Lot 57 D 688

Memorandum by the Secretary of War’s Special Assistant (Bundy)


Memorandum of Meeting at 10 Downing Street on July 22, 1943

Present for Great Britain: The Prime Minister,
Sir John Anderson,
Lord Cherwell.
Present for the U.S.: Secretary of War,1
Dr. Vannevar Bush,
H. H. Bundy

The Prime Minister opened the question of exchange of information on S–1 and stated that the President had agreed with him several times that the matter would be a joint enterprise, these agreements not having been reduced to writing but having been verbally expressed in June, 1942, and again at Casablanca and in U.S.* The British, therefore, were very much concerned when they received on June [January] 7, 1943, a memorandum from Dr. Conant rigidly limiting the exchange of information.2 This appeared to be about the time that the War Department took over the project in the U.S.A. The British have been urging a reexamination of the question in order to carry out what the Prime Minister considers the President’s agreement but no satisfactory assurances have been received.

The Prime Minister took the position that this particular matter was so important that it might affect seriously British-American relationships; that it would not be satisfactory for the United States to claim the right to sole knowledge in this matter. The Prime Minister further said that Britain was not interested in the commerical aspects but was vitally interested in the possession of all information because this will be necessary for Britain’s independence in the future as well as for success during the war; that it would never do to have Germany or Russia win the race for something which might be used for international blackmail; and that Russia might be in a position to accomplish this result unless we worked together. The Prime Minister further said that at the Peace Conference the United States could never take the position that it alone should have control of this matter, and that if the United States took the position that it would not interchange [Page 635] fully it would be necessary for Great Britain immediately to start a parallel development even though this was a most unwise use of energies during the war. Therefore, the Prime Minister stated that he thought it vital that the matter be reexamined and a free exchange brought about.

Dr. Bush stated that the U.S. had always been ready to exchange scientific information but there had been a limitation on exchange of manufacturing information unless it would help the recipient in the task of winning this war; that this limitation followed general security principles in war time. He further doubted that the Conant memorandum had been delivered to the British as the final American position; that the wording of this memorandum placed the matter in a negative light; and that the formula for exchange actually offered by the U.S.A.3 was completely adequate to the best interests of both parties to winning this war; that post war problems were separate, and that the difficulties of complete exchange lay in respect to post war matters, both political and commercial. The Prime Minister placed no importance or emphasis on any hope of commercial advantage and Sir John Anderson stated that the commercial aspect had confused the issue and probably the United States received the idea of the British emphasis on commercial advantage because they had used the commercial possibilities as a camouflage for the real purposes in the effort.

The Secretary then stated his views of the present situation as follows, reading from a memorandum:

Two Governments in possession of an unfinished scientific hypothetical formula on which they are working.
Both Governments continue working on the development of that formula and are ready to interchange reports of their respective developments.
U.S. at large expenditure of public monies sets on foot construction out of which these formulae may be transformed into practical products; on the understanding that U.K. may share these products for the joint object of winning the war.
U.K. now asks U.S. for running reports on its constructive designs and other manufacturing experience, in order that U.K. after the war is ended and its present strain of other construction is over, may be in a position to prepare itself to promptly produce against the danger of a new threat or a new war.
Should the U.S. grant this request unequivocally? Should it seek safeguards against any use of product except under political restrictions? Should it refuse the request as entirely uncalled for, under the original agreement between the President and Prime Minister?

[Page 636]

The Prime Minister remarked that this was a trenchant analysis of the situation. The Prime Minister then suggested that he would be in favor of an agreement between himself and the President of the United States having the following points:

A free interchange to the end that the matter be a completely joint enterprise.
That each Government should agree not to use this invention against the other.
That each Government should agree not to give information to any other parties without the consent of both.
That they should agree not to use it against any other parties without the consent of both.
That the commercial or industrial uses of Great Britain should be limited in such manner as the President might consider fair and equitable in view of the large additional expense incurred by the U.S.

The Secretary stated that he was not in a position to express any U.S. Government views on these suggestions but would be glad to present these to the President of the United States for his consideration.

After the adjournment of the meeting, Dr. Bush and I waited with Lord Cherwell while the Secretary was talking with the Prime Minister on other matters,4 and I pointed out to Lord Cherwell the great difficulty of the President making any promises which were not strictly within the war powers and the political danger of such promises in the President’s relation with Congress which might later seriously prejudice any attempt to reach a fair agreement between the United States and Great Britain.

H[arvey] H. B[undy]
  1. Henry L. Stimson.
  2. Note by General Groves: We have been unable to secure any confirmation of this. [Footnote in the source text. See Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Washington, 1941–1942, and Casablanca, 1943, pp. 432, 803.]
  3. See Hewlett and Anderson, p. 268.
  4. Note by General Groves: The War Department ( Manhattan Engineer District) started to take over the project in the summer of 1942 and to control the interchange of information in the fall of 1942. [Footnote in the source text.]
  5. Based on the policy of restricting information to those able to use it in furthering the war effort. See Hewlett and Anderson, p. 271.
  6. Note by General Groves: It was clear to me that Mr. Akers was thinking primarily of commercial advantages to Britain after the war during his conferences in the fall of 1942. [Footnote in the source text.]
  7. See ante, p. 448.