3. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Wainhouse) and the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant for Atomic Energy Affairs (Smith) to the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)1


  • Indian Scientist Bhabha as President of the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy2


As you know, Admiral Strauss of the AEC at today’s OCB meeting expressed strong objections to the appointment as President of the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy of the Indian scientist Bhabha. Bhabha is presently Indian representative on the Advisory Committee preparing for this conference.
We have been informed by USUN that it will be necessary to exert great pressure to avoid Bhabha’s appointment to this post, and that our objections probably will have to be made public. USUN says that we can at this moment only be sure of support for our views on this matter from Canada and, probably, Brazil. The French are opposed to our intended nominee (Swiss scientist Von Murait);3 the UK originally wanted to nominate Bhabha; the Soviets have stated they will nominate Bhabha.
It is our view that the most important question in organizing this conference is to secure agreement to US proposals for the organization and rules of procedure and the appointment of US scientist Walter Whitman4 as the Secretary-General of the conference. The Secretary-General is the most important officer, with the right to review papers submitted; pass on credentials of invitees, and appoint the technical secretary, chairman and rapporteur for each section, and the administrative secretary. The President’s powers are those of control over conduct of the proceedings in plenary sessions, including authority to terminate debate on any given point or in general.

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That you call Admiral Strauss;5 explain the facts described above; stress that the most important objective State sees is securing agreement on the organization and rules of procedure of the conference and the appointment of Whitman as Secretary-General; and ask whether AEC will agree that in the event this objective is attained it would not be necessary to oppose Bhabha. You might wish to emphasize the political difficulties which the Department believes will be raised for the US should it become known that the US opposes the Indian representative for this position, which will enable the USSR to take credit for proposing Bhabha for this post while the US bears the onus of opposing the Indian representative; that it is doubtful in any event that we can prevent Bhabha’s appointment.

  1. Source: Department of State, Atomic Energy Files: Lot 57 D 688, Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy: General. Confidential. Drafted by Meyers. Concurred in by William L. S. Williams.
  2. Dr. Howi J. Bhabha, physicist, was chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission. For an account of the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, which met in Geneva, August 8–20, see Document 77.
  3. Alexander von Murait, a physiologist.
  4. Walter G. Whitman, professor of chemical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  5. A handwritten notation in the margin reads: “He did.”