Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by Mr. Dean Acheson, Dr. Vannevar Bush, and General Leslie R. Groves 71 to the United States Members of the Combined Policy Committee

top secret

Out of the discussions of the Sub-committee, consisting of Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Dr. Vannevar Bush, and Major General Leslie R. Groves on the American side, and Mr. Roger Makins and Dr. James Chadwick on the British side, appointed by the Combined Policy Committee for the purpose of discussing allocation of raw materials, has come a general understanding of what will be a satisfactory plan to the British. This plan contemplates that all raw materials received by the United States as of March 31, 1946, will be regarded as allocated to the United States, but that, for the remainder of the current year, the Combined Policy Committee shall allocate 1350 tons to the British and 1350 tons to the United States. It is estimated that such allocation would dispose of all materials becoming available to the Combined Development Trust from April 1 to December 31, 1946. The United States will make available 50 tons of Mallinckrodt oxide and 15 tons of uranium metal which represents in all approximately 100 tons of contained U3O8. The refining costs of this latter material will be reimbursed to the United States by the United Kingdom.

The American members propose and believe that the British will accept the qualification that the supplies to be allocated to either nation during the remainder of 1946 will not exceed 1350 tons of contained U3O8. They also propose to include a statement to the effect that the “allocation will be made without prejudice to establishing a different basis for subsequent years”. It is believed that the British will probably accept this proposal also.

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In our opinion, the British will not be satisfied with any allocation materially less than the proposed compromise, and a failure to reach agreement on this basis will threaten the future of the Combined Development Trust and of our mutually-advantageous collaboration with them in the field of raw materials. In view of this, and of the necessity of making an allocation, we believe that an allocation on the basis of the proposed compromise is the best obtainable.

The undersigned believe it is desirable that discussions with the British be continued with the purpose of reviewing the advisability of erecting atomic energy plants in England. It is not known, of course, whether any such plants will be built in the near future. It has been pointed out by General Groves that, from the point of view of joint American-British security, it is inadvisable to spread the existing short supply of uranium ores unnecessarily. In the event of any future war, such plants in England most certainly would be neutralized, destroyed, or captured during the first few days of hostilities because of their strategically poor location. Moreover, the Army feels that if the British are to build any such plants, they should be so located as to render them less susceptible of immediate destruction or capture. From the standpoint of military security, Canada is a much more desirable location.72

  • Dean Acheson
  • Vannevar Bush
  • L. R. Groves
  1. The Under Secretary of State; the Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development; and the Commanding General, Manhattan Engineer District, respectively.
  2. The handwritten approvals of the President (July 10, 1946) and Secretary of War Patterson (undated) appear at the bottom of the source text.