855.646/4–1846: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

top secret

481. See Embassy’s telegram 465, April 16, 6 p.m.55 Replying to my question Foreign Minister56 yesterday expressed increasing anxiety concerning possible cross questioning on subject of disposition of uranium resources of the Belgian Congo. He stated that Lalmand, Communist Minister of Food had, at a recent Cabinet meeting, questioned the Minister of Economic Affairs on the subject of uranium. M. Deveze had replied evasively, as had Spaak, but temporizing could not be prolonged indefinitely. The Minister assured me, however, that he would take no steps prior to consultation with British Ambassador and myself.

I think [we] should recognize that sources of uranium ores are naturally of world-wide interest, including much guessing on the part of the press. Also that any nation which possesses such deposits will be the object of envy by others. This may result in the popular mind placing an enhanced or fictitious value upon such resources. From the above it follows that the force of public opinion may demand answers to questions as to how their government proposes to handle such assets. In addition there will always exist the likelihood that other nations may inspire such inquiries designed either to gain information or to cause embarrassment.

As local newspapers are devoting more space to the Congo and its potentialities, and as questioning within the Cabinet has begun, it seems to me we should in consultation with British formulate our line of action. I feel that at some point it will be best policy to be honest and with concurrence of both Belgians and British to announce frankly [Page 1234] what has been agreed to and why.57 It may be preferable to have Belgians take initiative in any such announcement.

My main point is that the disclosure of our agreement may be forced by events and I suggest we should have a definite plan to forestall criticism. Perhaps the Acheson report on atomic energy,58 which is not yet available to me, may contain features providing us an easy and frank solution. In any case I recommend the problem be studied to determine (a) what degree of secrecy is still required and (b) the question of timing if any announcement is to be made and by whom.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Paul-Henri Spaak.
  3. For text of the Memorandum of Agreement Regarding Control of Uranium between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium, September 26, 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, p. 1029.
  4. See the letter from the Secretary of State’s Committee on Atomic Energy to the Secretary of State, March 17, p. 761, and footnote 90 thereto.