S/AE Files

No. 619
Minutes of a Meeting of the Combined Policy Committee 1
top secret

Minutes of Combined Policy Committee Meeting Held at the Pentagon on July 4th, 1945—9:30 a.m.

  • Present:
    • Members: The Secretary of War,2 Chairman
      • Field Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson
      • The Hon. C. D. Howe
      • Dr. Vannevar Bush
    • By Invitation: The Right Hon. The Earl of Halifax
      • Sir James Chadwick
      • Major General L. R. Groves
      • Mr. George Harrison
    • Joint Secretaries: Mr. Harvey H. Bundy
      • Mr. Roger Makins

. . . . . . .

3. use of weapon against third parties

Field Marshal Wilson stated that the British Government concurred in the use of the T. A. weapon against Japan.3 He added that the Prime Minister might wish to discuss this matter with the President at the forthcoming meeting in Berlin.

The Committee:—Took note that the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States had agreed that T. A. weapons should be used by the United States against Japan, the agreement of the [Page 942]British Government having been communicated by Field Marshal Sir Henry Maitland Wilson.

4. disclosure of information by the two governments on the use of the weapon

. . . . . . .

The Chairman said he was thinking of an earlier period, viz., the forthcoming meeting with Stalin. His own opinion had been very much influenced by the probable use within a few weeks after the meeting. If nothing was said at this meeting about the T. A. weapon, its subsequent early use might have a serious effect on the relations of frankness between the three great Allies. He had therefore advised the President to watch the atmosphere at the meeting. If mutual frankness on other questions was found to be real and satisfactory, then the President might say that work was being done on the development of atomic fission for war purposes; that good progress had been made; and that an attempt to use a weapon would be made shortly, though it was not certain that it would succeed. If it did succeed, it would be necessary for a discussion to be held on the best method of handling the development in the interests of world peace and not for destruction. If Stalin pressed for immediate disclosure the President might say that he was not prepared to take the matter further at the present time. …

. . . . . . .

Harvey H Bundy
Roger Makins
  1. This Committee was established under the terms of the Roosevelt-Churchill “Articles of Agreement governing collaboration between the authorities of the U. S. A. and the U. K. in the matter of Tube Alloys” (i. e., atomic energy research and development) signed at Quebec, August 19, 1943 (Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 2993; United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol. 5, pt. 1, p. 1114).
  2. Henry L. Stimson.
  3. British concurrence was required under the following paragraph of the Quebec agreement (see footnote 1, ante):

    “Secondly, that we will not use it [an atomic weapon] against third parties without each other’s consent.” Concerning British concurrence, see Ehrman, Grand Strategy, vol. vi, pp. 275–276, 296–298.

    Earlier recommendations to Truman and Stimson concerning the use of the atomic bomb against Japan are summarized in Morton, “The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb”, Foreign Affairs, vol. 35, pp. 336–339. Cf. Truman, Year of Decisions, p. 419; Stimson, “The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb”, Harper’s Magazine, vol. 194, p. 101; Byrnes, Speaking Frankly, pp. 261–262; “A Report to the Secretary of War, June 1945”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1, 1946, p. 2.