136. Letter From Secretary of State Rusk to the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (Seaborg)1

Dear Glenn:

It is becoming abundantly clear that foreign interest in U.S. desalting technology is going to mount rapidly in the months ahead as [Page 243] a result of the current discussions with the Government of Israel and of the rapid development of U.S. technical capacity in this field. Similarly, arrangements for U.S. collaboration or assistance in projects abroad will become increasingly frequent.

In order to assure that the foreign relationships arising out of the desalting program are consonant with other foreign programs and policies of the U.S., it is requested that no financial or other commitment involving other countries be entered into without prior consultation with and the approval of the Department of State.2

In order to facilitate the provision of guidance on this subject, I am establishing a Committee on Foreign Desalting Programs at the Assistant Secretary level. I have asked the Director of International Scientific Affairs to serve as Chairman. The Department of State will also be represented by the Regional Bureau Assistant Secretaries as appropriate to the agenda. The Agency for International Development, the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Office of Science and Technology are being invited to join the Committee. I would also be pleased to have you designate a representative of the Atomic Energy Commission to serve on the Committee.

The Committee will (1) maintain continuing surveillance over the status of foreign desalting programs contemplating or using U.S. technical or other assistance; (2) develop recommendations for policies and guidelines to govern U.S. participation in such programs; (3) map and coordinate the financial and other relationships with specific countries with whom the U.S. is collaborating on desalting programs. The Committee’s deliberations will, of course, be in accord with the political guidance respecting country relationships provided by the geographic bureaus of the Department of State.

As we acquire experience in dealing with desalination programs abroad, it may be expected that new or amended institutional arrangements will become desirable. Should the need for this become apparent [Page 244] in the first instance to the Atomic Energy Commission, please let me know.

With warm regards,


  1. Source: Department of Energy, Archives, Records of the Atomic Energy Commission, Secretariat Files, RD–1 Desalination Program. No classification marking. According to a December 10 memorandum from Pollack to Komer, Rusk sent an identical letter to the Department of the Interior and letters excluding the second paragraph to AID, Bureau of the Budget, and OST. (Department of State, SCI Files: Lot 67 D 132) The State Department position on this issue is discussed in a memorandum from Kretzmann to Llewellyn Thompson plus enclosures, October 28, ibid.: Lot 78 D 483.
  2. The fact that this paragraph was sent only to Interior and the AEC reflects Secretary Rusk’s desire to assert the State Department’s role in this issue. On December 28 Seaborg and Secretary of the Interior Udall agreed that the AEC would “play a more primary role” in implementing the agreement because of that agency’s pre-existing relationship with the designated Soviet partner. (Journal of Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1961–1971, Vol. 9, p. 554) Udall and Seaborg made this arrangement official through an exchange of letters dated January 11–12, 1965. (Department of Energy, Archives, Records of the Atomic Energy Commission, Secretariat Files, Folder 2, RD–1 Desalination Program) Llewellyn Thompson reminded Seaborg in a February 25 letter that the NSC had directed State to implement any exchange programs, but he assured Seaborg that the Department did not anticipate difficulties “with any division that you and Secretary Udall might work out.” (Ibid.)