Go to Home Page

Key Issues Nuclear Weapons History Pre Cold War Interim Committee Log

Interim Committee Log Memorandum for the Record
17 Oct. 1945 through 16 Nov. 1945

page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 | page 6 |
page 7
| page 8 | page 9 | page 10

Printer Friendly

17 October 1945

Dr. Oppenheimer, Dr. Fermi, Mr. Harrison, General Groves, General Royall, and Lt. Arneson met with Secretary Patterson from 2:30 to 3:30 P.M. to discuss the growing disaffection of the scientists to the Johnson-May bill and to consider means of securing their support. Dr. Oppenheimer stated that he thought the differences in viewpoint among the scientists were not major. He very much preferred to talk with Szilard, Anderson, and Urey before they testified on Thursday to try to get some basic agreement on the bill rather that run the risk of a public wrangle with them at the Hearing.

Secretary Patterson pointed out that those scientists who are opposed to the bill did not realize that by delaying action and raising all sorts of objections to the present bill they may very well end up with a much more stringent measure than is now before the Committee. The temper of Congress and of the country is in the direction of even more controls and the preservation of the so-called "secrets". As to the argument that the international control situation should be considered first, Secretary Patterson pointed out that this was an impossibility, that domestic control was imperative before we would be in a position to consider the international questions involved. He pointed out further that the President and the Secretary of State would be more alive to the need for international arrangements than Congress.

page 2

Dr. Fermi expressed concern about the muzzling of private research which he saw inherent in the bill in its present form. To this point Gen. Royall replied that he thought there were adequate safeguards now in the bill to prevent the Commission from interfering with private fundamental research which did not constitute a national hazard, but that certain clarifying amendments which would put the matter more positively had been drawn up and would be presented to the Committee. These amendments were adapted from the suggestions made by Dr. Dubridge and his associates and would be presented to the Committee by Gen. Royall on Friday when it meets in executive session. In so doing, Gen. Royall said he would tell the Committee that these amendments were very much wanted by the scientists, that they would go a long way toward getting the support of the scientists, and that the War Department had no objection to them.

It was agreed that Dr. Oppenheimer should talk to the scientists who planned to testify against the bill and try to head off a public dispute. It was felt by all present that the proposed amendment would help in doing this and that Dr.Oppenheimer whould discuss these amendments with them. If it were not possible to secure a relatively united front with these scientists, Secretary Patterson felt that Dr. Oppenheimer should be prepared to testify on Thursday.

The meeting then adjourned to Mr.Harrison's office where the amendments were considered in detail. It was generally agreed that the amendments were a major improvement in the bill and would help meet the more reasonable objections that had been raised by the scientists.

page 3

1 November 1945

Secretary Patterson sent a letter to Secretary Byrnes strongly urging that the State Department undertake a thorough examination of the international phases of atomic energy in preparation for the Attlee conference. He mentioned particularly the problem of the war-time Quebec Agreement and its relation to the post-war situation. While stating that this was a State Department matter, he offered the assistance of the War Department in pulling the facts together.

Following up this letter, Secretary Patterson had an hour's conference with Secretary Byrnes this afternoon, during which he reiterated his view that there should be prompt and thorough preparation for Attlee's visit. Secretary Byrnes was non-committal.

2 November 1945

Late this afternoonwhen he was discussing with Dr. Bush the forthcoming conference with the British and the Canadians, Secretary Patterson called in Lt. Arneson and asked him to prepare a study of the current situation under the Quebec and Combined Development Trust Agreements and a tentative set of U.S. proposals for discussion. It was agreed that the proposals should follow the lines of Secretary Stimson's memorandum of September 11, and Secretary Patterson's of September 26 and should outline the

page 4

several stages of negotiations, viz.: revision of agreements with the British and the Canadians, approach to Russia, and finally an approach to the UNO. It was agreed further that Dr. Bush's memorandum to the President of September 25, which went into some detail, should be used as a guide in the preparation of the study. Secretary Patterson remarked that while the study might never see the light of day, it should be ready in the event it was called for. Even though it might not be wanted by Secretary Byrnes it would, in any event, serve to jell Secretary Patterson's thinking on the subject.

November 1945

Lt. Arneson's study was given to Secretary Patterson this morning. It consisted of two volumes: Volume I, Part A, analysed the current situation vis-a-vis the British and Canadians and action taken under the Quebec and CDT agreements; Volume I, Part B, outlined the U.S. position that might be taken as a basis for discussion in carrying through the negotiations in several stages; and Volume II was a compilation of the basic documents supporting the recital of Volume I, Part A. The U.S. proposals were admittedly tentative and were put forward merely as a point of departure for further consideration by the Secretary and his advisers.

