Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by the Commanding General, Manhattan Engineer District ( Groves ), to the Secretary of State

top secret
At its meeting on 4 December 1945, the Combined Policy Committee appointed a subcommittee consisting of the Honorable L. B. Pearson,12 Major General L. R. Groves and Mr. Roger Makins13 to draw up an agreement to take the place of the Articles of Agreement [Page 1205] signed at Quebec on 19 August 194314 and to recast the Trust Agreement of 13 June 1944,15 if necessary. The documents were to be in accord with the recent memorandum signed by the President and Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Canada, a copy of which is attached as enclosure l.16 The Heads of the Agreement agreed to by General Groves and Sir John Anderson,17 a copy of which is attached as enclosure 2,18 were to be used as the basis. The documents were to be in a form suitable for execution as executive agreements.
The subcommittee has met a number of times and has reached an agreement which will be presented at the meeting of the Combined Policy Committee scheduled for Friday, 15 February 1946. It has also prepared in accordance with the minutes of the Combined Policy Committee drafts of letters to be exchanged between the President and the Prime Ministers, which will effectively eliminate the restrictions placed upon post-war commercial participation by the United Kingdom.19
The scope of the new arrangements extends far beyond that ever contemplated by the Quebec Agreement and in effect will constitute an outright alliance, which can only be terminated by mutual consent between the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, in the entire field of atomic energy. The military, political, legal, and international implications require the closest consideration by the highest authorities of the possible consequences which may result from this alliance if it is consummated in the present form.
The Quebec Agreement was an executive agreement made under the President’s power to conduct war. The stated principle with respect to exchange of information was that in the field of scientific research and development there should be full and effective interchange of information and ideas between those in the two countries engaged in the same section of the field. This principle was applied wholeheartedly throughout the war period although the exchange was almost entirely from the United States to the United Kingdom. Since V–J Day, its application has been lessened.
The type of cooperation now being sought by the United Kingdom must be considered primarily in terms of its military aspects, for, in spite of all of the discussions in this country of peaceful potentialities of atomic energy, its primary, almost sole, importance will remain military until world peace is assured or until effective control proves feasible. We do not yet know how sucessful will be the efforts of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada to effect international control of atomic energy and prevent its use for military purposes. I feel that it would be an easier task to outlaw war itself Until control is achieved, and at the best it will take years to accomplish this, atomic energy will continue to be the most strategically important military weapon in existence. The proposed form of cooperation in the field of atomic energy could well be considered as tantamount to a military alliance.
The memorandum signed by the President and the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Canada intends cooperation in the field of atomic energy but does not expressly or by implication provide for any joint venture of the three governments. The financial and developmental burdens since the inception of this project have rested almost solely upon the United States. The true relationship and the basis of collaboration between the United States and United Kingdom has been kept from the American people and the Congress. There is a general feeling that the United Kingdom played an important role in the development of the atomic bomb. This is not the case.
Serious consideration should be given to the effects of the provisions of Chapter XVI of the United Nations Charter, namely, that all treaties and international agreements shall be registered with the Secretariat at the earliest possible time. Consideration should also be given not only to the validity but to the wisdom of an executive agreement. The advent of atomic energy has caused considerable apprehension not only in Congress but among all thinking Americans as well. Initial steps have been taken on the international level to bring about agreement among all nations in this field. The temper of the people and of the Congress is such that any secret arrangement at this time would, if it became known, be subject to severe criticism and might result in serious complications. The bringing to [Page 1207] light of such an agreement during a period in which the United States is fostering international cooperation and a community of responsibility to maintain peace would very likely cast grave reflection on the sincerity of this effort and furnish the opportunity which certain countries may be seeking to discredit us in the eyes of the world.
It is extremely important that we arrive at a definition of “full and effective interchange of information” at this time. Dr. Chadwick has acquainted me with the probable intentions of the United Kingdom government to develop a large scale plant for production of fissionable materials in England. The information and assistance which he has stated he will request from us to enable the United Kingdom to carry out its program include practically all of the processing techniques and plant designs and specifications of the entire Manhattan Project less the gas diffusion method, and even some of the personnel. The project would depend on American knowledge, not British. I have discussed the matter with General Eisenhower. He feels very strongly that cooperation must include wholehearted consideration of our views on keeping large scale installations out of England. Any large British installation should be built, not in the United Kingdom, but in Canada.
In any consideration for utilizing the existing American-British agreements as bases for agreements for the exchange of information and for cooperation in the field of atomic energy, there should be included provisions for cooperative planning on the location of any new large scale installations developed for the production of fissionable materials.20
L. R. Groves

Major General, USA
  1. Lester B. Pearson, Canadian Ambassador in the United States.
  2. British Minister in the United States.
  3. The Combined Policy 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 (TIAS) No. 2993: United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol. 5, pt. 1, p. 1114). For documentation on the First Quebec Conference, August 14–24, 1943, see Foreign Relations, Conferences at Washington and Quebec, 1943, pp. 391 ff.

    For extracts from the minutes of the meeting of December 4, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 86.

  4. Reference is to the Agreement and Declaration of Trust, signed by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill on June 13, 1944, establishing the Combined Development Trust, of which General Groves was Chairman; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, p. 10261028. The Trust was to operate under the direction of the Combined Policy Committee. Its main function was to secure control and insure development of uranium and thorium supplies located outside the jurisdiction of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Dominions, India, and Burma.
  5. Reference is to the memorandum of November 16, 1945, expressing intention to continue cooperation; for text, see telegram 3400, April 20, 1946, to London, p. 1235. For text of the Agreed Declaration by President Truman, Prime Minister Attlee of the United Kingdom, and Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada, signed at Washington, November 15, 1945, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1504, or 60 Stat. (p. 2) 1479.
  6. Chairman, British Advisory Committee on Atomic Energy; former Chancellor of the Exchequer.
  7. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 75.
  8. For text of the report, including drafts of letters to be exchanged, see infra.
  9. Regarding United States negotiations with the United Kingdom and Canada in 1946 concerning continued cooperation in the postwar period, see Hewlett and Anderson, pp. 477–481.