21. Letter From the Secretary of State to the President’s Special Assistant (Rockefeller)1

Dear Nelson: Sherman Adams has sent on to me your memorandum of April 222 making two proposals for getting ahead with the Atoms for Peace program. As you know, we are about to ask the President to approve the Turkish agreement for a research reactor, the first of what we hope will be many international Agreements for Cooperation.3

I have given your proposals some thought and would like to go into them further with you after my return from the NATO Ministers’ meeting in Paris. I expect to be back in Washington about May 16.4 I think it would be well also to have Lewis Strauss discuss them with us. I understand that he is due back from Europe about May 19.

My preliminary reactions to your two proposals are as follows:5

A. The proposal for a broad program of gifts of research reactors. While recognizing the need to keep the “Atoms for Peace” program moving ahead, I am advised that some negative considerations are to be taken into account before deciding on any broad program to give away research reactors. For example, such a change in our policy might prejudice existing negotiations for research reactors to be bought by foreign countries such as pending arrangements with the Swiss, the Dutch, and the Italians.6 A broad gift program would perhaps also discount specific gifts such as we propose to make to the [Page 72] Philippines.7 We should be careful to avoid “cheapening” this research reactor program.8

According to a recent survey made by this Department, the level of scientific competence of most countries appears to be too low to make profitable use of such a complex scientific tool as a research reactor. We are trying to improve this situation by training programs for foreign students. It will be some time, however, before these programs produce sufficient skilled cadres of scientists and engineers in many countries abroad to permit profitable use of research reactors.

B. The power reactor information proposal. Your proposal to announce United States willingness to transmit classified information in the power reactor field to certain foreign countries seems to be along the lines of the policy set out in NSC 5507/2 approved by the President in March of this year.9 This NSC policy, however, is somewhat broader in scope and would permit us to go further than you propose—e.g., it permits us to supply fissionable material as well as reactor information to foreign countries.

I think it might be useful for the President to make a public announcement of the Courses of Action which he approved in NSC 5507.10 If this were done there would be generated a new strong impetus for the Atoms for Peace program which all of us would like to see.

I will get in touch with you on this matter after the NATO meeting.

Sincerely yours,

John Foster Dulles11
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, White House Central Files, Confidential File. Confidential.
  2. Not found in the Eisenhower Library or Department of State files, but a letter from Rockefeller to Dulles, May 4, identified its title as “International Peaceful Atomic Development.” (Department of State, Atomic Energy Files: Lot 57 D 688, Nuclear Power)
  3. Eisenhower approved an Agreement for Cooperation with Turkey on May 3. One of the terms of this agreement allowed Turkey to engage U.S. companies in the construction of research reactors in Turkey. For background and correspondence on and text, see Atoms for Peace Manual, pp. 428–437; and Department of State Bulletin, May 23, 1955, pp. 865–866.
  4. Rockefeller’s letter to Dulles, May 4, cited in footnote 2 above, indicates that Rockefeller saw the Secretary on the afternoon of May 4.
  5. On April 29, Gerard Smith wrote a memorandum for Secretary Dulles which commented on Rockefeller’s memorandum of April 22. Dulles’ “preliminary reactions” to Rockefeller’s proposals follow many of the points made in Smith’s memorandum and appear to be based on it. (Department of State, Atomic Energy Files: Lot 57 D 688, Power and Research Reactors)
  6. Agreements for Cooperation between the United States and Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Italy were signed on July 18, July 18, and July 28, respectively. These agreements are noted in Department of State Bulletin, August 1 and August 15, 1955, pp. 210 and 290, respectively.
  7. An Agreement for Cooperation on the civil uses of atomic energy between the United States and the Philippines was signed in Washington on July 27, 1955, and entered into force the same day. This agreement provided for an outright gift of a nuclear reactor for research purposes to the Philippines. Details are given in Department of State Bulletin, August 8, 1955, p. 249; and in a memorandum of conversation, dated April 8, between General Carlos P. Romulo, personal representative of President Ramón Magsaysay to the United States, and Secretary Dulles in Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199.
  8. Dulles apparently persuaded Rockefeller during their May 4 meeting to put the gifts of nuclear reactors on a “matching” basis, for Rockefeller said in his May 4 letter to Dulles, cited in footnote 2 above, that he would modify his proposal to incorporate the idea. A memorandum for the file by Smith, May 5, indicates Rockefeller also told Smith on May 5 that he was going to pursue the matter in other parts of the government. (Ibid., Atomic Energy Files: Lot 57 D 688, Power and Research Reactors)
  9. Document 14.
  10. The President outlined the features of the U.S. power reactor assistance program in his commencement address at Pennsylvania State University on June 11. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1955, pp. 593–600.
  11. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.