655.6131/2–748: Telegram

The Chargé in Belgium ( Millard ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

274. For Under Secretary Lovett. Today conveyed to Spaak sense Deptel 177, February 5.1 On subject first paragraph2 he nodded but made no comment. Re draft letter (Embtel 223, February 2)3 Spaak said he had telegraphed Belgian Embassy Moscow instructing Ambassador to inform Soviet Foreign Office that during war it was necessary assure to Allies material indispensable development atomic energy. With complete approval Belgian Government agreement was concluded [Page 692] so that Congo uranium was placed at disposal US and UK. Agreement was still in force and Belgian Government had hoped that an international agreement for control atomic energy would be concluded under UN commission, when concluded Belgian Government would implement with appropriate legislation. Accordingly Belgian Government could not supply uranium to Soviets either in 1948 or 1949 and there was no question of examining matter of furnishing uranium to Soviets in 1949.

Asked if any new points contained in above reference to our agreement Spaak replied no, his instruction to Moscow had followed exactly his statement Parliament July 3 (see Embtel 1071, July 4).4

Though Spaak seemed disposed to drop matter there and turn other subjects I asked if he could give me some idea how misunderstanding arose. He recalled statement (Embtel 2034, December 24)5 that when Russians first broached question he had replied Foreign Office would examine matter but in order avoid delay in negotiations Belgian Government felt discussions should be limited to subject of proposed agreement. (Department will recall that later in same telegram he stated one thing he did not wish to do was return a flat no.)

I asked whether Meers, Belgian delegate, requested instructions when proposal was made by Russians that Belgian Embassy send draft letter. Spaak said he did but that he did not await reply which was delayed in drafting and had acted “precipitately.”

In order to keep conversation going this subject I inquired whether extreme secrecy regarding this question could have left Meers in doubt. Spaak replied this no justification, everyone knows importance uranium. He was also greatly displeased with Belgian Ambassador who should have known better than let Meers (whom Spaak called fonctionnaire) give way on point of such obvious importance.

Spaak said Meers had made exactly same mistake re tin.

Spaak thought uranium request was purely Soviet political maneuver and noted Soviets proposed letter be kept confidential. Spaak assumed Russians wanted letter to bring out some time later to use against US. Asked whom Meers dealt with he said Mikoyan,6 who had handled Meers only too cleverly.

Spaak comment on Belgo-Soviet trade negotiations will be reported in separate telegram.

Millard
  1. Not printed.
  2. In the first paragraph of reference telegram, the Embassy was instructed to inform Spaak that the Department hoped to have a formal reply to the Belgian note of January 19 (p. 687) ready in about a week (855.646/2–548).
  3. In telegram 193, January 28, not printed, the Embassy had reported that the Belgian delegation recently returned from Belgo-Soviet trade negotiations in Moscow had exceeded its authority by agreeing to present to the Belgian Foreign Office a draft letter from the Belgian Ambassador in Moscow to the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Affairs stating that Belgium could not supply uranium to Russia in 1948, but would carefully examine the question with respect to 1949. Spaak had indicated that no such letter would be sent. (655.6131/12848)

    Telegram 223, not printed, contained the text of the draft letter and reiterated Spaak’s assurances that it would not be part of the final Belgian-Soviet agreement (655.6131/2–248).

  4. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. i, p. 825.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan, Soviet Minister of Foreign Trade.