Volume #22 - 376.|
NATIONS UNIES ET AUTRES ORGANISATIONS INTERNATIONALES
SECRET. CANADIAN EYES ONLY.||[New York, n.d.]|
REPORT ON THE SESSION JULY 3-16, 1956|
OF THE DISARMAMENT COMMISSION
The Disarmament Commission met from July 3 to July 16 1956, to consider the report (DC/83 of May 4, 1956) of the Sub-Committee on its discussions in London, March 19 to May 4, 1956. The report included the various proposals, working papers and other documents submitted during the Sub-Committee's session, together with the verbatim record. An interim report of progress after about six weeks of discussion by the Sub-Committee had been envisaged by the Disarmament Commission at its meeting on January 23, 1956.
2. At the Sub-Committee session last Spring, although at first there appeared to be some flexibility in the positions of the main parties, the various shifts which occurred in these positions resulted in no real progress. It appeared, however, that the delegations of the Soviet Union and the United States were thinking along similar lines in their approach to the problem on disarmament, that is, both seemed to be in favour of seeking agreement on measures which could be implemented in the immediate political circumstances. The United Kingdom and to a lesser extent, France, were also prepared to seek agreement on a first stage of disarmament although, as the authors of the Anglo-French working document of March 19,80 they continued to seek a definition of the ultimate goals of disarmament, most of which could not be attained until there had been a marked improvement in international relations. Canada, without abandoning any of its ultimate objectives, urged the desirability of reaching an agreement, however limited, which could serve as a basis for further agreement not only on comprehensive disarmament but on broader political issues.81
3. The main difference between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers was that, whereas the Soviet Union proposed conventional disarmament, within a three year period and without political settlements, down to levels formerly proposed by the Western Powers (1.5 million for China, USSR and United States, 650,000 for France and the United Kingdom) for a comprehensive programme, these reductions were not related to any measures of nuclear disarmament. The Soviet Union did, however, restate its traditional position on the prohibition of nuclear weapons and said that this could be the basis of either a simultaneous agreement or one which could be "facilitated" by the agreement on conventional disarmament. The Soviet Representative stated categorically that the two should not be linked, in the sense of being dependent upon one another. In varying degrees the position of the Western Powers was that however limited the agreement might be, it must contain both nuclear and conventional elements and, if this agreement were to be implemented in the present political circumstances, the levels to which forces should be reduced would be considerably higher than those formerly proposed for the final stage of disarmament (2.5 million for China, USSR, United States; 750 thousand for France and the United Kingdom). As in the past, moreover, the Western Powers, continued to insist that effective inspection and control was essential to the implementation of any agreement on disarmament. The Soviet proposals of March 27 on control were considered inadequate and in particular the Soviet position on aerial inspection.82
5. In these circumstances the Sub-Committee talks ended in a deadlock. In terms of propaganda the Soviet Union assumed the position that, while it was ready to proceed with practical measures of disarmament, once more the Western Powers had demonstrated their lack of desire to reach agreement; once more they had withdrawn in the face of Soviet acceptance of Western proposals. The position of the Western Powers was that the Sub-Committee should continue to search for an agreed solution based on the four-power declaration submitted to the Sub-Committee on May 4, 1956.83
6. On May 14, the Soviet Union announced unilateral reductions in its armed forces by 1.2 million men. This move had been expected since the time of the Soviet proposal of March 27, 1956. The announcement was coupled with a disparagement of the proceedings in the Sub-Committee. This attack reflected the views which Mr. Khrushchev had expressed privately during his visit to the United Kingdom. The Soviet attitude seemed to be that the Sub-Committee had outlived its usefulness and, apparently in accordance with that view, Mr. Bulganin on June 6 addressed separate letters to seven members of NATO urging them among other things, to follow the example of the Soviet Union in making reductions in armed forces and armaments.84 In spite of these signs of Soviet impatience about the Sub-Committee, it seemed most unlikely that the Soviet Union would try to either have it dissolved or have its membership enlarged.
