Fifth Interim Meeting
Friday, 1 June 1945
NOTES OF THE INTERIM COMMITTEE MEETING
Friday, 1 June 1945, 11:00 A.M. – 12:30 P.M., 1:45 P.M. – 3:30 P.M.
- Members of the Committee
- Secretary Henry L. Stimson, Chairman
- Hon. Ralph A. Bard
- Dr. Vannevar Bush
- Hon. James F. Byrnes
- Hon. William L. Clayton
- Dr. Karl T. Compton
- Dr. James B. Conant
- Mr. George L. Harrison
- Mr. George H. Bucher
- President of Westinghouse – manufacture of equipment for the electromagnetic process.
- Mr.Walter S. Carpenter, President of Du Pont Company – construction of the Hanford Project.
- Mr. James Rafferty, Vice President of Union Carbide – construction and operation of gas diffusion plant in Clinton.
- Mr. James White, President of Tennessee Eastman – production of basic chemicals and construction of the RDX plant at Holston, Tennessee.
- General George C. Marshall
- Major Gen. Leslie H. Groves
- Mr. Harvey H. Bundy
- Mr. Arthur Page
I. OPENING STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRMAN
In opinion, the meeting, Secretary Stimson praised the unique contribution of American industry in prosecuting the war. He expressed his thanks to the industrialists present for their unique gifts and for their coming to meet with the Committee to offer the benefit of their views.
The Secretary introduced the members of the Committee and explained that he had established it with the approval of the President to assist the Secretary and General Marshall in making recommendations to the President concerning control of this weapon during the war period and organization for the post-war rule.
The Secretary assured the group that he and General Marshall were fully aware of the implications of our discoveries in nuclear energy. They realized that its potentialities extended far beyond the immediate military uses, which of necessity in wartime were their first concern. This development held tremendous potential for the welfare of humanity, and any consideration directed toward control of the field had to take these implications into account.
The Secretary expressed the hope that the industrialists present might offer suggestions about the problem of international relations. He pointed out that the most critical factor in making decisions concerning the issue of international cooperation was the question of how long other nations would take to catch up with the United States. So then, the Secretary was anxious to secure their estimate on this time factor.
II. COMPETITIVE LAG
Mr. Carpenter pointed out that it had taken his company twenty-seven months to complete the Hanford project from receipt of the basic plans. In carrying forward the industrial design, construction, and actual operation, the Du Pont Company enlisted the assistance of 10,000 to 15,000 other concerns. By calling on these other concerns of aid, the Du Pont Company could complete construction much more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. He estimated that it would take Russia at least four or five years to construct this plant, even assuming they had the basic plans. Russia’s most significant difficulty would be securing the necessary technicians and adequate production facilities. They could proceed much more rapidly if Russia could ensure the services of many German scientists — I., G. Farbenindustrie, or Siemens.
Mr. White, whose primary concern in the program has been the operation of the Y-12 electromagnetic plant, discussed the incredible complexity of the equipment required in production. He stressed the advantage held by the United States in standardized mass production. Unique ceramics, a significant number of vacuum tubes, special stainless steels, and a great variety of amazing products were needed in his plant, and he doubted whether Russia could secure sufficient precision in its equipment to make this operation possible. Mr. White stated that in his process, they used more than 2,000 college graduates, nearly 1500 men of approximate college level, and more than 5,000 skilled workers. In many cases, it had been necessary to establish special training schools to train the personnel to operate special equipment. Regarding Russia’s potentialities, he felt that one of the most significant problems would be securing the necessarily large number of skilled workers and technicians at the college level. In this connection, Mr. Clayton said we must assume that Russia would probably have access to German resources, scientists, and technicians.
Mr. Bucher estimated that if Russia had the services of the technicians and scientists of Siemens and I. G. Farbenindustrie, she might be able to produce a sample of the electro-magnetic plant in approximately nine months, but that it would take a total of three years to get into operation. He pointed out that significant problems in this operation were replacement parts and highly accurate precision tools. He estimated that Germany, assuming they have the basic information, would require 15 to 18 months to arrive at the production stage; Italy (Fiat) 15 to 18 months; and England possibly one year. The meeting recessed for luncheon at 12:30 and resumed at 1:45 P.M.
III. POST-WAR ORGANIZATION – VIEWS OF THE INDUSTRIALISTS
Mr. Byrnes asked the group for their views concerning the type of organization that should be established after the war to carry on the program. In supplementing this question, Dr. Karl T. Compton pointed out that a genuine problem was how best to organize to realize all the potentialities of the field with due regard for the industrial aspects.
Mr. Rafferty thought the present partnership of industry, the universities, and Government should be continued.
