Volume #16 - 317.|
FIFTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, FIRST PART
Working Paper for Advisory Panel on Atomic Energy|
Top SECRET ||
March 18th, 1950|
THE INTERNATIONAL CONTROL OF ATOMIC ENERGY|
At the last meeting of the Panel, on February 1, it was agreed that the Panel should at its next meeting begin to take stock of our present situation, to review our stand on the international control of atomic energy and to try to re examine the deadlock as objectively as possible in the light of our appraisal of the political, military, and technical factors that now apply, or are likely to apply, during the next four or five years.
2. It must be admitted from the outset that this is a task of doubtful utility. The debate on atomic energy control ranges over so many subjects of such importance that it is as difficult to know where to stop as to know where to begin in an effort to get to the root of the matter. In an introductory study, presented as a basis for Panel discussion, we are necessarily limited to a cursory, and no doubt rather fragmentary platitudinous and superficial examination of some of the problems that must be faced if we have any hope left at all of reaching agreement with the Russians, sooner or later, on the relaxation of international tension of which perhaps the atomic bomb is a prime cause, as it is certainly the most publicized cause.
3. For simplicity of presentation, and in order to avoid any suggestion of prejudging the issues involved, the most satisfactory approach to discussion may be by means of raising various questions, first on procedures that might open the way for genuine negotiations, and then as to what room for manoeuvre, if any, we may have in negotiating an international agreement that could not only provide us with an acceptable degree of security from surprise atomic attack, but would also provide the Russians with an acceptable degree of freedom to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes, especially for power.
4. Before turning to a more detailed examination of procedures and plans, however, it might be wise, first of all, to try to project our thinking against a time graph of military power. So many of the questions that can be raised may have one answer this year, but quite a different answer two or three years from now. To the extent that we can foresee a diminishing value in atomic weapons as a deterrent, we can forecast when the conclusion of an international agreement on atomic control will become most desirable from our point of view; and we can also estimate the probable Soviet calculation, and from that guess when the prospects of an international control agreement will likely be best. This will involve what is primarily a military calculation, but the following propositions may serve to lead into the subject.
The Military Prospect 1950 55
5. It seems probable that neither side will deliberately embark on a major war during the next six years, because neither side could be sure of a rapid victory and neither side could ever hope that, in the course of a long struggle, the desolation of all disputed territories, including the U.S. and Soviet homelands, would make the possibility of ultimate victory worth the price. Nevertheless, granted the nature of Soviet imperialism, the risk of an accidental war remains and both sides have already shown their determination to build up armed forces capable not only of defensive deployment but of the most grievous forms of offensive operations. An armaments race is on, and is likely to reach a peak about 1954. By that time Soviet deficiencies in long range bombers will have been overcome, and the deficiencies of Western Europe reduced if our performance lives up to our North Atlantic plans to the point where we should be able to defend most of Western Europe. Before 1953 it is doubtful that a foothold on the continent of Europe could be maintained for more than a few months in the event of a full scale Russian attack: all we could do effectively would be to carry an atomic attack against Soviet industrial and administrative centres.
6. Although we are pitifully weak in Europe today, we still have, on the Western side, a great margin of superiority in atomic weapons in numbers, quality, and ability to deliver even without the hydrogen bomb. We may confidently expect to maintain that margin, at least the margin in numbers and ability to deliver. The strategic value of our stockpile, however, will diminish long before the Soviet stockpile reaches the proportions of ours. It will begin to diminish as soon as the Russians are capable of delivering by sea or air, half a dozen bombs on U.S. cities: it will have diminished close to the zero point as soon as the Russians are capable of delivering ten times that many. The first capability, the Russians may achieve by the end of this year: the second, by the middle of 1954, when the Soviet atomic stockpile may number as many as ... [sic] bombs, according to recent U.S. intelligence estimates which the U.K. authorities consider may be somewhat exaggerated. At any rate, whether in 1954 or 1955, our present estimates would indicate that the Russians will have a large enough stockpile and good enough long range bombers to be able to retaliate in kind against the continental United States with very damaging and possible critical results, if the U.S. were to use atomic bombs. Moreover, although the U.S.S.R. may present industrial targets that are more concentrated than those in the United States, their peoples might prove better able to endure the horrors and privations of atomic war than the peoples of the more civilized Western cities.
