G/PM Files, Lot 68 D 349

Memorandum by the Secretary of Defense (Lovett) to the Chairman of the Combined Policy Committee (Acheson)

top secret

Subject: Cooperation with the U.K. and Canada in the Field of Atomic Weapons

1. On 31 January 1951 the Secretary of Defense forwarded to you the views of the Department of Defense on the above subject.1 At that [Page 777] time it was suggested that after you and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission had an opportunity to study the Defense Department views, a meeting of the American members of the Combined Policy Committee be called for the purpose of coming to an agreement with respect to a set of conclusions and of preparing a plan of action looking to the implementation of those conclusions.

2. Although no formal meeting of the American members has been held to consider this subject, there have been extensive conversations and correspondence on “Cooperation with the U.K. and Canada” between the Atomic Energy Commission, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Executive Secretary, National Security Council, and the Chairman, CPC. Most of this correspondence has related to exchange of information with the U.K. and Canada in the fields of basic science, reactor technology, raw materials processing, intelligence, and like fields not directly related to atomic weapons. Much of the conversation has dealt with the legal language of an enabling amendment to the Atomic Energy Act and to the question of whether the “Act” should be amended before or after a Cooperation Program was agreed upon.

3. The Defense Department position was based primarily upon the military desirability of exchanging finished U.S. atomic weapons for British plutonium, exchanging only the minimum of information necessary to support that exchange. Discussions which have taken place since the Department of Defense position was submitted lead to the conclusion that it is not practical to hold the disclosure of technical information on the U.S. atomic energy program to the limited areas envisaged at the time that position was submitted.

4. Further, the Department of Defense considers that the present time is not propitious for seeking legislative change to permit more extensive cooperation with foreign governments in the atomic energy field.2

5. In this light, the Department of Defense retracts its position on “Cooperation with the U.K. and Canada in the Field of Atomic Weapons” as expressed in the Secretary of Defense’s memorandum of 31 January 1951 to the Chairman of the Combined Policy Committee.

Robert A. Lovett
  1. Memorandum and enclosure not printed.
  2. Regarding developments culminating in the enactment on October 30, 1951, of Public Law 235, 82d Cong. (65 Stat. 692), amending Section 10 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, see letter from Gordon Dean, Chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, to William C. Foster, Acting Secretary of Defense, November 27, p. 785. For additional information on the subject, see Hewlett and Duncan, pp. 479–484.