Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by the Commanding General, Manhattan Engineer District (Groves), to the Under Secretary of State (Acheson) and the Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (Bush)

top secret

1. In accordance with the arrangements we made after the last C.P.C. meeting,64 I have met three times with Mr. Makins and Sir James Chadwick to work out a tentative proposal for the allocation of raw materials. Sir James Chadwick has submitted a statement (Inclosure No. 1) summarizing the proposed United Kingdom atomic energy program and his estimate of the raw material requirements therefor. I have prepared a similar statement (Inclosure No. 2) indicating the United States program and requirements. We have agreed upon an estimate of the minimum amount of raw materials to be received from the Belgian Congo (Inclosure No. 3).65

2. Mr. Makins proposed initially, and argued most vehemently, that all materials received since VJ–Day should be allocated on a 50–50 [Page 1239] basis. I refused completely to consider such a proposal for the following reasons:

Such an allocation would require us to decrease the present scale of the operation of our plants.
Such a plan completely disregards the principle of need; it would permit the British to build up stockpiles of material for which they have no immediate requirement, but which would be available at some future date to supply plants which will be built with the advantage of all of our costly scientific and technological developments as well as directly or indirectly with our money.
Such a plan neglects the fact that the contributions to the Atomic Energy Program have not been on a 50–50 basis. The contributions of the British have been very small indeed.
Since any future war would involve a United States-United Kingdom joint military effort, we would again carry the major war burden. We should take advantage of our present production capacity to build up a strategic reserve of atomic weapons.
The supply of material is not sufficient to justify the building of additional plants by a nation destined to be a partner of ours in any major military operation.
The real purpose, in my opinion, is to build up a stock of materials to take advantage of potential commercial uses.

Mr. Makins then proposed a compromise plan which would permit the British to build up stocks which they claim they would require in 1946 if they started their program, and which would permit us to operate the Manhattan District plants approximately in accordance with our established program, but would not permit us to lay up stock. This plan is summarized below:

To Be Available to the United States:
All C.D.T. materials received as of 31 March 1946, by allocation of the C.P.C. 1134 short tons of contained U3O8
½-share of estimated deliveries of C.D.T. materials from 1 April to 31 December 1946, by allocation of the C.P.C. 1350 short tons
Materials captured in Europe by American troops, which, in accordance with established governmental policy, are already the property of the United States 525 short tons
By purchase from Canada, the current production rate of approximately 30 short tons per month
To Be Available to the United Kingdom:
½-share of estimated deliveries of C.D.T. materials from 1 April to 31 December 1946 1350 short tons

As a part of the plan, we would deliver to the British 50 tons of Mallinckrodt oxide and 15 tons of uranium metal, which represents in all approximately 100 tons of contained U3O8. The refining costs [Page 1240] were not mentioned, but would, in accordance with previous practice, be reimbursed to us by the British.

3. On the basis of this plan, the United States would receive a total of 2752 tons for 1946. Subtracting from this total the 100 tons referred to above (50 tons of Mallinckrodt oxide and 15 tons of uranium metal) would leave us a total of 2652 tons for 1946 as against our stated requirement of 3060 tons.

4. This plan is not fair to the United States because it is contrary to the principle of “need”. That principle, furthermore, should forbid the building of atomic energy plants by the British when raw materials are admittedly in short supply.

L. R. Groves
  1. Reference is to the April 15 meeting of the Combined Policy Committee.
  2. The enclosures are not printed.