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Key Issues Nuclear Weapons History Pre Cold War Interim Committee Log

Interim Committee Log, 9 May 1945 through 1 July 1945

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INTERIM COMMITTEE

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L O G

9 May 1945.

The first informal meeting of the Committee was held in the S/W's office for the purpose of explaining to the members the function of the Committee and to give them the general background of the project, the Quebec Agreement, the Combined Policy Committee, and the Combined Development Trust. The Secretary of War explained that the Committee had been established by him, with the approval of the President, to study and report on the matter of temporary war-time controls and publicity and to make recommendations on post-war research, development, and control, and on legislation necessary for these purposes. The Committee's recommendations were to be submitted to the S/W, and through him to the President. The full membership was announced as follows: The Secretary of War, Chairman; Hon. Ralph A. Bard, Dr. Vannevar Bush; Hon. James F. Byrnes; Hon. Ralph A. Bard, Dr. Vannevar Bush ; Hon. James F. Byrnes; Hon. William L. Clayton; Dr. Karl T. Compton; Dr. James B. Conant; and Mr. George L. Harrison, Alternate Chairman. All were present except Dr. Conant. Mlr. Bundy was present by invitation. 

(See notes of Meeting)

14 May 1945.

Bard, Bush, Byrnes, Clayton, Harrison, and General Groves (by invitation) were present at the second meeting. 

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The Committee agreed that a Scientific Panel should be established to advise the Committee not only on techinical matters but also on any other phase of the subject on which the Panel might care to express its views. Membership was designated as follows: Drs. A. H. Compton, E. O. Lawrence, J. R. Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi.

It was suggested that a Military Panel might be organized with membership drawn from high levels in the Army and Navy. The Committee agreed that the views of representatives of those industries most directly concerned with the project should be obtained particularly with reference to the potentialities of industrial mobilization in this field in other countries, but that no Panel should be formalized.

At the suggestion of Harrison it was agreed that Lt. R. G. Arneson should be appointed Secretary of the Committee. 

It was agreed that William L. Laurence, a science editor of the New York Times , now under contract with the Manhattan District, should work up drafts of public statements that would have to be made after the use of the weapon. Page was to review the drafts before presentation to the Committee.

(See Notes of Meeting)

18 May 1945.

At the third meeting Bard, Byrnes, Clayton, Conant, and Harrison were the members present. Arthur Page and General Groves

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were present by invitation. Consideration was given to the draft statements of publicity, it being agreed that publicity concerning the test should be kept to a minimum, that following actual use the President should make only a short announcement to the effect that the weapon had been employed and the S/W should release a longer statement giving the general story of the project. Other releases should be made later concerning the details of the program.

It was understood that under the terms of the Quebec Agreement the U.S. was obligated to secure U.K. consent to the use the weapon against a third party, no prior consent being necessary, however, in conducting local tests. 

Harrison reported that the British were considering the establishment of a similar committee to consider publicity and post-war controls.

(See Notes of Meeting)

19 May 1945

Page was assigned the job of preparing the Presidential statement; Arneson, a draft of the S/W's statement.

22 May 1945

Bundy discussed with the S/W the desirability of inviting certain representatives of industry to discuss with the Committee their experiences in connection with the project. The S/W agreed that they should be heard.

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24 May 1945.

Bundy received from Roger Makins a copy of a letter proposing the establishment of a parallel British committee. Views forthcoming of problems involved. Letter shown to Harrison for his information.

25-29 May 1945.

Arrangements completed for meeting with representatives from industry and with the scientific panel.

31 May 1945. 

All members were present at meeting with the four scientists. General Marshall, General Groves, Bundy, and Page present by invitation. (See Notes of Meeting)

1 June 1945.

All members were present at meeting with the representatives of industry, these being George H. Bucher, President of Westinghouse; Walter S. Carpenter, President of Du Pont; James Rafferty, Vice President of Union Carbide; and James White, President of Tennessee Eastman. General Marshall, General Groves, Bundy, and Page were present by invitation. (See Notes of Meeting)

Copies of A.H. Compton Report were given to Committee members.

