The Agreements: 1950–2

  • Simon Duke
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


At a press conference on 30 November 1950, President Truman had been asked questions about the situation in Korea, which had taken a turn for the worse with the Chinese intervention. One reporter asked, ‘Will we take whatever steps are necessary to meet the military situation? Will that include the A-bomb?’ The President replied that this would include ‘every weapon that we have’. There then followed the ambiguous exchange that was thought to imply active consideration of a nuclear strike in the Far East:

[Question]: Mr. President, you said ‘every weapon that we have.’ Does that mean that there is active consideration of the use of the bomb?

[The President]: There has always been active consideration of its use.1

Aware that ambiguity existed, the President, later on that day, instructed Charles Ross of the White House Press Office to issue a clarificatory statement saying that ‘consideration of the use of any weapon is always implicit in the very possession of the weapon’.2 The President made it clear that by law only he, as Commander-in-Chief, could authorise the bomb’s use and that ‘he had not authorised its use’.3


Prime Minister Atomic Weapon Atomic Bomb Joint Decision Defence Base 
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Copyright information

© Simon Duke 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Duke
    • 1
  1. 1.OxfordUK

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