Volume #14 - 538.|
LA COMMISSION DE L'ÉNERGIE ATOMIQUE
Le délégué permanent aux Nations Unies|
au secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 13 mars 1948|
I should like to refer to my despatch No. 8 of 4 March concerning the work of the Atomic Energy Conunission, † the last paragraph of which indicated that I would wish to discuss the question of the future work of the Commission in greater detail in a further despatch.
2. As you will have noted from our recent communications on the subject, certain delegations, notably the U.S., U.K. and French, have indicated their preoccupation with the timetable to be followed in respect to the work of the Atomic Energy Commission. We have known for some time that these delegations were contemplating a break in proceedings and it is now evident that they definitely consider that it would be desirable to suspend the Atomic Energy Commission's work sine die. It is clear also that these delegations now favour including such a recommendation in the Commission's Third Report.
3. The Atomic Energy Commission, as you are aware, is presently engaged in two distinct projects, the first a detailed examination of the Soviet Government's proposals for the international control of atomic energy which is being dealt with in the Working Committee; the second a consideration of the organization which an International Agency would need to have to carry out the functions suggested in the majority conclusions given in the Commission's Second Report.' Discussion of both these matters will probably be exhausted during next month or, at the latest, in May. It has long been foreseen by most of the delegations on the Commission, and particularly the U.S., U.K. and French delegations, that the other items on the Commission's Programme of Work cannot usefully be considered under existing conditions.
4. The question therefore immediately arises of the desirability of suspending the Commission's activities, the form which the Third Report of the Commission should take, and the course which this delegation should pursue in the negotiations leading up to the writing of such a Report. These are matters on which an early decision will be necessary and I suggest that in view of their fundamental importance they might usefully be discussed by the Advisory Panel on Atomic Energy.
5. It has been obvious for some time that further progress in the Commission towards agreement on the principles which are to govern the international control of atomic energy is impossible in view of the difference of principle which exist between the Soviet Union and the nations of the western world, in general, and the United States, in particular, on these and other important questions. The recent discussions on the Soviet proposals show that they are unprepared to accept certain points which the majority hold essential to any satisfactory plan. It would seem that the Soviet objections arise from the fact that in the present international political situation they do not feel that they can give up to an international body in which nations they consider unfriendly to them are bound to be in the majority, the degree of authority of which the other nations are convinced is essential for security.
6. The United States draft proposals for inclusion in the Third Report of the Atomic Energy Commission, forwarded under cover of my despatch under reference, together with the draft prepared by the French delegation, as amended by Dr. Babbitt of our delegation, reflect these fundamental differences and the impasse which these differences have brought in the Commission's efforts to reach an agreement at this stage. The terms in which the Atomic Energy Commission reports to the Security Council and to the General Assembly, the reasons for its inability to carry out its terms of reference, at least for the present, will require urgent and careful consideration.
7. It will be noted that in the United States draft proposals the penultimate para- graph reads as follows: 'The Commission recommends that the negotiations should not be carried fuITher in the Atomic Energy Commission until such time as the sponsors of the General Assembly find, through prior consultation, that a basis for agreement on the international control of atomic energy exists."
8. It is my opinion that this language should be altered for two reasons. First, l think that the Third Report should not convey any message indicating that a stage of finality has been reached in the Commission's effort to reach agreement. I think. it is important in any such document to stress the fact that, while the majority of the. Atomic Energy Commission have been unable to reach agreement with the Soviet. Union, nine countries out of the eleven members of the Commission, plus Australia, Brazil, Egypt and the Netherlands, only excluding Poland, who have served on the Commission, have reached a remarkable degree of agreement on all the important points which they hold essential to the success of any plan for the international control of atomic energy. Secondly, as I pointed out to General Osboru,2 the present language is open to the interpretation that it would be for the sponsors of the General Assembly Resolution of 24 January 1946 to decide whether or not a basis for agreement on the international control of atomic energy exists and, therefore, whether the work of the Atomic Energy Commission is to be resumed or not. This would be tantamount to giving each of the sponsors a virtual veto over this question. On the other hand, it must be recognized that unless there is agreement amongst the sponsors, there would be little point in calling the Commission together, as the result would almost inevitably lead back to the position in which the Commission now finds itself.
