Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum for the Files, by Mr. John M. Hancock of the United States Delegation to the Atomic Energy Commission67

[Here follow comments on Mr. Hancock’s conference with Under Secretary of State Acheson on April 30; this portion of the memorandum is printed on page 780.]

Gen. Groves had spoken to Mr. Baruch on Sunday,68 regarding a new British request that they be given one-half of all the material now being acquired from the Belgian Congo and Canada so that when they do complete their plant, they will have a stockpile. The present ore in sight now in the Congo is about 7,500 tons which, in view of our present plant capacity, would last about three years. The British, have been paying one-half of the cost. They see this mine running out, and they are making a strong plea to get one-half of this ore as it is coming in.

You will recall that there had been a previous British request that we give them the technical know-how and that we supply scientists to proceed with the construction of an atomic energy plant in Britain. The military had opposed it and for the moment the Policy Board69 has opposed it. Byrnes was to see the President the day after he saw our group.

The Quebec agreement would provide that we would not use the atomic bomb against each other, that we would not use it against a third party without the others consenting, that we would not communicate it to others. The agreement wasn’t in the terms previously described by Mr. Byrnes. It would not give the President control at the end of the war, except that his control was assumed to be a reasonable one and was to relate to our having the advantage in the commercial element which would flow from the great expenditure we have made in time and effort in the war. Unhappily, nobody knows whether our Government is going to stand on the fact that Truman did not know of the Quebec agreement when he made his new agreement describing in such general terms as full and effective cooperation. The result, of course, is that the door is wide open for the British.

As to the second point as to sharing the ore from the Congo and Canada received after VJ Day, the Joint Policy Board ruled that the British had gone along quietly with the situation since the end of the [Page 1243] war and, as I recall, they signed their demand on April 16 of this year, with the result that the Policy Board has said that they have waived all rights on any material prior to the time of their asserting their claims. The Joint Policy Board has left the matter with Groves to work it out in some way with the British.

Groves showed me his whole arguments against the case and I think he will try to make some sort of a deal, but I also think the cards are stacked against him because Bob Patterson and Acheson both feel the British have a just claim. There are some grounds for argument, but I think both men are in the mood to rule Groves out because they feel the British have a good case.

Let me interrupt here to state what Patterson told me this morning. The British are asking for all of the secret information. Patterson has said they want to send 100 men over here, maybe have us send 100 men over there to help them build the plant. Patterson says there is no trace of an obligation to do any such thing, and so far as he is concerned, he is not going to do it. To my mind that is going to operate to slow up the British request for the material, and certainly they are not going to be in a position which will give them an opportunity to interfere with our action in the United Nations Conference or to handicap us.

I think this now covers the essential facts with regard to the agreements with the British.

[Here follow additional comments on meetings with Messrs. Acheson, Patterson, and Groves, and Senator McMahon; subjects treated Include international control, domestic legislation, and negotiations with the United Kingdom.]

  1. This memorandum consists of notes on Mr. Hancock’s meetings with Under Secretary of State Acheson, Secretary of War Patterson, General Groves, and Senator McMahon on April 30 and May 1. A portion of this document dealing with the international control of atomic energy is printed on p. 780.
  2. April 28.
  3. The body under reference is presumably the Combined Policy Committee.