Well aware of the rising public concern about nuclear weapons, government officials sought some means of accommodation with the movement against the Bomb. The leaders of the great powers consulted with nuclear critics, warned of nuclear dangers, and backed plans for international control of atomic energy. But, as the cold war gathered momentum, they began to show less interest in fostering nuclear arms controls than in winning a nuclear arms race. Ultimately, then, they commenced a steady retreat from the new thinking to the old. Nevertheless, the retreat was only partial. In nations further from the centers of power, government officials remained committed to nuclear arms control and disarmament. And even in the nuclear and would-be nuclear nations, government leaders continued at least their rhetorical support for nuclear arms controls and showed a newfound hesitation at the launching of nuclear war.
In the United States, government leaders were shaken by the enormous destructiveness of the Hiroshima bombing and by the sharp criticism that it generated. At President Truman's cabinet meeting of August 8, 1945, according to one record of the gathering, he “expressed concern” about apparent papal condemnation of the Bomb and “pointed out that the cooperation of the Vatican is needed in days to come, particularly in dealing with the Catholic countries of Europe.” To the President's dismay, on August 9 he received word from the Federal Council of Churches that it, too, was about to issue a public condemnation of the atomic bombing. When top U.S. officials gathered in the White House the following morning, Stimson suggested that the bombing be halted. According to one of those present, “he cited the growing feeling of apprehension and misgiving as to the effect of the atomic bomb even in our own country.” Taking