146. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Cutler) to President Eisenhower 0

Mr. President:


  • Press Statement on Open “Clean” Bomb Test Next Summer
The OCB has concurred in the AEC recommendation that you approve an additional test shot (6 MT nuclear detonation) during this summer’s Test Series at the Pacific Proving Grounds. To this additional test shot will be invited as observers fifteen qualified international scientists selected by the United Nations and a representative group of international news media.
The overriding factor in our consideration was to fulfill the statements made by you in Press Conference1 and the Defense–AEC commitment September 15, 1958 (see attachment).2 Another strong factor was the propaganda advantage, if appropriately handled.
These factors overrode doubts arising from these facts: (1) the scientific observers will not be permitted to use their own instruments, although they will fly in our observation planes, receive full instructions, be given atmospheric samples, etc; (2) the proof of reduced radioactive fallout is difficult and may not convince scientific observers desiring not to be convinced; (3) the radioactive fallout from a 6 MT “clean” bomb will equal that from a 300 KT “dirty” bomb detonation (fifteen times Hiroshima). We felt that American scientists had made a significant first step towards developing the nuclear explosions safer (i.e., non-radioactive contaminating) for man to use.
It has been unanimously recommended by the OCB, with AEC participating, that you make the attached statement3 at your next Press Conference, reading and releasing the text, and that you try to restrict additional comments (leaving them and details to the responsible departments and agencies). A “fact sheet” of significant points is also attached to advise you of difficult areas. Because of the great propaganda [Page 574] implications in this significant open shot, it was felt that the first words should come from the President. The invitation to the United Nations to name scientific observers should go out this month.
During Calendar Year 1958, the Soviet Union has exploded eleven nuclear detonations (six in the last two weeks). On March 14, Khrushchev publicly stated: “The level of armaments in certain countries has reached such a state that the time will come, and perhaps it has come already, when these countries themselves, irrespective of whether or not an agreement on the cessation of the production of atomic and hydrogen armaments has been reached, will have to say ‘enough’ … We are apparently, approaching the moment in which governments … will no longer be able to turn a deaf ear to this universal demand of the present day [prohibition of nuclear weapons]4 and even failing to achieve agreement among themselves, will be forced unilaterally to discontinue manufacture of atomic and hydrogen weapons.” The Intelligence Report of March 24 states that the Soviet Ambassador to Austria recently told the Austrian Chancellor that the USSR will make a unilateral declaration suspending nuclear tests. An obvious occasion for such a dramatic statement by the USSR would be the convening of the new Supreme Soviet which has been hastily called for March 27.5
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Administrative Series, Cutler, Gen. Robert L., 1958. Top Secret.
  2. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, pp. 519–520 and 532.
  3. Not found attached.
  4. The attached statement was styled a “semi-draft” and had several differences from the statement as made by the President on March 26. For the draft, see the Supplement. For the statement as made, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, pp. 977–978.
  5. Brackets in the source text.
  6. See footnote 1, Document 145.