Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Policy Planning Staff ( Nitze )

top secret

Participants: General Bradley
Mr. Matthews
Mr. Nitze

[Here follows discussion of various issues of mutual concern to the United States and the United Kingdom.]

Atomic Weapons

The next item discussed was the Slessor paper.1 General Bradley said that he had discussed that matter in London.2 He said that the British were interested in setting up machinery which could function quickly in the event of necessity. He said that they felt that their Prime Minister and a certain number of others of the British government should know how we proposed to use atomic weapons, against what target systems, and what to expect in the way of retaliation. General Bradley said that this presented a number of problems because of the requirements of our legislation. He said that he had given Slessor the general indication of the target systems and the nature of the installations covered thereby without indicating the number of targets or the number of weapons that would be used against them. He said the British felt that discussions on the political level as to [Page 843] circumstances under which atomic weapons would be used would be desirable.

Mr. Nitze said that Sir Oliver Franks had discussed this problem with the State Department and had shown the Department a copy of the Slessor paper. Mr. Nitze told Sir Oliver that we would not be prepared to discuss it further with him until we had had a chance to take up the question with General Bradley. Sir Oliver had asked when we would be in a position to have discussions. Mr. Nitze said that he had assured Sir Oliver that we would be in a position to discuss the paper at the time of Sir Oliver’s return from the U.K., which would be approximately three weeks from now. Mr. Nitze said that it appeared to him there were certain questions which were important for State and the JCS to get together on prior to Sir Oliver’s return. General Bradley said that he wanted to have all the Joint Chiefs in on the discussion. This would not be possible until June 27. General Bradley agreed to set up a meeting at that time, which should be in advance of Sir Oliver’s return.

[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]

  1. The reference paper is not printed. For information regarding it, see memoranda of May 4 and May 16, pp. 826 and 833.
  2. General Bradley’s trip to the United Kingdom is treated in documentation on United States relations with that nation in volume iv.