7. The atomic bomb will then have become a double edged deterrent, both sides fearing to use it, like gas in the last war. But unlike gas, a surprise atomic attack on a large scale could be crippling, and the aggressor's temptation to resort to such a gamble at the outset would therefore be strong, even if the aggressor knew that he possessed the smaller stockpile or was weaker in other respects. If the hydrogen bomb is developed, the temptation to use atomic weapons first will be increased tenfold or a hundredfold, until, at times of acute international tension, it will become almost irresistible.
8. If this line of argument is valid, a time will come within the next four or five years when it will be in the interests of the United States and indeed of all the Western Powers to recognize that the Bomb favours not simply the side with the largest stockpile but the side that would be ready to use it as the opening stroke in an aggressive war. In other words, in the balance of world power, the Bomb will then count more heavily for the Russians than for the West.
9. From this conclusion, three important propositions follow:
(i) that during the next three years the West must build up its strength in conventional weapons and forces in being to the point that Western power will not necessarily match Soviet power plane for plane and tank for tank, but will be sufficient to withstand a war in which atomic weapons might not be used; for, as the Soviet stockpile rises, the value of our stockpile as a deterrent will rapidly decline, forcing us to build our power once again upon conventional weapons and forces;
(ii) that by 1953 it would be in our interest to have in full operation an international atomic control agreements;51 and
(iii) that, as it will take two or three years to put anything like the present majority U.N. plan52into full effect, we should recommence serious negotiations with the Russians as soon as a way can be found to bring them to a conference disposed to negotiate and not simply to use it as a forum for "peace" propaganda.
10. In concluding this section, one further proposition, of a more philosophical than military mould, may be advanced. The Soviet atomic explosion last summer did not invalidate the majority plan nor the procedures whereby we have been seeking to negotiate it, but, together with Communist advances, in the Far East, the strategic balance has been altered in favour of the Soviet Union. The United States, so long as it had a monopoly of atomic weapons, held the balance of power comparatively cheaply. A U.S. hydrogen bomb monopoly, if achieved, would probably not give more than a year's respite or at most two years; then the Russians would, we may confidently expect, have it too. The balance will then come to depend on the far more costly build up of ordinary forces a cost so great it will have to be reckoned not only in terms of lowering our standards of living but of cutting into the fibre of our democratic liberties. In the long haul, a dictatorship can clearly stand these strains more readily than a democracy. Despite superiority in atomic weapons, we of the democracies have more to lose than the Russians if some sort of modus vivendi on the major issues and points of friction is not reached, including, as an essential part of any such agreement, provisions not only to control atomic energy but to scale down armaments.
11. Indeed, from the records of the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission for these past four years, it is perfectly plain that the Russians have not been trying to reach agreement. They have taken the "Baruch plan" merely as a target for propaganda, while avoiding any detailed exposition of their own sketchy counter proposals for control by means of "periodic and special" inspection. It may be that the Russians have been waiting until they could break the U.S. monopoly and negotiate on more equal terms. If so, the last General Assembly showed no sign of it. It seems quite possible that the Russians hope to build up a small stockpile and let the West outrun their economic strength in an armaments race. Soviet calculations have for some time been predicting the economic collapse of the United States. So long as they continue to count on it, they need not run the risks of an international agreement on atomic energy which would open up their country to Western inspectors. If this is true, the prospects of reaching any major agreement with the Russians by means of any sort of procedures, however ingenious, are pretty slim.
12. While this may be true, it may not be the whole truth. The Russians have traditionally shown a readiness to expand when they could, but an equal readiness to recognize their limitations when confronted with military strength. George Kennan, in his recent article (published in this month's Reader's Digest, and the Department of State Bulletin circulated to members of the Panel), gives reasons for believing that we have the possibility of carrying through provisional settlements with the Russians when, as Secretary Acheson has said, we are negotiating from strength and where our proposed agreement registers an existing situation of fact. If we accept Mr. Acheson's criteria, what procedures are indicated?
