105. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) to the Secretary of State 1


  • U.S. Policy towards proposed European Atomic Pool
The President’s forthcoming message to the Congress on his program for the peaceful uses of atomic energy raises the question of our attitude towards the proposal for a six-country European Authority for atomic energy on a Schuman Plan basis. As presently drafted, the message would permit United States cooperation in the research reactor field with regional groupings of nations with deficient resources. It does not address itself, however, to cooperation with groupings of states in the power reactor field nor to groupings which might be inspired by a desire to have a more effective program by pooling their resources. Cooperation with such groupings would seem to be authorized by Sec. 124 of the Atomic Energy Act.2
As you know, the Foreign Ministers of the six Schuman Plan Countries agreed at Messina to study various proposals for the revival of the European integration movement, and in particular the pooling of atomic energy resources for peaceful purposes. The Germans and Belgians at least feel that atomic energy provides the best basis for a dynamic program to give new life to the integration movement because of (1) the need to pool inadequate resources in this field, (2) the relative absence of vested interests, and (3) the appeal of the peaceful atom to the public imagination. They will probably propose the creation of supranational authority in this field, while the French seem to favor something more along Western European Union lines.
The United States cannot help being involved in this question from an early stage. Before any European agreement can be reached, the negotiators will have to know from us (1) whether a supranational pool could expect the same kind of technical and other assistance as we have already promised certain individual countries; (2) whether we would be willing to adapt existing bilateral relationships with prospective members to the extent which might be necessary to make a pool possible.
In my opinion we should be in a position to respond favorably if and when the Europeans raise these questions. While we [Page 305] would have to reserve final judgment until we see just what is proposed, a European decision to create a real common atomic authority on Schuman Plan lines would appear in our interests as a way of (a) reviving the European integration movement and supporting the Coal and Steel Community, (b) forging a new link between Germany and the West and (c) permitting the Europeans to make the best use of their inadequate resources in this field.


That you agree in principle it is in our national interest that for peaceful atomic cooperation purposes we treat a European common atomic authority modeled on the Schuman Plan in the same way as we would treat a national state, provided of course that we were otherwise prepared to negotiate a bilateral agreement with each present and future member of such authority.
That you authorize us to clear with the Atomic Energy Commission and propose to the President the insertion in his proposed Message to Congress of the following passage:

“There may well be circumstances in which the technical and material resources of several nations could best be utilized through a voluntary grouping of their resources, or in which the means available to a single nation do not appear adequate to take advantage effectively of the two programs which I have proposed. In these circumstances the U.S., in carrying out its part in these programs, would support a voluntary grouping of the resources of several nations within a single region. For example, the member states of the European Coal and Steel Community have recently taken a decision to study the peaceful development of atomic energy through a common organization. We should be in a position to respond to any group initiative which might result from this study.”

That you authorize us subsequently to discuss with the Atomic Energy Commission:
The methods whereby in the event the Europeans agree to create an atomic pool along Schuman Plan lines, we could, consistent with U.S. national security interests, assist Belgium, with which we now have bilateral arrangements, to transfer to a common authority the privileges, responsibilities, undertakings and position of leadership which flow from these arrangements, to the extent necessary to permit the creation of the pool with willing Belgian participation.
Delay new bilateral arrangements in the power reactor field with the other Schuman Plan countries over the next few months pending further developments in discussions by the six governments pursuant to the Messina communiqué. This would not preclude the conclusion of bilateral arrangements in the research and training fields to the extent necessary to meet existing commitments to negotiate.

  1. Source: Department of State, RA Files, Lot 58 D 374, Atomic Energy Integration. Secret. Drafted by Palmer, Barnett, and Stanley M. Cleveland of RA. William R. Tyler, Deputy Director of WE, and Jacques J. Reinstein, Director of the Office of German Affairs (GER), concurred.
  2. Reference is to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, Public Law 703, enacted on August 30, 1954. For text, see 68 Stat. 919.