Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

top secret

Lord Halifax called at his request to see the Secretary.

The Secretary opened the conversation regarding the request of the United Kingdom to have information and technical assistance necessary for the construction of an atomic energy plant in Great Britain made available to them. The Secretary and Lord Halifax discussed the sequence of events of the meeting of the three heads of Government in Washington last November when the Declaration on atomic energy was made.59 The Secretary pointed out that the memorandum of intention did not provide for making available to the UK such information and assistance.60 He said such action would weaken the effectiveness of the Atomic Energy Commission of the United Nations and that public sentiment in this country would be strongly opposed to such a move. He said he had discussed the matter with the President. Neither he nor the President were aware of the memorandum signed by Sir John Anderson and General Groves a few hours after the two Prime Ministers and the President had signed a memorandum, but that memorandum proves, and so states specifically, that cooperation shall be [Page 1235] in the field of basic scientific research.61 The development, design, construction and operation of plants is considered separately and arrangements toward this end must be approved by the Combined Policy Committee. The construction of a plant in this country would bring bitter criticism and Congressional approval could probably not be obtained. It will be a little more difficult to get approval for a plant in Great Britain.

Lord Halifax said that he understood the Secretary’s thoughts on the subject and suggested that a message to Attlee from the President along these lines be sent. He also suggested that if, while in Paris, the Secretary could find time to go to London to talk with Attlee about this it would be helpful. The Secretary said he might be able to do this.

  1. For text of the Agreed Declaration by President Truman, Prime Minister Attlee of the United Kingdom, and Prime Minister 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. (pt. 2) 1479.
  2. The “memorandum of intention” referred to by Mr. Byrnes is the document signed by the President and the two Prime Ministers on November 16, 1945; for text, see telegram 3400, April 20, to London, infra.
  3. For text of the Groves-Anderson memorandum, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 75.