23. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

5743. For Wadsworth re disarmament. Your 4782.2 Concur desirability exchange views UK re moratorium with objective coordinating [Page 75] and maximizing effectiveness presentation our position when Indian proposal3 comes up full Disarmament Commission. Following we believe are major arguments against moratorium:

Nuclear weapons central part of defensive capability free world. Testing a vital element in maintaining and increasing this capability. Western nations not willing to hamper or jeopardize this strength unless as part of foolproof disarmament system. We have made concrete proposals for such a plan. Until that comes about, we must maintain our strength.
Our own studies have demonstrated that no significant health hazard results nuclear test explosions. We presently furthering such studies to provide additional information this matter.
In any event, such a moratorium would be extremely difficult to enforce and might be circumvented with impunity. It would require extensive inspection and monitoring system and could not rely on good faith alone. Record to date indicates there are nations unwilling to accept thoroughgoing inspection of type probably required, and capable of violating agreement.
Future test activities will also contribute importantly development nuclear weapons, including those with strictly defensive applications, and US cannot cease experimentation which might increase deterrent effects atomic weapons.

FYI. Department presently exploring possibility coupling opposition to moratorium with proposal in UN designed to meet widespread concern possible effects radioactivity resulting nuclear explosions through some limited international approach this question.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 330.13/4–2755. Secret. Drafted by Spiers and approved by Wainhouse. Repeated to USUN.
  2. Telegram 4782 reported discussions between the U.K. and U.S. Delegations to the Disarmement Subcommittee on the questions of a moratorium on nuclear weapons tests and a ban on the use of nuclear weapons. Wadsworth noted British agreement with the U.S. positions on these issues, though the British were perhaps even more strongly opposed to any moratorium because of their need to develop thermonuclear weapons. The U.K. representatives were particularly concerned with developing additional arguments and tactics against these questions and coordinating with the United States the opposition to growing public pressures for these proposals. (Telegram 4782 from London, April 27; ibid.)
  3. Dulles called Lodge on May 5 at 4:31 p.m.:

    “The Sec. referred to L.’s letter of May 3 about the item on the agenda re fallout. The Sec. said he does not think we can respond until after Strauss is back on May 19. It will be important then for L. to come down and have a talk. They AEC are extremely negative on anybody else getting into this field but it is a question of how negative you can be and get away with it. L. said they are making judgments on the political situation in the UN, and they don’t know about it. L. will be down for Cabinet on the 20th, and they agreed to try to set a meeting up to discuss it then.” (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations)

    See also Document 32.