Mr. Bucher recommended keeping the present organization for at least another year. He stressed the need for more fundamental research, particularly about power, that could be made available to industry. In this connection, Dr. Karl T. Compton suggested that it would be desirable for particular companies to retain a nucleus of research people to evaluate this field’s potential as they were uncovered by government-sponsored fundamental research.
Mr. Carpenter pointed out that industrial participation in this endeavor had been, and probably would continue to be, at the operational level. He stressed the need for a great deal more fundamental research. The industry could not research on an adequate scale; therefore, the government should assume responsibility for fundamental research with proper encouragement of practical research in industry. He was deeply convinced that the all-encompassing nature of this development was so vast that it could not be left to drive. In the national interest, the government needed to assume the dominant role. He held that it was necessary not only for the government to sponsor and control a large-scale program of fundamental research but also to assume responsibility for securing and controlling uranium supplies. He recommended the following program:
- Accumulate a stockpile of bombs.
- Put the plants in standby status.
- Concentrate on fundamental research.
- Secure controlling supplies of uranium.
Regarding the two above, Dr. Bush pointed out that it would be necessary to continue some production of material for use in fundamental research and that access to operating plants would be required for carrying on specific experiments.
As the representatives of industry were leaving the meeting, Mr. Carpenter expressed on behalf of the industrial group a very great appreciation for the excellent job done by General Groves in carrying the current program forward. The Committee reassembled at 2:15 P.M. in Mr. Harrison’s office.
IV. POST-WAR ORGANIZATION – COMMITTEE DISCUSSION
Dr. Conant reported that the four scientists had completed their memorandum on post-war organization and submitted it to the Secretary of War through Mr. Harrison. Dr. Conant stressed the incredible complexity of this problem and the need for securing as members of the board of directors men of the highest competence and wisdom.
Dr. Bush stated that the organization proposed by the four scientists should be concerned with something other than the problem of an overall post-war research organization for national security. He said that one of the problems with which the board of directors would have to concern itself was the question of the allocation of material, such as loans to universities and other research groups. He pointed out that the universities would want access to certain material qualities for research purposes and pilot plants.
Dr. Compton expressed the conviction, which was agreed to by Dr. Conant, that the Interim Committee was not competent to decide upon these detailed questions but rather that it was responsible for recommendations leading to the establishment of a permanent organization capable of dealing with them. It was agreed that the organization paper from the scientists, when received, should be considered a basis for drafting the necessary legislation.
V. CURRENT APPROPRIATIONS
General Groves reported that current appropriations for the project would run through June of 1946. Mr. Byrnes pointed out, however, that if the war ended before the end of June 1946, Congress would be disposed to cancel all outstanding authorizations. In this event, the Committee would face the immediate problem of considering continuing appropriations with Congress. In so doing, it would be necessary to estimate the costs involved.
General Groves reported that the five Congressmen whom he recently took on a visit to the project in Tennessee were very much impressed with the plant and appeared to be most appreciative of the magnitude and national importance of the program.
VI. USE OF THE BOMB
Mr. Byrnes recommended, and the Committee agreed, that the Secretary of War should be advised that, while recognizing that the final selection of the target was essentially a military decision, the current view of the Committee was that the bomb should be used against Japan as soon as possible; that it be used on a war plant surrounded by workers’ homes, and that it be used without prior warning. It was the understanding of the Committee that the small bomb would be used in the test and that the giant bomb (a gun mechanism) would be used in the first strike over Japan.
Mr. Harrison pointed out that yesterday’s meeting’s discussions and tentative conclusions had already rendered obsolete the draft Presidential statement prepared by Arthur Page. In the past few days, the Secretary had discussions with Generals Marshall and Arnold concerning targets and would probably discuss this question further with Admiral King and General Marshall. This Committee was not considered competent to make a final decision on the matter of targets, this being a military decision. Accordingly, Mr. Harrison suggested that he be empowered by the Committee to confer with those members of the Committee who would be available as the situation about targets developed and to have prepared new draft statements for the consideration of the full Committee at its next meeting.
Mr. Harrison urged that prompt consideration be given to the problem of drafting the necessary legislation. It was suggested that the memorandum of the four scientists could be used as a basis for the draft. The Committee agreed that Mr. Harrison should proceed. With the assistance of those members of the Committee who were available, I would like to prepare an outline of significant points to be included in a bill for study by the Committee at its next meeting.
IX. NEXT MEETING
It was agreed that the next meeting should be held at 9:30 A.M. Thursday, 21 June 1945, the place of meeting depending upon the schedule of the Secretary of War. It was agreed that the Committee should consider organization proposals and the requirements for legislation. The Committee would also consider the situation with regard to publicity at that time.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 P.M.
R. GORDON ARNESON
1st Lieutenant, A.U.S.
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