International Inspection

December 6, 1946

Report Outline
Inspection as an Enforcement Instrument
Inspection and Armament Control, 1919-1933
New Proposals for International Inspection

Inspection as an Enforcement Instrument

Advocacy of Inspection by the United States

It is now recognized by all the United Nations that international agreements to control atomic energy and to regulate the reduction of armaments in general must, to win the full faith and credit of nations and peoples, be accompanied by provisions for international inspection. The Soviet Union, disposed at first to regard inspection as an inadmissible encroachment on national sovereignty, has finally conceded its necessity. Although Russia's concession was hedged by insistence that inspection systems must operate “within the framework of the Security Council,” and therefore within range of the right of veto held by the great powers, her acceptance of the principle gave hope that agreement could eventually be reached on effective control methods.

The United States has led the way in championing international inspection. The American proposal for control of atomic energy would give broad powers of inspection, unfettered by exercise of any veto right, to an International Atomic Development Authority. When Foreign Minister Molotov, early in the present session of the United Nations General Assembly, urged action on general disarmament, the American representative was quick to advocate inspection arrangements in that connection. And a system of inspection formed an integral part of the special four-power treaties proposed by Secretary of State Byrnes to guarantee the permanent disarmament of Germany and Japan.

Limited Experience with International Inspection

International inspection is a little-tried enforcement measure. Experience with it has been limited mainly to the activities carried on in Germany after World War I in connection with execution of the disarmament clauses of the Treaty of Versailles. But that system of inspection was imposed by war victors on a defeated enemy. Voluntary acceptance of inspection as a means to verify the observance of a general international agreement would be almost unprecedented.

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