Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Minutes of the Meeting of the American Members of the Combined Policy Committee, Washington, July 6, 1948

top secret


  • The Under Secretary of State, Mr. Lovett
  • Mr. E. A. Gullion, American Executive Secretary
  • Mr. K. Gordon Arneson
  • Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. Lilienthal
  • Mr. Carroll Wilson, General Manager, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
  • Mr. Joseph Volpe, Jr., Associate General Counsel, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
  • Mr. Donald F. Carpenter, Deputy to the Secretary of Defense on Atomic Energy Matters
  • Mr. William Webster, Assistant to the Chairman of the Military Liaison Committee

I. Minutes of Last Meeting

The Chairman stated that the minutes of the last CPC meeting1 were being circulated and should be considered approved.

II. Resignations and Appointments

The Chairman reported the resignation of Mr. Gullion as his Special Assistant and as American member of the Combined Secretariat. Mr. Arneson was succeeding Mr. Gullion in both capacities. Mr. [Page 720] Carpenter had been named alternate to Secretary Forrestal. Mr. Carpenter stated that his appointment was temporary and that in October he would be replaced by Mr. Webster. The new Ambassador, Sir Oliver Franks, was replacing the retiring Ambassador, Lord Inverchapel, as a British member. The Committee noted and accepted these resignations and appointments.

It was agreed that a resolution of thanks to Lord Inverchapel and of welcome to Sir Oliver Franks should be presented at the CPC meeting on Wednesday2 on behalf of the American members.

III. Report of CDA on Raw Materials Inventories

The allocation arrangements provide that when the United States warehouse reserve falls below a year’s minimum requirement, that a quantity equivalent to the deficit will be earmarked in the United Kingdom; and if the United States warehouse reserve falls below seven months requirement, an emergency shipment of a quantity equivalent to the deficit will be made from the United Kingdom. A balance of each year would be struck in the third quarter taking into account the earmarkings of the first and second quarters and the anticipated situation for the remainder of the year. Actual shipments take place as required in the fourth quarter. The amount earmarked in the first quarter based on actual supply and demand figures was somewhat smaller than had been first estimated.

The Committee approved the report. (Attached to CPC Minutes of July 7, 1948 as Tab C.)3

IV. South African Negotiations

Mr. Carpenter reported on his conversation with Dr. O. M. Solandt, a Canadian, whose comments had been very reassuring concerning the prospects for successful negotiation with South Africa. Dr. Solandt stated that Mr. Schonland would probably represent the new government. Being strongly anti-communist, South Africa would be anxious to place its material in the hands of those who could make best use of it in the fight against communism.

V. Belgian Negotiations

The Chairman spoke of the excellent cooperation we had had from the Belgians. Mr. Spaak has been a tower of strength but it had to be recognized that he was faced with a difficult situation at home and that we should do whatever could appropriately be done to strengthen his hand. The solution seemed to lie in talking with the Belgians about production and use of radioisotopes and discussing the present status [Page 721] of power production possibilities without going into much detail about industrial processes. There was evidence that the Belgians would consider some arrangements on isotopes a satisfactory prop for their domestic position. Moreover, with conversations in progress Spaak would be able to turn aside embarrassing interrogation from either the extreme right or the communists. It was not anticipated that Belgians would require much from us at this stage.

In this connection Mr. Lilienthal reported that the Commission is making a fundamental reexamination of the entire problem of security. The outcome of such reexamination might have an important bearing on the Belgian negotiations and others as well.

VI. Report on U.K. Weapons Production

The Chairman invited the Committee’s attention to a letter before it from the Atomic Energy Commission, dated July 2, 1948, (Tab A)4 reporting that members of the Commission’s technical staff who had gone to England on an official visit on their return advised that the U.K. had under way a plutonium production program which in their opinion looked toward production of weapons.5 The Commission asked for a meeting with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to discuss the relevance of this information to the matter of future technical cooperation with the U.K. The Chairman stated that the question of plutonium production had not been raised in the December–January discussions but that in his view it was not assumed on our side that the British would not produce weapons. That they would was confirmed when the British told the Department of State on March 196 that since the beginning of last year they had been doing research and development work on atomic weapons. Mr. Lovett recalled that we had undertaken the recent negotiations because of our great need for raw materials. In this connection, it was important to clear up past misunderstandings in order to secure the cooperation of the British in the forthcoming negotiations with South Africa. Moreover, our scientific and technical advisers were of the opinion that cooperation in certain technical areas would further the national defense and security of this country. In the field of raw materials our objectives have been achieved most handsomely. In his view the information called to the attention of the Secretary of State and [Page 722] the Secretary of Defense should not in any way affect existing arrangements.

Mr. Carpenter raised the question whether U.K. weapons production would in effect deny us raw materials. Mr. Wilson replied that the five year estimate of U.K. needs on which recent allocations had been based was intended to cover all aspects of the U.K. atomic energy program. Mr. Carpenter said that he mentioned this matter briefly to Secretary Forrestal. Mr. Carpenter stated his own view to be that the information contained in the Commission’s letter should not in any way affect existing arrangements and was not inconsistent with projected military plans in so far as they related to Western Union.

The Chairman pointed out that conversations had just been begun with members of Western Union and Canada to see what arrangements, both political and military, could be made to give strength to Western Union. It was hoped that on the military side arrangements could be made for standardization of arms and for combined strategic planning. If and when the U.K. has atomic weapons, the military staffs might appropriately consider what disposition should be made of them in accordance with agreed over-all strategic plans. The U.S. was going into these conversations with Canada as a partner. It might prove possible for the U.S. and Canada to persuade the U.K., if strategy so dictated, to place her stocks of bombs in Canada. That was quite different from an attempt by us to tell the U.K. unilaterally what she ought to do with the bombs.

The Chairman read excerpts from an undated letter signed by Secretary of War Patterson and Secretary of Navy Forrestal, giving opinions of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.7 Mr. Carpenter stated that this letter had not come to his attention, and in view of the expressed opinion of the Joint Chiefs he was not in a position to give a final answer on the attitude of the National Military Establishment towards expanding the area of exchange of information, except to note that nothing should be agreed upon with the British which would diminish security of secret information or would reduce raw material supplies to the United States.

The consensus of the Committee was that cooperation should continue as presently laid down. No initiative should be taken by the U.S. to add to the nine agreed areas of technical cooperation. If, however, the British made a formal approach to this effect the Committee should seriously consider doing so, subject, of course, to discussions with appropriate Congressional committees. In any event, this should come after arrangements on Western Union have been worked out.

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VII. Publicity on U.S.-U.K.-Canada Cooperation

The group agreed in principle that a public statement containing the substance of the AEC draft press release should be made at the appropriate time. (Attached to CPC Minutes of July 7, 1948 as Tab F.)8 The question of timing should be left for further consideration, for it should necessarily be related to the present state of tension in the world and plans for a full scale debate on international control of atomic energy in the next General Assembly.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

R. Gordon Arneson
  1. For the minutes of the last meeting, that of January 7, 1948, see p. 679.
  2. July 7.
  3. Tab C not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Reference is to the visit to Britain by Walter H. Zinn of Argonne Laboratories, George L. Weil of the reactor branch of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and C. W. J. Wende of the USAEC’s Hanford operation, in late May and June. The origins of this mission, the report submitted by Zinn, Weil, and Wende, and consideration of that report by the USAEC are described in Hewlett and Duncan, pp. 285–289.
  6. For Gullion’s memorandum of conversation with Maclean, March 19, see p. 700.
  7. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. i, p. 798.
  8. Tab F not printed.