258 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 124[A] LONDON, 16 August 1943, 7.28 p.m.

IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER PERSONAL HIMSELF ONLY MOST SECRET

Developments are taking place both here and in America in connection with what is known as the Tube Alloys scheme [1] which apart from their significance in relation to the war will have profound economic repercussions in the post-war period.

These developments are of so secret a character that I cannot telegraph you with regard to them but Rivett [2] knows the general picture and I suggest you should send for him and personally get the facts.

The main deposits of the raw material required [3] are in Canada and the Belgian Congo, over both of which the Americans have obtained control, and Australia. I suggest it is imperative that the Australian deposits should be safe-guarded and that we should be brought into the picture as to the present position and kept in touch with all future developments.

To these ends I suggest that you should ask the United Kingdom Government to agree that Professor Oliphant [4], who is leaving here tomorrow for a short visit to America, should be allowed to make a flying visit, in all senses of the term, to Australia for consultation with you and your advisers.

For your very private information Oliphant would be willing to make the trip and in fact is very much in favour of doing so. [5]

BRUCE

1 Code name for the Anglo-American program to develop an atomic bomb.

2 Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

3 Uranium ore.

4 Poynting Professor of Physics, University of Birmingham, and a member of the Tube Alloys Committee.

5 Oliphant briefed Bruce on 16 August on the Tube Alloys project and the potential of nuclear energy and inspired Bruce to suggest to Curtin that title to Australian uranium deposits be secured (see Bruce's record of the conversation on file AA:M100, August 1943). No immediate response was forthcoming from the Commonwealth Govt and Bruce raised the matter again on 6 September after Sir John Anderson asked for information on the availability of Australian uranium ore (see cablegram 150 on file AA:M100, September 1943). Rivett replied in cablegram 9756 of 16 October (on file AA:M100, October 1943) that no work would be done on developing Australian deposits until the matter had been discussed in London by Sir Henry Tizard, who was familiar with the position in Australia and who would advise the Commonwealth Govt further.

[FA:A3195, 1943, MOST SECRET INWARDS MASTER SHEETS, EXCLUDING SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DOMINION AFFAIRS, 1.34191]