Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Edmund A. Gullion, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)

top secret

Subject: Senator McMahon’s amendment to S–2202

Participants: Senator McMahon
Mr. Bohlen, Counselor
U—Mr. Gullion

Mr. Gullion showed to the Senator parts A and B of the attached memorandum.

Mr. Bohlen emphasized to the Senator that the chief danger presented by the amendment was the possibility that it might cause Sweden and Switzerland to reject or limit their participation in the economic cooperation plan.

These were the very countries to which the Soviet Union might look for manufactured equipment of a possible atomic energy application; [Page 698] the Soviets could get little of this material elsewhere in Europe. Satisfactory agreements were already in existence covering disposition of any ore controlled by the ERP countries.

The Senator thought that it might be a good idea to force the issue in order to alert Europe as well as the Russians to the importance we attach to preventing the exportation of anything to Russia capable of increasing its potential in atomic weapons.

Mr. Bohlen doubted the amendment would have that effect. It would, however, strengthen Communist parties and propaganda in Europe, The Senator discounted the importance of any contribution made to Communist propaganda which he explained would be as violent and as untruthful no matter what we did. Mr. Bohlen explained that a matter of timing was involved. Once a basis of economic cooperation was established, and efforts toward European unity were thereby assisted and given a surer base, the time would come for undertaking in concert measures of general economic defense against the Soviet Union, taking into account requirements of east-west trade. The position of the western powers would be stronger; they could exploit their advantage of being considerably less dependent on eastern imports than the east was on the west.

Mr. Gullion explained the contents of some of our existing agreements and the degree to which they achieved, or set a pattern for the achievement of the objectives desired by Senator McMahon. He decribed some of the efforts which had been made to draft some alternative language, and the difficulties of including any such language in the ECA bill. Mr. Bohlen explained that the objections which the Department had to the bill were of such nature that they could not very well be discussed openly on the floor. For that reason, if the amendment were to be offered, the Secretary and others thought it ought to be discussed in committee or executive session.

At the close of the interview Senator McMahon indicated that he might not press the amendment.1 He would consider the matter further and think what he might give as a reason for renouncing the effort. Mr. Bohlen said that if there was any way in which the Department could help, it would be glad to do so.

[Annex 1]

[Here follows a memorandum by Gullion to Marshall headed “Part A” and dated March 9. Its text is identical with that of “Part A” of Gullion’s memorandum to Marshall, supra.]

[Page 699]
[Annex 2]

Memorandum by Mr. Edmund A. Gullion, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett), to the Secretary of State1

top secret

Memorandum for the Secretary

Subject: Senator McMahon’s amendment to the Economic Cooperation Bill (S–2202)

Part B

In summary, the amendment, is undesirable because it may well cause the very countries, i.e., Sweden and Switzerland, in a position to supply the Soviet Union with materials other than atomic ores and who receive relatively little or no aid under the Act, to limit or reject participation in the Economic Cooperation plan; on the other hand the amendment is not necessary for the other ERP countries. As explained below, we either already have satisfactory agreements with respect to the disposition of ores controlled by them, they are not in a position to contribute, or would not contribute other materials to the Soviet program, and we have at all times a powerful lever on them through our ability to cut off aid under the Act. The amendment would only needlessly trouble our relations with these countries.

We already have agreements with, or satisfactory assurances from, the U.K., Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands with respect to disposition of ores known to be controlled by ERP countries. The British are negotiating another agreement with Portugal which we would share. The U.K. policy toward export of items related to atomic energy, other than fissionable materials, is generally similar to our own, and in any respect where it differs significantly we believe it can be brought into line through the operation of existing consultative machinery, without resort to pressure or quid pro quo stipulations in the Act.
Sweden derives relatively small benefit from the Economic Cooperation Act; she has, however, agreed to inform us of any orders for equipment or material which might have possible atomic energy application. We have evidence that she will refuse to fulfill orders when we so recommend. It is altogether possible that the same arrangement can be concluded with the other ERP countries, including most importantly Switzerland. The Act gives us no strings on the latter country which receives no aid. Consequently the suggested amendment would, if anything, only irritate the Swiss and lessen our chances of getting the kind of undertaking we want from her. So far as the other ERP [Page 700] countries are concerned, the aid extended by us (which we can cut off at will) would be a powerful lever in the discussions. Such a separate approach would be a better way of obtaining the objectives envisaged by the proposed amendment, than making the tie-up in the ECA legislation itself; or such arrangements could be discussed in the framework of Western European efforts toward a closer union.
Belgium. The amendment would be particularly offensive to Belgium on whom we are chiefly dependent for our raw materials and who has only recently firmly rejected Soviet pressure for a uranium understanding. It would appear as an attempt to gain an advantage beyond that already secured to us by existing commitments given and taken in good faith. The position of the Belgian Government would be weakened vis-à-vis both the extreme nationalist and the Communist element. A change of government in Belgium would jeopardize our whole atomic energy ore procurement program.
The discussion of this amendment in countries with whom we have secret agreements would present security risks.
The amendment gives opportunities to Soviet propaganda which we have hitherto sought to avoid by keeping words like “strategic” or “military” or “atomic” out of the bill.

Edmund A. Gullion
  1. Senator McMahon withdrew the amendment before it came to a vote in the Senate.
  2. Secretary Marshall’s initialled “OK” appears on the source text.