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USAEC General Advisory Committee Minutes,
October 28-30, 1949

Seventeenth Meeting of the General Advisory Committee to the
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
October 28-30, 1949 , Washington, D.C.

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October 28, 1949

This Session was convened by the Chairman at 2:00 P.M. Those present were Dr. Oppenheimer, Dr. Buckley, Dr. DuBridge, Dr. Fermi, Dr. Rabi, Dr. Smith, the Secretary, and Mr. George F. Kerman, Counsellor of the Department of State. Dr. Seaborg was absent for all sessions of this meeting.

Mr. Kerman presented his views of the Russian situation and replied to a number of questions from Committee members. He left the meeting at 2:45 P.m.

The remainder of the Session, which Dr. Rowe joined, was devoted to continuing the discussion of our present policy and the role of atomic energy in present and future implementation of developing policy.

This Session was adjourned by 4:00 P.m. to permit the members to have informal discussions with Dr. H. A. Bethe of Cornell University and Dr. R. Serber of the Radiation Laboratory, Berkeley.

October 29, 1949

This Session was convened at 9:30 A.m. Dr. Oppenheimer, Dr. Buckley, Dr. Conant, Dr. DuBridge, Dr. Fermi, Dr. Rabi, Dr. Rowe, Dr. Smith, the Secretary, and Mr. Tomei were present.

As the result of agreement that the proposal to initiate a program for the development of a super-bomb was
the chief issue under the broad objective of examining whether the Commission is doing everything
reasonably possible for it to do for the common defense and security, the discussion  was directed toward a consideration of the details and possible consequences of such a program.

At 10:00 A.M., Commissioners Lilienthal, Dean, Smyth, and Strauss, the General Manager, the Deputy General Manager, the Director of Production, the Director of Reactor Development, the General Counsel, and the Executive Officer of the Program Council of the Commission joined the meeting, followed at 10:10 A.m. by the Director of Biology and Medicine and the Director of Military Application, and at 10:20 A.m. by the Director of Research. Mr. Tomei was absent for the remainder of this Session. Discussion of the super-bomb program continued with this group.

At 11:00 A.M., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chairman and the Executive Secretary of the Military Liaison Committee, the Chairman of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, Lt. Gen. L. Norstad, and Rear Adm. W. S. Parsons joined the Committee to discuss the military factors relevant to the Commission's program. Commissioners Lilienthal, Dean, Smyth and Strauss, the General Manager, and the Director of Military Application of the Commission were also present. The purpose of this meeting was to explore the military implications of the Commissioris present or future programs.

This Session was adjourned at 12:30 P.m.


The Committee met with Dr. Malcolm C. Henderson, Deputy Director of Intelligence, AEC, at 2: 10 P.m. to obtain background information on Russian activities as known to his office. Commissioners Lilienthal, Dean, Smyth, and Strauss were also present. Dr. Henderson left the meeting at 3:30 P.m. Discussion continued until adjournment of the Session at 5:00 p.m.


This Session was convened at 8:15 P.M. All Committee members (except Dr. Seaborg), the Secretary, and Mr. Tomei were present.

Further exploration of the super-bomb program was conducted. Before adjournment at 10:10 P.m. it was understood that drafts of specific positions would be the first order of business at the next Session.

October 30, 1949

This Session was convened at 9:05 A.m. Dr. Oppenheimer, Dr Buckley, Dr. Conant, Dr. DuBridge, Dr. Fermi, Dr. Rabi, Dr. Rowe, Dr. Smith, the Secretary, and Mr. Tomei were present.

Preliminary positions on the super-bomb program were outlined, and other possibilities for extension of the Commissions program - reactors for production of freely available neutrons, increased fissionable material production, and the use of atomic weapons for tactical purposes - were discussed.

At 10:10 A.M., Commissioners Lilienthal, Dean, Pike, Smyth, and Strauss, the General Manager, and the General Counsel of the Commission joined the group for a summary by Dr. Oppenheimer of the views of the Committee at this time and for additional discussion. Mr. Tomei was absent until 12:15 P.m.

During this portion of this Session, the Committee agreed that the Commission should feel free to use as it wished the reports and written views it would receive from the Committee. It was the implication of this action that the members of the GAC would not discuss the Committee's views until freed to do so by action of the Commission. In addition, it was agreed that each member would avoid discussion of his personal opinion at least for a period of one week, the initial day of the proposed Los Alamos conference. This was done in order to assure the maximum freedom of action to the Commission in the matters under discussion.

The guests of the Committee left at 12:15 P.m.

After taking action to confirm the date of the next meeting as December 1, 2, and 3, 1949, the place as Washington, and the dates of the subsequent meeting as January 31 and February 1, 1950, the Committee constituted drafting groups for the preparation of papers. The papers thus prepared were edited and modified to consist of the following:

1. A report by the Chairman addressed to the Chairman of the AEC, consisting of a covering letter and two Parts, approved by all members of the Committee (except Dr. Seaborg, who was not present). The "majority" to which reference is made (Part 11, page 4, last paragraph) included neither Dr. Fermi nor Dr. Rabi.

2. One attachment to the report approved and signed by Dr. Conant, Dr. Rowe, Dr. Smith, Dr. DuBridge, Dr. Buckley, and Dr. Oppenheimer.

3. A second attachment approved and signed by Dr. Fermi and Dr. Rabi.

It was agreed that in view of the nature of the documents they should bear a Top Secret classification.

The Minutes of the Sixteenth Meeting of the Committee were unanimously approved and this Meeting was adjourned at 3:00 P.m.

J. H. Manley

Source: USAEC General Advisory Committee Records, US Dept. of Energy, Germantown, Maryland.