Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Minutes of the Meeting of the Combined Policy Committee at the Department of State, July 7, 1948, 4 p. m.

top secret



The Under Secretary of State, Mr. Lovett (in the Chair) as alternate for the Secretary of State

The Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. Lilienthal

The British Ambassador, Sir Oliver Franks

Sir Gordon Munro

The Canadian Ambassador, Mr. Hume Wrong, as alternate to the Canadian Minister of Trade and Commerce1

By Invitation Secretariat
Donald F. Carpenter Donald D. Maclean
Carroll L. Wilson Thomas A. Stone
Joseph Volpe, Jr. Edmund A. Gullion
Admiral Sir Henry Moore R. Gordon Arneson
Mr. Longair
Mr. Eaton

I. Minutes

The Committee approved the Minutes of its January 7 meeting.1

II. Resignations and Appointments

The Committee accepted and approved the resignations and new appointments recorded in the Joint Secretariat Paper on this subject. (Tab A.)2 At the suggestion of the Chairman the Committee adopted the resolution embodied in Tab B.3

[Page 724]

Sir Gordon Munro expressed the Committee’s appreciation for Mr. Gullion’s services as American Member of the Joint Secretariat and welcomed his successor, Mr. Arneson.

III. CDA Report on Materials Allocations

The Committee noted and approved the report of the CDA on raw materials allocations for the first quarter (Tab C.)4

IV. Report by CDA on Preliminary Discussions With South African Representatives on Uranium Procurement

This report which is attached as Tab D was accepted by the Committee.4

V. Progress Report From Sub-Group of Scientific Advisers on Technical Cooperation

The Committee accepted this report which is attached as Tab E.4

Mr. Lilienthal expressed his appreciation for the hospitality and understanding with which the American team of scientists had been received in England in carrying out their work under Area 8.5 He was gratified by the extent to which information had been made available.

Sir Gordon Munro expressed the hope that the exchange which had had such auspicious beginnings would continue with an accelerating tempo. The Canadian Ambassador expressed his appreciation for the cooperative manner in which exchange was proceeding.

Mr. Carpenter regretted that cooperation in Area 5, Detection of A Distant Nuclear Explosion, had not yet been got under way. This area was a responsibility of the Defense Establishment and he would take steps to see that it was taken care of promptly.

VI. Publicity Concerning U.S.-U.K.-Canadian Cooperation in Atomic Energy Field

Mr. Lilienthal felt that the plan for a public statement on U.S.-U.K.-Canadian cooperation was sound but that there was an important question of timing involved. He felt that a decision on timing should be deferred without prejudice to the principle or the content of the draft prepared by the USAEC. (Tab F)4

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Mr. Wrong stated that it was his Government’s view that, taking into account the forthcoming debates in General Assembly concerning negotiations in the UNAEC, the present tensions in the world, and the danger that such an announcement might prove a severe shock to certain friendly powers, whatever publicity was agreed upon should not be in the form of a joint communique but might come out unobtrusively in public speeches. The most natural way to handle the matter would be for Mr. Lilienthal to cover the substance of the draft release as part of a speech on some general topic relating to atomic energy; His speech would be followed by appropriate speeches or replies to parliamentary questions by British and Canadian officials. Concerning the text of the draft itself, he felt that the term “Declassification Guide”6 should not be used for it might leave the impression that there was much more information to be released at a later date.

Mr. Lilienthal urged consideration of a broader setting for the public statement on this matter. He agreed that a formal press statement would not be the best method. It might be tied to a general theme of intellectual and cultural cooperation with the United Kingdom and to the long-standing cooperative relationships with Canada.

Mr. Lovett stressed the need to keep in mind the state of tension in the world and supported the idea of embodying the information unobtrusively in speeches. He felt that the three governments should keep in touch through the Secretariat on the matter of timing.

Sir Oliver Franks supported Mr. Lovett’s proposal. He also expressed the view that the publicity should cover more areas of exchange than the draft prepared by the AEC, citing by way of example the area of isotopes. Mr. Lilienthal felt that all areas of technical information should be cited.

The Committee accepted Mr. Lovett’s proposal.