10 November 1945

On the basis of the discussion they had had with Secretary Patterson the day before, General Groves, Dr. Bush, and Mr. Harrison met in General Groves' office this morning to revise the U.S. proposal for discussion. Lt. Volpe and Lt. Arneson were present. The revision spelled out in greater detail our proposals for continuation of cooperation with the British and the Canadians and suggested only in general terms the nature of the approach which the three governments might agree the United States should make to Russia. The further step of setting up an organ of the UNO to control the field of atomic energy was stated as an ultimate objective, to be achieved, however, only after a considerable period and only after the effective cooperation of Russia had been proven in practise. As regards our relations with the U.K. and Canada, the recommendations made it clear that in exchange for the abrogation of Clause IV of the Quebec Agreement in any new agreement that might be arrived at the U.K. should undertake to bring under the control of the CDT and subject to allocation by the CPC on an actual use basis all uranium and thorium ores situated anywhere within the British Commonwealth.

page 5

11 November 1945

Mr. Harrison and Lt. Arneson saw Secretary Patterson briefly this morning to give him a copy of the revised study, which Mr. Harrison pointed out represented the unanimous views of General Groves, Dr. Bush, and himself.

12 November 1945

The members of the Interim Committee were today informed by letter from the Secretary of War that, in view of the fact that the Interim Committee had completed its assignments, it was being terminated effective this date.

14 November 1945

Mr. Makins and Mr. Rickett met informally with General Groves, Mr. Harrison, and Lt. Arneson at 3:15 p.m. to exchange views concerning what should be done on the question of revising the Quebec Agreement during the Truman-Attlee-King conference.

Mr. Harrison reported that, as indicated in a memorandum which Dr. Bush had written to President Truman recapitulating his understanding of the conclusions reached at the White House on the evening of the 13th, the principals desired that Secretary Patterson and Sir John Anderson and their advisers consider together what should be done with matters of collaboration covered by the Quebec Agreement.

There was general agreement that whatever was done with the Quebec Agreement and its specific provisions, it was clearly desirable to continue the Combined Policy Committee, perhaps

page 6

with different membership, to act as the coordinating body for whatever degree of collaboration might be decided upon and to continue the CDT as the agent of the CPC for the acquisition of ores.

General Groves suggested that each of them should study the Quebec and Combined Development Trust Agreements in detail and to raise points which should be considered in working out revisions. It was agreed that this should be done in preparation for the meeting in the Secretary's office scheduled for 10:00 a.m. the next day.

15 November 1945

The following met with the Secretary of War in his office at 10:00 a.m. to discuss revision of existing agreements: Sir John Anderson, Field Marshal Sir Henry Maitland-Wilson, Malcom MacDonald, General Groves, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Dennis Rickett, Mr. Roger Makins, and Lt. Arneson.

Sir John stated that the British were anxious to know what decision the United States was likely to make with regard to Clause IV of the Quebec Agreement, for the U.K. had hoped in the near future to build pilot plants and would want to know how the matter of commercial rights stood. The United Kingdom recognised that the decision on Clause IV rested with the United States and would, of course, accept whatever decision was made. To this Secretary Patterson replied that as far as he was concerned he was prepared to recommend that a solution be found which would not place the U.K. at a disadvantage.

There was general agreement that the CPC should be continued to supervise such arrangements as were mutually agreed upon and that the CDT should also be continued to handle the acquisition of ores, but that it would probably be desirable to terminate the Quebec Agreement, in toto , and replace it by a new agreement which would properly reflect the post-war situation.

page 7

Sir John felt that consideration should be given to full interchange of personnel in any new agreement that might be signed. General Groves felt that the quid-pro-quo for this would have to be an undertaking whereby the U.K. would bring all uranium and thorium ores situated in the British Commonwealth under the control of the CDT for allocation in accordance with demonstrated demand. In agreeing with this point, Sir John pointed out that the U.K. would have to proceed with caution in some cases, as for example, South Africa. General Groves expressed the view that South Africa would probably agree to sell its ore to the Trust. Sir John agreed that since South Africa had no establishments built she would probably be willing to sell and that the U.K. or the U.K. and U.S. jointly might approach her soon.

It was agreed that Sir John's advisers and Secretary Patterson's advisers should prepare a Memorandum of Intention which would set forth the basic policies to be followed in writing a new agreement. It was agreed further that the CPC should be given the assignment of writing the new agreement in line with these basic policies. Another meeting was called for 9:00 a.m. the next day to consider the memorandum.

