Department of State Atomic Energy Files
Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. R. Gordon Arneson, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State (Webb)
Subject: Open Letter to the United Nations from Professor Niels Bohr dated June 9, 1950.
|Participants:||John D. Hickerson, Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs|
|Mr. Henrik deKauffmann, Ambassador of Denmark|
|Benjamin M. Hulley, BNA|
|R. Gordon Arneson, U/A|
The Danish Ambassador called at his request to set forth the views of the Danish Government on the open letter which Professor Niels Bohr had addressed to the United Nations on June 9, 1950. These views are reflected in the attached aide-mémoire which Ambassador deKauffmann left with the Department.[Page 77]
In elaboration of the matter, Ambassador deKauffmann made the following points. He was confident that Professor Bohr did not entertain any hope that the Soviet Union would agree to a proposal of openness. Professor Bohr felt that a great advantage would accrue to the United States if it saw fit to make such a proposal even though it would be turned down by the Soviet Union because it would help to rally the liberal and intellectual forces of the world to the support of the United States. Ambassador deKauffmann was pleased to note that there had been no expression of disapproval in the United States of Professor Bohr’s proposal. He hoped very much that, at minimum, the United States would continue to refrain from adverse criticism of the proposal. He recognized that there were many practical difficulties. He recalled that Professor Bohr’s views on this matter had been known to the United States Government for some time and that a great deal of thought had been given to it. He hoped that it might be possible for the United States at least to express itself in favor of an open world as an objective to be striven for. He felt that a statement to this effect, while not very concrete, would be very helpful.
Mr. Hickerson stated that the Department was very glad to have this opportunity to discuss the Bohr proposal and very much appreciated having the views of the Danish Government as presented by the Ambassador. He went on to say that Professor Bohr’s views had been known for some period of time and that while we were of course in complete sympathy with the ideals expressed in the proposal, we foresaw many practical difficulties in handling the proposal.
Turning briefly to the Stockholm appeal,1 Ambassador deKauffmann pointed out that Professor Bohr had refused to sign it because he saw that it was at complete variance with his objective. The Communist press had attacked him vigorously for his unwillingness to sign while attempting to claim that his proposals and the Stockholm appeal sprang from the same motivations for world peace.
The Danish Ambassador left with the Department copies of Professor Bohr’s public reply to the request made on him to sign the Stockholm appeal as well as a copy of his statement to the press on the release of his open letter to the United Nations. Both are attached.2[Page 78]
The Stockholm Appeal of the World Peace Council, March 19, 1950, read as follows:
“We demand the absolute banning of the atom weapon, arm of terror and mass extermination of populations.
“We demand the establishment of strict international control to ensure the implementation of this banning measure.
“We consider that any government which would be first to use the atom weapon against any country whatsoever would be committing a crime against humanity and should be dealt with as a war criminal.
“We call on all men of good will throughout the world to sign this Appeal.”
Documentation on the Stockholm Appeal is scheduled for publication in volume iv.↩
- Neither reproduced.↩
- Hans Hedtoft, Prime Minister of Denmark.↩