Scientific Panel’s Recommendations

June 16, 1945


You have asked us to comment on the initial use of the new weapon. In our opinion, this use should be such as to promote a satisfactory adjustment of our international relations. At the same time, we recognize our obligation to our nation to use weapons to help save American lives in the Japanese war.

To accomplish these ends, we recommend that before the weapons are used, not only Britain but also Russia, France, and China be advised that we have made considerable progress in our work on atomic weapons and that we would welcome suggestions as to how we can cooperate in making this development contribute to improved international relations.

The opinions of our scientific colleagues on the initial use of these weapons are not unanimous: they range from the proposal of a purely technical demonstration to that of the military application best designed to induce surrender. Those who advocate a purely technical demonstration would wish to outlaw the use of atomic weapons and have feared that our position in future negotiations will be prejudiced if we use the weapons now. Others emphasize the opportunity of saving American lives through immediate military use and believe that such use will improve international prospects, in that they are more concerned with preventing war than eliminating this specific weapon. We find ourselves closer to these latter views; we can propose no technical demonstration likely to end the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use.

About these general aspects of the use of atomic energy, it is clear that we, as scientific men, have no proprietary rights. We are among the few citizens h have contemplated these problems during the past few years. However, we have no claim to special competence in solving the political, social, and military issues presented by the advent of atomic power.

Source: Michael B. Stoff et al., eds., The Manhattan Project: A Documentary Introduction to the Atomic Age (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 150.