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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 11, 1945

TASS DIGEST, 'BYRNES' STATEMENT AT A PRESS CONFERENCE; ETC.'

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    Excerpts from a press conference by James Byrnes on the creation of a Far East Consultative Commission, as well as articles on the atomic bomb, the Council of Foreign Ministers, and a new civilian advisor for Jewish matters appointed by General Eisenhower.
    "TASS Digest, 'Byrnes' Statement at a Press Conference; etc.'," October 11, 1945, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 97, ll. 37-48. Contributed by Sergey Radchenko and translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/134690
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       Secret

sheet 57-o

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11 October 1945

TASS  

BYRNES’ STATEMENT AT A PRESS CONFERENCE

TA.IL.3345,3356,3355,3354,3369,3367,3368,3363, 3362, 3361, 3360 WASHINGTON, 10 October (TASS) US Secretary of State Byrnes, speaking at a press conference, reported that the Soviet Union, China, and Britain had accepted a US proposal made on 21 August about the creation of a Far East Consultative Commission and that on 9 October the United States had sent invitations to come to a meeting of this conference which is be held in Washington on 23 October.

Byrnes also reported that a delayed agreement of Britain to the US proposal had been received on 27 or 29 September together with the two following demands: invite India to take part in this Commission and grant the Commission the right to also meet in Tokyo, besides Washington.

In reply to this Byrnes wrote a letter to Bevin in which he said that he was glad to invite India and that he will raise this question for the consideration of other governments. The Soviet Union and China have still not replied to his inquiry. As regard the place of the meeting of the Commission Byrnes declared that the headquarters would be in Washington, but that it would also meet in other places when circumstances require this. The US will give its representative instructions to agree to a meeting in Tokyo when circumstances require this. Byrnes reported that retired General Franklin, who was the American representative to the Lytton Commission which investigated the state of affairs in Manchuria in 1932, and who at the present time is President of the unofficial, but influential Foreign Policy Association, is being appointed as the American representative.

Byrnes further pointed out that, speaking of the proposal to create a Consultative Commission, he does not mean the new proposal he made in London, but the proposal made to all the allied representatives to the Commanding General of Allied Forces MacArthur immediately after the surrender of Japan. As Byrnes said, this proposal would have been be published many weeks ago if Britain had not delayed its agreement. Byrnes let the Soviet government know about Britain’s agreement the same day as he became aware of it, and passed Britain’s demand to invite India in a separate letter. The Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs replied that, in the opinion of the Soviet government, the creation of a control council should precede the creation of the Consultative Commission. In reply to the correspondent’s question Byrnes declared that, in his opinion, the Consultative Commission could set long-term policy with respect to Japan and consult allied governments on this question. Byrnes replied that he intends to discuss this question with the President and the joint committee of chiefs of staff inasmuch as he wants to know the military situation, but considers the procedure proposed by the Soviet Union ill-advised.

In Byrnes’ words, as far as he knows, no critical comments have arrived with respect to MacArthur’s observance of the terms of Japan’s surrender. in accordance with the surrender terms, which Byrnes called a contract, the Emperor of Japan has to take orders from the Supreme Allied Commander. However, this does not mean that he has to take orders from a Consultative Commission or a control council.

In reply to a question whether the proposal of the Soviet Union envisions the removal of General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander, Byrnes replied in the negative and said that the proposal of the Soviet Union is generally in accordance with the other control councils. In reply to a question whether MacArthur has received further directives besides those which have already been published, Byrnes declared that, as he assumes, other directives have already been sent. In reply to a question, is there any change in the basic directive that American policy should be given preference if the allied council does not come to agreement, Byrnes replied in the negative. Of course, Byrnes continued, governments can change their positions and a Consultative Commission might give advice in this regard.

Byrnes also gave a negative reply to a question whether MacArthur’s presence was possible at a meeting of the Consultative Commission in Washington. He reported that MacArthur was not invited, and expressed doubt that he could come, even if he were invited, inasmuch as he has much business in Japan.

