891.2546/7–2950: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State


244. 1. Deptel 589, June 14.1 Bajpai,2 SYG MEA, informed me several days ago that Bhaba3 had returned Delhi and GOI was now prepared resume discussions re beryl agreement.4 At his suggestion I called on him July 27 accompanied by Corry, minerals attaché of Embassy.

2. Bajpai told us that Prime Minister5 continued object to paragraph number three of draft of agreement on ground it superfluous. In paragraph number two GOI had undertaken to sell US 25 percent beryl ore mined during five-year period commencing October 1, 1950; paragraph three provided that if GOI production should reach 600 tons annually GOI would sell US a minimum of 400 tons annually. There was no possibility that Indian production could reach figure 600 tons. Only result of paragraph three therefore would be that it might mislead US into believing that it might possibly get 400 tons [Page 568] annually. He had talked to Prime Minister re my suggestion that perhaps with assistance American procurement specialist production beryl could be sharply increased. Prime Minister had taken view that GOI would not wish foreign specialists to assist in procurement mineral strategic character like beryl.

3. I again outlined Bajpai history of negotiations. I pointed out how in beginning various GOI representatives had talked about 800 tons stock on hand and about annual production over 1,000 tons, and how gradually GOI had lowered its figures until now they were only 400 tons on hand and 25 percent of production, which could not possibly reach 600 tons annually.

4. Bajpai said he must admit some GOI officials were too optimistic. It was regretted that they had misled US Government. They had acted in good faith but had been lacking in precision. In any event, GOI now had only 400 tons and could not possibly produce 600 tons annually. Therefore, Prime Minister was insistent that paragraph three be deleted.

5. I said that in submitting Prime Minister’s wishes to Washington, I would like be able state definitely whether there had been any change in basic attitude GOI re cooperation with US in this field. It had been my understanding at outset that GOI would sell US all beryl ore produced, except (a) that needed for processing in plant; (b) that needed for stockpiling; (c) limited quantities to be sent to other friendly governments. Was GOI now planning to have larger stockpile than it had originally contemplated? Was GOI intending to sell larger quantities to other governments than it had intended at time of our negotiations?

6. Bajpai replied that GOI had revised its idea with regard to stockpile. It was now planning to have a larger stockpile than originally intended. Before replying with regard to possibility of GOI increasing exports to other friendly countries he must consult with Prime Minister. He suggested that we not communicate with Washington until he could make definite reply in this regard.

7. On July 28 Bajpai told me Prime Minister had replied to my questions re GOI intentions export beryl ore to other friendly countries. There has been a certain change in India’s plans in this respect. There was now possibility that for certain experimental purposes in which India and another friendly country would participate, certain quantity beryl ore would be shipped to that country. Quantities would not be large, although larger than originally contemplated. These exports would be only of temporary character, because [Page 569] if experiments were successful, all work based on these experiments would be carried out with beryl in India.

8. I asked Bajpai if he included France among “friendly countries”. Bajpai said he was somewhat surprised at my question since he had assumed that France was of course “friendly country”. I pointed out that although US relations with France were most cordial we had in past considered that French AEC was of such character that we could repose no confidence in it. Bajpai asked if our attitude was not different now that Curie had left the commission. I said that I had no information which would cause me to believe that it had changed. Curie, being a Communist, undoubtedly had probably filled many positions in the commission with Communists and his departure in itself would not necessarily indicate that the commission could be regarded as secure or even as friendly.

9. Bajpai said in any event the experimental work which would be carried out in cooperation with another country would not contain features of a strategic character. GOI was not trying to produce atomic weapons; it was merely hoping to be able to have atomic piles of its own for commercial and industrial purposes.

10. Re paragraph three of draft Bajpai said Prime Minister still hoped this paragraph could be deleted because it served no purpose other than that of possibly misleading readers. Nevertheless, if US Government insisted that paragraph be retained, or if deletion of paragraph would give rise to internal difficulties in US Government or cause State Department or AEC real embarrassment, he would be willing to allow paragraph remain in agreement, provided it was understood that India would not be able to produce 600 tons annually.

11. We are somewhat hesitant in making recommendations re our course of action, because we are not acquainted with all factors involved. There is no doubt that from technical point of view advantages to be derived by US from this agreement will be much less than what we had originally anticipated. US will be fortunate, in our opinion, to get as much as 100 tons beryl ore annually during next five years, after having received the 400 tons at present in stock. Furthermore, in addition to certain amount of cooperation re atomic matters with US, GOI apparently is planning close cooperation, at least in certain fields, with another country, apparently France (although UK cannot be excluded). On the other hand, even small quantities of beryl ore to be received under contract might be useful, and our failure to go along with contract would probably shut off Indian beryl entirely and would deeply wound certain Indian scientists who desire cooperate with US, and might even diminish their influence in the [Page 570] Indian Government. We venture recommend, therefore, unless Department and AEC believe that difficulties which they might encounter in Brazil will more than offset advantages to be derived from contract, that we proceed with contract. Furthermore, if paragraph three could be deleted in view of Prime Minister’s feelings, and if we could drop it without too much internal embarrassment, we would prefer to see it left out. It would seem to us that its retention would serve no useful purpose other than perhaps to mislead [omission of approximately seven characters] agencies of the Government or American businessmen, and its deletion would represent gracious gesture on our part, particularly in view of fact that Prime Minister has expressed willingness if we insist on it to allow it remain in agreement.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, Secretary-General of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
  3. Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission.
  4. Reference is to a draft agreement initialed in Washington on October 20, 1949, by Dr. Bhabha and Dr. John K. Gustafson, Manager, Raw Materials Operations, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. The draft agreement, providing for U.S. purchase of Indian beryl, is not printed.
  5. Jawaharlal Nehru.