G/PM Files, Lot 68 D 3491

The Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (Arneson) to Mr. Robert LeBaron, Deputy to the Secretary of Defense (Marshall) on Atomic Energy Matters2

top secret

Dear Bob: The British have now officially approached the Department on the matter of publishing the text of the Quebec Agreement.3 You will recall that I told you the other day at the Commission that we were expecting this approach at any time, and that you said you would have to talk with Secretary Marshall in view of his personal interest in the problem.

I am enclosing a copy of the verbatim text of the discussion in the British House of Commons on January 30, 1951 which led the British Government to inquire whether we would be agreeable to making the Agreement public. With reference to Prime Minister Attlee’s remark in the discussion that he would like to have a private word with Mr. Churchill4 on the subject, the British Embassy has informed us that the Prime Minister merely told Mr. Churchill that he would approach the American and Canadian Governments in this matter. We were also informed that the British have already been in touch with the Canadians, and that the Canadian Government will probably not agree to publication.

Unless we receive positive reasons either from Defense or the Atomic Energy Commission why we should concur, we propose to inform the British that the Department of State cannot agree to [Page 691] publication. The Department is strongly opposed to publication at this time for the following reasons:

To publish the text of the Agreement without explanatory comment as to its relationship to present Tripartite arrangements would be misleading.
If given, any such explanation would undoubtedly lead to questions on the present status of Tripartite relations which we would not now be prepared to answer.
Publication at this time would serve no useful purpose and the ensuing questioning and discussion might well render more difficult efforts to arrive at a new overall agreement along the lines set forth in the report approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on cooperation with the British and Canadians in the field of atomic weapons.5

We would appreciate receiving the views of Defense on this matter as promptly as possible.

Sincerely yours,

R. Gordon Arneson
  1. Subject files on atomic energy and space, 1950–1967, retired by the Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs.
  2. LeBaron was also Chairman of the Military Liaison Committee to the United States Atomic Energy Commission. Arneson addressed similar communications to John A. Hall, Chief of the Office of Special Projects, United States Atomic Energy Commission, February 9; and to Brien McMahon, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, March 2. Neither is printed.
  3. The Quebec Agreement, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill on August 19, 1943, contained the following provisions: The United States and the United Kingdom undertook never to use the atomic bomb against each other, not to use it against third parties without each other’s consent, and not to transmit information regarding the development to third parties except by mutual consent. In addition, the agreement stipulated that since the greater wartime burden of production fell upon the United States, any postwar industrial or commercial advantages would be dealt with as between the United States and the United Kingdom in a manner to be determined by the President of the United States. Finally, the Quebec Agreement provided for the establishment in Washington of the Combined Policy Committee to effect United States–United Kingdom–Canadian cooperation in the field of atomic energy development. For text of the Quebec Agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1943, The Conferences at Washington and Quebec, pp. 1117–1119.
  4. Winston S. Churchill, British Prime Minister, 1940–1945; Leader of the (Conservative Party) Opposition in the House of Commons since 1945.
  5. Report of January 31, not printed.