After the meeting in the Secretary's office, General Groves, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Rickett, Mr. Makins, Lt. Volpe, and Lt. Arneson met in Mr. Harrison's office to arrive at some preliminary understanding as to the form and content of the Memorandum of Intention. It was the view of General Groves and Mr. Harrison that there should be prepared for consideration on Friday (1) a short directive to the CPC for signature by the President and the Prime Ministers instructing the CPC to prepare for their consideration a new agreement envisaging the continuation of the CPC and the CDT, and (2) a longer memorandum, also for signature by the President and the Prime Ministers or at least by the Secretary of War and Sir John, setting forth the basic policies to be considered by the CPC in drawing up a new agreement. Mr. Rickett and Mr. Makins did not dissent from this view.

page 8

The Quebec Agreement was then examined point by point and amendments proposed. When this had been done, it was suggested that Mr. Makins and Mr. Rickett on the one hand and Lts. Volpe and Arneson on the other should prepare separate drafts of the Memorandum of Intention for comparison and further discussion later in the day, and that the British should also prepare a draft of the short directive to the CPC.

Mr. Makins, Mr. Rickett, General Groves, Lt. Volpe, and Lt. Arneson met again at 6:00 p.m. at which time the short directive to the CPC which had been prepared by the British for signature by the President and the Prime Ministers was agreed to. The directive stated in substance that the signatories desired that cooperation in the field of atomic energy among the three Governments should continue, that the CPC and the CDT should be continued in suitable form, and that the CPC should recommend appropriate arrangements to accomplish this. As to the longer paper, there appeared some divergence in point of view. The British wanted the memorandum to be quite informal, more in the nature of a very general statement of broad principle rather than a specific set of basic points by which the CPC would be guided in its work. General Groves wanted the memorandum to be quite specific on the basic issues of policy and binding on the CPC when adopted by the Anderson-Patterson sub-committee of the conference. No agreement was reached on this question of procedure and it was decided to hold it over for consideration the next day and to concentrate that evening on the content of the memorandum.

Lts. Volpe and Arneson met with Mr. Makins and Mr. Rickett at the British Embassy at 10:00 p.m. and came to agreement on the  basic points of policy to be laid down in the memorandum with the exception of the point on interchange of information. The more restrictive U.S. formula for interchange of information was writtin into the draft with the understanding that the British would put forward an alternative formula for consideration the next day.

page 9

16 November 1945

The following met with the Secretary of War in his office at 9:00 a.m.: Sir John Anderson, Field Marshal Wilson, General Groves, General Ian Jacob, Mr. Harrison, Mr. C. D. Howe, Dean MacKenzie, Mr.Neville Butler, Mr. Makins, Mr. Rickett, Lt. Volpe, and Lt. Arneson. Agreement was reached promptly on the joint directive to the CPC for signature by the President and the Prime Ministers. One change was agreed to which might prove most significant. This was the proposal made by Sir John that the words "full and" be inserted before the phrase "effective cooperation" in the first sentence.

After some discussion, it was agreed that the Memorandum of Intention should be addressed to the CPC and signed by Sir John Anderson for the U.K. and by General Groves for the U.S. and that it would serve only as a general guide and not as a set of basic policies binding on the Committee in the writing of a new agreement.

While Sir John, Mr. Makins, Mr. Rickett, General Groves, Mr. Harrison, and Lt. Volpe reassembled in Mr. Harrison's office to arrive at a final draft of the memorandum, Secretary Patterson accompanied by Lt. Arneson proceeded to the White House with copies of the joint directive which was signed by President Truman and Prime Minister Attlee at approximately 10:15 a.m. It developed that Prime Minister King who was not available at the moment wanted to consult with Mr. Howe before signing. Since Mr. Howe had already left for Ottawa, it was decided that the three copies signed by the two heads of state would have to be sent to Ottawa for signature there by Prime Minister King after he had conferred with Mr. Howe.

page 10

The Memorandum of Intention was agreed upon by noon and was signed in eight copies by Sir John and General Groves before Sir John departed for Ottawa at 3:00 p.m. As signed, the memorandum contained a series of recommendations to be considered by the CPC in the preparation of a new document to replace the Quebec Agreement and all other understandings with the exception of the Combined Development Trust Agreement which was to be revised in conformity with the new arrangements. No mention was made of post-war commercial rights, but the memorandum recommended that all ores that may be acquired, by purchase or otherwise, by the CDT, including all that may be secured throughout the British Commonwealth, should be held jointly subject to allocation by the Combined Policly Committee to the three Governments "in such quantities as may be needed, in the common interest, for scientific research, military, and humanitarian purposes," provided that the unallocated portion not so needed be held by the CDT for disposal at a later date "in the light of then existing conditions and on a fair and equitable basis." As regards interchange of information, the memorandum recommended that there should be full and effective cooperation in the field of basic scientific research, while in the field of development, design, construction, and operation of plants, cooperation, recognised as desirable in principle, should be regulated by ad hoc arrangements through the CPC.

Original at:  http://www.whistlestop.org/