183. Memorandum of Discussion at the 382d (Special) Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and Agenda Item 1. “Evaluation of Offensive and Defensive Weapons Systems” (see Document 35).]

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

The Director of Central Intelligence first reported on possible Soviet lunar probe activities. He said that there had been Soviet test missile firing on September 23 which was only picked up by ELINT. The unusual nature of this test activity suggested that it was directed toward three possibilities: (1) a moon probe; (2) some unusual type of satellite; or (3) part of the research and development for substantial space activities. There was no evidence that the missile fired went anywhere, and it is very likely that it was not picked up on our detection systems.

Mr. Dulles then pointed out that the Soviets have made nine nuclear tests since September 30, ranging from 2 megatons to 5 kilotons in yield. One may have been more than 2 megatons, but this would still be less than the highest Soviet test yield. There were two, or possibly three, tests of low kilotonnage that were not announced. Some of these tests were fired within a short time of each other from opposite sides of the island of Novaya Zemlya. We could not tell much about the character of these tests until the debris was fully analyzed. Because of the close proximity of some of the tests, the debris may be mixed up. The purpose of these tests may include a check-out of stock-pile weapons, an attempt to achieve weight reduction, or an over-all technological motivation to improve the Soviets’ relative position. Mr. Dulles pointed out that the Soviets would have to make over 80 tests to have as many as we have had from the beginning of our testing.

Secretary Dulles said that he understood that the Soviets had stated that they intended to have only as many as the United States and the United Kingdom since the Soviets had announced the suspension of testing last spring.

In answer to a question by Mr. McCone, as to how long the Soviets had been organizing for these recent tests, Mr. Allen Dulles thought they were probably ready to continue tests when they announced their suspension.

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Secretary Dulles expressed the view that the Soviets certainly must not have assumed that we would call our tests off when they announced their suspension. He therefore thought that the Soviet announcement of test suspension was phony in the first place.

The President commented that the speed with which the Soviets had conducted tests indicated they must have a good ground organization. Mr. Allen Dulles said most of the tests were air-bursts.

[Here follows additional discussion of Agenda Item 2, concerning the Taiwan Strait crisis.]

James S. Lay, Jr.
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Lay on October 14.