274. Memorandum of a Conference With the President, Bermuda, March 22, 1957,1 p.m.1


  • Secretary Dulles
  • Secretary Quarles
  • Secretary Robertson
  • Admiral Strauss
  • Mr. Robert Murphy
  • Mr. Timmons
  • General Goodpaster

Prior to going in to lunch with the President, the group reviewed major remaining questions pertaining to the project to give IRBMs to the United Kingdom. The President stated very emphatically that he did not want to make a commitment to production until we have a successful missile. Mr. Quarles outlined the production schedule of the [Page 734] missiles—both for test and development and for inventory and unit purposes, pointing out that the latter implied simply a continuation of use of the capacity that had been developed during the test and development phase. Mr. Dulles inquired searchingly as to just what the proposed commitment to the British would be. Mr. Quarles summed it up to the effect that when they and we agree that we have a sound weapon, we will begin to furnish them. The President said he took that to mean that there would be no production of weapons for use until there was an agreed decision that the weapon was successful. Mr. Quarles said that would be observed, although of course we would be keeping the pipeline filled with items pending that decision, and those items would then be available to carry on the production flow. Mr. Murphy confirmed that the determination on production and production rates is for the U.S. to make.

Admiral Strauss confirmed that, through discussions between Defense and AEC, an agreed plan for custody of sensitive portions of the missile had been developed.

During lunch there was discussion of the basis on which the missiles would be made available to the British. Alternatives suggested were funding the missiles out of Plan K money, conveying them on a lend-lease basis, and straight aid (the latter was not favored).

While waiting for the British officials to join the group, the President read a memorandum from Mr. Robertson commenting on three phases of the Defense questions—the use of Plan K funds (including the turning over of an F–86 wing to the British), support costs for British and U.S. forces in Germany, and Defense thinking regarding the necessity to cut down U.S. manpower (without decreasing the number of units) in Europe.2

The Prime Minister, Selwyn Lloyd, Mr. Dean, Norman Brooke, and Richard Powell then joined the group. The President said that he felt we should handle the missiles question by saying that we have agreed that we will turn over guided missiles under arrangements to be mutually agreed, in the interest of mutual economy and collective security. Mr. Macmillan distinguished between two documents—the first being what the two governments would agree to do, and the second being what would be stated to the press on the matter. He thought the President’s formulation for the press was fine. He said there should be a supplementary statement as to the agreement itself. He recognized that there would be many details to be worked out. He said it was necessary to know for scheduling just what our projections are.

[Page 735]

The President agreed, and said that if there were agreement on the documents then the technical people could work out the details. He mentioned that there are several different procedures that could conceivably be used for actually turning over the missiles. Mr. Macmillan said it would be well to have the “minutes” bring out that there would be four sites, one squadron to a site, that the United States would continue to hold the warheads on a “key to the cupboard” basis, etc.

In response to a question by Mr. Macmillan, Secretary Quarles said that if all goes well, we estimate that it should be possible to deploy a “handful” of missiles in the UK by mid-1958 as an initial emergency capability, to put the first squadron there by mid-1959, and to have four squadrons in place by mid-1960. Mr. Macmillan said this information was most helpful, since they need to know the timing in order to decide about continuing their own missile plan, and also to weigh the impact on the development of the long-range bomber project after their present one.

The President said that the weapon is one of tremendous psychological importance, although he was inclined still to discount its military significance. In fact, he thought that when the two sides come to the point of waging war with such weapons, that all sense and logic would have disappeared. He therefore thought it was desirable to keep aircraft research and development going along.

Mr. Macmillan thought it would also be desirable to have a private record regarding the Corporal missile, and there was agreement that drafting groups should start work on these.

The President next broached the idea of a joint declaration that both countries would limit their atomic testing to a level not exceeding the point of radioactive safety. Admiral Strauss outlined the proposal. There was a considerable amount of discussion and weighing of the various aspects of the proposal, which was then referred for further study and drafting.

The President next raised the suggestion of pulling out the U.S. F–86 wing now in Britain and turning the planes over to the British. Mr. Powell indicated that the British have some doubts as to the desirability of this. If the planes were F–102s they might be in position to consider it. Mr. Macmillan said that increasingly, the only purpose of fighters is to protect the bases from which the bomber striking forces would be launched, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. He and the President agreed that the proposal should be further discussed. Mr. Macmillan returned to the subject of the statement concerning the limiting of atomic tests. He said that he was inclined to think that if tests are not limited other countries will start developing nuclear weapons, and the President agreed, and suggested that this trend should be forestalled. Mr. Macmillan said that he considered the [Page 736] statement should be so drafted as to appear clearly to the world as a move toward limiting tests. At the same time, several present brought out that we must not limit ourselves relative to the Soviets, or take on all onus for radioactive hazard.

All present left except the top four and Mr. Dean and myself, and I reported certain developments in the Middle East.

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Top Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster. Part of this conversation is also recorded infra.
  2. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/3–2257)