Department of State Atomic Energy Files1

Memorandum by the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Souers)

top secret

Memorandum for: The Secretary of State
The Secretary of Defense
The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission

Subject: Atomic Energy Policy vis-à-vis UK and Canada

The President has designated the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission as a Special Committee of the National Security Council to prepare recommendations for his consideration on the above subject. This action was taken by the President in accordance with the recommendation by the Secretary of State contained in enclosed memorandum.

As suggested by the Secretary of State, it is requested that each member of the Special Committee furnish me with the names of two representatives to constitute a staff to prepare appropriate studies for consideration by the Committee.2

Sidney W. Souers

Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Truman

top secret

Subject: Atomic Energy Policy

The wartime relations of this Government with the United Kingdom and Canada in the field of atomic energy, involving the allocation of raw materials and the exchange of information, had as their prime aim the production of atomic weapons in this country in the shortest possible time. After the war exchange of information was continued on a reduced scale in areas of mutual advantage which did not include information on the production of plutonium or atomic weapons. Allocation of raw materials (available principally from the Belgian Congo under a U.S.–U.K.–Belgium agreement entered into in September of 1944) continued to be made under the aegis of the Combined Policy Committee. These allocations assured supplies adequate for our atomic energy program.

The United Kingdom is presently embarked on a program aimed at the production of atomic weapons, a goal they expect to reach in [Page 430]from two and one-half to four years. In September 1948 the United Kingdom asked this Government for information on plutonium production and atomic weapons. This request has not been answered to date. Only by a most thorough-going consideration of all factors involving the common defense and security can a wise decision be taken.

In addition to the problems presented by our relations with the United Kingdom and Canada, consideration also needs to be given to our relations to other countries friendly to our cause which have made modest beginnings in the field of atomic energy and which have sought our help.

Staff members of the Department of State, the National Military Establishment, and the Atomic Energy Commission have given considerable study to these matters in recent weeks. In order, however, to assure that all facets may be fully explored I should like to recommend that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, who are the American members of the Combined Policy Committee, be designated by you as a special committee of the National Security Council to prepare recommendations for your consideration. I suggest that they should each furnish appropriate staff from their respective agencies who would work under the direction of Mr. Sidney Souers in the preparation of the necessary staff studies.

Dean Acheson

Approved: Feb. 10, 1949

Harry S. Truman

  1. Lot 57D688, the Department of State consolidated lot file on atomic energy policy, 1944–1962.
  2. The working group established by this procedure consisted of Kennan and Arneson for the Department of State, Webster and Nichols for the Department of Defense, and Wilson and Volpe for the Atomic Energy Commission.