123. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy


  • The Secretary
  • Llewellyn E. Thompson, Ambassador-at-Large, Department of State
  • Ambassador Anatoliy F. Dobrynin, USSR

At a luncheon which the Secretary gave for Ambassador Dobrynin today, the Secretary raised the question of peaceful uses of atomic energy which had been previously discussed at the luncheon which the Ambassador had given for the Soviet delegation on Cultural Exchanges on Wednesday, March sixteenth.2 The Secretary gave the Ambassador a pamphlet on possible uses of atomic energy for the construction of a sea-level canal to replace the present canal in Panama.3 He said, of course, that our interest extended beyond this and there was a possibility of building ports in countries which needed them and other uses of this sort. He pointed out that one of the issues which arose was that of radioactive debris getting into the atmosphere as a result of operations for [Page 311]such purposes. The Secretary said we would be prepared to have technical talks with a view to exchange of information in this field, as well as discussions concerning the relationship of peaceful uses to the limited Test Ban Treaty. The Secretary said he was not making any proposal but simply thinking out loud and said he could imagine the possibility of some sort of machinery by which the Soviet Union and the United States could assist countries interested in using nuclear energy in peaceful projects. He said it seemed clear that neither side would wish to let others have access to its nuclear devices, but he understood that there could be the possibility of observation to make clear that the operation was the peaceful one it purported to be and not a test of an atomic weapon.

The Ambassador asked if Panama had given its consent to the use of nuclear energy for the construction of a new canal. The Secretary did not answer this question directly but mentioned that several possible sites were under consideration, both in Panama and in other countries.

The Ambassador said that he would discuss this matter with his Government when he returned to Moscow.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, AE 6. Secret; Limdis. Drafted and approved by Thompson (S/AL) on March 19.
  2. The March 16 memorandum of the conversation between Ambassador Thompson and Ambassador Dobrynin at the Soviet Embassy on peaceful use of nuclear explosions states that Thompson proposed U.S. cooperation with the Soviet Union in this field in accordance with the memorandum on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy which Chairman Seaborg and Chairman Petrosyants concluded in Moscow in 1963 (15 UST 631). Thompson told Dobrynin, “I assumed that we would proceed by each appointing a group of scientists to get together to discuss the problem and to exchange information.” (Department of State, Central Files, AE 6)
  3. Not further identified.