111. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, July 15, 19551


  • Proposals for Six Nation European Atomic Energy Authority Patterned on the Schuman Plan


  • AEC—Messrs. Hall, K. Davis, Wells, and Eisenberg
  • EUR/RA—Messrs. Palmer, Boochever, Cleveland, and Unger
  • S/AE—Messrs. Smith and Schaetzel

Mr. Palmer summarized the United States attitude toward European integration with a special reference to the Schuman plan. He [Page 314] said that future European efforts towards integration may well have to be in a “sector approach” e.g., atomic energy, communications, transportation, etc. A move forward in the atomic energy field would have several attractions to the United States. It would be consistent with the expressed views of the President and Congress in support of European unity. The absence of vested interest in the atomic energy field make this perhaps the most attractive area in which future efforts toward integration might take place. Mr. Palmer noted the Secretary’s approval in principle of American efforts to encourage a move towards integration in the atomic field by the Europeans. Therefore, the first step was to explore with the AEC some of the complications, legal, security, and engineering, that might arise should the Europeans decide to move ahead.

Mr. Hall 2 asked what the Working Group set up at Messina is doing and what is the timing they have in mind. Mr. Cleveland explained that the group is covering the entire power picture of which atomic energy would be a segment and this portion is to be covered by a separate Subcommittee. The Subcommittee will meet for the first time this week. The Subcommittee is called upon to make a preliminary report by October 1, 1955 to the Ministers. He noted that there is a German paper making proposals in this field which we have not seen.

Apologizing for having to leave the meeting, Mr. Davis 3 said that he wished to mention two aspects of this problem which he felt were important. First, the demand for and size of a nuclear power network materially affects its economics, therefore, a six-nation approach would have a better chance of success. Secondly, there are clear advantages to be derived from large capacity power reactors. He admitted that there were problems raised by the bilaterals but the real point he wished to make was that in his view a better climate was created for the development of nuclear power if one were dealing with six-nation approach (Mr. Davis then left).

Mr. Hall inquired as to the attitude of the British toward the idea of European integration in this area. Mr. Palmer said that the British seemed to be more interested in cooperative efforts within the OEEC framework than in a six-nation approach. It was emphasized that it was most unlikely that the U.K. would participate in a European atomic energy authority, consequently the existing U.K.–U.S. bilateral agreement would not raise problems.

Mr. Eisenberg suggested the paradox of Belgian initiative in proposing a six-nation approach while at the same time their bilateral [Page 315] with us is a stumbling block. Mr. Palmer agreed that there was a difficult tactical situation here. The Europeans do look to us for guidance and are keenly interested in our views as to the direction in which they might move and yet the initiative must remain theirs. Our concern is that we continue to show sympathetic interest while at the same time we consider in Washington the obstacles which might seem to stand in the way of European initiative and whether it is feasible to remove these difficulties. Mr. Eisenberg asked whether we needed to view the bilateral agreements as an obstacle. Mr. Hall said that in the sense that a European agency affects Belgian capacity to supply uranium it would seem to be an obstacle.

Mr. Hall then raised the technical question as to who needs natural uranium. The French seem to have all they will need for the next ten years. It would appear then that the recent request of the Belgians by the French was a bargaining move. As far as uranium ore availability and cost is concerned he suggested that there was no benefit to be gained by regionalism. Mr. Palmer observed that it was not in terms of raw material that integration of atomic efforts seems to be especially promising but rather in the area of exchanging information and development. He also agreed with a point that Mr. Davis had made earlier on the advantages of six-nation approach.

In response to Mr. Hall’s point that when the countries got around to constructing nuclear power plants they would undoubtedly be built by and within the individual national states, Mr. Cleveland said that he felt an integrated approach would have a bearing on where such plants were to be constructed. While it is true that a single European grid does exist today, national enterprises still can cut off the energy flow to the grid when the power is needed in the originating state. It would be hoped that an integrated approach would avoid this narrow nationalism.

Mr. Hall asked what the relationship of a European atomic authority would be to the new international agency. Mr. Smith replied that he had discussed this matter with Mr. Patterson 4 and that the latter saw no problem. Mr. Patterson felt that if the six nations were to get together along the lines being discussed this would enable them to make a greater contribution to the agency and this was consistent with the notion that these industrialized European powers should be viewed more as contributors to the agency, rather than beneficiaries. Mr. Eisenberg pointed out that the draft statute would require the six nations to participate in the work of the agency as [Page 316] individual states, even if they should decide to pool their atomic energy efforts.

Mr. Schaetzel stressed the advantage of making full use of the time element. Various European nations are now beginning to make decisions which will set the pattern for the development of atomic energy in the future. It may be possible to make “European” decisions now in the absence of private or governmental vested interests which might be difficult or impossible several years from now and after national programs are well entrenched.

Mr. Hall noted that the French have told us that they would like to talk about breeder reactors which raises difficult problems for us. He said that the Germans have also indicated their interest in negotiating and that there is no reason to think that either nation has changed its mind. He was suggesting, therefore, that these countries were not talking about 6 kgs of fissionable material but about large amounts and classified information. He felt that the legal officers should consider this problem.

Mr. Wells 5 said the arguments in favor of an integrated European approach were so persuasive that if the present statute might not be considered to permit cooperation by the U.S. with such an authority he felt confident that the law could be changed. Congress has been most amenable to suggestions for modifying the statute. He noted that Section 123 was not drafted in such a manner as to be clear on this point and unfortunately, Section 144 deals with military matters. While Section 1246 might be of some help he said he could not be sure what it means. His instinct, because of the importance of European cooperation in this area, was not to attempt to bend the present law to accommodate European ideas.

