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Key Issues Nuclear Weapons History Pre Cold War Interim Committee Log

Interim Committee Log Memorandum for the Record
20 July 1945 to 12 Sept. 1945 

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20 July 1945

MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD:

The attached document was handed to me yesterday afternoon by Mr. Roger Makins. It is a draft of a statement prepared for release by the Prime Minister after "Use Day" and he thinks it is now in the possession of the Prime Minister at Potsdam. He wanted to know if I had any comments or

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criticism to make. I told him I would like to go over it carefully and see him today.

In the meantime I showed it to General Groves and we both agreed that there is no objection to it as we could see in the light of present conditions. Accordingly, when Mr. Makins came to see me this afternoon I told him that neither General Groves or I saw any objections to the draft and that if the Prime Minister decided he wants to use it I would be glad to recommend to Secretary Stimson that he give his consent or that he attempt to procure consent from higher levels if that is the consent of the Quebec Agreement.

Mr. Makins said that was very satisfactory to him and he would advise London that General Groves and I have read it, that we see no objection and that we will be prepared to recommend favorably (if present conditions are not changed) if we hear further from him that the Prime Minister decides that he wants to use the statement. 

In this connection I told Mr. Makins as I understand it we have not received any formal approval of our draft of statement for the President and Secretary Stimson, that the time may be getting short and that I hoped I would be able to clear the record so there would be no question about "mutual" consent as to the statements. He said the statements have been approved by the British here in Washington and by Sir John Anderson and that he has no doubt that for all practical purposes thay are finally approved. But as Ambassador Halifax said at the last meeting of the Policy Committee the Prime Minister himself might want to consider them and that he, Mr. Makins, would not therefore want to say right now that they were consented to by the British. He stated, however, in view of our desire to clear the record as to those two statements he would cable London in the hope that we could get a formal consent from whomever it may be necessary to receive such consent.

As to the third statement which I proposed to issure, the so-called "Scientific Statement", I reminded Mr. Makins that in accordance with the action of the Policy Committee all that is necessary is a certificate from Sir James Chadwick that the statement comes within the rules with British and Americans concerning such a release. He indicated that the memorandum which he left with me yesterday and which I delivered to General Groves today was intended to indicate that while the British did not like the idea of a scientific release nevertheless if we decided to issue it they would consider the rules approved so that the only question remaining is whether Sir James Chadwick will certify that the proposed statement comes within the rules.

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MEMO FOR THE RECORD

August 6, 1945.

When the four o'clock news release came out, Mr. Harrison called General Surles and told him he was surprised to see so many releases on the big bomb. Mr. Harrison told General Surles that it was his opinion that only the President's and the Secretary's releases were to have been issued today. General Surles stated that there had been several, in addition, that had come over from General Groves' office. He instructed General Surles to issue no more statements until he had cleared with the Secretary or Mr. Harrison.

Mr. Harrison then called General Groves and expressed surprise at the number of releases. General Groves stated that he was surprised also and that he agreed that no more should be put out. Mr. Harrison issued instructions to General Groves that no more releases would be issued until they had been cleared with the Secretary or Mr. Harrison in the Secretary of War's absence. Mr. Harrison also talked to Colonel Consodine and gave him the same orders.

W.H.K

18 August 1945

MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD:

I showed the attached letter and memorandum to Secretary Byrnes and emphasized that the subject matter in Paragraph 1B was a matter which would probably require early consideration and decision by the Administration, especially in view of the Oppenheimer letter addresssed to Secretary Stimson and dated August ly which he read. He was so interested in it that he asked me to leave a copy with him; this I did. Secretary Byrnes was definitely of the opinion that it would be difficult to do anything on the international level at the present time and that in his opinion we should continue the Manhattan Project with full force, at least until Congress has acted on the proposed Bill. He also said that we should continue our efforts and negotiations in behalf of the Combined Developmehnt Trust. In his opinion the whole situation justifies and requires a continuation of all our efforts on all fronts to keep ahead of the race. For that reason, he said that he would ask the President to sign a memorandum which Mr. Marbury and General Groves are to prepare requesting Mr. Snyder, Director of Mobilization, formally to approve a continuation of all necessary expenditures by the Manhattan District or by the Combined Development Trust.

Secretary Byrnes felt so strongly about all of this that he requested me to tell Dr. Oppenheimer for the time being his proposal about an international agreement was not practical and that he and the rest of the gang should pursue their work full force. I told Secretary Byrnes that I understood from Dr. Oppenheimer the scientists prefer not to do that (superbomb) unless ordered or directed to do so by the Govenment on the grounds of national policy. I thought, however, work in the Manhattan District could proceed the way he wants in imporving present techniques without raising the question of the "super" at least until after Congress has acted on our proposed Bill.

