Position Paper Prepared by the State-Defense Military Information Control Committee1

top secret

Guidance to the United States Representatives Designated to Meet With Representatives of the United Kingdom on the Problem of the Exchange of Classified Military Information Between the Two Governments

i. background

The present security agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom2 requires that the United Kingdom obtain the consent of the United States prior to releasing to third nations classified military information of U.S. origin or of combined U.S.–U.K. origin. For the purposes of this agreement, the members of the British Commonwealth are considered (in the agreement) to be separate nations.

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In the exchange of aide-mémoire dated March 7, June 10, July 25, November 1, and December 20, 1949,3 the U.S. and the U.K. have been discussing the question of the intention of the British Government to adhere to the indicated requirements of the security agreement. The U.S. desire to secure categorical assurances of the British Government in the premises stemmed both from evidences that the U.K. had not obtained prior U.S. consent to certain releases to third nations of U.S. information, and from statements contained in the British communications referred to above.

The British aide-mémoire of December 20, 1949 proposed that discussions be held between high level representatives of both Governments on the general subject of the exchange of classified military information. This proposal was accepted by this Government and a meeting is tentatively scheduled for January 19, 1950; a tentative agenda has also been agreed upon.

The agenda proposed by the British was addressed to General Bradley in a memorandum from General Morgan, dated January 3, 1950.4 This states the British desire that the discussions relate to:

The problem of releases by the United Kingdom to the member nations of the British Commonwealth;
The question of releases to other nations, particularly to nations signatory to the North Atlantic Treaty.

ii. proposed u.s. position

The following sets forth the most liberal position which should be taken by the U.S. representatives concerning these matters in their relation to the general problem of British adherence to the requirements of the U.S.–U.K. security agreement:

It should be agreed at the outset that the discussions will not be addressed to specific past violations but rather to ways and means of achieving a practicable solution for mutual problems and requirements in this field. If the question of past violations is pressed, the U.S. representatives should state that the U.S. is of the opinion that discussion of past violations within the framework of these meetings would be fruitless.
The general principle of the security agreement must be maintained: that the British Government seek the consent of the U.S. prior to the release to third nations of information of U.S. or of U.S.–U.K. origin.
In order to meet the special needs of the U.K. with respect to the British Commonwealth, however, the U.S. is prepared to modify this general principle in the following respects:
The U.K. may exchange freely with Canada without prior U.S. consent classified military information of U.S. origin, of [Page 1606] combined U.S.-Canadian origin, or of combined U.S–U.K. origin, except for information relating to Western Hemisphere defense, and provided that:
The Canadian Government concurs in this position.
The U.K. and Canada furnish to the U.S. periodic reports identifying the specific documentary materials released by the one to the other, when such documents are of U.S., combined U.S.–U.K., or combined U.S–Canadian origin.
Normally releases to Canada of documentary materials of U.S. origin will be made directly by the U.S.
The U.K. may exchange with Australia, New Zealand, or the Union of South Africa without prior U.S. consent classified military information of U.S. origin or of combined U.S.–U.K. origin, provided that:
Such information falls within the content and scope of specific projects agreed to by the U.S. as being “releasable” projects in respect of the particular Commonwealth nation. In this connection, it must be made clear that the U.K. bears the burden of justifying to the U.S. the urgent need that she be permitted to release information in the particular project without obtaining prior U.S. consent.
When the project is agreed to by the U.S. and the U.K., the Commonwealth nation or nations concerned will participate in the arrangement of the details of the exchange of the information.
Normally releases to such nations of documentary materials of U.S. origin will be made directly by the U.S.
The U.K. furnish to the U.S. periodic reports identifying specific documentary materials released to any of the named Commonwealth nations, when such documents are of U.S. or combined U.S.–U.K. origin.
The U.K. furnish to the U.S. reports on the progress and results of the specific projects approved in accordance with (1) above.
U.S. military representatives are permitted to visit and observe the situs or operations of such projects.
With respect to the matter of releases by the U.K. to the North Atlantic treaty nations of U.S. classified military information, it should be made clear that the U.S. will adhere strictly to the procedures governing such releases set forth in SANACC 206/29 (Revised). The U.K. representatives accordingly may be apprised in confidence of the substance of Paragraph IV (a)(1) of SANACC 206/29 (Revised).5

  1. The source text was attached to a memorandum from John C. Elliott, Chairman of the State–Defense Military Information Control Committee, to Maj. Gen. S. Leroy Irwin, Director of Intelligence, Department of the Army, which stated that it had been approved on January 10 by an ad hoc group of representatives from the Departments of State and Defense and should be submitted to the Secretaries of those two Departments for approval.
  2. The agreement under reference here is printed as Document B in MIC 206/70, January 27, p. 1617.
  3. None printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. The paragraph under reference provided for the release of:

    “Military information of all classifications through ‘Top Secret’, including that pertaining to United States Order of Battle, to cryptography and cryptographic devices necessary to implement communication agreements, to United States Research and Development Projects, to Canada and Latin American Nations, and including catalogue and program type information necessary to implement programs mutually agreed upon.” (National Archives: Record Group 353: Box 34: SANACC Files)