It was important to consider at this juncture the practical problems. There was first the matter of classified data. The Belgian agreement is the only one covering this subject and yet even here, no information has passed or will pass until the Belgians install an adequate security system. He posed the difficulties for us in considering the transmittal of classified data to France. In dealing with a pool it would be necessary to consider the security problem of the whole to be that of the worst single unit. Mr. Unger 7 suggested that we could take some heart in the precedent for the transmittal of secret information in the NATO agreement. Mr. Smith pointed out that we are dealing with a different group of people with different ideas of security than those of the NATO military officers. Mr. Hall said that the classified data issue was a problem all over the world. Hope for the [Page 317] future seemed to be in declassification of power technology. We may then get down to the problem of custody of fissionable material. Mr. Smith said he could not imagine a transfer of classified information to a six-nation entity. If one were dealing with a Latin American regional group the United States might get away with an arrangement for the transfer of unclassified data and would have essentially a problem of material custody. However, in Europe with their scientific proficiency one must anticipate that they will want data which is on the frontier of research and development. Mr. Hall remarked that a high percentage of the information on power reactors has been declassified and in a short time this might well be true of the balance. However, Mr. Smith questioned whether the declassification approach would satisfy the Europeans. They will always want to have access to advanced technology.

Mr. Hall said he felt it was quite wrong to deal with this broad area of nuclear information on a classified basis. Indeed the present statute contains a mandate to declassify rapidly such data. He felt pressure from American business would speed the process. We can anticipate a point in the not too distant future when the problem will be one of material accountability only and not one of classified information control.

Mr. Eisenberg suggested that if the USSR comes forward with substantial information we might have a competitive race in declassification.

Returning to the subject of U.S. cooperation with a European authority, Mr. Wells said he saw no reason why we could not work with such an agency. He noted, however, that the individual country or countries could not transfer restricted data unless the United States agrees, and the transfer would have to be to a country with which we would have a bilateral of similar scope. He said he disliked seeing the Belgian agreement presented as a stumbling block to a possible move towards European atomic integration. On the other hand, it would be most imprudent, in urging the Europeans to take the initiative in establishing an authority, for us to mislead them on the dimension of the security problem. Perhaps we should suggest the need for them to bring their security standards up to a tolerable level. He was impressed by Mr. Smith’s point of the likely desire of the Europeans for the most advanced information. Certainly France would have no real interest in an organization concerned with unclassified information.

As one of the factors that might draw France into a European authority Mr. Eisenberg noted the appeal to the French ego of being able to assume the role of scientific leadership. Mr. Palmer added that there was also an advantage to France of being able to use this means of controlling German nuclear development.

[Page 318]

Mr. Hall questioned whether a problem did not arise from the fact that American companies were authorized and encouraged to export technology and yet they would be forced in this instance to deal with a governmental entity. It was pointed out that American business in the past has shown no reluctance in dealing with governmental purchasers. In any event, there was a strong likelihood that even if an authority were established individual contracts would be between European national entities and American suppliers. Mr. Smith said that it would be up to American industry to make a judgment as to whether a prospective sale was to its advantage.

Mr. Palmer questioned whether the ambiguity of Section 124 of the law might not be resolved through consultation with the Joint Committee. Mr. Schaetzel suggested that rather than confine a consultation to this narrow point would it not be desirable to discuss with the Committee on an exploratory basis the question of European integration in the field of atomic energy and the steps which the Europeans are now contemplating. Mr. Smith felt that it might be possible to do this the next time there is a meeting with the Committee to consider IAEA.

Given the security situation in France Mr. Hall said he could not recommend to his superiors that an agreement for cooperation containing the exchange of classified data be consummated now with France. As for the suggestions that the European nations be encouraged to institute security systems comparable to ours, this brought one up against one of the real problems which is the resistance of the European scientific community to this approach. Mr. Hall speculated that if we were to push hard for the general installation of security systems the effect might well be to kill the entire notion of a six-nation authority by eliminating the scientists.

Mr. Smith suggested that we might be overstating the problem of the bilaterals for after all, the Europeans have great scientific and industrial resources. There is a real question of how much they require our assistance. Mr. Hall agreed that they may not require the information, but they will need the enriched materials, at least initially. Mr. Wells said that this would not create such difficult problems for we could probably draw up an agreement covering the custody of material. He agreed with Mr. Smith that it was hard to see that the bilaterals amounted to such an obstacle.

It was agreed that in the light of the preceding discussion an attempt should be made to draft an instruction to the field which would endeavor to relate the bilateral agreements for cooperation to the notion of a European atomic authority. Mr. Smith also suggested that it would be useful to explore this entire matter further with some of the people in the field in the course of the International Conference for the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.

  1. Source: Department of State, Atomic Energy Files: Lot 57 D 688, Euratom—Regional. Confidential. Drafted by J. Robert Schaetzel.
  2. John A. Hall, Director, Division of International Affairs, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).
  3. W. Kenneth Davis, Director, Division of Reactor Development, AEC.
  4. Morehead Patterson was appointed by President Eisenhower on November 4, 1954, to implement U.S. policy with regard to the proposed International Atomic Energy Agency.
  5. Algie A. Wells of the AEC.
  6. Reference is to sections of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.
  7. Leonard Unger, Officer in Charge of Political-Military Affairs, RA.