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Text of a Note From the British Ambassador to the French Minister
for Foreign Affairs, Dated June 28, 1928 His Majesty's Ambassador is instructed by His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to inform the Minister for Foreign Affairs that His Majesty's Government have had under consideration a suggestion made by the French naval representative in a conversation with Admiral Kelly at Geneva early this month.
2. The suggestion is that the only surface vessels subject to limitation should be those mounting a gun of greater calibre than 6''. This would produce a classification for the preparatory commission on disarmament as follows:
Submarines. 3. His Majesty's Government presume that this suggestion would not have been made to Admiral Kelly by the French Naval representative unless he had reason to suppose it would meet with the approval of the Government of the Republic. In these circumstances Lord Crewe is directed to inform Monsieur Briand that His Majesty's Government in their earnest desire to meet the views of the Government of the Republic accept this suggestion and that they are prepared to instruct their representative to support it if put forward by the French representatives.
4. Lord Crewe is directed to add that the adoption of this suggestion, which His Majesty's Government recognize would be a concession to their views on naval classification, would enable them to meet the Government of the Republic by withdrawing their opposition to the French standpoint in regard to Army trained reserves.
[Enclosure 2-Translation] Text of a Note From the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the
British Embassy, Dated July 20, 1928 In his note of June 28 last the Marquis of Crewe kindly communicated to M. Briand the bases on which his Government, solicitous of making possible between France and Great Britain an understanding designed to insure the success of the work of the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference, was disposed to consider the limitation of naval armaments. He added that if the Government of the Republic should share these views the British Government, on its part, would give up its opposition to the French position on the question of "trained reserves”.
The Government of the Republic convinced, as is the British Government, that in the absence of an understanding between the two countries it would be vain to hope for the success of the labours of the Preparatory Commission and consequently impossible to achieve a general limitation of armaments, has examined in the most receptive spirit the proposal which the British Embassy has been good enough to transmit.
It would certainly have preferred that the British Government, taking into account the views already expressed officially or semiofficially by the United States and Japan, should have considered it possible to accept the compromise draft presented by the French Delegation in the month of March, 1927, and it remains convinced that, if, in spite of their expectations, difficulties should continue to exist, the study of this draft would eventually furnish ways of overcoming them.
Taking cognizance, however, of the declarations contained in the British note, realizing the attempt at conciliation, of which these declarations give evidence and desirous, on its part, of showing in this matter the same desire for an understanding, the French Government after careful examination has decided to agree with the principle of the proposals contained in the note of June 28.
Nevertheless, it appears to the French Government that, to be submitted effectively for the acceptance of the other interested naval Powers with a view to the reconvening of the Preparatory Commission and in order fully to safeguard the interests for which that Government is responsible, these proposals should be made more definite with respect to the manner of their execution.
It is with this in view that the Chief of the General Staff of the Navy recently questioned Rear-Admiral Kelly, temporarily in Paris, concerning the means which the British Admiralty considered employing in putting into practise the proposed method of limitation. Rear-Admiral Violette in particular asked whether the British Government, following a method already put forward by its representatives, envisaged, for the limitation of submarines, the fixing of a maximum tonnage equal for all the great naval Powers, a system which should eventually have the advantage of avoiding discussions frequently delicate regarding the determination of the needs and the relative strength of their navies.
He similarly asked if the same method could be applied to cruisers, for the limitation of which the note of June 28th provides, it being understood, moreover, that, within the maximum tonnage theoretically authorized, the Disarmament Conference should determine the limitation figures which in practise the High Contracting Parties would undertake not to exceed during the period of the Convention to be concluded. Such a procedure would, in effect, have the advantage of avoiding discussions on the relative theoretical strength of certain navies, the political consequences of which might become delicate.
Finally, Rear-Admiral Violette asked whether, in accordance with a proposal often made by the British Admiralty, submarines could not be divided into two classes, coastal submarines, as the Japanese Delegation suggested during the Three Power Naval Conference, being exempt from all limitation because of their strictly defensive role.
The French Government sincerely hopes that the British Government will see no obstacles to making complete its proposals in this sense. The French Government itself could thus accept them in their entirety and that would render it possible to avoid at Geneva painful discussions which would be more likely to increase distrust between the Powers than to create the atmosphere of mutual confidence necessary to the general limitation of armaments.
Furthermore, it certainly has not escaped the British Government that the understanding so ardently desired by both can only produce it's happy results if the American Government is willing to associate itself therewith. M. Briand would therefore be glad to know whether His Majesty's Government will consider it opportune to take the necessary steps in Washington in this respect. For its part, the Government of the Republic would not fail to point out the reasons for which, anxious to reach a conclusion, it has not thought that it should insist upon the adoption of the compromise proposal which it presented in 1927. It, moreover, entertains the hope that the concerted action of France and England will make it possible to obtain the adherence of the interested naval Powers.
