126. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland) to the Secretary of State1

SUBJECT

  • Role of the OAS in Atomic Energy Field

Discussion:

In proposing at Panama the formation of a group of presidential representatives to study means of making the Organization of American States (OAS) a more effective instrument, President Eisenhower suggested that the representatives could give early thought to ways of hastening the beneficial use of nuclear forces throughout the hemisphere. Following up this suggestion, and in line with our general policy of strengthening the OAS, consideration is being given, in connection with the September 17–19 meeting of presidential representatives, to the possibility of creating an advisory body within the OAS framework to serve as an organ for consultation among the American republics on atomic energy matters.

The thought behind this proposal is that, if nuclear energy is to be given special attention in the OAS, there should be a competent body to consider atomic energy matters in the OAS framework. The suggested committee would be advisory, not executive, and would develop slowly in the light of experience. Tentatively, the committee might consider and make recommendations on questions which come up on such topics as (1) the need for training centers and the possible location and field specialization of such centers, thus providing for complementary rather than competitive training facilities in Latin American states; (2) the exchange of information; (3) holding of scientific symposia; (4) activities which could be carried out by inter-American specialized organizations; and (5) IAEA programs and activities in the Western Hemisphere.

Opposition has been expressed by senior AEC staff to the idea of having the OAS enter the field of atomic energy because of the lack of competent personnel in Latin America in this field and the consequent danger of rash, politically inspired decisions being made. On the other hand, regional organizations in the atomic energy field have appeared in other major areas of the world and one is almost certain to be suggested by members of the OAS. The wise solution would appear to be to set up an OAS organ of strictly advisory and [Page 465]technical character, the decisions of which would not at this stage seriously embarrass the United States. Once established such a body would constitute a regional group to cooperate with IAEA programs, and might eventually play an even more responsible role as Latin American capacities to deal with the subject of nuclear energy increase.

Recommendation:

That the Department favor the establishment of an advisory atomic energy committee on the technical level within the OAS framework, which might later be supported as a regional organ for planning, coordination, and operations to the extent this proves in the United States interest.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 361/9–756. Confidential. Drafted by Monsma, Krieg, Dreier, and Philip J. Farley, Deputy to the Special Assistant to the Secretary for Atomic Energy Matters, and initialed by Holland.
  2. Gerard C. Smith, Special Assistant to the Secretary for Atomic Energy Matters, and Wainhouse concurred with this recommendation. In a memorandum for the files of September 13, Monsma explained why this memorandum was withdrawn prior to action by the Secretary. Monsma wrote that the memorandum was prepared because Admiral Paul F. Foster, Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Atomic Energy Commission, expressed strong opposition to the idea of establishing an OAS Advisory Atomic Energy Committee and, in light of the AEC’s opposition, it was thought desirable to get the Secretary’s approval. But when Admiral Foster agreed to the formation of an OAS Advisory Atomic Energy Committee following the inter-American symposium on nuclear energy scheduled for the following year at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, the memorandum was withdrawn at Dreier’s suggestion. (Ibid.)