In November 1949 representatives of the Combined Development Agency (an American-British body concerned with atomic energy development) and the South African Atomic Energy Board reached agreement for the basis of subsequent negotiations regarding contractual arrangements for the purchase of uranium. At its meeting on April 25, 1950, the Combined Policy Committee (American-British) approved policy guidance for the conduct of negotiations for the purchase of uranium from South Africa and the response to be made to any South African request for a “special position” in the atomic energy field.[Page 1843]
South African Ambassador Jooste called upon Secretary of State Acheson on July 12 in order to express his government’s desire, in view of the expected position of South Africa as a producer of uranium, “to associate itself with the ‘inner circle’ of Western countries in atomic energy.” Jooste made it explicitly clear that the South African Government had no interest in obtaining information regarding the manufacture of atomic bombs. Secretary Acheson took note of Jooste’s remarks and promised to give them sympathetic consideration. The Secretary took the opportunity to express the eagerness of the United States for an agreement on the contractual terms for the delivery of uranium from South Africa.
In a note of August 24 to Ambassador Jooste, Secretary of State Acheson referred to their conversation of July 12 and gave reassurances that the South African request for a special position in the atomic energy field would be given sympathetic consideration in consultations with the United Kingdom. In the meanwhile the United States wished for rapid progress toward the understandings relating to a contract for the procurement of South African uranium.
On October 2 Ambassador Erhardt was instructed (in telegram 61, October 2, to Pretoria) to deliver an aide-mémoire to the South African Prime Minister or his deputy in which the United States accepted a South African invitation for representatives of the Combined Development Agency to resume negotiations regarding the purchase of South African uranium after the middle of October. The aide-mémoire also invited South African Minister of Interior T. E. Dönges, who was serving as head of the South African Delegation to the Fifth United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, to visit Washington in order to clarify the South African request for a closer association with the United States and United Kingdom in the field of atomic energy.
Negotiations between representatives of the Combined Development Agency and the South African Atomic Energy Board in Pretoria, South Africa, during October and November 1950 resulted in the conclusion of an agreement on November 23 on uranium procurement.
South African Minister of Interior Dönges visited Washington in December 1950. During a call upon Secretary of State Acheson on December 8, Dönges again raised the question of a special position for South Africa in the atomic energy field. The Secretary expressed certainty that “something could be worked out in the problem.”
For further information on the meetings and texts of documents cited, see volume I, pages 493 ff.