Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Minutes of the Special Committee of the National Security Council on Atomic Energy Policy With Respect to the United Kingdom and Canada, Department of State, Washington, March 2, 1949, Noon

top secret



  • Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, Chairman
  • Secretary of Defense, James V. Forrestal
  • The Acting Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Sumner T. Pike
  • Executive Secretary, Sidney W. Souers

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By Invitation

General Dwight D. Eisenhower1
George F. Kennan } Department of State
R. Gordon Arneson
William Webster } National Military Establishment
Maj. Gen. Kenneth D. Nichols
Carroll L. Wilson } Atomic Energy Commission
Joseph Volpe
Ralph Johnson

I. Consideration of Report to the President

The Committee had before it for action a report for the President prepared, under the direction of Mr. Souers, by representatives of the Department of State, the National Military Establishment, and the Atomic Energy Commission. Certain textual changes proposed by Mr. Pike on behalf of the Commission were approved. The Committee approved the report as modified and agreed that it should be transmitted, through Mr. Souers, to the President with the Committee’s recommendation for approval.

II. Method of Implementation

The Committee agreed that, provided the President approved the proposal set forth in the report, the Secretary of State should discuss with the President methods of implementation, particularly as regards consultations with the Congress. Mr. Acheson suggested that it might be appropriate to have the President call together the Chairmen and ranking minority members of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committee for one or more informal meetings to discuss the problem. At this stage the proposed U.S. negotiating position would be discussed in general terms. If these leaders were found to be in favor of the general line of action proposed, informal soundings, noncommitting in nature, should then be taken with the British and Canadians to determine in general whether the proposed arrangements would be acceptable to them. If so, the matter might then go to executive session of the full committees for consideration. Appropriate action would be sought from the Congress in order that formal negotiations could be undertaken.

Mr. Acheson remarked that the studies of the working group concluded that the arrangements proposed with the United Kingdom and Canada were based on the grounds of promoting the common defense and security. The question arose whether, in view of the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, this conclusion should be reflected in some positive action by the Congress as for example a joint resolution.

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General Eisenhower expressed the view that the proposed arrangement would restore that mutual trust and confidence among the three nations so essential to the strengthening of our own common defense and security. He stated that he was prepared to testify at any time to the effect that the proposed arrangement would greatly strengthen the common defense and security.

III. Interim Status of Technical Cooperation Under the “Modus Vivendi”

In response to a question by Mr. Pike whether technical cooperation as provided for in the modus vivendi of January 7, 1948 should be continued as presently laid down, Mr. Acheson stated that to seek at this juncture to attempt to restrict technical cooperation might have a serious effect on the success of prospective negotiations. The Committee agreed that existing technical cooperation within the approved areas should continue.

The meeting adjourned at 1:05.

R. Gordon Arneson
  1. President of Columbia University; Principal Military Adviser and Consultant to the President and the Secretary of Defense, February 11, 1949–August 11, 1949, during which time he served as Presiding Officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.