033.1100 HI/9–2453

The Consul General at Leopoldville (Mallon) to the Department of State

confidential
No. 51

Subject:

  • Alleged Visit of Hickenlooper Delegation to Uranium Mine at Shinkolobwe

There is enclosed a copy and translation of an article that appeared in the Echo du Katanga, daily Elisabethville newspaper, of September 18, 1953,1 regarding the press conference held by Senator Hickenlooper at Elisabethville on September 5, 1953, at which the Senator stated that no member of the delegation visited the uranium mine at Shinkolobwe during the visit to the Jadotville area.

As previously reported, Mr. Pierre Ryckmans, former Governor General of the Belgian Congo and presently Belgian Atomic Energy Commissioner, arrived in Leopoldville on September 1, a few hours before the Hickenlooper party. He sent word that he wanted to see me before he met the Senator, and an appointment was arranged for September 2 at 8:00 a.m.

Mr. Ryckmans asked me whether any member of the party wished to visit the uranium mine at Shinkolobwe. I replied that I knew nothing about their desires in the matter. Mr. Ryckmans then said that some time ago a Belgian parliamentary delegation had visited the Congo and had been refused permission to visit the mine. He went on to say that it might be embarrassing in Brussels if the American delegation [Page 414]were permitted to make the visit,2 but that the Belgian authorities had invited the Joint Congressional Committee and certain members of the Atomic Energy Commission to visit the Congo, and that if certain of them wished to see Shinkolobwe, he could arrange it with the appropriate authorities on the spot. I said that I would be glad to put the question up to Senator Hickenlooper, who was staying with Congressman Cole in my house, but Mr. Ryckmans said he preferred to speak to the Senator himself.

The first thing on the official program was a boat trip on the Congo River, and during this trip I saw Mr. Ryckmans talking to Senator Hickenlooper off in a corner where they could not be heard. I heard no more about the matter during their stay in Leopoldville.

The party left Leopoldville for Kamina and Elisabethville on September 3. On September 4 they visited the Union Minière installations at Jadotville, which is about eleven miles from Shinkolobwe. They were in Jadotville from about 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and it is quite possible that during that time two or three of the party could have been driven over to Shinkolobwe and back. I have, however, no official information on this.

Patrick Mallon
  1. Not printed.
  2. The visit of the delegation, which was led by Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa and Congressman W. Sterling Cole of New York, had created a certain degree of controversy though it was intended as a good will gesture on the part of the delegates whose primary destination was South Africa. Shinkolobwe was a very sensitive spot and every effort had been made by both the Belgian and the U.S. Governments to downplay the mention of uranium and the arrangements which had been reached pertaining to it. For documentation concerning this trip, see file 855A.2546.