GEORGE L. HARRISON

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29 August 1945.

Harrison met with the Secretary of State at 9:30 and left with him the following papers:-

1. History of Negotiations Leading to the Quebec Agreement.

2. The Quebec Agreement.

3. The Combined Development Trust Agreement.

4. Minutes of the Combined Policy Committee.

5. Aide Memoire between F.D.R. and W.C.

6. Membership and Terms of Reference of British Advisory Committee on Tube Alloys.

Sepetmber 8, 1945.

MEMORANDUM FOR THE FILES:

Mr. McCloy went to the State Department this morning to see Mr. Acheson at 9:00 o'clock. Before leaving, I asked him please to press Mr. Acheson on starting the Atomic Energy bill on its way. I emphasized how important it is and especially in view of the fact that other Congressmen, both Senators and Representatives, are preparing, or talking about preparing, their own individual bills. 

I reminded Mr. McCloy of our conversation with Secretary Byrnes last Sunday, September 2, when it was understood between us all (Mr. Acheson being present) that the State Department would carry the ball rather than the Interim Committee or the War Department.

I also told Mr. McCloy of my two conversations with Mr. Acheson during this week when I urged upon him the necessity of prompt action. Mr. Acheson seemed to think that he needed more authority from the Secretary of State but I reminded him that in our conversations with Secretary Byrnes it seemed to be clearly understood that the State Department would proceed with the inrtroduction and handling of the bill in the Congress. On the second day I spoke to Mr. Acheson (September 6, 1945) I called to his attention the fact that the newspapers were already talking about individual Members of Congress introducing their own bills and  that I thought it very important that we proceed as fast as possible. Mr. Acheson said to me that he would look into it and see what he could do about hurrying it.

When Mr. McCloy returned this morning he got exactly the same impression that I did, that Mr. Acheson was very timid about it, that he doesn't know what committee to turn to or to whom he should go for the introduction of the bill. Mr. McCloy reminded him that that was now the State Department's job but that if he wanted any advice or help from any of us over here, either the Interim Committee or the War Department would be glad to give it to him. This was in accordance with our agreement with Secretary Byrnes.

GEORGE L. HARRISON

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11 September 1945.

Herbert Marks, an assistant to Mr. Acheson, came over to see Arneson at 4:15 P.M. He had been unable to find at the State Department certain of the documents which Harrison had taken over to Secretary Byrnes on 29 August. Marks read in Arneson's office the Quebec Agreement, the Combined Development Trust Agreement, the 8 March 1945 Minutes of the Combined Policy Committee, and certain of the papers in the Brazilian file. These documents cleared up any doubts he had about the joint participation of the United Kingdom in our agreement with Brazil and he saw no reason why the exchange of letters between the British and ourselves should not go forward. He stated, however, that Mr. Acheson probably would want the transmittal letter signed by the Secretary of War and redrafted to include a paragraph tying the exchange of letters with the British into the Quebec Agreement, The Combined Development Trust Agreement, and the Minutes of the Combined Policy Committee. He proposed to redraft the letter along these lines and send it over for the Secretary of War's signature.

As to legislation, Marks stated that Acheson wanted to discuss the proposed bill with Harrison at some length and that Marks would probably want to discuss it with Arneson in the next day or so.

12 September 1945.

Harrison spoke with the Secretary of War this morning concerning relations with Russia on the atomic bomb and the problem of securing action of the proposed legislation. Harrison handed the Secretary Dr. Oppenheimer's letter which strongly argues for a positive approach to Russia. With regard to legislation, Mr. Harrison gave the Secretary a memorandum setting forth the present status and expressing concern over the failure of the State Department to take action. In elaboration of his memorandum, Harrison pointed out that General Groves is having difficulty retaining his best scientists because of continuing uncertainty as to the future course of the government in this field and attractive employment offers from universities. The Secretary made a note of this point on the memorandum from Harrison which he took with him to the White House.

The Secretary discussed both of these matters with the President at 3:00 P.M. and left with him the memorandum on relations with Russia, the Oppenheimer letter, and Harrison's memorandum on the legislative situation.

Captain Davis, who has been working with Marbury on the bill, and Lt. Arneson met with Marks from the State Department at 3:15 P.M. to brief him on the background of the legislation. When he left Marks stated that he felt he had an adequate picture of the thinking that had gone into the various provisions of the bill but gave no indication when he thought action would be taken by the State Department. He expressed the opinion that the next step probably would be for the President to call in the Secretary of War and the Acting Secretary of State to talk the matter over.

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