7 June 1945.

Harrison discussed with S/W the recommendations of the Committee agreed at the 31 May and 1 June meetings: (1) the

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present program, including Chicago, be continued at present levels for the duration of the war; (2) the bomb be used without prior warning against Japan at earliest opportunity, the targets to be a military target surrounded by workers houses; (3) a Military Panel be established, and (4) work be started promptly on legislation. The S/W was in agreement of (1) and (2). He did not favor establishing a Military Panel. With regard to (4) the S/W wanted first priority given to legislation for domestic control, with the problems of international relations and controls to be dealt with by the Permanent Post-War Commission that would be established by law.

12 June 1945.

Arneson met with A.H. Compton concerning a membrandum prepared by certain of the Chicago scientists on "Social and Political Problems."

13 June 1945.

Arneson delivered to, and discussed with, Byrnes copy of Quebec Agreement and other documents dealing with negotiations leading to the Agreement, with particular reference to exchange of information concerning plant and construction data. Documents revealed that no interchange was made on plant and construction information.

15 June 1945.

Arneson reported to Harrison on his discussions with Compton and Byrnes. Harrison decided that the Scientific Panel 

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and not the Committee should consider the memorandum from the Chicago scientists.

Arneson turned over to Harrison the first draft of the proposed public statement of the S/W.

16 June 1945.

Harrison talked with A.H. Compton by the telephone concerning the Chicago memorandum, stating that he thought the Committee should consider it only after the Scientific Panel had made its comments. Compton agreed and promised to have available for Committee consideration at the next meeting the views of the Panel on the subject memorandum. He also agreed to submit the Panel's recommendation as to the disposition of the Chicago group after the war.

18 June 1945.

Copies of draft statements for President and S/W sent to Groves' office for comment.

20 June 1945.

Arneson discussed with Consodine suggested changes in statements. Some changes accepted and incorporated in redrafts. Suggestion that references to CPC and CDT be omitted in S/W statement was held in suspense pending consideration by the Committee. 

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21 June 1945.

All members, except S/W, present at sixth meeting of Committee. Groves, Bundy, and Page present by invitation. The draft statement for the President was approved with minor changes. It was agreed that specific references to CPC, CDT, and the Quebec Agreement should be omitted.

It was agreed that releases that would be necessary after the statement of the S/W was made public should be handled by Groves' organization in cooperation with Page.

(For other matters discussed see Notes of Meeting)

25 June 1945.

Discussions with the British led to the conclusion that the most appropriate manner in which to record British assent to our use of the weapon against Japan would be to make it a minute of the CPC.

26 June 1945.

Draft statements incorporating changes made in accordance with Committee decisions taken 21 June presented to the S/W by Harrison and Bundy. S/W approved both statements with minor verbal changes and authorized Bundy to make copies available to Makins.

Harrrison presented a memo to the S/W outlining the committee's view that the President, after consultation with the Prime Minister, should be prepared to tell the Russians at 

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the Conference that we were working on the weapon and expected to use it on Japan, but that he should not open up the question of international control for the present. S/W approved this recommendation and authorized Bundy to make a copy of this memo available to Makins.

Bundy handed copies of the Presidential and S/W statements and copy of memo to Makins.

27 June 1945.

Harrison wrote A.H. Compton informing him that Committee felt that the Scientific Panel should not be enlarged at this time to include Urey but that the Scientific Panel should hold itself free to receive any views that any scientists on the project might wish to present.

1 July 1945.

Bundy received from Makins certain suggested changes in the draft statements. Changes in President's statement were minor and were incorporated in a redraft. In the S/W's statement it was felt that the section dealing with the history of nuclear physics leading up to the war was incomplete and therefore inaccurate, that no mention should be made of the successfulness of several processes, and that Tolman, Chadwick, and Mackenzie should be cited as Scientific Advisers to CPC members.

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