302. Memorandum From Melbourne (OCB) to Cutler1

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  • Draft Presidential Statement

The special group to revise the draft Presidential statement met at 9:30 today and consisted of Admiral Paul Foster, AEC, Mr. Abbott Washburn, USIA, Mr. George Spiegel, representing Mr. Berding of State, Mr. Bertram Saymon, representing Mr. Snyder of Defense, and Mr. Henry Loomis, representing Dr. Killian.

It was agreed to work from the AEC draft, making revisions, and the first such revision occurred in an amendment of the first sentence of [Typeset Page 1254] paragraph 2 which was designed to give time to State to consult informally with Hammarskjold, who is now in the Soviet Union for a few days, before having too precise a statement on a method of selection of scientists being made. This amendment of State was a completely firm position of that agency, since State considered that it had full responsibility for the method of working out the details of selection of scientists vis-a-vis the UN.

Mr. Washburn raised the point that Press Secretary Hagerty would certainly want to indicate the percentage of reduction in radioactive fallout that the pending test would show. He stated that the whole purpose and origin of the exercise had been to support the President’s press statements on July 3 and that the elimination of the figure of 90% or better would not do this and if it were not possible to achieve such a figure in the test, the backfire from world opinion would be too great to justify having it.

Admiral Foster talked with Admiral Strauss and with a technical expert in the AEC. They affirmed doubts as to whether the percentage figure could be guaranteed in the particular test in view of complicated factors from ground radiation and said that while it was hoped this could be done, they felt it unwise to include a precise percentage figure. Admiral Strauss added further, as a clincher for continuing with the test shot, that he considered the President had made a definite decision to go ahead with the test and that the AEC did not wish the percentage figure in the draft.

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The sentence included in the composite draft agreed last Saturday was inserted in the AEC draft as the second sentence of paragraph 5. There were other editorial changes which can be noted in the annotated draft attached.

One problem raised in the third sentence of paragraph 5 deserves attention, where the phrase “basic international differences are settled and…” was inserted by the AEC into a sentence contained in the earlier composite draft. AEC insisted that it remain, and, while State had no strong feelings, it concurred with the others that this gave too broad a scope to the context of this concurete announcement, which is simply devoted to nuclear testing. Further, the query was raised whether or not the inclusion of this statement would not give rise to widespread criticism that the U.S. was tending to raise a whole series of unspecified, international differences which had to be settled prior to any action in the nuclear testing field. Defense suggested a possible alternative which would have the sentence read, “Until basic international differences are settled enabling a safeguarded…” I would personally suggest deletion and would suggest that you may wish to try to obtain appropriate assent to its deletion.

It was agreed by all except USIA that in view of the situation described and by AEC standing on its basic text and the fact that the test will not be deferred, that there should not be a question and answer [Typeset Page 1255] sheet for background purposes. It was considered by others of the group that the statement would raise questions which would not be seemly for the President to attempt to answer. However, Mr. Washburn did feel that it would be advisable for the President to have some background questions and answers, and in the event you consider it useful, I am attaching a copy of a memorandum sent to me yesterday by USIA, which lists possible questions and answers from a USIA perspective. As a footnote to this aspect of the matter, when Admiral Foster talked with Admiral Strauss, he strongly urged the latter to get in touch with Press Secretary Hagerty and to have him agree that the President would refer questioners to the competent agencies concerned.

Mr. Washburn left before the meeting was over because of another meeting he was obliged to attend and, on leaving, indicated his dissatisfaction with the draft statement as it stood with no percentages indicated for fallout and with the decision that there be no attached question and answer sheet for the President. Earlier I had the occasion to tell him privately and in general terms of what you had given me as the substance of what had been discussed at the special White House meeting yesterday. He indicated that he thought USIA, with its worldwide information responsibilities, might be brought into the chain of developments if it was intended [Facsimile Page 3] to take substantive policy actions on any crash basis. Mr. Washburn told me on the phone what he had said to you on meeting you after leaving the meeting and your request to him, with which he is complying.

Roy M. Melbourne
Acting Executive Officer

cc: Mr. Staats

Mr. Damon

  1. Source: Discussion of draft Presidential statement. Confidential. 3 pp. Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Project Clean Up, Eniwetok Test, 1958.