Policy Planning Staff Files

Minutes of the Sixth Meeting of the Policy Planning Staff on the International Control of Atomic Energy

top secret
  • Present:
  • Paul Nitze
  • Joseph Chase, U
  • Brig. Gen. James McCormack, Director of Military Application, Atomic Energy Commission
  • Robert Hooker

General McCormack stated that in his opinion the Soviet atomic energy development program is receiving a priority and has a momentum which will not be affected in any way by policies the U.S. may adopt, or proposals we may put forward for the international control of atomic energy.
He does not see how it would be possible to make any modification in the U.N. plan for international control which would make the plan more attractive to the Soviet Government, consistent with maintaining the proper safeguards. On the other hand, he does not think it would be in the interest of the U.S. for us to withdraw support from the U.N, plan. He considers that our sponsorship of the U.N. plan constitutes an important internal U.S. morale factor which would be needlessly forfeited by any such withdrawal of our support.
He believes that in the course of somewhere between two and ten years the curves of the production of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. will come close enough together to create effective parity, even though the difference between the stockpiles of the two governments may be considerable in absolute numbers.
In response to a question he agreed that the strategic position of the U.S. might suffer if the U.S.S.R. should accept the U.N. control plan, in the sense that the U.S. would lose the present advantage it has in atomic warfare, and the situation would revert to conventional armaments in which the U.S.S.R. has a relative advantage at the present time. However, he felt that the adoption of the U.N. control plan was incompatible with the maintenance of the Soviet system and [Page 197] the security of the Soviet regime, and that in this sense, therefore, U.S. interests would be benefited by Soviet acceptance of the plan.
With respect to civilian defense, he felt consideration should be given to the lines of action which might be open to us. He felt that there was a possibility of developing important and useful measures at reasonable cost.
He was of the opinion that the possession of the bomb, while we held a monopoly, was an important deterrent to war. In a situation where both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. held considerable stockpiles he felt that the bomb would be a deterrent only to total war, but might not operate to prevent war with limited objectives.