G/PM files, lot 68 D 349, “TrumanChurchill Talks”

Memorandum by R. Gordon Arneson,1 to the Secretary of State

top secret
  • Subject:
  • Follow-Up of TrumanChurchill Talks:2 Technical Cooperation in Atomic Energy

At the TrumanChurchill meeting on Monday afternoon, January 7, the Prime Minister said that the United Kingdom hoped for the maximum amount of cooperation with the United States in the field of atomic energy to the extent permitted by United States legislation. He wanted Lord Cherwell to discuss the matter further with the AEC and also with General Smith of CIA. The President responded that he was quite agreeable to having talks on technical cooperation proceed as suggested and thought that what the Prime Minister was asking made good sense to him. He stressed particularly that he thought it was important to cooperate in trying to find out what the Russians were doing.

The requested meetings of Lord Cherwell with the Commission and with General Smith were held on Thursday, January 10. The first, dealing with the general field of technical cooperation in [Page 847] atomic energy, was held in Chairman Dean’s office. Among those present on our side were Commissioner Smyth, Commissioner Murray, Mr. LeBaron, and myself. Lord Cherwell was accompanied by Sir Roger Makins, Sir Christopher Steel, and two technical advisers. Mr. Dean stated that the Commission was anxious to give full effect to the views expressed in the TrumanChurchill meeting and intended to take a more liberal view in interpreting the nine areas of cooperation set forth in the modus vivendi3 and also to examine most sympathetically with the United Kingdom specific cases of cooperation which might be worked out under the recent amendment to the Act.4 Mr. LeBaron, while subscribing to the idea that specific cases should be examined on their merits, went on at some length to state to all present that inasmuch as the Pentagon had not participated in the activities culminating in the recent amendment he thought that he and the JCS might have some difficulty in going along with specific proposals that might be drawn up. He inferred that the JCS and his office might come up with different answers in the light of what he termed their “constitutional responsibilities for the national security”. Without further characterization of the views stated by Mr. LeBaron, it seems clear that the spirit and intent of the TrumanChurchill exchange has not been instilled in Mr. LeBaron. This was evident to all participants at the meeting.

I understand that Lord Cherwell will have, in all probability, spoken to the Prime Minister about this meeting. It is possible, although not certain, that Churchill may wish to speak either to the President or to Secretary Lovett about the Defense attitude as revealed in this meeting. You will probably want, therefore, to alert the President and Secretary Lovett to this possibility. When you do so you may wish to suggest that steps be taken within the Department of Defense that the President’s views on this matter be made clear and that his policy should be followed.

As to the second meeting with General Smith on scientific atomic energy intelligence cooperation, positive progress was registered. General Smith undertook to press vigorously for a wider exchange of information in this field. He pointed out to Lord Cherwell that we would have to go the route laid down in the recent Atomic Energy Act amendment. He thought that the case was [Page 848] quite clear cut and should not encounter any serious obstacles. I believe that Lord Cherwell and his colleagues were pleased with the outcome of this meeting.5

R. Gordon Arneson
  1. Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Atomic Energy Affairs.
  2. British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill visited Washington Jan. 5–9 and 16–18, 1952, for talks with President Truman on a wide range of issues, including atomic energy. For documentation on the question of emergency use of U.S. bases in Britain and on the TrumanChurchill conversations, see volume vi. Regarding atomic energy aspects of the talks, see also Hewlett and Duncan, Atomic Shield, pp. 573–575, and Margaret M. Gowing, Independence and Deterrence: Britain and Atomic Energy, 1945–1952, 2 vols. (London, Macmillan, 1974), vol. i, pp. 410–414.
  3. The modus vivendi for cooperation in the field of atomic energy was recorded in the minutes of the Combined Policy Committee, Jan. 7, 1948; for text of the minutes, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 2, p. 679.
  4. Reference is to P.L. 82–235, Oct. 30, 1951, which amended the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 in order to permit the exchange of certain types of atomic energy information with other nations. For documentation on the 1951 amendment, see ibid., 1951, vol. i, pp. 685 ff.
  5. Apparently, no further negotiations concerning the exchange of atomic energy information occurred during the Churchill visit, nor did the communiqué of the conference mention the subject. The President and the Prime Minister did discuss other atomic energy matters—use policy and the possible disclosure of wartime understandings—on Jan. 18. For minutes of that session, see volume vi.