7. Both sides approached the recent session of the Disarmament Commission with the intention of improving their propaganda position, in preparation for the eleventh session of the General Assembly. The Soviet Union had its various "offers to meet the West" and its unilateral reductions, in short, action on disarmament rather than diplomatic dialogue. The Western Powers could point to the inadequacy of Soviet proposals on control, the absence of nuclear measures in the latest Soviet proposals of March 27 and the need for an agreement based on sound principles.
8. The four Western Powers of the Sub-Committee were greatly concerned about maintaining a solid front in the face of a Soviet propaganda position which was admittedly strong. In the Sub-Committee the Soviet Representative had shown little disposition to exploit the obvious differences between the Anglo-French position and that of the United States. Nevertheless those differences helped to weaken the Western stand, both as a negotiating and a propaganda position. In an effort to reach common ground for the Western partners, the United Kingdom circulated, a short time before the opening date of the Disarmament Commission, a plan for partial disarmament which included both nuclear and conventional elements. This plan was considered unacceptable as a basis for the Western position in the Commission, because it contained new elements and because there was insufficient time for the four to reach full agreement on it. Accordingly, it was not pressed by the United Kingdom.
9. The United Kingdom then fell back on the four-power declaration of principle of May 4. Arriving in New York a week before the Commission session began, Mr. Nutting canvassed the opinions of the majority of members (Australia, Belgium, Cuba, Iran, Yugoslavia and, of course, his three Western colleagues on the Sub-Committee). As a result of these consultations it was agreed that the Western Four should submit a draft resolution which urged the Sub-Committee to continue its search for an agreed solution, "paying due regard" to the principles of May 4. Mr. Nutting proposed to submit this draft resolution (Doc. DC/87 of July 3) at the first meeting of the Commission, although Mr. Martin urged him to wait until the discussion had developed and M. Moch expressed a preference for a simple procedural motion. Mr. Cabot Lodge had at first been in favour of a procedural move but was persuaded to support Mr. Nutting's approach.
10. Early in the discussion in the Commission it was clear that the four-power draft resolution would have the support of 10 members of the Commission, although the Representative of Australia was anxious to strengthen it. He had firm instructions to see that the Commission did something more than merely apply a rubber stamp to the Sub- Committee's report. The Representative of Yugoslavia favoured the Western principles as a basis for an eventual agreement on disarmament but he was anxious to promote early agreement on initial steps and particularly those which would not require political settlement as a pre- condition. These ideas were embodied in the Yugoslav draft resolution (Doc DC/92 of July 10). Attempts were made, with some measure of success, to incorporate the Yugoslav ideas in the four- power draft resolution. The negotiations between the Western Four and Yugoslav Delegation were abandoned however, when the Soviet Union announced that it was prepared to accept the United States figures of 2.5 million and 750 thousand for the levels of forces and the Great Powers.
11. The same move, on the part of the Soviet Union, caused the Western Four to have second thoughts about pressing the four-power draft resolution to a vote. Mr. Nutting, arguing that the situation had changed considerably (the Soviet position was not as inflexible as it had appeared) since the tabling of the four-power declaration on principles of May 4 and since the submission of the joint draft resolution on July 3, strongly recommended that all the proposals before the Commission be referred to the Sub-Committee for study. It was envisaged that the Sub-Committee could examine in detail the shift in Soviet policy implied in Mr. Gromyko's statement on July 12. Mr. Martin and M. Moch supported Mr. Nutting; neither of them had been too enthusiastic about the four- power draft resolution. The United States Delegation, however, was not prepared to change its position merely because Mr. Gromyko had appeared to change his. Mr. Lodge and Mr. Wadsworth argued that the so-called Soviet acceptance of United States figures for the levels of the Great Powers was no real concession and, in the light of the conditions which had been attached to that acceptance, there might be no real change in the Soviet position. In any event, if the Western Powers were not to press their resolution to a vote, the press in the United States would treat the matter as a diplomatic victory, through cheap propaganda, for the Soviet Union.
