PM Files

Report by the Special Committee of the National Security Council to the President

top secret

The Problem

In the light of the letter to the President from the Secretary of Defense dated February 24, 1950, to review the program for the [Page 542] development of thermonuclear weapons and to make recommendations regarding its scope and timing.

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8. It is recommended that the President, without prejudice to the results of the re-examination of our objectives which the President directed the Secretaries of State and Defense to undertake on January 31, 1950:

Note that the thermonuclear weapon program is regarded as a matter of the highest urgency. There is no need for additional funds beyond those currently estimated for the feasibility test of the thermonuclear weapon.
Note with approval the program for the test of the feasibility of a thermonuclear weapon and the necessary ordnance and carrier developments, as now envisaged by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Defense (see paragraphs 2, 3, 5 and 6 above)2
Instruct the Atomic Energy Commission to continue making preparations looking toward quantity production of materials needed for thermonuclear weapons especially tritium to the extent necessary to avoid delay between the determination of feasibility and the start of possible weapon production (see paragraph 4 above).
Further instruct the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission to make a report with recommendations as soon as feasible with respect to the scale of preparation for production of materials needed for thermonuclear weapons, especially tritium, this report to include a discussion regarding the feasibility of meeting the production goals of the expanded program which the President approved last October.3

  1. President Truman approved these recommendations on March 10.
  2. Paragraphs 2–7 are not printed.
  3. For text of the report to the President by the Special Committee of the National Security Council, October 10, 1949, which recommended an acceleration off the atomic energy program, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. i, p. 559.