Atomic Energy Files, Lot 57 D 688

Agreement Between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium

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Memorandum of Understanding

It is the understanding of the Governments of Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, that [Page 743]

The attached Joint Communiqué sets forth the understandings reached by the three Governments as a result of negotiations on the Memorandum of Agreement of September 26, 1944. The Communiqué will be published simultaneously, in whole or in part as agreed, and on an agreed date, if and when the Belgian Government finds it advisable.
The method of bringing about the increase in revenue described in paragraph 3 of the attached Joint Communiqué will be an increase on the special tax on uranium ore exported from the Belgian Congo of $0.60 per pound, commencing with the coming into effect of Part C, Tab 2 (Rev).
The final paragraph of the Annex to the Joint Communiqué is to be interpreted in the sense that when the three Governments are agreed that the United States and United Kingdom Governments have decided to employ uranium ores for commercial purposes, the Belgian Government will have an equal right to utilize uranium ores for the same purposes.

In connection with the foregoing understandings, the Belgian Government pointed out the fact that it retains the right to make further tax adjustments on the seller. The United States and United Kingdom Governments recalled that under existing contractual provisions all taxes, including export taxes, are to the account of the seller. Accordingly the United States and United Kingdom Governments undertake to amend the existing contractual arrangements with the seller so that the special tax of $0.60 per pound will be borne by the buyers.

Governor-General, Pierre Ryckmans

Belgian Commissioner for Atomic Energy
Gordon Dean

Chairman, United States
Atomic Energy Commission

Sir Oliver Franks
British Ambassador

Joint Communiqué and Annex re American, Belgian, and British Understandings in the Atomic Energy Field

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1. Understandings have been reached among Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States as the result of talks the three countries have had from time to time to review arrangements governing the sale of Congo uranium ores to the United Kingdom and the United States. These arrangements, which sprang from wartime necessity as a military measure, are incorporated in a Memorandum of Agreement dated September 26, 1944, and expiring [sic]1 early in [Page 744] 1956. The substance of the Memorandum is attached. Through these arrangements, Belgium and the Belgian Congo have made an important contribution to the common defense of the democratic nations.

2. In the talks, the three Governments discussed methods of implementing the Anglo-American undertakings to Belgium included in the 1914 arrangements regarding eventual utilization of Congo ores as a source of energy for commercial power. The American and British representatives stated that the commercial use of atomic energy was still some appreciable distance away. It was decided, however, that Belgium and the Belgian Congo should take those steps best calculated to prepare them to make use of the advantages which it is envisaged will stem from the Anglo-American undertakings. To this end and in accord with the spirit of their obligations, the American and British Governments have agreed to furnish financial and technical assistance in support of a Belgian atomic energy program as outlined in paragraphs three and four respectively.

3. Uranium is a Belgian Congo resource, and substantial sums have accrued to the Belgian Congo Government through the medium of the duty and surcharge on the export of uranium ores. In addition thereto, and taking into account the special position accorded Belgium by the 1944 arrangements, the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the United States recognize that there should be a considerable increase in revenue accruing to the Belgian Congo from uranium to support a Belgian atomic energy research program which will enhance the value of this Congo asset. Accordingly, besides duties levied in accordance with existing legislation and in consideration of the circumstances mentioned in paragraph 2, a supplementary amount, which, if deliveries continue at the anticipated rate during the remainder of the agreement, would produce about $2,500,000.00 per annum, will be paid during this period to the Belgian Congo.

4. As regards technical assistance, it has been decided that the most valuable contribution the United States and the United Kingdom can make for the time being would be assistance directed toward the prompt development of a well-trained corps of Belgian scientists and engineers in the field of atomic energy. To this end, the American and British Governments have agreed to:—

Assist selected Belgian students to find facilities for advanced study and research in unclassified fields in American and British universities;
Facilitate Belgian access to American and British declassified material and facilities, including visits to unclassified work being carried out under the auspices of the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the British Ministry of Supply;
Furnish Belgium certain declassified technology, equipment and materials needed for its atomic energy research program, which program might include a research reactor;
Arrange for close Belgian participation as agreed upon from time to time in the mutual exchange of technical information on the exploration, location, mining, processing and extraction of radioactive ores;
Give advance notice to Belgium concerning the distribution as between the United States and the United Kingdom to be made of any shipments from the Belgian Congo of such ores.

5. In order to facilitate the carrying out of these measures, the Belgian Government has added to its Embassy staffs in Washington and London liaison officers with appropriate background and training in these scientific fields. These officers maintain liaison between the official organization in Belgium responsible for the direction of atomic energy activities and the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the British Ministry of Supply.

6. The assistance outlined above is regarded as an initial step toward closer cooperation among the three governments in keeping with the spirit of the 1944 arrangements; it is agreed that further talks will be held from time to time with a view toward devising means whereby a closer association may be brought about as soon as future developments warrant.


Substance of Memorandum of Agreement of September 26, 19442

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The Belgian Government agreed with the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom as to the desirability during the war against Germany and Japan, as well as in the future, that all uranium ores wherever located should be subject to effective control for the protection of civilization. To this end, the Government of Belgium undertook to insure effective control of such ores located in all territory subject to the authority of Belgium.

The Belgian Government also agreed that Congo uranium ores should be made available to the United States and the United Kingdom through commercial contracts. The Belgian Government further undertook to use its best endeavors to supply such quantities of uranium ores as might be required by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.

To aid in the reopening and development of the Congo uranium properties, the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom undertook to facilitate the delivery to the producing company (the Union Minière du Haut Katanga) of such materials and equipment as the parties to the contracts thought necessary.

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The arrangements outlined above were arrived at on the understanding that Belgium would reserve for herself such reasonable quantities of uranium ores as might be required for her own scientific and industrial purposes. The Belgian Government, however, in deciding to utilize such ores as a source of energy for commercial power, would do so in consultation and in agreement with the Governments of the United States and of the United Kingdom. The latter, on their part, agreed that the Belgian Government should participate on equitable terms in the utilization of these ores as a source of energy for commercial power at such time as the two Governments should decide to employ the ores for this purpose.

  1. A handwritten “[sic]” was inserted following the word “expiring” in the source text.
  2. For text of the agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. ii, pp. 10291030.