13. We have strength now in atomic weapons first and foremost; our weakness is in equipment and forces in being although our potential is very great. During the next five years we shall build up our forces but the strategic value of our atomic superiority is bound to show a sharp decline. From our point of view, the sooner we recommence negotiations with the Russians on control of atomic energy, the better our position will be. On this particular subject, we are playing from strength now whereas in a few years we shall be playing from weakness. Further, of all the major subjects at issue, this is the only one on which we can play from strength.
14. In support of this proposition, there are two additional arguments:
(i) It is technically much simpler to control atomic energy effectively than it is to control almost any other category of weapon;
(ii) Public opinion in all countries (at least in those where it can show itself) is more concerned with the problem of atomic energy control than with any other issue dividing the Powers. The Soviet Union has taken full propaganda advantageof recent United States official statements which were interpreted by the Russians, to good effect, as virtually closing the door on further atomic negotiations.
15. Our timetable should therefore try to begin with negotiations for the control of atomic energy, and if these are in any way successful, should foresee an early extension of the negotiations to cover conventional armaments as well; for, as has been stressed in this memorandum, the two questions cannot in the long run be considered separately: if we were to get an agreement on the international control of atomic energy, we would be leaving the West defenceless, as Senator Tydings has wisely pointed out, if we did not either build up our own conventional forces or secure agreement on a means of scaling down Soviet forces until a balance had been achieved.
16. What we mean by a balance of forces has been well defined by General Bradley, in an article in the Saturday Evening Post last October 15, when he said that Western defence policy should aim at building up sufficient forces to convince the Russians that they could not defeat us, while at the same time convincing the Russians that we did not possess enough forces to contemplate an attack upon them. The same criteria would apply to a scaling down of forces of both sides, as to the building up of forces on our side, which was the subject of General Bradley's article.
17. While recognizing the desirability of dealing with disarmament of all weapons, including atomic, at one series of conferences, we must expect to encounter even more resistance on the part of the Russians to any sort of inspection which would enable us to satisfy ourselves that the provisions of a general disarmament agreement were being carried out, than would be the case with the type of inspection necessary for an effective atomic agreement. Moreover, from our point of view, we should, in dealing with conventional armaments, be negotiating from weakness. Still more important, a buildup on both sides of conventional weapons alone, if atomic energy were under control, would not create anything like the degree of international tension that would result from a world situation in which both sides lived daily in the fear of being annihilated by a sudden surprise onslaught with atomic and possibly hydrogen weapons. We should therefore try for a general disarmament conference but not turn down an opportunity to negotiate an atomic agreement alone.
18. If these are our objectives, the possible procedures for achieving them are numerous and by no means exclusive. On the immediate horizon, it seems likely, although we have had no reports to this effect, that Mr. Acheson, Mr. Bevin and Mr. Schuman will discuss not only the German question at their forthcoming meeting in April, but also our other major points at issue with the Russians including atomic energy. If the three Foreign Ministers find themselves of one mind on atomic energy, they might have a further discussion, possibly of a more general character, with their North Atlantic partners at the meeting of the Council towards the end of April or May: such a discussion could take place under Article 1 of the Treaty. On the other hand, they might well consider the Council too public a forum for discussion of so vital an issue.
19. Discussions between either the three or the twelve Foreign Ministers might well raise the possibility of Two, Three, or Four Power negotiations at a high level on atomic energy and other questions. Although it goes beyond the scope of this paper, it might be appropriate for the Panel to consider, as far as atomic energy negotiations were concerned, whether the Canadian Government should be prepared to support direct U.S. Soviet negotiations or would prefer negotiations to be confined to the U.N. so that we could continue to take a direct part in them.
20. The six permanent members of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission will be able to resume their discussions, in accordance with the Assembly's instructions, as soon as two more members of the Security Council have recognized the Communist Government of China. Perhaps, then, within a few weeks these negotiations may be resumed. However, the history of the atomic energy negotiations through the United Nations since 1946 has been so full of frustrations that it might be in many ways preferable to encourage direct preliminary U.S. Soviet negotiations outside the U.N. where discussions would have a better chance of taking place without any publicity as to the detail of the negotiations and where a larger number of issues could be raised informally, and set one against another.
