151. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Report on Disarmament and Inspection by President’s Science Advisory Committee


  • Secretary Dulles
  • Dr. Killian
  • Dr. James Fisk
  • Mr. Jerome Wiesner
  • Mr. Philip J. Farley, S/AE

Dr. Killian said that the Science Advisory Committee had just concluded a meeting in Puerto Rico during which thorough consideration had been given to a number of aspects of disarmament. Because of the [Page 598] urgency of the Committee’s recommendations, he had asked for this opportunity to present the conclusions to the Secretary. The Committee’s report was being completed and would be presented to Mr. Farley’s disarmament working group at its meeting on Monday, April 14.1

Dr. Killian said that the main conclusions of the Committee were:

An inspected agreement for suspension of nuclear tests at the conclusion of the forthcoming Pacific series would be greatly to the advantage of the United States.
A suspension of tests of strategic missiles entered into before mid-1959 would be greatly to the disadvantage of the United States.
A proposal for an inspected nuclear test suspension beginning at the conclusion of the Pacific series should be made publicly before the series begins.

Dr. Killian reviewed the analysis and supporting arguments leading to the Committee’s conclusions. The Secretary expressed great interest. He doubted that a proposal on nuclear test suspension could be made before April 21 since a number of our allies were concerned in this matter. Dr. Killian explained that the significance of the April 21 date was that the first shot in the Pacific series was scheduled to occur then, and once the U.S. had resumed testing the Soviet Union would under the terms of its announcement be free also to resume testing. Dr. Killian observed that in addition to the technical considerations advanced by his Committee he felt that a test suspension would be advantageous to deal with the Nth country problem and expressed concern particularly over the prospect that France might produce nuclear weapons. The Secretary observed that we were seeking amendment to the Atomic Energy Act to permit us to help our allies in nuclear weapons programs. Mr. Farley pointed out that representatives of the Executive Branch had testified that there were no present plans for nuclear weapons cooperation with any country except the United Kingdom and that great care had been exercised to make clear to the French that they should not expect early assistance from the U.S. if the Act was amended.

The Secretary expressed interest in the conclusion of the Committee as to the difficulties of inspecting the production and use of long-range missiles. Dr. Killian said the problems of inspection of these activities were very difficult and the necessary inspection would go far beyond anything presently contemplated in Western disarmament proposals. He observed that the dimensions of the problem might be illustrated by the statement that any bicycle shop could work on missiles parts and any silo might be a launching pad. The Secretary said that this appeared to complicate the problem of carrying out the President’s proposal that [Page 599] outer space be used only for peaceful scientific purposes. Dr. Killian said that this matter should be approached very cautiously.

The Secretary referred to the study of inspection requirements for a nuclear test suspension.2 He recalled that at the NSC he had suggested that further studies be conducted to see what lesser number of inspection installations in the Soviet Union might be sufficient to give an adequate deterrent against attempted Soviet clandestine testing. Dr. Killian said that he would look into this. Mr. Farley said that his personal view was that the number of inspection stations in the Soviet Union was not of great importance since even our existing detection network around the periphery of the Soviet Union picked up virtually all Soviet shots. The difficult problem was the need for mobility of inspectors to ascertain whether detected underground explosions were indeed nuclear in nature.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Farley.
  2. The report has not been found. Regarding the April 14 meeting, see footnote 1, Document 153.
  3. Document 147.