Department of State Atomic Energy Files

The Under Secretary of State (Lovett) to the Administrator of the Economic Cooperation Administration (Hoffman)

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Dear Paul: Various staff level conferences have recently been held among representatives of ECA, the AEC, and the Department on the question of the relation of the Economic Cooperation Act1 and this Government’s arrangements with the various European countries on atomic energy matters. Specifically the question has been whether the ECA should take responsibility for persuading ECA countries not to export equipment of use in the field of atomic energy production to non-ECA countries. It is the view of this Department that the ECA should not take primary responsibility in this matter but that the Department should continue to handle it, in cooperation with the AEC, through regular diplomatic channels. In so doing, the Department [Page 715] would undertake to keep the Administrator informed of the arrangements as made in the various ECA countries relating to export controls over materials and equipment distinctly of atomic energy significance. It is anticipated that the AEC and the ECA will work out understandings regarding the specific items to be controlled through their respective operations.

The reasons for this view are several:

In our view, to attempt to use the ECA as a club to force the nations of Europe to prohibit the export of certain atomic energy equipment would give considerable support to Communist propaganda that the United States is attempting to fasten an atomic monopoly on the world. For this reason throughout the legislative history of the Foreign Assistance Act, the Department has striven to keep our ECA objectives and our atomic energy objectives separate.
Arrangements have already been made with several ECA countries to control the export of atomic energy equipment to Curtain areas. Arrangements with, or satisfactory assurances from, certain European countries have already been obtained. In such cases the club of ECA is not necessary. Arrangements for parallel controls in the U.K. and Canada are well under way.
In certain other countries, particularly Sweden and Switzerland, the inducements of the foreign assistance program are minor. In these cases tying atomic energy export controls to the recovery program would cause considerable irritation, and might indeed, jeopardize even their limited participation in ECA as well as their cooperation in the atomic energy field. As far as Sweden is concerned, we have had several specific cases where the Swedes, at our request, have denied export licenses of atomic energy equipment to Curtain areas. Steps are being taken to prevail upon the Swiss to the same end.
Decisions as to whether particular pieces of equipment in the particular country should be allowed export licenses must be handled on an individual basis. Considerable technical knowledge is required, knowledge of the sort which is possessed at the present time in this Government only by the Atomic Energy Commission. Furthermore, the handling of export policy is intermingled with various other approaches that this Department has in train such as the procurement of raw materials and intelligence aspects of atomic energy in the international field, all of which involve security considerations of the utmost importance.
The Atomic Energy Commission is prepared to follow this matter closely and to make personnel available when needed to work out suitable arrangements in the various countries.
In most instances countries that have been approached to screen export items of significance in atomic energy consider that our advice and assistance is of mutual value. Ordinarily no further inducement is required to persuade them to institute the controls considered necessary.
The language of the Foreign Assistance Act in Section 117–D does not clearly cover those instances where countries may, in fact, produce these atomic energy items in their own countries without [Page 716] benefit of U.S. materials and supplies. This is particularly true of such countries as Sweden and Switzerland.

In view of the foregoing, the Department of State feels that present arrangements as regards export control in ECA countries of atomic energy equipment should be continued and strengthened through normal diplomatic channels in collaboration with the Atomic Energy Commission.2

Sincerely yours,

Robert A. Lovett
  1. Title I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948, 62 Stat. (pt. 1) 137, approved April 3, 1948; also referred to as the European Recovery Act.
  2. In his reply, received July 1, Hoffman stated the following: “I agree with your suggestions on the subject, which seem to me sound.” (Department of State Atomic Energy Files)