12. The United States Delegation could not be dissuaded from this point of view, notwithstanding considerable efforts on the part of the other three Western Delegations. After a lengthy consultation it was agreed that Peru, on behalf of the Western Four, would submit a draft resolution (Doc. DC/97 of July 16), prepared by the United States Delegation, which in its preamble would take note of the various proposals and statements made in the Commission and refer specifically to the four-power declaration of principles, and which would ask the Sub-Committee "to study these propositions at the appropriate time" and to report to the Commission which would then examine the various resolutions and proposals "already presented to it or which shall have been presented between now and its next session". This draft resolution was a combination of ideas which M. Moch and Mr. Nutting had advanced. The United States' Western partners reluctantly agreed to support this procedural resolution, which would clearly have the support of at least ten members of the Commission.
13. When the Peruvian draft was presented in the Commission on July 16, Mr. Gromyko reacted vigorously and rejected it as being wholly one-sided. Before the meeting M. Moch had informally discussed the situation with Mr. Sobolev and as a result, had proposed in the Commission, before Gromyko's rejection of the Peruvian proposal, that the authors of various proposals might meet during a brief recess to see whether a procedural text acceptable to all could be drafted. This suggestion was supported by Mr. Gromyko and the Yugoslav Representative, who was clearly disappointed by the Peruvian text. M. Moch made no effort to consult his Western partners about this variation of agreed tactics. The result was that when the proposal for a recess was put to a vote, it was not carried because of a three-way split in the vote. (Belgium, Canada, United Kingdom and United States voted against it.) M. Moch obviously angered by the refusal of his Western partners to make even a show of trying to reach an agreed text, complained bitterly about the rejection of the proposal for a recess. This clear rift in the Western ranks did much to undo the tactics followed throughout the Commission debate and greatly reduced the value of the voting victory which the United States desired.
14. Mr. Gromyko's first major intervention on July 3 was not very effective as propaganda. The Soviet Union had some strong talking points; there was the superficial argument that every time the Soviet Union agreed to accept proposals made by the West, the Western Powers withdrew from those proposals; there were the unilateral reductions which the Soviet Union had announced and which it was carrying out, notwithstanding the failure of the discussions in the Sub-Committee and the apparent reluctance of the Western Powers to follow suit; there was the traditional Soviet position on nuclear disarmament and the prohibition of tests; the Soviet Union could even claim to have broadened its approach to the questions of control. Moreover, there were obvious differences among the Western Four which could have been exploited not only to divide them but to show the impracticability of the Western position as a basis for negotiation. Mr. Gromyko used most of the arguments at hand but not as effectively as he might have done. He seemed to have no interest in driving wedges between the Western partners.
15. His second major intervention on July 12 was more effective, although it contained obvious distortions and was too reminiscent of Soviet cold war speeches. The Soviet Delegation made a point of requesting a meeting of the Commission at a time when it had been previously agreed that no meeting should be held. This clearly added emphasis to what Mr. Gromyko had to say. After a lengthy attack on the Western Powers for blocking the solution of the disarmament problem, an attack which dealt with Western policies in all areas, Mr. Gromyko pointed the way out of the impasse by summarizing what the Soviet Union was proposing on disarmament.
16. He made four main points;
(a) The Soviet Union proposed to conclude an agreement on the unconditional prohibition of weapons of mass destruction, the elimination of all stocks of atomic bombs and cessation of their production. It proposed to conclude an immediate agreement on the immediate cessation of all tests of atomic and hydrogen weapons. Whether separate agreements were being proposed was not clear but the implication of Soviet proposals and statements in the Sub-Committee last Spring is that separate agreements might be concluded.
