S/AE Files, Lot 68 D 358

Memorandum Prepared in the Department of State 1

top secret

Tactics in Discussions With British

The following points are ones that should be kept in mind in working out with General Marshall and the Joint Chiefs the manner of dealing with the questions raised in the Slessor paper.2

1. A continuing exchange of views with the British, without commitment on our part, as to the developing world situations which may have a bearing on the question of the use or non-use of atomic weapons will diminish any danger that may exist of finding ourselves in a war with the USSR without our most important allies.

2. While it would be clearly desirable from the point of view of developing and being able to carry out U.S. strategic war plans to [Page 875] obtain agreement from the British that we could use U.K. bases in any circumstances, such agreement is undoubtedly unobtainable from any sovereign state. We should, however, seek to obtain British assurance that they will not make any decision in advance that there are circumstances in which U.K. bases would not be available.

3. The military have indicated their preference for a military exchange of views with the British on this subject, if any exchange of views is undertaken. At least Bradley, Collins, and McCormick appear to recognize that political discussions will be necessary at some stage.

4. It will certainly be necessary in due course to carry on continuing conversations with the British on the political level.

  1. Prepared by H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; John H. Ferguson, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff; and R. Gordon Arneson, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy Affairs.
  2. Reference is to the February 22 paper by the British Chiefs of Staff on employment of atomic weapons, not printed.