VII. Proposed Conversations With Belgians on Implementation of Section 9a of the Agreement of September 26, 1944

Commenting on the note by the U.S. members concerning conversations with the Belgians (Tab G), Mr. Lovett emphasized that the principal objective in the proposed conversations was to strengthen the hand of Mr. Spaak. It was contemplated that the talks would center upon the possibility of expanding the isotopes program for the benefit of the Belgians and general discussions concerning the status of power production.

Mr. Lilienthal reported that the Atomic Energy Commission was in process of preparing an outline of topics that might be considered [Page 726] in the negotiations and this would be circulated to the members of CPC as soon as possible.

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

  • R. Gordon Arneson
  • F. W. Marten
    in the absence of Donald D. Maclean
  • G[eorge] Ignatteff
    [for] Thomas A. Stone

These minutes were approved by the Committee on September 20, 1949.

[Annex G]

Note by the U.S. Members

Subject: Proposed Conversations with the Belgians on Implementation of Section 9a of US-UK-Belgian Accord

As the Committee is aware, Mr. Spaak on behalf of the Belgian Government, has several times asked for assurances with respect to the intentions of the U.S. and U.K. Governments in implementing Section 9a of the agreement of September 26, 1944, which provides for participation by the Belgian Government on equitable terms in the utilization of Belgian Congo ore when such ore is used for commercial purposes. It is apparent that Mr. Spaak needs something of the kind to strengthen his hand vis-à-vis both the nationalistic and Communist elements in Belgium. On January 19, 1948, the Belgian Ambassador at Washington, on behalf of Mr. Spaak, asked the Secretary of State whether the agreements respecting uranium might now be made public and whether the time had now arrived when Section 9a of the agreement would become operative.7 In oral elaboration of his remarks the Ambassador suggested that even if atomic energy were not now practicable for beneficial applications, nevertheless there might be studies in progress in which the Belgians could usefully participate, within the spirit of the Belgian-U.S.-U.K. Agreement.

The Secretary’s reply to the Belgian’s inquiries is attached.8 In brief, this Government did not consider that disclosures about the agreements should be made at that time. With respect to fulfillment of Section 9a of the Agreement, the Secretary reiterated that the U.S. intended to fulfill its obligations but that the era of commercial applications [Page 727] envisaged by Section 9a was still remote. We did, however, perceive that there might be some special benefit to Belgium in consultation on the use of radioisotopes. The Secretary suggested that the Belgians send scientific representatives here to discuss informally developments in the production and use of these isotopes, and also indicated that this Government should be able to give the Belgian representatives at that time “a clearer idea as to the nature and difficulty of some of the problems which must be solved before there is any prospect of the utilization of atomic energy for commercial purposes.”

During the visit here of Mr. Spaak in April,9 Minister de Groote,10 who accompanied the Prime Minister, took up these further discussions with representatives of the Department of State. Subject to confirmation by the Belgians it is now planned that there will be informal scientific consultations in Washington in the latter part of August. He appeared to understand and to approve the range of the projected talks. He indicated that in confirming the Secretary’s letter the Belgians might attempt some formulation of their informational requirements. This communication is now awaited.

The British Government has been kept currently informed and has agreed to name representatives to participate in these conversations.

  1. Ante, p. 679.
  2. Ante, p. 679.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Tab B, not printed, expressed regret at the resignation of Lord Inverchapel and expressed appreciation of his contribution.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Not printed.
  8. “Area 8” refers to the 8th point of the report of the Subgroup on technical cooperation, approved by the Combined Policy Committee at its meeting of January 7, 1948. Area 8 was “The Design of Natural Uranium Reactors in which the power generated is not wasted.” For text of the report, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. i, p. 894. For information regarding the visit of the American scientists, see the Minutes of the Meeting of the United States Members of the Combined Policy Committee, July 6, supra.
  9. Not printed.
  10. For information on the Declassification Guide, see footnote 31, p. 687.
  11. For the Belgian note of January 19, see p. 687.
  12. The reply is contained in telegram 348 to Brussels, March 9, p. 693.
  13. Prime Minister Spaak had accompanied Belgian Prince Regent Charles on a formal visit to the United States in April.
  14. Paul de Groote, Belgian Minister for Economic Coordination and Re-equipment; unofficial assistant to Spaak on atomic energy matters.