Atomic Energy Files, Lot 57 D 688

Memorandum for the Files by Mr. J. Bruce Hamilton of the Office of the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (Arneson)


I accompanied Ambassador Gallman1 to a meeting in Commissioner Sumner Pike’s office, where the Ambassador met with Commissioner Pike, Commissioner Murray, Messrs. Jesse Johnson,2 Frank McQuiston,3 John Hall and Al Wells. The purpose of the meeting was [Page 751] to discuss with Ambassador Gallman some of the details of the Atomic Energy Commission’s interests in the Union of South Africa. Johnson and McQuiston outlined their negotiations during their recent visits to the Union. Mr. McQuiston stated that a large calcining plant was being erected outside Johannesburg for treating the ores, that the plant will be financed by Agency funds and operated by the Transvaal Chamber of Mines.

Commissioner Pike, evaluating for the Ambassador the probable importance of South African uranium ore, said that when the presently planned program gets into full operation in 1954 or 1955, the Union will probably be producing as much ore as the Belgian Congo, probably more than Canada and undoubtedly more than the U.S. Furthermore, the ore reserves in the Union are very promising and, whereas it is probable that the extent of the Belgian Congo reserves is fairly well known, and probably rather limited, and the extent of the Canadian reserves somewhat of a question mark at this time, the reserves in the Union of South Africa are very promising and appear to be something on which future plans for production can be based. In this connection, he said that the Commission is now seriously considering a substantial expansion (amounting perhaps to two billion dollars) of its uranium production facilities in the United States. This program, if pursued, will be based very largely on the prospects of South African ore production.

In regard to the mine dumps in South Africa, Mr. McQuiston said that they were currently being tested for their uranium content and that indications thus far are good, both as to the uranium content of the dumps and the prospects for treating it to obtain the uranium in a useful form.

Mr. Pike said that he would appreciate it if, when the Ambassador arrived at his new post, he would keep the Commission, through the Department of State, informed of the general attitude in South Africa toward this uranium operation. He said that relations between the Commission and the South African Government as well as with the South African mining companies involved, were excellent, and he would hope to become aware of any trend away from this happy state of affairs early enough to be able to counteract it.

In response to the Ambassador’s question, Commissioner Pike said that the Commission does not at this time contemplate having a representative permanently stationed in Africa, but that it seemed likely after the operation was in full swing, that a technician might be stationed there.

The question was raised about the South African desire for some kind of special position in atomic energy matters in recognition of the new status of that country as a uranium supplier. Mr. Hall said that there had been no new developments on this matter since the [Page 752] delivery to Mr. Donges of a rather lengthy statement on the general subject.4 The Ambassador had seen and was familiar with this statement. Mr. Pike ventured the opinion that the South Africans themselves were not yet in a position to make a detailed request on this subject.

Ambassador Gallman said that he understood it would be quite possible and proper for him to convey information to the Commission through the medium of informal letters to Mr. Arneson. Mr. Pike assured him that this would be entirely proper and that a similar arrangement in regard to Belgium and other posts was in operation and worked very effectively. He encouraged Ambassador Gallman to take advantage of this arrangement whenever desirable.

J. Bruce Hamilton
  1. Waldemar J. Gallman, Ambassador-Designate to the Union of South Africa.
  2. Director of the Division of Raw Materials, United States Atomic Energy Commission.
  3. Deputy Director, Division of Raw Materials, United States Atomic Energy Commission.
  4. Memorandum from Gordon Dean, Chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, to T. E. Donges, South African Minister of Interior, December 11, 1950, is not printed.