Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by Mr. Edmund A. Gullion to Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Bonesteel, III 1


Subject: Beryllium and Thorium Materials in Connection with the European Recovery Program

I note that despatch #223 from Buenos Aires, dated March 11, 1948, made in response to a Departmental circular inquiry includes beryl ore among the materials which might be available for export to European countries in connection with the ERP.2 For your information and those who will be responsible for programming for ERP under the Administrator, I wish to review generally the current policies of the U.S. Government with respect to beryllium materials and to make further comments relating to thorium-bearing and other “source” materials in connection with the recovery program.

Beryllium Materials

Beryl and beryllium materials are considered of great importance to the national security of the United States, because of their strategic importance and also because beryllium materials are important accessories in the production of atomic energy.* In view of these factors the following programs are being conducted:

Attempts are being made to maximize imports of beryl ore into the United States during thet next several years.
Exports of beryllium materials produced in this country are being licensed for export in small amounts only after careful investigation of the end uses contemplated by the foreign: consumers to whom the materials are consigned.
This Government prefers to discourage the processing of beryl into beryllium compounds in foreign countries because of the obvious lessening of control over the ultimate destination of the beryllium content of the materials.

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Monazite and Other Thorium Bearing Materials

As you know, the source materials, uranium and thorium, are under the licensing control of the AEC as provided by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. The main problems with respect to these materials under the ERP have already been brought to your attention. A few additional points relating to monazite and thorium compounds seem to be in order at this time; viz:

Efforts are being made to increase substantially the present rate of import of monazite into the United States.
Thorium-bearing materials produced in the United States are licensed for export to foreign countries only after careful investigation of the end uses to which the materials will be put.
This Government prefers to discourage the erection of plants abroad (except in certain countries) for the processing of monazite to thorium compounds.

I trust that all requests for shipment of beryllium materials and beryl by the participating countries (in addition to those for source or fissionable materials) will be referred to the AEC for consideration prior to any commitment being made by the U.S. Government.

Edmund A. Gullion
  1. Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State; overall coordinator of Department of State activities relating to European economic recovery.
  2. Neither document is printed. The circular telegram, March 4, instructed American Diplomatic Officers in the other American Republics to report on the availability of certain products from Latin America for use in connection with the European Recovery Program (840.50 Recovery/3–448).
  3. The extent of the interest of the Atomic Energy Commission, however, is at present a carefully guarded secret. [Footnote in the source text.]