No. 443
The First Secretary of Embassy in Italy (Unger), at Headquarters, Allied Forces in Southern Europe, to the Acting Director of the Office of European Regional Affairs (Parsons)

top secret

Dear Jeff: With Admiral Carney’s return to Naples, I have had an opportunity to get a more thorough and authoritative review of the circumstances leading up to Cy Sulzberger’s story on “atom aid” for the Greeks and Turks.1 You will recall that I sent you an excerpt from the records of the Ankara meeting2 and told you that there was no discussion of this subject in Istanbul.

It appears that this latter point requires some modification. Although the records of the Istanbul meeting do not reveal it,2 Admiral Carney states that the use of atomic weapons was touched upon in a discussion of the defense of Thrace. Various defense plans were reviewed by both the Greeks and the Turks for the benefit of the Admiral and his staff; they were evaluated and criticized by the NATO commanders; and they were correlated with the mission of the Sixth Fleet. In making this correlation, the planners were instructed to take into account the possibility of the use of atomic weapons and the present potential of the Sixth Fleet to deliver them. No “pledges” were, however, made.

In addition to this discussion, there had been a previous meeting in Athens on April 1 between Carney and his staff on the one hand and the Greek National Defense General Staff on the other, reviewing the same ground later covered in Ankara. The record on the atomic weapons item reads as follows:

“Implications of atomic weapons in NATO plans and programs

Admiral Carney said that although the authority to release a limited amount of information on atomic weapons had not been received [Page 833] until CPX–2, a small group at HAFSE has been working on the subject for a long time. As soon as SHAPE directives are received, CINCSOUTH intends to interpret them as they affect the Southern Command and to issue appropriate directives to all commands and countries. Action will be initiated to review the remainder of the 1953 training program in order to give greater emphasis to the use of atomic weapons, and the entire 1954 program must be constructed with this in mind. As the capability for the use of atomic weapons in support of tactical operations is developed, a more aggressive viewpoint in planning must be taken. All Services must plan and train for the offensive use of the weapons as well as defense against them. Civil Defense against an atomic attack must be given great emphasis. The Admiral added that although it is politically and budgetarily attractive to believe so, the availability of atomic weapons in no way justifies a reduction of forces. It is extremely important that General kitrilakis make this point clear to Minister of Defense Canellopoulos. General Schlatter3 pointed out that the planning for the use of atomic weapons is very similar to planning for other weapons and that tactical commanders are primarily interested in the type of targets which can be attacked and the weapons’ effect. The General pointed out that the use of the weapons increases the requirement for flexibility in the use of aircraft and in logistics support at air fields. General Byers4 said that there will be four courses in atomic training, one for General officers of three days duration which will begin on 28 April. Courses for Staff officers will begin in early May. Allocation of spaces is now being made in Naples and General Kitrilakis will be informed as soon as possible, possibly by the end of this week (4 April).”

As this excerpt indicates, these discussions all stem from material which was released to officers from NATO countries and considered at the CPX–2 Paris Conference (March 7–14). At that conference, the US disclosed (in an off-the-record session) that it had developed certain new tactical as well as strategic atomic weapons and that these had been tested for both defensive and offensive purposes in conjunction with troops and standard military equipment. No “pledge” was made to place these weapons in actual service for NATO, although it was understood that future NATO planning would take them into account. Admiral Carney points out that authority for the release of further information on this subject has been delegated by US authorities only to SACEUR (and perhaps SACLANT) and does not extend to any subordinate commanders such as CINCSOUTH. It is not necessary to point out that CINCSOUTH does not enjoy the authority to “pledge” atomic support to any of our allies.

[Page 834]

So much for the background on the story. Where Sulzberger picked up the information is difficult to say. The Admiral has felt full confidence in the security practices of both the Greek and Turkish General Staffs and has no reason to attribute the leak to them. He knows, as doubtless you do, that Sulzberger has very good sources, particularly in Greece. Further than that he does not care to speculate and I doubt that speculation would be of much value to us at this time.

I think you should not overlook the possibility of pure, unadulterated deduction as a factor in this article. Several of the facts, such as Turkey’s alleged preoccupation with the Caucasus at the expense of Thrace, are not accurate and do not demonstrate a perfect pipeline to the Truth. The fact of the Paris dateline might add more than a little substance to the possibility of pure “period prospecting” as distinct from fully informed reporting. At any rate, I think we have exhausted pertinent information here and can offer you no more enlightenment than those items recited above.

  1. After meeting with Kanellopoulos in Paris on Apr. 28, Sulzberger wrote that Carney secretly promised strategic and tactical atomic support to Greece and Turkey in event of war. (Sulzberger, A Long Row of Candles, p. 867)
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Not further identified.
  4. Lt. Gen. David M. Schlatter, Commanding General, Allied Air Forces, Southern Europe.
  5. Maj. Gen. Clovis E. Byers, Chief of Staff, Headquarters, Allied Forces, Southern Europe.