33. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

331. For the Under Secretary from Yost and Phillips.

Subj: Future Political Status of Micronesia.

We recognize that it is basic US policy objective to seek extension US sovereignty over Micronesia. We believe manner in which we seek achieve this objective will have crucial impact on our ability secure UN approval for termination of trust agreement, or acquiescence to any US-Micronesian agreement. We are consequently disturbed by some of options set forth in TTPI options paper.2 Some of them would violate the letter and spirit of our obligations under the trust agreement and Article 76(b) of UN Charter itself.3 Other options may conform to a possible reading of these obligations but will be in conflict with way overwhelming majority of UN, including many Western states, interpret Charter. In short, self-determination to be saleable in UN must involve at least semblance of free choice. Whichever option we decide pursue, we believe it should envisage earliest possible termination of trust agreement (as recommended by Trusteeship Council last year). The present composition of T.C. is favorable to us. This situation can only change for worse if: 1) TTPI remains only reason for its continued existence after Australian trust over New Guinea is terminated; 2) Australia then ceases be member, and GRC is replaced by PRC.
Specifically options 1, 2 and 4 raise very serious difficulties. Option 1, if it amounted to a recognition that we must in any event [Page 54]improve our administration of territory would be acceptable as far as that goes, but can not be regarded as a long-term solution. It is not consistent with Charter, much less UNGA Res 1541 (XVII)4 or with friendly relations declaration which is properly regarded by virtually entire membership of UN as an authoritative interpretation of the right of all peoples to self determination.
Option 2 in addition to the defect of option 1 has two further defects of (a) having already been rejected; (b) purporting to be a final solution. We can confidently predict that if we try to palm anything like this off on the Security Council or even the TC we will face a political storm with wide-ranging and long lasting repercussions well beyond confines of UN. We would find few if any allies to support such actions even among Western countries.
Option 3 if accomplished via a UN supervised election or plebiscite which is accepted by the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants would be acceptable.
Option 4 is bound to be regarded as an attempt on our part to divide and conquer. We would be hard put to make a case that the division of British Cameroons at time of self-determination constituted a precedent. We would certainly be accused of deliberately seeking to create non self-sustaining entities in order to force them into a status of continued dependency.
Option 5, unless providing semblance of free choice, would not comport with the views of the overwhelming majority of us [UN?] as it will inevitably be reflected in SC. A future option for independence or for some sort of statehood would help make this option consistent with our obligations, and hence saleable.
Option 6 of course creates no difficulties from UN point of view. From foregoing it will be clear that options 6, 5 (if modified as suggested) and 3 would be most acceptable in UN, in that order. The other three options can only cause serious problems for us sooner or later.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 300, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VI. Secret; Priority; Exdis.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Article 76(b) of the UN Charter required countries administering Trust Territories “to promote the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the trust territories, and their progressive development towards self-government or independence as may be appropriate to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned, and as may be provided by the terms of each trusteeship agreement.”
  4. Resolution 1541 (XVII) stated that member states were obligated under Article 73(e) of the UN Charter to transmit information about non-self-governing territories that they administered until these territories achieved self-government either by independence, free association with an independent state, or by integration with an independent state.