Department of State Disarmament Files1

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson)


Control of Atomic Energy

[Participants:] British Embassy—Sir Derick Hoyer Millar2
Mr. F. W. Marten3
UNA—Mr. Hickerson
UNP—Mr. Popper4
EUR—Mr. Raynor5

Sir Derick said he had been instructed to ask whether there was any substance to reports appearing in the press with regard to a Soviet [Page 49] feeler on the atomic energy problem or to press reports of a fresh approach on this subject by the United States.

Mr. Hickerson said that he knew of no feeler by the Russians; certainly Malik had not approached him. As regards a new approach by the United States, Mr. Hickerson cited the President’s press conference statement of February 26 and gave Sir Derick a copy of the statement made by the Secretary on January 18 on this subject [at that press conference the Secretary stated that we would continue to consider the problem “But I see no reason why we should change, and there is nothing in the works, as far as I know, which would lead us to change.”].7 Sir Derick noted that the President’s statement was even more categorical than that of the Secretary, and Mr. Hickerson explained that the Secretary had spoken with the thought in mind that the President would shortly make this statement.

Mr. Hickerson said that he was seeking to nail down even more explicitly the thought contained in the Secretary’s statement. He felt that the control plan would apply to hydrogen bombs as well as to conventional atomic bombs since after all uranium was an essential component of the hydrogen bomb.

The discussion turned to Walter Lippman’s8 article of this morning. Sir Derick agreed with Mr. Hickerson that the control plan had not become obsolete simply because the Soviets now had the bomb. A control plan, Mr. Hickerson felt, was as necessary as ever; we did not think that our plan was necessarily perfect and were willing to consider Soviet suggestions, but not to accept any which would make the plan ineffective. Sir Derick agreed that there was no possibility of progress if the Soviets would not accept an effective plan. He hoped we would keep the British informed if anything new developed.

John D. Hickerson
  1. Lot 58D133, a consolidated lot file in the Department of state containing documentation on regulation of armaments and disarmament, 1942–1962.
  2. Minister, British Embassy.
  3. First Secretary, British Embassy.
  4. David H. Popper of the Office of United Nations Political and Security Affairs.
  5. G. Hayden Raynor, Adviser for United Nations Affairs, Bureau of European Affairs.
  6. The following exchange occurred at the President’s press conference of February 2:

    Q. Mr. President, Senator Vandenberg [Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan] yesterday said that he Wished that you would follow up your directive on the superbomb with a formal notification to the United Nations, first that you have ordered work to proceed on it; second, that the United States stands ready to suspend the project at the moment Soviet Russia permits adequate international control.

    The President: I have no comment on Senator Vandenberg’s statement, but for your information we have urged constantly that international control be accepted by all the nations of the world. Hardly a week goes by that that matter is not brought up, at my suggestion, in the United Nations.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1950 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1965), pp. 142143)

    For the President’s statement on the hydrogen bomb, January 31, see footnote 1, p. 513.

  7. Brackets appear in the source text.
  8. Syndicated newspaper columnist.