Department of State Atomic Energy Files

Memorandum by Mr. R. Gordon Arneson, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State (Webb)

top secret

Tripartite Negotiations Chronology

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August 12, 1949

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At 3:30 Mr. Webb called us in to report on his luncheon with Johnson. It appears that in addition to Webb and Johnson, there were present Souers, Early,1 and General Burns.2 Webb said he had little [Page 514]opportunity to touch any of the points we had raised with him3 and, in fact, it would have been quite unwise to state our position in view of the outburst that came from Secretary Johnson. Johnson stated in effect that our position on the tripartite talks was quite wrong and that he did not feel he should go along with it. He said that the United Kingdom was finished, there was no sense in trying to bolster it up through ECA, MAP, NAP, or assistance in the field of atomic energy. Even the Canadians, and he said he had talked with the Canadian Foreign Minister just recently, were disturbed with the prospect that we might give atomic secrets to the British. He felt that while we would be glad to use any part of the British Empire that was valuable to us in joint defense plans, as the Empire disintegrated we should write off the United Kingdom and continue cooperation with those parts of the Empire that remained useful to us. In sum, it appeared that our worst fears had been fully justified.

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  1. Stephen T. Early, Deputy Secretary of Defense.
  2. Maj. Gen. James H. Burns, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
  3. Reference is to a noon meeting during which Webb, Fisher, and Arneson had discussed aspects of the question of tripartite negotiations which Webb would take up with Secretary Johnson. The portion of the source text describing the noon meeting is not printed.