In any event, moreover, and even if this hope should be frustrated, there would nevertheless remain for the two Governments the imperious duty of coming to an agreement either to insure in other ways the success of the work which is being done or to adopt a common policy which would permit them to meet the difficulties which a failure of this work would not fail to occasion.
Text of a Note From the British Embassy at Paris to the French
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dated July 28, 1928 His Majesty's Embassy is directed by His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to inform Minister for Foreign Affairs that His Majesty's Government highly appreciate the friendly and conciliatory attitude displayed by the Government of the Republic in the memorandum addressed to His Majesty's Embassy by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on July 20th respecting the limitation of naval armaments.
His Majesty's Government, like the French Government, would have preferred to see their own proposal for compromise accepted in the terms in which they originally made it, and they cannot but observe that the supplementary proposals suggested in the French note make very considerable alterations in it. Nevertheless, His Majesty's Government, in their anxious desire to reach such an agreement with France and other Powers as will lead to the successful conclusion of the labours of the Preparatory Commission, and believing that the proposals now made by the French Government are of a character to achieve this result, are prepared to accept the supplementary proposals made in the French note, namely, that an equal maximum tonnage for submarines and cruisers should be fixed for the great naval Powers, and that submarines should be divided into two classes, the smaller class being exempt from all limitation.
It is, of course, well known to the French Government that His Majesty's Government are unable to consider this class of vessel as possessing a strictly defensive character, but, as above stated, they consent in deference to the views of other Powers not to insist further on their point of view.
His Majesty's Government are in full agreement with the French Government that the assent of the other great naval Powers is essential to success, and, as desired by the French Government, His Majesty's Government will communicate to the Governments of the United States, Italy and Japan, the compromise which has already received the approval of France and Great Britain, that is to say:
"Limitations which the Disarmament Conference will have to determine will deal with four classes of warships:
“(1) Capital ships, i. e., ships of over 10,000 tons or with guns of more than 8 inch calibre. “(2) Aircraft carriers of over 10,000 tons.
(3) Surface vessels of or below 10,000 tons armed with guns of more than 6 inch and up to 8 inch calibre.
“(4) Ocean-going submarines, i. e., over 600 tons. “The Washington Treaty regulates limitations in classes (1) and (2) and the Disarmament Conference will only have to consider the method of extending these limitations to Powers non-signatory to this treaty.
“As regards classes (3) and (4), the final Disarmament Conference will fix a maximum tonnage applicable to all Powers which no Power will be allowed to exceed for the total of vessels in each of these respective categories during the period covered by the convention. Within this maximum limit each Power will at the final conference indicate for each of these categories the tonnage they propose to reach and which they undertake not to exceed during the period covered by the convention."
The Secretary of State to the Chargé in France (Armour) so
WASHINGTON, September 26, 1928–6 p. m. 330. Since Department's telegram number 329, September 25, 3 p. m. giving text of note to French Government concerning the Franco-British naval agreement the Department has received from both governments the texts of the notes exchanged. This full knowledge of the agreement does not change the note telegraphed you, with the following exceptions:
In the second paragraph strike out the following words: “not knowing the full text of the agreement, finds it difficult to answer the French note, but”. Also strike out the word “nevertheless”. So that the paragraph would read “The Government of the United States is willing to submit certain suggestions as to the basis of naval limitation as summarized in the French note."
In the next to the last paragraph of the note strike out "So far as its purport can be ascertained from the summary given”.
Also strike out the entire last paragraph beginning "In a letter of July 31”.
APPROVAL BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE OF HOUSE JOINT RESOLU.
TION FAVORING THE ABOLITION OF SUBMARINES BY ALL NA. TIONS
The Secretary of State to the Honorable Stephen G. Porter boa
WASHINGTON, January 28, 1928. MY DEAR CONGRESSMAN: I received your letter 51 asking the Department's report or recommendations on H. J. Res. 139 expressing the opinion of Congress against the use of submarines, etc.52 There is no objection to the Resolution provided it expresses the opinion of Congress that submarines be abolished and their construction prohibited by all the nations of the world. Of course, it would be im
The same, mutatis mutandis, to the Ambassador in Great Britain as No. 218.
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.
Not printed. < 70th Congress, 1st Session, joint resolution introduced by Mr. Frothingham Jan. 9, 1928, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs :
"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it is the opinion of the Congress of the United States that the use of submarines be prohibited and their construction discontinued in this and every other country.
That the Government of the United States continue to use efforts to bring about these results."