Department of State Atomic Energy Files

The Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense ( Johnson )

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department of State has given careful thought to the policy guidance suggested in your memorandum of March 13, 1950, for the United States representatives in the current uranium negotiations between the Combined Development Agency (CDA) and the Atomic Energy Board of the Union of South Africa. In making this study, the Department has taken into consideration Mr. Pike’s memorandum on this subject of March 21, 1950,1 a copy of which it is understood the Atomic Energy Commission furnished the Department of Defense.

It is apparent from examination that the policy guidance, if followed, would involve a reversal in the course of the present uranium negotiations with the South Africans as well as in the established approach to atomic raw material problems the United States Government has followed heretofore. For reasons advanced in the attached memorandum,1 the Department of State believes that this reversal would be inconsistent with American obligations assumed under the [Page 547] Modus Vivendi of January 7, 1948 and might seriously prejudice the present good prospects for arriving at an early agreement with the South Africans to provide an alternate source of uranium to the Belgian Congo. The Department of State feels, therefore, that it cannot join the Department of Defense in recommending to our representatives the points suggested for their guidance.

These points go to the very heart of our Tripartite relations in the atomic energy field. In connection with another aspect of these relations, I have noted your letter of March 16, 19502 referring to recent discoveries of espionage activities in this field and proposing a meeting of the American side of the CPC to review the question of the exchange of technical information with the United Kingdom and Canada. I have also noted a letter from Mr. Pike of March 21, 1950 containing a similar suggestion. I believe the Atomic Energy Commission has furnished a copy of this letter to the Department of Defense.

Since this question and that concerned with the South African negotiations are interrelated, I would like to propose that they and any other pertinent problems be included in a review by the American side of the CPC of the present status of our Tripartite atomic relations as a whole.

In the event such a proposal is agreeable to you, we can then arrange for a meeting to undertake this review.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Acheson
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