In reply to a question about a report of the newspaper New York Herald Tribute that during the Potsdam Conference Truman and Stalin came to agreement that the United States would begin talks with Turkey about changing the status of the Dardanelles, Byrnes replied that at the Potsdam Conference Truman suggested internationalizing all European waterways, but did not specially deal with the question of the Dardanelles in this connection. In Byrnes’ words, this question was singled out during the discussion, and the question of internationalization together with some others was designated for study by the ministers of foreign affairs and the adoption of a decision at the meeting in London. Then Byrnes reported that at the Potsdam Conference the United States discussed the Convention in Montreux concerning the Dardanelles, and that a decision was made that the US would raise a general question with Turkey about internationalizing the waterways. The United States thinks that this should be done to ease transportation inside the continent and transportation through European waterways in general, but the proposal made by the US at Potsdam did not concern the Dardanelles.

After the Berlin conference the US informed Turkey about the US position on the question of internationalizing the waterways. In reply to a direct question of one of the correspondents of whether the United States approves of the internationalization of the Dardanelles, Byrnes replied that he cannot discuss this question at the present time inasmuch as Turkey still has not given a reply to the American statement.

Then Byrnes reported that he had appointed Mark Ethridge, who published the newspaper Courier Journal in Louisville for many years, as the American representative for familiarization with the situation in the Balkan countries and submitting a report a report to him from the point of view of the possibility of United States recognition of the governments in these countries. Byrnes reported that during the talks in Potsdam agreement was reached in this regard that the US, the Soviet Union, and Britain would each independently investigate the situation in the Balkans, considering that the US and Britain still had not recognized the governments of some countries. The United States had recognized the government of Finland after this and had formulated a proposal about recognition of the Hungarian government.

Byrnes reported that he continues to research this question and has decided to send a representative unconnected with any previous talks or investigations, and also not having ties with the State Department and is unprejudiced. In Byrnes’ words, he chose Ethridge inasmuch as the latter is an experienced journalist and correspondent who can correctly evaluate people and their statements. Ethridge will arrive in Washington on 15 October from where he will go abroad.

With regard to the internationalization of European waterways Byrnes stressed that the United States desires this inasmuch as it thinks that an international commission could ensure the maximum efficiency of navigation needed for the European countries suffering at the present time while control by individual countries hampers such efficiency in view of the existence of different rules. Byrnes said that the Montreux Convention should be reexamined with respect to the Dardanelles inasmuch as conditions have changed since this Convention was worked out. In Byrnes’ words the terms of this Convention should be modified. Byrnes declared that did not know anything about any independent action by the Soviet Union like Turkey’s ideas about the desirability of internationalizing the Dardanelles. As Byrnes asserts, the question of the Dardanelles was not discussed at the London conference and the proposal made by Byrnes at this conference about internationalizing the waterways, chiefly in speeches, is a separate question.

Then Byrnes reported that Denmark has ratified the United Nations Charter and the International Court statute and thus now 12 countries have already delivered ratification instruments. Then Byrnes expressed hope that other governments will hasten to complete ratification.

In reply to the question, why have the armistice terms with Italy not yet been published and have these terms been altered, Byrnes mentioned that he proposed changing these conditions before he left for London.

In his words, he expressed this desire at the Potsdam Conference, but could not get Britain’s and the Soviet Union’s agreement then. He thinks that these terms are outdated and severe. He noted at the same time that it was irrational to discuss these terms at the London Conference when it turned out to be impossible to draft a peace treaty. The correspondents pointed out that the State Department and the White House had declared that these terms are not published because of military circles. Byrnes replied that he does not know why military circles continue to object to the publication of these terms and he does not see reasons why these terms could not be published.