21. The Secretary of State for External Affairs touched on a number of these questions in a statement to the House of Commons; on March 3rd, copies of which have been circulated to members of the Panel. In the course of his remarks, he said that he agreed with Secretary General Trygve Lie's comment that we should welcome negotiations, "at all times and on all levels ... inside the United Nations and outside the United Nations.53
The Basis of Negotiations
22. In all their recent public statements, United States officials have maintained that the majority plan was for them the only acceptable basis for further negotiations. Soviet spokesmen, official and unofficial, have been equally insistent in saying that they could not possibly accept anything like the majority plan nor regard it as a basis for negotiations. It is true that various United States spokesmen have said that they did not regard the majority plan as the last word in perfection and that they would always be ready to consider a better plan, meaning a more effective plan, but they have made it clear that this should not be interpreted as committing them to any concessions from the majority plan but rather to tightening up possible loopholes in it. So far as we have been able to discover, no consideration is being given to possible concessions, although there is some talk of ways and means by which the general deadlock with the Russians could be at least eased. Our representatives in Washington have heard no hint of any modifications of the majority plan being considered privately by United States authorities with the exception of Mr. George Kennan's proposal last November for a type of "inspection only" plan which seems to have been stillborn.54 Nevertheless, if the Panel is agreed as to the desirability and urgency of trying to negotiate a settlement with the Russians on the control of atomic energy, we should be asking ourselves not only how the negotiations might proceed, but on what basis.
23. The first question would seem to be whether or not we regard the majority plan in more or less its present form as the basis for a settlement that the Russians could possibly be brought to accept by negotiation and, possibly, by concessions in other directions, or as part of a general settlement of outstanding issues. On the present record, it is difficult to see why the Russians should accept a plan which they firmly believe could be used as a means of restricting the level of economic activity in the Soviet Union by curtailing the development of power from atomic energy. It is equally difficult to see why the Russians should accept, now that they have developed atomic weapons of their own, a plan which would place their territories under international inspection and would, for an indeterminate time, after an agreement were signed, leave the United States stockpile of bombs intact and controlled solely by the United States.
24. The majority plan has been developed by a cooperative effort of mind by the majority of the Atomic Energy Commission during the past four years. It has been subject to the most careful scrutiny by our best qualified experts, and it represents what we believe are the essential minimum requirements necessary to guarantee the world an acceptable degree of security from surprise atomic attack. Yet, if we can assume that the Russians will never accept it as it stands, we must reconsider its provisions in the light of our own urgent need for some sort of agreement that may not provide us with as much security but would provide us with considerably more than we shall have by 1954 without any agreement.
25. Now, we are here on a slippery and dangerous slope. A number of the smaller nations at the last Assembly were thinking along these lines and beyond. They would have liked to support a convention for prohibition of atomic bombs without inspection and control provisions. As the Soviet stockpile grows, and fears multiply, there will be increasing pressure at succeeding Assemblies unless we can convince our friends, as we managed to do last time, that a genuine effort was being made to reach agreement, with a readiness to make concessions of substance on our part, if concessions were at all likely to be forthcoming from the Soviet Union.
26. The question of concessions requires most careful thought, as to what concessions, if any, could be made in the majority plan in order to make it somewhat more acceptable to the Soviet Union without turning it into a sham proposal such as that which has been advanced since 1947 by Soviet representatives for propaganda purposes.
27. The concession which we could make most easily would be to delete from the majority plan the Baruch proposal on the veto. The original Acheson Lilienthal Report did not suggest that the unanimity rule in Security Council proceedings should be inapplicable to discussions of punishment in the case of atomic energy violations. Mr. Baruch insisted that it should. We now recognize that the Security Council would only be involved in such a discussion if there were a state of war or an imminent risk of war between the major powers, and the question of the veto would therefore be highly theoretical, as a breakdown of negotiations or an attempt to enforce a majority decision, might in any case lead directly to a conflict. Themajority plan could not possibly prevent atomic weapons being used in the course of a long war and the veto adds nothing to the objective of ensuring a degree of security from surprise atomic attack.
