Department of State Atomic Energy Files
The Ambassador in France ( Bruce ) to the Under Secretary of State ( Webb )
Dear Mr. Webb: I have carefully considered the questions raised in your letter of May 231 regarding the advisability of approaching the French Government to determine its attitude toward the development and exportation of uranium ores discovered by American mining concerns in French Morocco and French Equatorial Africa. In my opinion, prospects for French assent to such a proposal are so highly unfavorable that it would be unwise to make any approach at present. Although most of the French officials concerned would probably be willing personally to accommodate the United States, particularly in view of the Atlantic Pact and the Military Assistance Program, domestic political considerations virtually preclude official approval. Owing to the climate of French public opinion with regard to atomic weapons and atomic warfare, it would be political suicide for the Government to propose before the National Assembly to supply uranium to the United States from French territories.[Page 565]
In view of this situation, I would suggest that, at least for the time being, we regard French resources of fissionable material as a potential reserve available to the United States for military purposes in the event of an emergency. Meanwhile, we should take all necessary measures to keep informed of French prospecting and development programs, as well as the results of refining and stockpile operations. As you know, the Embassy has reported on this subject from time to time and will continue to do so with, I believe, increasing thoroughness.
The foregoing observations apply particularly to French Equatorial Africa and other French territories. Morocco, as you suggest, presents certain differences owing to the fact that it does not have territorial status within the French Union. Moreover, as you probably know, the exportation of beryl ore from Morocco to the United States has been quietly occurring with the knowledge of certain officials of the Foreign Office and the French Atomic Energy Commission. It may, therefore, be possible to obtain French acquiescence to the exportation of uranium ores by American firms or even by firms owned by other nationals. If the approach to General Juin,2 as mentioned in your letter, should occur, I would be most interested to learn of the outcome.
You may be assured that I shall continue to take a close, personal interest in French atomic energy affairs, and that this Embassy stands ready to assist the Department with every means at its disposal in this most important field.