The many factors in play

Nuclear power history

In the early 50s, intense negotiations between West Germany and those determining its future – the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, among others. Should any atomic energy activity at all be allowed and, if so, what. The Official Committee on Atomic Energy was a group of British senior public servants briefing their ministers. Among those allowed to observe, and to provide input as requested, was atomic pioneer John Cockcroft. I came across these byzantine discussion on possible German legislation, and, frankly, am not completely sure what it means. I don’t need to figure it out for my purposes, but nonetheless keep staring at it:

Care must be taken not to confuse the need for ensuring that Communists should not be admitted to the German atomic energy project, which was the main preoccupation of the United States authorities, with the question of surrounding actual equipment and projects with a cloak of secrecy. The planned German nuclear atomic energy activity itself should be unclassified, and in fact the level of atomic energy activity permitted in Germany would not involve classified work in the foreseeable future. It was important not to give the Germans an opportunity to start secret work under cover of security provisions and their wording should therefore at least be revised so as to ensure that German activities in this field were carried out openly.


Official Committee on Atomic Energy. 1953. AE(O) Meeting 6, Mar. 27, 1953 minutes. CAB 134/747, National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.