28. A proposal to delete the veto provision from the majority plan would have a good deal of value to us as a concession for propaganda purposes, but would probably not be taken too seriously by the Soviet Union which would recognize that we were not giving up anything very substantial.
29. From among the very numerous suggestions for compromise which have been advanced, both in and out of United Nations, it would appear that the concessions of substance mostly worthwhile considering center upon two basic provisions of the majority plan. The first concerns international ownership; the second the question of "stages".
30. As regards international ownership , most of the public and private discussion during the past few months has been upon the Romulo Kennan theme that there might be a way of avoiding international management or ownership of any atomic facilities by concentrating instead on complete inspection as in itself an adequate means of control.
31. Apparently Mr. Kennan thought that we might agree to limiting the size of our atomic establishments to low power piles useful only for research and small enough that they could safely be licenced by an International Atomic Authority to national management subject, of course, to international inspection.
32. The almost insuperable objection to this proposal, especially from the Soviet point of view, is that you cannot carry on research for the development of power from atomic energy in a low power reactor which, the majority plait already provides, might be nationally operated under licence.55 Such a proposal would simply provide the Soviet Union with a golden propaganda opening as we would be held up to the nations of the world, and to the Asiatic countries in particular, as proposing to retard the atomic era for the benefit of existing power interests.
33. All that might be possibly conceded in the direction of modifying control through ownership provisions of the majority plan would be to:
(i) Enlarge somewhat the definition of plants that could be licenced to national management;
(ii) Restrict more precisely the functions of international management, and,
(iii) Define in more exact terms, as a basis for negotiation, the power quotas that we think could reasonably be allocated to the various regions of the world, so as to maintain the principle of "strategic location", neither the Soviet nor the Western sphere being given a preponderance of atomic facilities, but neither being put at any economic disadvantage because of the possible reluctance of one side to make the fullest use of atomic energy for power.
34. Perhaps the most important factor in leading us towards a modification of the present majority plan in respect to operation and management, is the knowledge that through technical developments, we are now able to detect not only atomic explosions anywhere in the world but also the major production facilities anywhere in the world, and to make a rough estimate of their location. The Panel will undoubtedly wish to discuss this aspect of the problem further in relation to the need for maintaining that the international inspectorate must have complete freedom of movement within the territories of any State. Would it be possible, for example, to confine our inspection and control proposals to declared plants in the knowledge that we could detect undeclared facilities, provided we should have the right of inspection by air or on the ground in any areas where we might suspect the existence of clandestine plants.56
35. The other broad section of the majority plan that might be profitably reexamined with a view to meeting Soviet objections is the question of "stages". We may assume that the Soviet Union will not sign an agreement which would place their territories under international inspection for several years during which the United States would have full control over its own atomic stockpile. We should be able to give the Russians, during our negotiations, a more precise idea of how long it would take to put our control plan into effect. We might also consider the desirability of proposing some sort of action that would, from the day of the signing of the Treaty, confer benefits upon the Soviet Union corresponding to those benefits which we would be deriving from rights of inspection within the Soviet Union during the interval of two or three years while the inspection and control system was being put into full effect. During the interval, for instance, it might be agreed that there should be a progressive destruction of atomic bombs, proportional to the total stockpiles on each side; but as this is probably demanding more mutual confidence than exists in present circumstances, it might be slightly less impractical to suggest that, with effect from the signing of the Treaty, all atomic bombs, mechanisms and nuclear fuels should be put under United Nations escrow, preferably in some continent remote from both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A., such as Africa.'57
36. If we are to consider what concessions we might be prepared to make, it is equally important that we should know what concessions we are not prepared to make. Two proposals that have been much discussed in the press might be brought forward under this heading.
