164. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower 0


  • Dr. Killian
  • General Goodpaster

Dr. Killian first reported that the Geneva negotiations on inspection systems for atomic tests have gone quite well—better than expected.1 [Page 618] The real crux comes this week when an attempt is made to put a full system together and reach agreement on it as to its adequacy. Whether these discussions will end with or without agreement, Dr. Killian suggested we must be prepared to react quickly. The President commented that our position must await NSC consideration of the documents brought back. We should not try to anticipate this, but could be following the matter sufficiently closely that little additional time would be required. Dr. Killian said the question before us will be whether to support a cessation of tests. The President thought that if full technical agreement is reached, the weight of argument for doing so would be very great.

The President asked me to speak to Acting Secretary Herter about this, with a view to getting together representative from Defense, AEC, Dr. Killian’s office, and other interested parties. They should then draw up a plan of action which might include a brief but definite statement that the United States, having received the results of the negotiations, is considering as a matter of urgency what can be done through diplomatic processes in relation to this question of test cessation to promote peace and stability. (I later called Governor Herter and found that action is proceeding generally along the lines the President had in mind, and that Governor Herter would take the matter up at the OCB meeting on Wednesday, if not before, to develop a recommended position.)2

Dr. Killian next referred to the Johnson Island test shot last week. It was highly successful, having achieved a very large explosion at a height of fifty miles. The effect on radar seems to have been less than anticipated. The effect on radio was greater than anticipated—and blacked out Pacific communications for about two hours. The glare was greater than expected. This test was correlated with a test planned in late August, which should include an explosion at about 375 miles height.

[Here follows discussion of missile tests and other developments.]

Brigadier General, USA
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster on August 4.
  2. On July 1, experts from Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States conferred with a delegation of experts from the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The conference was to study the possibilities of detecting violations of a potential agreement on suspension of nuclear tests. The discussions lasted until August 21.
  3. A memorandum of the telephone conversation, August 4, 3:10 p.m., is ibid., Herter Papers, Telephone Calls and Miscellaneous Memos. See the Supplement.