9. In my opinion, the proposed Third Report might follow one of three alternative lines: (1) It might merely report to the Security Council and ultimately to the General Assembly, the situation which exists where further progress of the work of the Commission in respect of atomic energy is at present not possible, and leave it to the Council and the Assembly to decide what action it should take in the circumstances; (2) the Third Report might include a specific recommendation along the lines indicated in the U.S. draft proposals or altered in a way in which the sponsors of the General Assembly Resolution of 24 January 1946 might consult one another and report back to the General Assembly and (3) the Third Report might include a recommendation of such a character that debate would be joined on the substance of the question in such a way that the Security Council and the General Assembly would be asked to make a recommendation on the merits of the alternative plans referred to in the Reports of the Atomic Energy Commission.
10. The last course would necessarily involve a 'showdown" with the Soviet Union to which reference has, from time to time, been made by representatives of the United States and raises the general question as to whether the time is propitious for making an issue with the Soviet Union on the question of the international control of atomic energy.
11. Related to this question is the future of the Commission on Conventional Armaments to which I have referred in my teletypes Nos. 160 and 225 of 13 and 21 February, † respectively. The work of the Commission on Conventional Armaments is likewise hampered by the fundamental disagreements between the Soviet Union and the other members of the Commission. Here again a decision will be required as a matter of urgency regarding the line which the Canadian delegation should follow in further discussions in private and in the Commission, having in mind that a decision may be reached within the next few weeks regarding the suspension of the further work of this Commission. Here again it will be necessary to take into account the general objectives which should be pursued in relation to the Soviet Union in deciding on what procedure should be adopted in regard to the report of the Commission on Conventional Armaments.
12. Open disagreement with the Soviet Union on these issues in the Security Council and in the General Assembly might, of course, serve to make clearer to the public the dangers inherent in the absence of agreement with the Soviet Union on the international control of atomic energy and on the regulation and reduction of armaments and armed forces. On the other hand, decisions of such a grave character obviously cannot be considered in isolation but must be regarded in terms encompassing not only the rolations between countries of the western world and the Soviet Union and its satellites, but also in relation to the prospects of continued cooperation with the Soviet Union within the United Nations.
13. If, as seems possible, it is the intention of the United States delegation to make the work of those two Commissions an issue without regard to the larger questions involved, [ would question the wisdom of such a course. For this reason I believe that in suspending the work of the Atomic Energy Commission and of the Commission on Conventional Armaments, we must make it clear that there is a distinction which should be drawn between the two different purposes for our action. On the one hand, there is the purpose which is now both necessary and desirable of informing the Governments and the public of the world as to the position which has been reached on these important questions. On the other hand, there is the alternative purpose which might be followed of making use of the suspension of the work of the two Commissions as an additional complaint against the Soviet Union for their failure to cooperate with the western world in a vitally important field.
14. In view of the urgency and the importance of the matters raised in this despatch, it would, I suggest, be useful to have any additional information which you may be able to obtain from other sources as to the intention of other governments, and in particular, of the U.K., U.S. and French governments on these questions.
15. I would, in addition, like to suggest that it might be useful to convene at an early date a meeting of the Advisory Panel on Atomic Energy to consider specifically the questions which a suspension of the Atomic Energy Commission's work will raise, and the position which should be taken by the Canadian delegation in regard to the Commission's Third Report.
I have, etc.
1 Voir le volume 13, document 267./See Volume 13, Document 267.
2 P.N. Osborn, représentant suppléant des États-Unis a la Commission de l'énergie atomique des Nations Unies.