Memorandum by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee 67a
Guidance as to the Military Implications of a United Nations Commission on Atomic Energy
Report by the Joint Strategic Survey Committee in Collaboration With the Joint Staff Planners After Consultation With the Commanding General, Manhattan District 68
1. To develop conclusions as to the military implications of the creation of a United Nations Commission on Atomic Energy.
2. To provide guidance to the representatives of the United States Chiefs of Staff on the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations as to the military advice to be given the United States representative on the Commission on Atomic Energy.
3. J.C.S. 1567/2569 was considered by the Joint Strategic Survey Committee and the Joint Staff Planners in connection with this study.
facts bearing on the problem and discussion
4. See Appendix “A” (page 131).[Page 739]
5. It is recommended that the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree that:
- Rapid resolution by the Congress of the United States as to the governmental machinery for handling matters connected with atomic energy and the security thereof is desirable in the interest of sound action in the international field.
- The production of atomic energy for industrial and scientific use by any nation will place that nation within a short step of the immediate capability of production of the atom bomb. Information essential to such use of atomic energy must be therefore regarded as in the same category as the “know how” of the atomic bomb itself.
- No realistic system of inspection and control is as yet apparent which will ensure against the production of atomic bombs for military use in a nation which possesses such capability. However, in view of the certain alternative that failure of international regulation and control will result in an atomic armament race, every effort must continue to be made to develop and establish such a system.
- Atomic weapons can be most effectively used against highly developed nations having centralized industries. The United States is such a nation. Consequently it is to the interest of the United States to assume active leadership in establishing international means to control atomic weapons. So long as the United States is the sole nation actually having atomic bombs and is furthest advanced in the field of atomic energy, it holds a preeminent position for the exercise of such leadership. This preeminence will wane with the passage of time. Therefore, all possible action should be taken under United States leadership before other nations develop their own atomic weapons.
- The United States is committed to the establishment of a Commission on Atomic Energy under the United Nations in accordance with and for the purposes defined in the declaration on atomic energy of 15 November 1945, issued by President Truman and Prime Ministers Attlee and King and in the communique of 27 December 1945 from Moscow following the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom.
- The work of the Commission is of vital interest to the United States from the standpoint of its national security.
6. It is not possible to state categorically in specific and comprehensive terms the military implications of the creation of a United Nations Commission on Atomic Energy, and the consequent opening of this matter to consideration and action by that Commission. While it is not possible to furnish a firm and complete list of objectives to be sought by the U.S. representative, it is apparent that any revelation of atomic information now held alone by the United States accelerates the rate at which other nations reach equality in respect to atomic weapons. The degree of agreed safeguards must thus be the criterion of the amount of information disclosed.
7. Much reliance will have to be placed on step by step analysis of [Page 740] problems as they arise in committee. The representatives of the United States Chiefs of Staff on the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations should be given a position advisory to the United States Representative on the Commission. Furthermore, there should be available, both as an assistant to the United States Member on the Commission and as one of the United States Military Staff Committee organization, an individual cognizant of matters of atomic energy and with a broad military background.
8. As a statement of implicit limitations on the functions of the Committee, the Representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Military Staff Committee should be guided by the following principles:
- It is essential that any action contemplated in the Commission be not prejudicial to the security of the United States.
- Progress should not be hurried. Painstaking examination and thorough coordination of each step within the United States Government are required.
- A satisfactory solution from the United States’ point of view of the problem of effective controls and safeguards must be arrived at before any disclosure or exchange of specialized technological information is agreed.
- Normal reciprocal peacetime interchange of basic scientific information and the restricted interchange of scientists and students is acceptable only under the limitations imposed in paragraph 17 of Appendix “A” and in subparagraphs a and b above.
- Exchange of information on raw materials should not be undertaken at the present.
9. A copy of this paper be transmitted to the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee for consideration in formulating the State Department’s instructions to the United States Delegation to the United Nations Organization.
10. This paper be transmitted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to their representatives on the Military Staff Committee of the United Nations for their interim information with the caution that it is a highly classified document and should be discussed only with United States personnel authorized to deal with matters concerning atomic energy.
- Reproduced in SWNCC 253, January 24, 1946.↩
- The Joint Strategic Survey Committee, a wartime inter-service body established on November 7, 1942, made recommendations to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on global and theatre policy. The JSSC continued to concern itself with national policy and world strategy in 1946. It frequently drafted JCS positions on matters pending before the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee; its members sat on SWNCC’s Ad Hoc Committee on United Nations Security Functions. With respect to SWNCC and its Ad Hoc Committee, see footnote 73, p. 754. The Joint Staff Planners was similarly an inter-service group created in 1942 which continued to advise the JCS on strategic matters. Manhattan District was the wartime code name for the atomic bomb development program commanded by Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves; the designation continued to be employed after the nature of the project became public knowledge.↩
- Not printed.↩
- For text, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1504, or 60 Stat. (pt. 2) 1479.↩
- For the full text of the Communiqué, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 815; for Section VII, see ibid., p. 822.↩