(b) The Soviet Union favoured a considerable reduction of the armed forces of the Great Powers. Since "our partners do not agree to this", Mr. Gromyko said, the Soviet Union "agrees that the level of armed forces will be established now for the Soviet Union, the United States and China at the level of 2.5 million each; for the United Kingdom and France 750 thousand men each; for other countries no more than 150 thousand to 200 thousand men each; in order that as a second step the armed forces of the United States, the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union should be reduced to the level of 1 million to 1.5 million each and those of the United Kingdom and France to 650 thousand men each." Armaments and military expenditures would be reduced "correspondingly".
(c) The Soviet Union wanted an effective control over the prohibition of atomic weapons and reductions in armaments and armed forces. Mr. Gromyko then summarized the Soviet position on control as proposed on March 27.
(d) As an interim measure the Soviet Government called anew on all powers to accept the "Draft Declaration of States regarding Measures to Strengthen Universally Powers of the Security of Peoples" (Doc. D/C88 of July 3). This draft declaration had been tabled by Mr. Gromyko on July 3 and in essence was a reiteration of earlier Soviet proposals that the powers concerned renounce the use of atomic and hydrogen weapons and, in general, the use of the threat of force. It was probably tabled as a direct counter to the four-power draft resolution.
Further comment on the Soviet position is contained in the Assessment - Part B of this report.
17. The Canadian position was reviewed in some detail in a statement by Mr. Martin in the Disarmament Commission on July 5 (the text is contained in Doc. DC/PV 53). Mr. Martin emphasized once again Canada's apprehension that, if steps were not soon taken to check the spiralling development of nuclear weapons, including their means of delivery, the powers concerned might shortly find themselves in a situation in which it would be no longer practicable to implement an effectively controlled programme of disarmament. In that era of "push-button" weapons the dangers and anxieties of the present would be greatly magnified. Mr. Martin argued, as the Canadian Representative had done in the Sub-Committee, that a start on disarmament should be made at once and in immediate circumstances; that however limited the agreement might be, it would have a significant psychological and political effect which could lead to more complex agreements not only on disarmament but on broader political issues. Expressing guarded welcome to their unilateral steps toward conventional disarmament, Mr. Martin urged the Soviet authorities to join in an agreement which would include nuclear elements and, in short, to demonstrate that the repudiation of Stalinism at home had its counterpart in a less distrustful and more constructive attitude toward the problem of international disarmament.
18. This statement was warmly welcomed by all members of the Commission except the Soviet Representative. It received wide and favourable coverage in the press. In another intervention on July 13 (DC/PV 59) Mr. Martin commented on the problem of nuclear tests which had been raised in detail by Mr. Krishna Menon. Mr. Martin referred to the study in Canada of the effects of atomic radiation and urged that national studies of this kind should be co-ordinated closely with the work of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. He expressed Canadian support for some form of limitation of test explosions of a military nature, preferably within the context of other measures for disarmament under effective control.
19. Behind the scenes the Canadian Delegation worked strenuously to maintain solidarity in the Western ranks. This was a continuation of the role which Canadian representatives had played during the Sub-Committee session in London. The aim was to reconcile as far as possible the differences in approach among the Western Three. At the Commission Session, as indicated elsewhere in this report, Mr. Martin was mainly concerned with bridging the gap between M. Moch and Mr. Lodge. Unfortunately although some success was achieved in the informal consultations among the Western Four, all efforts at reconciliation were largely offset by M. Moch's sudden and emotional outburst in the closing minutes of the session.
Other Positions in the Commission
20. The Yugoslav position was perhaps the most interesting among the non-members of the Sub-Committee. The Yugoslav Representative favoured the four-power principles but he was concerned about the emphasis on political settlements (Sub-paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Draft Resolution). The Yugoslavs believed that the emphasis should be on the need for an immediate agreement on measures which could be implemented at an early date. They were ready to accept the United States figures for force levels in the first phase; they believed that some nuclear measures should be included from the outset, and particularly the cessation or at least the limitation of nuclear tests; reduction in military expenditure should also be part of the agreement. The Yugoslavs worked strenuously to bring about some accommodation between the opposing points of view. They seemed genuinely disappointed when the Peruvian text was pressed as the procedural motion designed to meet the situation in the Commission. Throughout the proceedings the Yugoslav Representative showed no disposition to side with the Soviet Union and privately dismissed the Soviet draft resolution as worthless.