Byrnes also asserted that during the London Conference he did every that depended on him to force the ministers of foreign affairs of Britain and the Soviet Union to publish more reports about the conference. In reply to the question of who objected to this Byrnes said that the Soviet minister of foreign affairs objected. In reply to the question, from what source did the American press get the numerous “rumors” about the conference Byrnes stated that he was not the source of such reports himself, and said that in such a place as London, where there are many clever correspondents in close proximity, there is no possibility of maintaining such secrecy as was possible in the Crimea, where there was not a single correspondent within 500 miles, or even in Berlin, where there was not a single correspondent in close proximity. In his words, the press reports from London about the talks of the ministers of foreign affairs are more than 50% inaccurate. But he does not know from where this information came. Byrnes said that he was told that the British Foreign Office had ties with the press, but actually the first press reports about events supposedly taking place at the meetings of the Council appeared in the United States.

Touching on the resignation of Argentinian Vice President Peron, Byrnes declared that he does not want to make an attempt to assess the situation until he knows all the facts, but he can say without hesitation that this resignation is quite significant and important. Considering the broad interest and sympathy which the US display with respect to the Argentinian people he hopes that this resignation presages better days for Argentina.

After Byrnes declared at the press conference that the terms of Japan’s surrender are a “contract” the State Department explained somewhat later in Byrnes’ name that the use of the word “contract” was poor. The State Department explained that the matter basically comes down to the Allies assuming the responsibility for pursuing matters with Japan through the Supreme Allied Commander acting in the name of the Allies, who should issue his instructions through the Japanese Emperor. In reply to questions, a representative of the State Department stated that the Allies had not come to agreement to use the Emperor for any definite period or in any definite manner. It was earlier indicated in a White House policy declaration with respect to Japan that the surrender terms are not a contract, but a policy declaration.

At the press conference Byrnes gave a negative reply to a question about whether a reply had been received from the Soviet Union to the American proposal to convene a general peace conference. In reply to a request to comment on the proposal of the Soviet Union that the creation of a control council be preceded by the creation of a Consultative Commission Byrnes declared that this question should be submitted for the consideration of the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. First of all he would like to explain the current military situation. In addition, he thinks that the method proposed by the Soviet Union is ill-advised, inasmuch as according to the proposal the responsibilities of the Consultative Commission include working out the political principles and norms for ensuring Japan’s fulfillment of its responsibilities according to the surrender, and also the necessary measures and the creation of a staff which is to operate in Japan. It was stipulated that this Commission should not submit recommendations concerning the conduct of military operations or with regard to a military settlement. In Byrnes’ words, at the moment of surrender, when this proposal was being worked out, everyone thought that after appropriate consideration this Commission would be able to determine what policy should be pursued with respect to Japan for a lengthy period.

Then Byrnes declared that this proposal provides that the Commission’s responsibilities include submitting recommendations to the governments participating in it, and Byrnes thinks that when this Commission studies the situation and submits recommendations the governments will be able to decide what procedure ought to be followed. The governments will also be able to decide whether the powers of the Commission ought to be expanded or to create another apparatus in which the governments will be able to participate and determine the degree of this participation.

As Byrnes said, in his opinion, there cannot be any changes with regard to the surrender terms, in accordance with which no one except the Supreme Allied Commander can give any orders to the Emperor. Byrnes noted that in no way is it provided that the Emperor is subordinate to the orders of the Consultative Commission or a control council.

In reply to a question, does the proposal of the Soviet Union provide for the removal of the Supreme Commander, Byrnes replied that he knows nothing about any such plan in this regard and that, in his opinion, the Soviet Union does not envision this. In general outline the plan proposed by the Soviet Union coincides with the plan in accordance with which the Control Council in Germany operates.

In reply to the question, did President Truman agree to support the demands of the Soviet Union with respect to the Dardanelles and the creation of a Soviet base in the Straits during the conference in Berlin, Byrnes replied he remembers an agreement that the governments would each raise the pressing question before Turkey separately. In Byrnes’ words, the Convention should undoubtedly be reexamined, but it still ought to be precisely determined what these changes should be. Byrnes reported that some exchange of opinions took place between the US and Turkey after the Berlin Conference, but he declined to articulate their substance. In reply to a question, when does the US intend to hold talks with the Turkish government about the Dardanelles, Byrnes declared that he had already raised the question about reexamining the pact. He declined to answer a question of whether the US approves of internationalization of the Dardanelles until Turkey responds to the American statement.

