S/AE Files, Lot 68 D 358

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Robert Tufts, Member of the Policy Planning Staff

top secret

Subject: Discussions with British regarding use of atomic weapons1

Participants: Joint Chiefs of Staff: General Bradley, General Collins,2 Admiral McCormick,3 Admiral Davis,4 General Bolte,5 Admiral Duncan,6 Admiral Lalor7
State: Mr. Matthews, Mr. Nitze, Mr. Arneson, Mr. Tufts
NSC : Mr. Gleason8

General Bradley summarized the concerns of the Joint Chiefs over the British paper.9 These concerns are fully set forth in the JCS paper.10

Mr. Matthews said that Secretary Acheson believed the time had come for consideration of the problem by Secretary Marshall, the Joint Chiefs, and himself. The Joint Chiefs fully agreed with this suggestion. Admiral Davis and Mr. Matthews agreed to make arrangements for this meeting—probably on Monday, August 6.

It was agreed that it would be desirable, if possible, to prepare an agreed State-JCS paper, taking as a basis the JSSC draft and State’s comments thereon. Admiral Davis and Mr. Nitze undertook to make the necessary arrangements and a meeting of Mr. Nitze, Mr. Arneson, and the JSSC will be set up for Thursday, August 2, if possible.

General Bradley informed the group that Elliot has been pushing him for an early discussion of the British paper. He stated that he had informed Elliot of the major points of concern to the JCS. [Page 866] General Vandenberg11 expressed concern that the British might be trying to withdraw from their present commitments. This view was not shared by any other participants. Mr. Nitze thought that there was an opportunity to obtain an understanding with the British on the use of atomic weapons in contingencies not covered by treaties with the British. General Bradley and General Collins thought this might be possible.

  1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and representatives of the Department of State had previously engaged in inconclusive discussions on this subject during the course of State-JCS liaison meetings held on July 11, July 17, and July 18. (For information on State-JCS liaison meetings, see footnote 1, p. 33.) The individuals attending the present meeting participated in the July sessions, the minutes of which are located in Lot 61 D 417 (Records of State-JCS Meetings, 1951–1959).
  2. Gen. J. Lawton Collins, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.
  3. Adm. Lynde D. McCormick, Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
  4. Vice Adm. Arthur C. Davis, Director of the Joint Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  5. Lt. Gen. Charles L. Bolté, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, U.S. Army.
  6. Vice Adm. Donald B. Duncan, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Operations).
  7. Rear Adm. William G. Lalor, U.S. Navy (ret.), Secretary, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  8. S. Everett Gleason, Deputy Executive Secretary, National Security Council.
  9. Reference is to the statement on atomic warfare by the British Chiefs of Staff, February 22, 1951, not printed.
  10. Reference is to a report by the Joint Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 21, commenting upon the British paper of February 22. Prior to the present meeting, the Department of State prepared comments on the JSSC report. Neither the JSSC report nor the Department of State comments is printed, but for an agreed paper of August 3, see infra. (S/AE Files, Lot 68 D 358)
  11. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force.