21. The Australian Delegation was most anxious to have a debate in the Commission which would provide some direction to the Sub-Committee when it reconvened. It was to some extent the result of Australia's efforts that a full and useful discussion did take place. The Western Four and the Soviet Delegation were encouraged to give a complete disclosure of their positions and the Australians and Yugoslavs responded by giving clear views of non-members of the Sub-Committee. Dr. Walker's main statement on July 9 was well balanced and thought-provoking and demonstrated that the problems of disarmament are not confined to those of the principal members of the Sub-Committee. The Australian amendment served to round out the four-power draft resolution.
22. Among the remaining members of the Commission the Representative of Iran was the most helpful contributor. His replies to Mr. Gromyko and his support for the Western position were well-timed and to the point. As in the recent Security Council proceedings, Dr. Abdoh's conduct in the Commission has further enhanced his stature among missions in New York.
23. The Indian intervention on the whole was disappointing. Mr. Menon had not taken the time to prepare his case well and his remarks were largely a repetition of what he and other Indian representatives have said in past United Nations discussion of this subject. Some of his arguments in favour of a "suspension" of nuclear tests had substance but he failed to back them up with authoritative scientific opinion. Likewise the ideas he advanced for bringing about an armaments truce were not as unrealistic as he made them sound. In addition, he argued briefly but not convincingly in favour of direct negotiations in the interests of the whole world between the United States and the Soviet Union and in favour of an enlargement in the membership of the Commission and its Sub-Committee. Comments on Mr. Menon's intervention were confined to his remarks on the suspension of tests. Taken as a whole the answer was that the need to organize a system of limitation on tests was real but the best scientific advice today indicated that the problem was not as urgent as some advocates of prohibition or suspension proclaimed. M. Moch's immediate reply to Mr. Menon was particularly effective.
24. The broad propaganda attack in Mr. Gromyko's statement of July 12 was dealt with effectively and almost immediately by various members of the Commission. His proposals on disarmament were, however, not directly answered, largely because the Commission was not the forum for the detailed debate on them. It was, moreover, necessary for the Western Powers to study this statement carefully, and particularly the remarks concerning the reduction of armed forces, to see whether Mr. Gromyko had announced a shift in policy or was only making a further manoeuvre to strengthen the public position of the Soviet Union.
25. As a propaganda exercise, the debate in the Commission produced no clear cut advantage to either side. The Western Powers had their voting victory but at the expense of irritating the Soviet Delegation, alienating the Yugoslavs and provoking M. Moch to differ sharply and indignantly with his Western partners. The Soviet Union added substance to its claim to be willing to discuss all aspects of disarmament and to meet all proposals put forward by the West. Mr. Gromyko was, however, unable to answer convincingly the Western protestations about the inadequacy of the control measures proposed by the Soviet Union.