In reply to the question, does the President’s proposal to internationalize European waterways mention the Black Sea straits, the Dardanelles, Byrnes states that these are separate questions and that the protocol of the Berlin Conference provides that each government will examine the question of the Dardanelles with Turkey separately, which results from the proposal about internationalizing the waterways. In reply to the question, did the Soviet Union take any independent steps after the Berlin Conference, proposing the internationalization of the Dardanelles to the Turkish government, Byrnes said he does not remember anything of the kind. In reply to the question, have any preliminary discussions been held between the Soviet Union and Turkey about this question, Byrnes said that some discussions have probably been held, but that he does not know this.

He also reported that in Berlin President Truman had proposed the internationalization of all waterways in Europe – the Danube, the Rhine, and the Kiel Canal, but was not able to achieve agreement. In Byrnes’ words, during the London Conference he personally insisted on the consideration of the question of the internationalization of European waterways as a temporary measure, but he could not achieve agreement.

The Americans are getting information about the lack of navigation in some European rivers inasmuch as the demolished bridges, etc. are hampering this. This will lead to difficulty in the shipments of goods which the UNRRA is tried to distribute through various countries. The US is especially interested in clearing rivers so that an opportunity appears for barges and ships to make voyages under the supervision of an international commission. It would be extraordinarily useful to reach agreement about the rules of river transportation as one of the measures to help, and to begin voyages knowing the laws of navigation which are encountered on the way and at the destinations, but such agreement should be achieved in accordance with the rules of unanimity. In Byrnes’ opinion, a temporary agreement about the internationalization of European waterways could convince participants of the possibility of cooperation and in the framework of a permanent international commission.

[date missing] October 1945 TASS      Secret

BRITISH SCIENTISTS ON THE FUTURE OF THE ATOMIC BOMB

RN, ML, E159, E167, E168. LONDON, 9 October. As the Reuters agency transmits, one of the most prominent British scientists, Professor Hill, has called for complete openness on the question of the future development of atomic energy. “The assumption that the history of atomic energy can be kept secret for a long time is complete senselessness”, declared Hill. [“]The only hope of the rational and proper use of atomic energy, which will be an invaluable gift to mankind is in complete openness. In the final account nothing so excites fear, jealousy, suspiciousness, and uncertainty as so-called “security”. There cannot be a monopoly on the laws of nature”.

Professor Hill added that a correct approach to the problem of atomic energy is possibly the most important question on which the United Nations ought to seek important decisions.

Professor Blackett, the Chairman of the [British] Science Association, declared that the organization he heads “is trying to work out what, in his opinion, should be the policy of the development of atomic energy”. He warned that he might make a statement the next week. The [British] Science Association includes prominent scientists, many of whom are directly interested in the development of atomic energy.

Sir Arthur Salter, who spoke on the question of the atomic bomb at Oxford on 8 October, declared: possession of the secret of the atomic bomb charges those who keep this secret with an unavoidable responsibility. I am submitting a proposal that America, Great Britain, and Canada immediately transfer this secret to the Security Council on condition that each country, including those who introduce this proposal, gives the Council an effective right of inspection in their countries; however, the Council will consider it its duty to send its inspectors everywhere and demand the destruction of all enterprises producing atomic bombs, with the exception of those which are deployed on a certain territory and are appropriately guarded by international armed forces.

Garland, the Director of the Imperial Science and Technology Institute, had high praise for Churchill, who was always ready to adopt and support new scientific ideas. Garland continued, “If we as scientists can express our opinion that it will read that neither political control, nor governments, nor laws can stop the development of science. Strict control over one or several materials which are considered necessary at any stage of development of atomic energy will lead to searches for other materials being conducted which in the final account end in success. We are firmly convinced that scientific work on atomic energy should be open, free, and accessible to scientists of the entire world. US Secretary of State Byrnes declared that President Truman intends to begin talks with Great Britain and Canada with the goal of concluding an international agreement about prohibiting the use of the atomic bomb. Attempts to surround this question with an atmosphere of secrecy will end in complete failure, provoke jealousy and suspicion, and delaying the beneficial development of atomic energy, encourage each country to secretly seek some new inventions which could contribute to the success of the military or economic plans of this country with respect to its neighbor. The future of atomic energy cannot be predicted, but we as scientists can only regret those extravagant demands which are being made on it. If it is even destined to be made a new source of power, and coal and oil must go out of fashion, this will produce only insignificant changes in the life of the average person for many generations.