37. The first is the suggestion that the United States should be prepared to tie her hands to a majority vote of the Security Council, declaring that it would never use the bomb except in case of aggression as defined by the Security Council. If the analysis of the military prospect earlier in this paper is sound, we would be taking a very grave risk in limiting ourselves in any way in the use of our major indeed our only strong strategic weapon upon which the balance of power depends so largely at the present time and upon which it will continue to depend at least until the end of 1952, after which, our estimates show, its value will probably decline quite rapidly.58
38. The second concession which has been much discussed, but which it would be most dangerous to make, in our opinion, is any major revision of the majority proposals on inspection. This point has been so often elaborated, particularly by Mr. Pearson during the last Session of the Assembly, that it is unnecessary to go into detail in this paper, if the Panel is agreed as to the conclusion.59
The Hydrogen Bomb as it Affects the Majority Plan
39. It is perhaps too early to discuss the possible effects of the development of a weapon which does not yet exist and which may never be made, upon the requirements of a system of international inspection and control. For our present purposes, it is probably sufficient to assume, on the basis of our technical knowledge of the possibilities, that the problem of international control will not be altered in any essential respect, except to make it more important than ever that there should be no loopholes. The installations required for the large scale separation of tritium or deuterium could probably be more readily concealed deuterium plants as hydroelectric installations, and tritium plants as chemical factories. There would, of course, be no problem of the disposal of radioactive wastes nor would there be any tell tale mining operations on a large scale, such as must take place in support of a programme for the production of uranium or plutonium. The international control plan would have to be based primarily upon the control of fissionable materials, as fusionable materials could more readily be produced clandestinely. However, if the control system were effective in preventing the secret production of nuclear fuels, it would be impossible to explode any kind of hydrogen bomb, as there would be no material for a fission reaction to trigger it. On the other hand, as has been pointed out earlier in this paper, any leakages of nuclear fuels to secret stockpiles would be ten or one hundred times more important if a hydrogen bomb is successfully developed. The possibility of developing a hydrogen bomb, therefore, makes it all the more important that any concessions in the majority plan should be most cautiously screened. However, it also makes our need for agreement all the more urgent.
40. A number of propositions have been put forward in this paper for Panel discussion. Any one of them may be analysed in much greater detail if it is the wish of the Panel.
41. Underlying this paper is the belief that in spite of the extremely discouraging record to date, we may yet find that atomic energy control is the subject on which it will be possible to make the first breach in the deadlock and at the same time the first breach in the Iron Curtain. If we can think through in advance, in as much detail as possible, the sort of procedures and proposals which we should be prepared to sponsor, we should be ready when the time comes and it may come soon to exploit that breach to the full and work through it until a genuine peace front has been opened up. Only by demonstrating our readiness to negotiate, and to lower our sights a little on our target of international security, may we retain the whole hearted support of the Western world and reach at least some degree of security for long enough to allow the political issue to be decided in the final analysis by the wishes of the people concerned and not by any kind of bombs. We cannot hope for more than that.
51Note marginale:/Marginal note:
52 Le Plan de la majorité préconisait la création d'une autorité internationale de développement de l'énergie atomique pour contrôler l'utilisation de l'énergie atomique à des fins pacifiques. Cet organisme international devait aussi être chargé de surveiller la destruction des bombes atomiques et de mettre fm à la fabrication de nouvelles armes atomiques. Appelé d'abord le Plan Baruch en l'honneur du représentant des États Unis qui l'a soumis à la Commission de l'énergie atomique des Nations Unies en 1946, Bernard Baruch, il fut renommé le Plan de la majorité pour refléter J'appui majoritaire qu'il reçut lors de 31 assemblée générale en 1948.
The Majority Plan called for the creation of an International Atomic Development Authority to oversee the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. This international agency would also supervise the destruction of atomic bombs and halt the manufacture of new atomic weapons. Originally called the Baruch Plan after the American representative who presented it to the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission in 1946, Bernard Baruch, it was subsequently labelled the Majority Plan to acknowledge the widespread support it garnered at the 3rd General Assembly in 1948.
53 Voir Canada, Chambre des Communes, DéÉtats, volume I, p. 442./See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1950, Volume I, p. 430.
54 Voir/See G.F. Kennan, `Is War with Russia Inevitable-', in United States, Department of State,
55 Note marginale:/Marginal note:
56 Note marginale:/Marginal note:
57 Note marginale:/Marginal note:
58 Note marginale:/Marginal note:
59 Note marginale:/Marginal note: