28. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

Tosec 43. For Secretary from Acting Secretary. At this morning’s NSC meeting there was informal discussion re latest Soviet disarmament proposal.2 There was general feeling that London disarmament talks should recess if possible and hope was expressed that you might be able to bring some influence to bear on British and French to that end.3

At end of meeting Stassen handed me following memo re Soviet disarmament proposals:

“The Soviet proposals are very far-reaching and include a number of new elements. They may be pure propaganda, or they may indicate a serious opening for constructive negotiation. The US approach to the proposals must ever have in mind these two extremes of possible meaning. It seems quite clear without going into detail at the present time that the studies I am conducting will lead to a recommendation that neither of the current British and French positions nor the previous US position are acceptable for a future US policy. Furthermore, the important differences between State, Defense, and to some extent the AEC which have existed since 1951 cannot now be quickly resolved in any important characteristic. This entire subject win be a major item on the NSC agenda on May 26,4 and presumably some further consideration subsequent to May 26 will be necessary before even the fundamentals of US position can be determined by the President. Therefore, I would strongly urge that the US Delegation in London, if unsuccessful in recessing the conference, use extraordinary skill in completely [Page 86] stalling the consideration and in giving no indication of the US position on any major facet of the Soviet proposals, nor on the UK and French positions, and further does not reaffirm the old US position. A recess to study the new Soviet proposals would be most desirable.

“A second technique would be to have the Soviets explain every part of their long proposal, but without questioning the elements too sharply so as not to add any more rigidity to Soviet position on the factors of their plan. Obviously, the current British election situation affects the psychological picture, but the very nature, complexity, and gravity of the entire subject should amply justify absolute insistence on slow and deliberate review prior to any indications of US position, even though the US Delegation is pressed to give early reactions.”

Guidance we have given Wadsworth (Deptel London 5761, rptd Tosec 26, May 11),5 and Wadsworth’s own recommendation re stalling tactics (London tel 4967, rptd Paris 680)6 accord basically with Stassen memo.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 330.13/5–1155. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Wainhouse and approved by Scott. Repeated to USUN and London for Wadsworth.
  2. At the 248th meeting of the NSC on May 12, Allen Dulles reported on “the chief elements of the Soviet diplomatic offensive.” After mentioning other elements of this offensive, Dulles described the recent Soviet disarmament proposal:

    “This latter statement, which had long been in preparation, Mr. Dulles described as very subtly drawn and very cleverly presented to the Western world. It was written in the third person in the form of a UN agreement rather than as a unilateral Soviet proposal. It accepted certain of the proposals on disarmament advanced earlier by Great Britain and France with respect to the relationship between nuclear and conventional disarmament. It also called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Germany, but with a “hooker” in the shape of a proposal that small military contingents be left behind. In addition, the Soviet statement called for the dismantling of U.S. bases overseas, and proposed a new formula covering the inspection of disarmament which fuzzed the issue but which was certain to provide European neutralists with something new to talk about.” (Memorandum of discussion; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

  3. The London disarmament talks were recessed on May 18 with agreement to resume talks in New York on June 1. For Wadsworth’s statement on the agreement by the subcommittee for a recess, see Department of State Bulletin, May 30, 1955, p. 901.
  4. See Document 34.
  5. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 330.13/5–1155)
  6. Dated May 11, not printed, (ibid.)