26. On substance the new element in Mr. Gromyko's statement was the section on the reduction of armed forces. The Soviet proposal of March 27 made no mention of stages but merely listed measures which "shall be carried out in 1956-58". There was reference to "gradual reduction" in armaments and armed forces to the levels proposed, that is 1-1.5 million for China, the Soviet Union and United States and 650 thousand for the United Kingdom and France. The size of the annual reduction should be "subject to further agreement". It is not clear whether the Soviet acceptance of the figure 2.5 million "as a first step" is an altogether new proposal or whether it is merely an elaboration of the "gradual reduction" to which the March 27 paper refers. The linking of the acceptance with the "second step" in reductions to the levels proposed on March 27 suggests that there may be no substantial change in the Soviet position. This is substantiated by the linking of the acceptance of 2.5 million with the figure 150-200 thousand as the level of the armed forces of other states. According to the March 27 proposals the level for other countries would be determined at a world conference. Mr. Gromyko's remarks could imply that the passing from step to step (he avoided the word "stage") would be an automatic procedure, that is, without the safeguards which were contemplated in the Anglo-French plan. This was one feature of the March 27 proposal which was criticized by all the Western representatives in the Sub-Committee talks last Spring. Equally objectionable, from the Western point of view, was the absence of a nuclear element. It is true that Mr. Gromyko has re-stated the traditional Soviet position on nuclear disarmament, including the banning of test explosions, but he seemed to adhere to the position taken on March 27 that conventional and nuclear disarmament should be separated for the purpose of reaching earlier agreement. All these factors suggest that Mr. Gromyko's remarks add up to little more than clever propaganda. This seemed to be the conclusion reached by the United States Delegation, at least their preliminary one.
27. Mr. Nutting made much of the change which Mr. Gromyko's remarks implied; this meant that the Sub-Committee should be reconvened soon to examine their full implication. (The United Kingdom position has been that the USSR will not be interested in serious negotiation until May next year when its strength in conventional armed forces is expected to be roughly that of the United States. However, it is important in Mr. Nutting's view to keep the Soviet Union "in check" on every move.) M. Moch tended to support Mr. Nutting although he was less enthusiastic about an early meeting of the Sub- Committee. Whatever the implication of Mr. Gromyko's remarks, it seems clear that if the Western Powers are to make good their case for an agreement on disarmament rather than unilateral reductions, they must be prepared to explore by negotiation, either in the Sub- Committee or elsewhere, every avenue opened by the Soviet Union. It does not follow however, that the Western Four should precipitate a new meeting of the Sub- Committee. Quite the contrary, they should prepare themselves carefully for the next encounter with a view to presenting a solidly united front to the Soviet Union and to exposing fully the hollowness of the Soviet position, if Mr. Gromyko was only making propaganda.
28. In a sense the recent Soviet moves are much more than propaganda. The Soviet Union may not be interested in reaching agreement on a comprehensive programme of disarmament; it may be opposed to any agreement which involves a complex system of inspection and control; but recent moves, like the unilateral reductions of the superficial acceptance of the Western proposals, are designed to do more than merely to evade Western pressure for an agreement on disarmament. Just as the previous Soviet position on the prohibition of nuclear weapons was aimed at weakening Western strength in nuclear weapons, the current emphasis on conventional reductions is designed to wreck NATO with the ominous consequences this would have for the German question. Moreover, the Soviet proposal to ban nuclear tests is designed to appeal to those genuinely anxious about the effects of atomic radiation and to win general sympathy for the Soviet position on disarmament. By all these moves the Soviet Union hopes to compel the Western Powers, reacting to the pressure of public opinion, to adopt measures of disarmament although on security grounds they might be reluctant to do so.
29. For this reason the Western position in the Sub-Committee
and elsewhere should not be simply a matter of propaganda.
Complex arguments on inspection and control and on the effects of
atomic radiation are far less effective as propaganda than
announcements about reductions in armed forces and armaments. The
best counter to the Soviet position would be a sound proposal
which can be easily understood, which takes into account the
world's anxiety about nuclear arms development, which has some
prospect of early implementation and which the Soviet Union might
have difficulty in rejecting, particularly if it has behind its
propaganda screen a real interest in reaching some measure of
agreement on disarmament. (It might be significant that Mr.
Gromyko announced in the closing minutes of the Commission's
debate the Soviet Union's "favourable attitude" to the Yugoslav
draft resolution.) Accordingly the Western partners should now
seek to evolve a first stage plan which they could all endorse
whole-heartedly which could be implemented in immediate
circumstances and which might stand on its own until broader
agreements, on disarmament and other political questions, could