135. Message From the United States Information Agency to All Principal USIS Posts1

Infoguide No. 64–1

INFOGUIDE: Program to Reduce Chinese Communist Psychological Gains from an Atomic Test. Reference: State-USIA-Defense Circular CA–715, July 19, 1963, “Status of Program to Influence World Opinion with Respect to a Chinese Communist Nuclear Detonation.”2

Summary: U.S. agencies are cooperating in a program to blunt in advance the psychological impact of a Chinese Communist nuclear detonation. USIA’s specific role in that program is detailed below.


The Chinese Communists could set off an atomic test explosion any time in the next few years. They will undoubtedly attempt to use every available means to extend their influence by enhancing Red China’s strength image.

We want to blunt the expected Chinese Communist efforts in advance by promoting understanding of:

(1) The “nuclear facts of life” which (a) make the United States the world’s strongest nuclear power, and (b) separate major from minor nuclear powers;

(2) The fact that a crude “show” atomic explosion would not give Communist China even a minor nuclear-military capability, which takes years to develop.

You should begin a program for this purpose, drawing on the treatment points below and the guidelines in the referenced State-Defense-USIA circular. USIA’s main role in the interagency program will be to develop the positive aspect—U.S.-Free World strength, avoiding a preoccupation with the negative side—Chinese weakness. A spellout of suggested methods appears under “APPROACH,” the last section of this infoguide.

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These are the main points you should make:

(1) The United States is so strong that it can withstand an attacker’s first strike and still strike back with overpowering force. Having pledged never to be the attacker, the U.S. maintains defensive strength second to none in order to deter any first strike. President Kennedy said in his June 10, 1963 “peace” speech: “The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war.”3

(2) The President on June 10 thus defined the peaceable use of United States strength: “America’s weapons are non-provocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint.”

(3) The United States works actively for safeguarded international disarmament. Until this goal is reached it must exert its strength to deter aggression. U.S. deterrence is long range, effected by the ability to deliver nuclear warheads with intercontinental missiles, aircraft or submarines.

(4) The United States can and will fulfill its commitments to defend the free peoples of Asia against threats to their independence or integrity, and will not hesitate to do so at any time regardless of any degree of Chinese Communist nuclear capability, in claim or in fact.

(5) All three major nuclear powers—the U.S., USSR, and U.K.—view with concern the possible spread of nuclear weapons to an increasing number of countries, because this could lead to local conflicts which could escalate into world war. All three, therefore, would regard any such developments, especially a threat to use a nuclear weapon, as a very serious matter.

(6) The major nuclear powers—the U.S., U.K., and USSR—each have superiority over all other nations in large and varied nuclear stockpiles and in means of delivery. Both are very costly and take years to develop. Over a dozen nations could develop into secondary nuclear powers after years of effort, but they could not hope to become major nuclear powers in the foreseeable future. Among potential secondary nuclear powers are: Belgium, Canada, Communist China, Czechoslovakia, France, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland.

(7) Any of these powers could achieve a “token” nuclear capability with one or a few “show” nuclear test explosions within a very short period. The atomic bomb is no secret any more: the techniques of [Page 353] putting one together have long been publicly known. But this would be years from even a secondary nuclear capability.

(8) Within Asia, both India and Japan possess atomic scientific know-how comparable to Communist China’s. Atomic science can be turned toward peace or war. India and Japan are devoting their atomic programs to peaceful purposes, whereas Communist China is using hers for weapons.


(1) Interagency program:

Bear in mind that the USIA program is one part of a coordinated interagency approach which has both positive and negative sides. USIA will deal mainly with the positive aspect: the meaning of U.S. nuclear strength and its relation to potential secondary nuclear powers, including Communist China. There is also, of course, a negative side: Communist China’s technical and economic weakness and her prestige-oriented struggle to produce a “show” atomic device. This negative approach we shall leave largely to others; as an overt U.S. agency, our credibility on this negative aspect is relatively low because (a) the U.S. has no official contacts with Communist China, hence no acknowledged sources of information; and (b) the U.S. has an obvious axe to grind. This does not mean, of course, that USIA should ignore the negative side completely; rather, insofar as possible, use attributed materials from third country or other sources likely to have credible authority concerning conditions inside Communist China. Chief USIA emphasis should go to the positive side, which is basic because it offers a calm, confident context of understanding without which the negative part would fail.

(2) Pace:

Your program should include regular but not too frequent approaches, and should proceed in a quiet, relaxed manner, avoiding sudden spurts of activity. This is because (a) we do not wish to convey an impression of nervous preoccupation with the ChiCom nuclear problem, and (b) your materials will necessarily deal with U.S. military strength, and we want to avoid an appearance of saber-rattling.

(3) Target audiences:

Primarily Asian countries, with particular emphasis on those nearest Communist China; but you should set a program in motion wherever a ChiCom nuclear explosion is likely to make an impact. Within each country, plan a phased presentation, starting with approaches to government officials and other influential groups and later extending the effort to include mass media if feasible and effective.

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(4) Operating methods:

Approaches are likely to vary considerably from one country to another; you may decide that personal contacts and placement of selected printed materials will be the most effective approaches initially, and perhaps throughout, your program. You should maintain close cooperation with parallel activities of the Country Team, such as the briefings at Far Eastern posts using Defense Department materials, an activity outlined in the referenced circular.

File to Washington, for replay to other posts, useful local statements supporting any of the positive treatment points listed above or credible statements making negative points on Chinese Communist weakness.

Look to the Washington media for a phased flow of supporting materials.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, General Subject Files, 1949–1970; Acc. #66–Y–0274, Entry UD WW 382, Box 117, Master Copies, 1963. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Hanson and Pauker on July 12; cleared in substance in IAA, IAE, IAF, IAL, IAN, IAS, IBS, IMS, IPS, ITV, P, M, EE, and SOV and by telephone in EE; approved by Anderson. Pauker initialed for himself, Hanson, the clearing officials, and Anderson. Repeated for information to Bucharest, Budapest, Moscow, Prague, Sofia, and Warsaw (from Rusk). Sent via pouch.
  2. Not found.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 129.