138. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower0


  • General Goodpaster
  • Admiral Strauss

Admiral Strauss said his first subject was a matter he had discussed with Secretary Dulles, who was greatly interested. It is a proposed initiative [Page 552] in three parts which the United States might take, calling for: 1) Stopping nuclear tests for a period of say three years, 2) Ceasing all production of fissionable material (as contrasted to previous proposals to stop production for military purposes), 3) Cannibalizing existing weapons to provide fissionable material for power and other peaceful needs. He said he has studied the matter with General Fields and General Starbird, and they all think the idea is a sound one; he does wish to think about it and check it out a little further, however. He stressed the importance of keeping it secret and the President emphasized this even more strongly.

The President then asked a number of questions—first, as to what would happen to the AEC organization. Admiral Strauss said he would keep the laboratories intact. In the production plants, there would be a saving of power costs now being incurred, but at least the bulk of the labor force would be kept on. The President asked if this arrangement could be reliably supervised, and Admiral Strauss said that it could be—in fact, it could be far more easily inspected than our earlier proposal. He added that, after three years, if the arrangement has worked out, agreement could be reached to resume testing of explosions for peaceful purposes only.

The President said he thought Admiral Strauss had a fine idea, of great promise, and worthy of full-scale further study and evaluation.

Admiral Strauss next raised the matter of the “Hardtack” test series. He said he was concerned about having public attendance during a count down procedure, in light of the experience over the publicity of our satellite attempt. He therefore proposed that there should be no public attendance at these tests, as had been previously contemplated. He added that such attendance might compromise secrecy. The President indicated that if attendance would impair security, he would agree that public attendance should be cancelled.

Admiral Strauss next asked the President if he would be willing to dedicate the Shipping-port reactor, which is now operating successfully. After discussion, the President agreed to do it, from his desk in the White House, making a short statement. Admiral Strauss suggested this be carried over closed circuit TV and said he would consult further with Mr. Hagerty on the matter.

Admiral Strauss next referred to the President’s comment about disagreement among scientific advisers on the matter of certainty that we could pick up Soviet atomic tests. He cited as an example the last Soviet test, which we were able to pick up only by chance—not having detected it by several of the methods we depend on most.

Admiral Strauss next reminded the President that his term as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission expires on June 30th. The President immediately said that he hadn’t realized this and would simply [Page 553] renominate him. Admiral Strauss said he would like to have the President weigh very carefully the question of his renomination, since he had accumulated a number of liabilities, including most of the columnists in the Washington press. The President said he shared those liabilities with Admiral Strauss.

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Top Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster.