Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Forrestal, James, 1892-1949; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953; Hannegan, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1903-1949; Krug, Julius A. (Julius Albert), 1907-1970; Byrnes, James F. (James Francis), 1882-1972; Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; McMahon, Brien, 1903-1952; Peters
Cabinet meetings; Nuclear weapons testing

Cabinet Meeting Minutes, March 22, 1946. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 1946

(This marks first appearance of J. A. Krug as Secretary of the Interior.)

THE PRESIDENT

The lobby situation in the District of Columbia is now the worst in the history of this city. He raised the question as to what steps might be taken to curb lobbying activities in connection with the federal government.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

Suggested the Treasury Department might scrutinize the expense accounts of business people ostentatiously on business but actually for other purposes.

SECRETARY VINSON

Disagreed with Hannegan. He believed that such a drive would bring people to say that we were trying to keep people from coming to the Capitol to find out what is going on here. Stated that this approach to the problem, in his opinion, is extremely unsatisfactory.

SECRETARY FORRESTAL

Stated that he believed the Crossroad Operation (Atomic Bomb Tests at Bikini) should go forward due to the expense and commitments already made by the Navy. Stated that it might not again be possible to get together scientists now most familiar with the atomic bomb and who are now prepared to study tests at Bikini.

THE PRESIDENT

The necessity for Congress to continue working is the determining factor. He was surprised to learn that the Navy had invited 60 members of Congress to attend these tests. After July 1st he does not care how many Congressmen go to see these as most of the labor legislation and appropriation bills will be out of the way at that time.

SECRETARY BYRNES

Raised the question as to why the test is necessary in the first place. He believes it would be extremely ill advised at this time and the results to be accomplished by such a test would be negligible.

ADMIRAL W. H. BLANDY

(Expert in charge of Bikini test for the Navy)
We expect to gain from this test with 101 ships the lethal range and effectiveness of the bomb. It will be invaluable in connection with a study of future design--the protection of personnel and whether the Navy will enter into production of atomic bombs, as an offensive weapon. There are 37,000 men already picked for the test and extensive instruments and equipment has already been assigned to this operation.

SECRETARY FORRESTAL

The July 1 suggestion of the President would take care of the legislative problem.

ADMIRAL BLANDY

The July date in his opinion would have a bad effect on air force operation because of the possibility of bad weather.

SECRETARY BYRNES

Scheduled date of May 15th, in his opinion, would be extremely unwise. It will have a great effect on the peace conference in Paris which is scheduled for that time. In his opinion this Crossroads Operation has developed into a big show on the strength of the atomic dictator. (U.S.)

SECRETARY VINSON

Raised the question as to whether key men are going back to other work and will not be available for such tests at a later date.

SECRETARY FORRSTAL

Scientists have strong views on both sides in connection with the value of the test and the procedures to be followed.

ADMIRAL BLANDY

The surface tests will be undertaken first. The underwater tests, which will be more difficult and probably more dangerous, will follow later, but in his opinion only the tests themselves will prove any of these conjectures.

HAROLD PETERSON

(Acting for Sec. War Patterson)
The Army Air Force is most anxious to have the tests go forward.

THE PRESIDENT

Stated that Cabinet must make decision here and now.

SECRETARY BYRNES

He would prefer that the tests were not held at all, but certainly the later the better.

SECRETARY WALLACE

Stated that in his opinion the opinion of the Department of State is just as valuable as that of the Army and Navy.

SECRETARY FORRESTAL

Senator McMahon, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee of the Senate, has threatened to forbid any further appropriations for the Navy under the assumption that the present Navy is obsolete.

HAROLD PETERSON

(For Sec. of War)
Fears that if the tests are cancelled the Soviets will get the impression that we are becoming secretive.

SECRETARY BYRNES

Russia wants the test to go ahead and they want to be present at the location of the tests.

THE PRESIDENT

This test will cost 100 million dollars and if the tests are cancelled this amount of money will be wasted.

SECRETARY KRUG

Stated that in his opinion we could not go along with the idea that scientists would not be available in January of 1947 as well as May of 1946.

THE PRESIDENT

First test will be held on July 1 and at that time a decision will be made with reference to additional tests.
This was agreed to by the Cabinet.


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