests.” It would also risk conjuring up image of “big five” which would be unsettling in terms of ChiRep situation in UN. We should therefore seek to have India included in such a meeting. However, we must recognize that efforts to include India from the outset would make it easier for the Chicoms to reject such a meeting, would probably not be acceptable to the French, and would raise questions with other [Page 768] would-be participants, e.g., Japan or Sweden. Therefore, we should also be prepared to exclude India at the outset. Once a five-power meeting was in progress, we could seek broader participation, including India, in light of matters under discussion.
Septel fols analyzing implications for ChiRep issue at next GA of above.5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, United Nations, Vol. 1. Secret; Exdis.
  2. Dated May 24. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, DEF 15 UN)
  3. Dated May 20. (Ibid., E 5 SEADP)
  4. No copy of the communiqué was found. A Pravda article summarizing the Soviet delegation May 19–31 visit is in Current Digest of the Soviet Press, vol. 17 (June 23, 1965), p. 19.
  5. Not found.