Volume #15 - 188.|
ISSUES BEFORE THE UNITED NATIONS
Memorandum front Secretary, Chiefs of Staff Committee|
to Cabinet Defence Committee
June 8th, 1949|
COMMISSION FOR CONVENTIONAL ARMAMENTS|
1. When the Working Committee of the Commission for Conventional Armaments met on May 26, the French representative presented a plan for an exchange of information on armed forces and conventional armaments. This plan had its origin in the General Assembly resolution of 19th November, 1948, which called upon the Security Council "to pursue the study of the regulation and reduction of conventional armaments and armed forces through the agency and the Commission for Conventional Armaments". In accordance with paragraph 6 of that resolution the Commission asked its Working Committee on 23rd February to undertake as its first task "the formulation of proposals for the receipt, checking and publication by an international organ of control within the framework of the Security Council, of full information to be supplied by member states with regard to their effectives and their conventional armaments".
2. The French working paper, a copy of which is attached,t was presented as the first step in the implementation of the November 19th resolution. Although presented to the Working Committee by the representative of France, the present paper is nevertheless based largely on the United States draft paper which the Chiefs of Staff Committee had before it at its meetings of 26th April and 11 th May. The only differences between the present paper and the United States draft are:
(a) that the present paper is the product of informal discussions among the delegations of Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, and
(b) that in the joint paper the original provisions of the United States paper have been simplified by a shortening and revision of section 1 (General Considerations), by the exclusion of a detailed listing of items to be covered in the proposed census of effectives and armaments, and by the exclusion of some details of the verification procedures.
The present paper, then, confines itself to broad proposals for the census and verification, leaving the details of method to be worked out by agreement in the Expert Sub-Committee which is to be set up.
3. It is almost certain, judging from the remarks of the Soviet representative in the Working Committee on May 26th, that the U.S.S.R. will reject the terms of the French working paper. This being the case, the Western Powers are anxious to advance a proposal which will be as clear-cut and simple as possible in order that by rejecting it, the Russians will be placed in an unfavourable propaganda light. To do this, however, the Powers supporting the provisions of the present paper must be prepared, if necessary, to implement these proposals under existing political conditions.
4. In considering this question, the Chiefs of Staff Committee, bearing in mind the fact that the Canadian Government has not revealed to the United Kingdom and United States nor even to the Parliament of Canada information on its holdings of military equipment, attached a proviso to their recommendation that the Canadian delegation should be instructed to support the use of the American working paper as a basis of discussion for the final stage of the informal talks. This proviso was to the effect that, from the military standpoint, the Canadian Government should not agree to the release of information on military equipment until the census and verification of information on personnel had first been carried out in good faith by the U.S.S.R, This proviso, however, was not incorporated by the Working Committee in the wording of their final paper because it was felt that the introduction of a security check of this nature would weaken the strength of the proposals, and might enable the U.S.S.R. to argue that such a suggestion was merely an attempt to place the Soviet Union in the position of having to divulge information on personnel in which they were known to be stronger than the Western Powers.
5. Although there are no definite assurances that the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and France will in fact agree to the terms of the present working paper, it would appear reasonable to assume that they will accept it without serious reservation as they have been actively concerned in the successive stages of its preparation. Moreover, if (as is extremely unlikely) a census and verification of armaments and effectives were to take place as a result of the present proposals, the United States, the United Kingdom and France would undoubtedly be required to release a greater volume of important military information to the control organ than would Canada. Their willingness to participate in the present plan may, it is true, be largely based on their conviction that the U.S.S.R. will reject it. In any event it would seem that if these three governments are willing to subscribe to the plan, the Canadian Government would have less to lose by giving a similar assurance and should therefore keep in step with the other three Governments in what is essentially a manoeuvre in the cold war.
6. Bearing in mind, therefore,
(a) that it is unlikely that the U.S.S.R. will agree to the present proposals; and
(b) that it would be desirable, in order to place the U.S.S.R. in an unfavourable propaganda light, to put forward proposals which are as clear-cut and simple as possible; and
(c) that the U.S., U.K. and French Governments are expected to subscribe to the terms of the present working paper; and
(d) that Canada shall have an opportunity, when the Expert Sub-Committee is set up, to express further views on the method of carrying out the proposals,
the Chiefs of Staff recommend:
(i) that the Canadian Government subscribe to the terms of the present working paper; and
(ii) that the Canadian Government agree to implement these terms if the need should arise.50
50 Ces recommandations furent télégraphiées à la délégation aux Nations Unies (no. 527, le 15 juin 1949) avec le commentaire suivant: At has not been possible to obtain Ministerial authority so far
and it may well be impossible to do so for some days." On a volé; sur 1'exposé français, le 21 join,
lorsque la délégation caradieme vota avec la majorité, dans le but d'appuyer la Commission sur les