G/PM files, lot 68 D 349

No. 322
The Chairman of the Science Advisory Committee (Buckley) to the President

My Dear Mr. President: On the occasion of a recent visit to this country, Sir Henry Tizard, Chairman of the Defense Research Policy Committee of the United Kingdom, informed me of representations to be made by Mr. Churchill on his forthcoming visit, which I feel should be brought to your attention.

There is an existing agreement with Great Britain and Canada providing for the full exchange of technical information in matters of defense research and development, with the exception of atomic energy and a few other special subjects. The British have been critical of the effectiveness of the present implementation of this [Page 707] agreement at the operating level, and Mr. Churchill is expected to urge a modification of current practices in the exchange of technical information.

Sir Henry Tizard also informed me that Mr. Churchill will ask for a closer relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom and Canada in the field of atomic energy.

Mr. Churchill’s advisers may be expected to have well defined proposals. You may wish to take steps to define the U.S. position in these matters in anticipation of his arrival.

In transmitting this information to you, I take the opportunity of expressing the views of the Science Advisory Committee on the exchange of technical information with our allies which are amplified in the attached memorandum. The Committee feels that there is a great reservoir of technical resources, not only in Great Britain and Canada, but also in the NATO nations, which is not, but ought to be, fully utilized and is urgently needed for our own national security and for the defense of Europe. In any joint undertaking such as NATO, common effort and the cooperation of all groups is an essential to success, but basic to cooperation is free interchange of information. This is especially true in scientific research and development. Our allies need our help, but equally we need theirs.

The Committee believes that steps should be taken to explore the practical limitations that now are being applied to exchange of technical information with Great Britain and Canada and to seek means for better implementation of existing policies. We feel, however, that before concluding any definite changes in the arrangements with the United Kingdom and Canada there is need at least to consider the nature of possible arrangements with the other NATO countries.

In view of the short time which may elapse before these questions come up, my suggestion is that an ad hoc committee, consisting of a representative from the Department of Defense, a representative from the Atomic Energy Commission, a representative from the Department of State, and possibly also someone from outside these departments who has experience in these matters, be appointed to carry on discussions with Mr. Churchill’s representatives and to formulate appropriate recommendations for your consideration. Members of the Science Advisory Committee could be of considerable help to such a committee.

Respectfully yours,

Oliver E. Buckley
[Page 708]


Memorandum by the Science Advisory Committee

On Exchange of Technical Information With Allies

Views of the Science Advisory Committee

In formulating its views on the exchange of technical information, the Science Advisory Committee recognizes that in certain areas there are limitations now imposed by law and that transmission of any technical information involves risk of valuable information becoming available to our enemies. This risk must, however, be weighed against prospective benefits. Often, in military research and development, rapid rate of progress and achievement is the best security safeguard. The competence of the combined Western nations in science and technology is so high that a full cooperative effort is the best guarantee of supremacy. The Committee recognizes, however, that as regards both benefits and risks different allied countries are, through force of circumstances, in different positions.

The Committee recognizes, too, that all arrangements for exchange of technical information should be limited by normal precautions against premature disclosure and by protective measures for patenting new inventions and for preserving the rights of private individuals and companies. Subject to these considerations the Science Advisory Committee has the following opinions.

As regards information outside of the field of atomic energy, there should be full exchange with Great Britain and Canada of technical information in matters of defense research and development, restricted only in the way in which it is restricted in this country. The Committee believes that the benefit to our military strength of such exchange, through the cooperation which it will foster, will more than offset any unfavorable consequences. This policy is, in the Committee’s opinion, consistent with existing international agreements, but there exists some question as to the effectiveness of the present implementation of policy that suggests need for a review of current practices in this regard.
With other countries of NATO there should, for the same reasons, be exchange of information adequate to the practical needs of NATO defense. A considerable flow of technical information is obviously necessary if our allies are to be able to make effective use of new military instrumentalities which have been developed in the United States and if we are to benefit from the substantial contributions which can be made by allied scientists. In this connection it is possible that the Science Advisory Committee may be able to be of some assistance in consideration of means for extending [Page 709] the area in which we talk freely to our allies and of the advantage which we can expect to gain from cooperation with their scientists.
As regards information on atomic energy, there are different problems involved, including those of special legislation, but there still applies the advantage of the greatest possible freedom and encouragement of scientific intercourse. To this end there is need for exploring and defining areas in which interchange of information would be mutually advantageous and for more liberal legislation to permit such interchange under proper safeguards. Beyond this there is need for special cooperative arrangements with Great Britain and Canada directed at achieving the maximum exploitation of our joint resources.