Atomic Energy Files, Lot 57 D 688

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Thomas E. Murray, Member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission1


The meeting occurred at 9:30 at the residence of Dr. Antonio Oliveira Salazar.2 I was accompanied by Father Manuel Arouca, Secretary to the Cardinal.3

I told His Excellency, Dr. Salazar, that the reason for my being in Lisbon was to make a pilgrimage to Fatima on October 12–13; that that was my primary reason for coming to his country, but while I was here the Cardinal thought I should pay my respects to him, and to answer any questions that I could which His Excellency might wish to ask.

He indicated an interest in atomic energy. I was able to advise him of the United States’ interest in the ore and the need for as much ore as possible. I told him that if there was any way that the Portuguese Government could assist in this matter it would be very much appreciated by my own country. He was familiar with the English developments and the troubles in getting the mine in working operation. He said he was hopeful that something would materialize rather soon. He knew of the anxiety of the English to get ore concentrated in Portugal in order to save freight in shipping it into England. He said that all his dealings had been with the English and that he only knew of the United States interest second-hand. This, at least, is the [Page 776] way I understood him. It seemed to me that he was saying that he would be glad to hear directly from the United States. He did not state this in so many words but this was my impression. He then spoke of the price of uranium. He said he did not know what the metal was worth or what it would bring in the world market. He seemed to indicate that that was one of the reasons why the output of uranium in Portugal was being limited. He said at present the Portuguese were only getting really the price of the labor to get it out of the ground. He was also concerned with the value of uranium for power for the future. In this connection, I told him that in my judgment that power was a matter of between five and ten years away. He was not too familiar with the medical advances that had been made in the United States in the use of radio-isotopes for the treatment of cancer and blood disease. He said that he knew some of his doctors had been in the United States and knew a little about it but that he was not too familiar with it. He showed a very clear interest in the medical aspects. I tried to impress him with the importance of uranium for world protection. I also stressed the fact that his uranium and other sources of uranium might be of little or no value in 1960, if world events turned bad. I also told him that if his government wished to make a contribution to world protection and, in turn, to world peace, now was the time to act.

Several times during the course of the conversation I repeated that I was not asking for anything from him for our country. I was merely trying to put the thought in his mind, as a friend of his country, of the value that uranium had in the world picture. In conclusion I told him that if he decided to extend uranium operations in Portugal that there should be ways to assure his country that the techniques of using uranium for power, if and when it was developed, could be arranged.

In leaving I again stressed the fact that the purpose of my visit was to pay my respects and at the same time to stress the urgency for uranium ore.

  1. Transmitted to R. Gordon Arneson, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy Affairs, by William P. Maddox, Chargé in Portugal, on October 15.
  2. Prime Minister of Portugal.
  3. Reference is to the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon.