20. Editorial Note

During his briefing on significant world developments affecting U.S. security at the 362d National Security Council meeting on April 14, 1958, Allen Dulles reported on the Soviet ballistic missile program:

“The Director of Central Intelligence reminded the Council that early in January of this year he had provided a full briefing on the Soviet ballistic missiles program. He would continue today with a summary of information on this subject received subsequently and mentioned from time to time in his intelligence briefing.

“The Soviet testing under its ballistic missiles program reached its climax last August. There were 21 test operations on the Kapustin Yar range. Since January the number of such tests had fallen from 21 to about 10 a month. This might be explained by the possibility that the Soviet 950-mile missile was merely a step-up of their 750-mile missile. That is, they may be using the 750-mile missile as the basic weapon, but carrying a smaller warhead to permit a range of 950 miles.

“Tests along the Tyura Tam–Klyuchi range occurred on January 30, March 29, and April 4 1958. There was also an unsuccessful attempt to test-launch an ICBM on March 12.

“Mr. Dulles noted the completion of a new detection system in the United States, and also pointed out that the Soviet Union has meanwhile taken steps to cut down on the amount of communications involved in the test firing. This unfortunate development may have resulted from extensive publicity in the United States giving the Soviets a clue to the manner in which we were receiving intelligence on these tests.

“The Soviet earth satellite presumably burned up last night somewhere over the British West Indies. Mr. Dulles predicted that launchings of new satellites by the Soviet Union were to be expected in the near future.

“General Cutler asked Mr. Dulles whether there was any available intelligence on the statement from Denmark that the Soviets had abandoned their nuclear testing because of a catastrophic accident which had greatly spread radioactive fallout in the USSR and elsewhere. Mr. Dulles replied that there was no information whatsoever on this subject, and that the Danish report seemed unlikely on the face of it.” (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason, April 15; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

For the January briefing mentioned by Dulles, see Document 4.