Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of Special Political Affairs (Ross) to the Director of the Office (Hiss)


To keep you posted, following is report of meetings I participated in this morning on the question of our position on atomic energy and disarmament.

The first meeting I attended was in Mr. Acheson’s office beginning at 11 o’clock and running until considerably past one o’clock. Senator Austin, Mr. Fahy, and Mr. Gross1 were also present.

The basis for the discussion was the attached draft2 on our procedure with respect to the AEC Report.

Following extended discussion, Senator Austin indicated his agreement with the approach set forth in this draft which the Senator thought provided a larger measure of flexibility than was set forth in the memorandum sent yesterday to the Secretary of War and to the Secretary of the Navy.3 The Senator also thought that the approach set forth in this draft provided best opportunity for avoiding controversy and stalemate in the Security Council, for obtaining the highest possible measure of agreement, and for further consideration of such points as the Council might not find it possible to agree upon.

It was agreed that this paper should be discussed by the Secretary with Mr. Baruch who is coming to Washington this afternoon, and thereafter with Senators Connally and Vandenberg. Meanwhile, it will be discussed with representatives of the War and Navy Departments.

It was agreed that greater emphasis should be given to the phrase at the beginning of page 4 concerning the tentative nature of agreements reached at this stage and that this should be accomplished by transposing this phrase with some elaboration to the first page of the memorandum. (See subsequent revised draft.2)

[Page 351]

Senator Austin then raised the question of the relationship of this draft paper on procedure to telegram #30 of January 104 reporting on the situation as it developed in the Security Council yesterday afternoon with regard to disarmament. The Senator wondered whether the proposed procedure with regard to atomic energy might not provide a way out of the dilemma we find ourselves in as a result of discussion in the Council yesterday.

As an alternative to the second alternative mentioned in the telegram under reference, Mr. Acheson suggested that it might be possible to get the Council to agree to defer further consideration of the whole disarmament question until approximately three weeks from now, that we might propose setting a specific date for consideration and action by the Security Council on the AEC Report, and agree that immediately thereafter we would be prepared to proceed to discussion of other weapons of mass destruction and next, the conventional weapons.

I pointed out that the only difficulty I saw in this suggestion was that the other Members of the Council have every reason to believe because (a) of our strategy in the Atomic Energy Commission and (b) the resolution giving first priority to the atomic energy report in the Council that our objective would be to insist upon final definitive action by the Council on the AEC Report as a whole. It would be helpful, I suggested, if Mr. Johnson could be authorized, in following out Mr. Acheson’s suggestion, to give some indication of the procedure we have in mind with regard to the AEC Report so as to allay the fears which most of the Members of the Council would probably have.

It was agreed that this approach would be a desirable one. Mr. Acheson thereupon telephoned Mr. Johnson and gave him over the telephone the gist of the proposals we were considering as to how we felt the AEC Report should be handled, making it clear that further discussions with Mr. Baruch, the Senators, and the War and Navy Departments remain to be had. Mr. Johnson thought it might be possible, without revealing to other Members of the Council exactly what we contemplate in our procedure, to give two or three of them enough of a hint so that it might be possible to persuade them to adopt the procedure suggested by Mr. Acheson, namely, to repeat, (a) postponement of consideration of the whole question until a fixed date approximately three weeks from now, (b) discussion of the AEC Report beginning on that date, and (c) discussion of the other aspects of disarmament to follow action by the Council on the AEC Report.

We then adjourned at this point and moved on to the Secretary’s Office.

[Page 352]

The Secretary read a copy of the attached draft and indicated his general agreement with the procedure outlined.

Mr. Acheson pointed out to the Secretary that we do not feel this represented any deviation from Mr. Baruch’s feeling that definitive action on the atomic energy recommendations should be an indivisible whole. It was merely a question of what procedure would best assure the most rapid possible progress towards unanimous acceptance of all of our proposals.

The Secretary felt that we could hardly insist that the AEC Report be considered and acted upon as a whole. He thought that the proposal to consider and vote paragraph by paragraph was a reasonable one comparable to the procedure in our own Senate.

Mr. Acheson then pointed out and emphasized the importance of the question of supervision of stages (paragraph b bottom of Page 2).

Mr. Acheson indicated that this was perhaps the most important aspect of the whole procedure. He was quite sure that very little thought had been given to the recommendation that the Commission should pass upon the satisfactory accomplishment of the various stages. He hoped, therefore, that Mr. Baruch would agree that this question might be left open without prejudice as to what body might be determined upon as the most suitable one.

After some discussion the Secretary indicated he could not support this proposal. He said that he had approved the report when Mr. Baruch showed it to him three weeks ago and that he had not raised any question on this point. The only point on which he had raised any question was the formulation of the statement on the veto with regard to punishment. Not having raised any question on the body which should determine the accomplishment of the stages, he felt he could not do so at this time with Mr. Baruch. Furthermore, the Secretary went on, he thought that this matter of crucial importance should not be left to some mere technical body. He thought that the only people qualified to pass on this question of stages for the United States were people who had been nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. He said that this is one of the highest functions they will be called upon to perform.

In the course of the discussion I pointed out that paragraph b as drafted had perhaps misled the Secretary because it had referred to the possibility of leaving this determination “to a technical body”. This appeared to ignore, which I was sure was not the intention, the necessity of retaining political control. Recognizing, however, this necessity, I wondered whether the purpose of retaining political control would be served if the Commission were the body charged with making the determinations as to stages. In the Commission we might be out-voted. In the Security Council, for example, on the other hand, we would [Page 353] retain control of the situation because of our veto power. It was this type of consideration which had led to the conclusion that it would be wise to keep this matter open and not foreclose it.

The Secretary nevertheless felt that he could not support the proposal with Mr. Baruch. He thought this was the kind of important question on which he should not pass. This kind of question, he thought, should be left for the consideration of his successor, particularly since the point was not one that had to be decided for another three weeks when presumably the AEC Report will come up for discussion in the Security Council.

Senator Austin agreed with the Secretary’s arguments that this matter of passing on the stages must be in the hands of representatives of the United States confirmed by the Senate, and that if there were to be any change it should be in the direction of tightening rather than relaxation. (In order to save this point, of course, the question would have to be left open by the Security Council for further detailed consideration by the Commission.)

Following the discussion with the Secretary, Senator Austin left and Mr. Acheson, Mr. Fahy and I agreed that it would probably be best to revise the draft memorandum by dropping out the paragraph on the supervision of stages, reserving this question for further consideration. Mr. Gross, who had not been present during the discussion in the Secretary’s office, undertook responsibility for this revision. (Redraft attached.)

  1. Ernest A. Gross, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas (Hilldring).
  2. Neither the original draft nor the revised draft, both attached to the source text, is printed. Neither is identical with the January 21 version of the paper which was transmitted by the Under Secretary to the Secretary of State on January 24; for text of the latter, see p. 370.
  3. Reference is to the paper transmitted by the Secretary of State to the Secretaries of War and Navy on January 8, p. 342.
  4. Neither the original draft nor the revised draft, both attached to the source text, is printed. Neither is identical with the January 21 version of the paper which was transmitted by the Under Secretary to the Secretary of State on January 24; for text of the latter, see p. 370.
  5. Supra.