Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Minutes of the Meeting of the Combined Policy Committee at the Department of State, April 15, 1946, 2:30 p.m.

top secret
Present: Members The Secretary of State (in the Chair)
The Secretary of War
Dr. Vannevar Bush43
The Rt. Hon. Earl of Halifax
Field Marshal Lord Wilson
By Invitation
The Canadian Ambassador, Mr. L. B. Pearson (representing the Hon. C. D. Howe)
Mr. Dean Acheson
Sir James Chadwick
Major General L. R. Groves
Mr. Roger Makins
Mr. George Bateman

I. Minutes of the Meetings held on December 4th, 1945 and February 15th, 1946.

These minutes were approved.

[Page 1228]

II. Report by Chairman of the Combined Development Trust.

(a) Disclosure of information to the representatives of the three Governments on the United Nations Atomic Energy Committee.

The Committee had before it a letter from the Chairman of the C.D.T. to the Chairman of the Committee (copy of which is attached as Tab PP44) enquiring whether the C.D.T. was authorized to communicate information on its activities to the representatives of the three Governments on the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission.

The Committee decided that their respective representatives should receive information and instructions direct from the Governments and that the Trust and the Trustees as such should take no action in this regard.

(b) Elimination of Special U.K. Bank Account for C.D.T. Funds.

The Committee had before it a letter from the Chairman of the C.D.T. 45 reporting that the Trust had agreed that a special account which had been opened in the Bank of England should be discontinued.

The Committee took note of the decision of the Trust in this matter.

III. Declassification of Information Regarding Atomic Energy.

General Groves stated that a Committee under the Chairmanship of Doctor Tolman46 had reported on the question of releasing for publication classified material relating to atomic energy. The Committee had recommended that certain types of material should be released forthwith. A set of rules for declassification had been prepared to give effect to the recommendations of the Tolman Committee and copies had been communicated to Sir James Chadwick and to the Canadian authorities at Chalk River. In conformity with the Third Provision of the Quebec Agreement the approval of the C.P.C. was required before action could be taken under these rules.

After discussion, the Committee approved action to give effect to the proposed procedure on declassification of information, subject to confirmation by the U.K. Government.

IV. Allocation of Material.

The Committee had before it (a) a letter from the Chairman of the C.D.T.;47 (b) a memorandum by the British members48 which had been circulated but not discussed at the last meeting of the Committee [Page 1229] with a specific proposal which had since been added; and (c) a proposal by the U.S. members.49

Lord Halifax said that the proposal of the British members was an endeavour to find an equitable and simple solution of the problem of allocation of material received by the C.D.T. since V–J Day. He regarded the proposal put forward by the U.S. members as inequitable, in that it gave a large allocation to the U.S. and none to the U.K. Such a proposal would be quite inacceptable to the British Government. He pointed out that in a period when there was intended to be full and effective cooperation in the field of atomic energy between the three Governments, the British Government was not only receiving no material, but was financing the acquisition of material by the U.S. through the Trust up to 50% of the supplies received.

General Groves said that the principle of the U.S. members’ proposal was allocation on the basis of need. This principle had first been laid down in paragraph (3) of the Quebec Agreement. The U.K., unlike the U.S., had no current needs for the operation of plants. Acceptance of the proposal put forward by the British members would mean a partial shutdown of the U.S. plants which required the maintenance of a long pipeline.

General Groves asked that the present flow of material should be continued pending a decision.

Lord Halifax agreed, providing that a very early decision was reached.

After further discussion, the Committee agreed that the present flow of material should be continued pending a decision and appointed a group consisting of Mr. Dean Acheson, Dr. Bush, General Groves, Sir James Chadwick and Mr. Makins to work out a proposal for the allocation of material in the light of the discussion in the Committee. If agreement was reached in this group, it would not be necessary for the matter to be referred back to the Committee.

V. Revision of Agreements.

The Committee had before it a proposal by the British members that cooperation between the three Governments pending the outcome of the discussions with the U.N. Commission, should be based on conclusions recorded in the minutes of the Committee. A draft of such conclusions had been circulated.50

In introducing this proposal Lord Halifax said that it had the effect of basing cooperation between the Governments on the Quebec Agreement and the Declaration of Trust, subject to such amendments as were necessary to apply these documents to the circumstances of the postwar [Page 1230] period. The proposal would have substantially the same effect as the report submitted by the Sub-Committee at the last meeting.

Lord Halifax hoped that this proposal would meet the point which the Committee wished to reach, namely, to find a method by which the decision to favour the continuance of cooperation taken on November 16th, 1945 by the two Prime Ministers and the President could be implemented.

The U.S. Members said that in the opinion of the U.S. legal advisers, the U.K. proposal did not surmount the difficulty presented by Article 102 of the Charter, since its effect was to change the basis of the cooperation established by the Quebec Agreement.

Mr. Pearson said that from the legal point of view the Canadian Government shared the opinion of the U.S. Government that the proposal of the U.K. members constituted a new agreement to which Article 102 of the Charter would apply.

The U.K. Members pointed out that this left the decision taken on November 16th, 1945 by the two Prime Ministers and the President without effect. Cooperation was neither full nor effective at the present time. In particular, the U. K. was not receiving from the U. S. information it required for the execution of its atomic energy programme.

The U.S. Members replied that they felt that nothing should be done which could in any way compromise the success of the discussions within the United Nations.

The U.K. Members stated that the question was to give effect to the decision taken on November 16th, 1945, which in Mr. Attlee’s mind almost certainly involved mutual assistance among the three countries in the development of their atomic energy programmes. Some months had elapsed since this decision was taken and the matter had now become pressing. It was desirable either that some arrangement could be come to or that instructions should be issued to enable the information required for the British programme to be made available.

After further discussion The Chairman said that he did not feel that the Committee could carry the matter further than it had done, and suggested that it was now necessary to refer to the signatories of the original decision and ask them to communicate with each other as to the effect which should be given to it. He himself would immediately refer the matter to the President.

Lord Halifax agreed that the matter could not be carried further at the present meeting and said that he would report to the Prime Minister. He added that the course of the discussion had left him with a very uneasy feeling. Owing to various considerations on different planes, and political difficulties of one sort or another, there appeared to be a great danger that while we were trying to work out full United [Page 1231] Nations collaboration, which might or might not succeed and might in any case take a long time, we were likely to impair the background of collaboration which had been drawn up between us around atomic energy. He thought that his report of this meeting would be found gravely disturbing in London.

Mr. Pearson said that he would refer the question to Mr. Mackenzie King.

The meeting then adjourned.

L. R. Groves

Major General U.S.A.
Joint Secretaries
  • Roger Makins
  • G. C. Bateman
  1. Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development.
  2. Ante, p. 1223.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Richard C. Tolman, scientific adviser to the Commanding General, Manhattan Engineer District.
  5. Ante, p. 1224.
  6. Ante, p. 1225.
  7. Supra.
  8. Ante, p. 1218.