THE 5 OCTOBER EDITORIAL OF THE NEWSPAPER IZVESTIYA IN THE YUGOSLAV PRESS

SI.ML.214. BELGRADE, 8 October (TASS). Belgrade newspapers have published in full an editorial of the newspaper Izvestiya about the session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in London in prominent pages.

[date missing] October 1945 TASS        Secret

STATEMENT OF AN AMERICAN SCIENTIST ABOUT THE ATOMIC BOMB

TM.MK.3240,3241,3248. WASHINGTON, 8 October (TASS). Scientist Langmuir, Assistant Director of the Research Laboratories of the General Electric Company, speaking at a joint session of the Senate Commerce Commission and the Military Affairs Commission, insisted on approval of a bill to give government money to carry out a broad program of scientific research work. Langmuir declared that the US cannot keep the atomic bomb a secret and stressed the rapid development of science in the Soviet Union with visible alarm. He said, “The atomic bomb stresses the need for passing the proposed bill even more”. In his words, during a conference of scientists who took part in the creation of the atomic bomb which was recently held in Chicago, the majority of them expressed the opinion that some countries might create atomic bombs within five years. “Thus, we can assure ourselves of dominance for only several years. An important question arises – will we be able to maintain this dominance? It is necessary to strengthen the United Nations for the future of international security and, finally, it is necessary with the aid of the creation of international control to use atomic energy for the good of all mankind instead of it being a constant threat”.

Langmuir pointed out that, in his opinion, the Soviet Union intends to pursue a broader program in the field of scientific research work and development than any other country. Langmuir noted that during his recent trip to the Soviet Union in connection with the celebration of the anniversary of the Academy of Sciences he was especially struck by the opportunities offered the people by the Soviet government which are “at least as great as the opportunities which we have inherited from our capitalist system before it was limited by government control”. Demanding that the US not abandon “the stimuli which have brought us to our present situation”, Langmuir condemned the proposal of trade unions to introduce a 34-hour workweek. He declared that this would provide the Soviet Union an opportunity to surpass the US and create an atomic bomb “which would be able to kill everyone in the country”. This would also provide the Soviet Union an opportunity to catch up to the US in the field of science in 10 years. He noted, however, that the US will be able to maintain supremacy in the field of science with the government’s support.

Replying to questions from members of Congress, Langmuir expressed the hope that an international organization would put a complete end to the production or stocks of atomic bombs. He declared that all countries would eventually come to agreement about the creation of international control over atomic energy since the threat of the atomic bomb would otherwise become intolerable.

Democratic Senator Fulbright (from the state of Arkansas) declared, however, that in his opinion it was impossible at the present time to create international control since the US thinks that it is safe and does not wish to subordinate itself to anyone. Geographer [Baumen], chancellor of Johns Hopkins University, also insisted that the government, as during the War, continue to support scientific research work. “Recalling yesterday’s dangers and risk, and feeling that danger might still arise I unfortunately have come to the conclusion that the War is not over, but only its military phase. We still have not solved the problems created by the War, and we are insufficiently shrewd and far-sighted to determine how successfully we are solving them”.

THE APPOINTMENT OF A NEW ADVISER TO GENERAL EISENHOWER

TM.ML. 3244. WASHINGTON, 8 October (TASS). The War Department has announced the appointment of New York judge Rifkind as adviser for Jewish matters to General Eisenhower in the American Zone of Occupation in Germany. This was done at the request of General Eisenhower, who suggested that the War Department appoint a civilian adviser. It is expected that Rifkind will occupy this post for about three months.