4. Memorandum of Discussion at the 351st Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follows a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting.]

1. Report to the President by the Security Resources Panel of the ODM Science Advisory Committee (NSC Action No. 1814; NSC 5724; NSC 5724/1; NSC Action No. 1841)

Mr. Cutler said that at last week’s Council meeting he had presented an over-all review of Agency comments upon the recommendations of the Gaither Panel Report. Today the procedure would be:

Consideration of agency comments on measures for passive defense of the civil population.
Consideration of agency comments on “Costs and Economic Consequences” of the proposed over-all programs.
Consideration of the schedule prepared by the Department of Defense, in consultation with Dr. Killian and Mr. Cutler, of further reports on various military measures; and discussion of the military measures.

Mr. Cutler then briefed the Council on the first of the above three topics, and called on Governor Hoegh to explain the FCDA position. (A copy of Mr. Cutler’s briefing note is filed in the minutes of the meeting, and another is attached to this memorandum.)1

Governor Hoegh stated that FCDA concurred in the Gaither Panel recommendations and favored initiation of a nation-wide fallout shelter program for a variety of reasons:

Fallout shelters would add to our deterrent capability by convincing the enemy that we could survive a nuclear attack and would therefore be ready to employ nuclear retaliation if necessary. Such an increase in our deterrent capability would bolster our allies’ determination to resist aggression. In the light of the $40 billion spent annually for military protection, the spending of $22.5 billion for sheltering the civil population should be regarded as a sound investment.
Fallout shelters would be a weapon for peace because our diplomats would be strengthened at the conference table by the additional deterrent to war that such shelters would create. CIA had reported that the USSR had taken steps toward sheltering the civil population. The United States, not the USSR, should seize the initiative in achieving this increased deterrent.
Shelters would be a contribution to the active military defense of the United States. A shelter program would reduce casualties 35 to 45 percent and might save 50 million people; and could thus be the determining factor in sustaining the United States as a free nation.
If fallout shelter is an unsound concept, then some other programs must also be unsound. For example, we must have survivors after a nuclear exchange if our stockpiles are to be used.
Shelters would strengthen the morale of the people, who, as they come into possession of more accurate information on the character of nuclear war, will increasingly demand that protection be provided by governmental initiative. Popular confidence in the Government and in its leaders would be increased by such governmental initiative.
Fallout shelters are an integral and essential part of a civil defense program. There is no practical alternative to shelters, no other way to afford full protection. The only way to protect a person against gamma rays is to put sufficient shielding material between the person and the rays.
Fallout shelters would reassure our allies. Today there is a wide acceptance of shelters in Europe; programs are under way in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, and Turkey. Fallout shelters in the United States would be consistent with the recommendations of NATO, where the United States has been criticized for lack of a shelter program.
The cost of fallout shelters, about $125 per person (i.e., the cost of a year’s auto insurance), would be a sound investment as insurance. It would be difficult to think of a way to get more for $125.

Governor Hoegh then noted that a great many practical questions as to a shelter program had been raised. He thought that a practical program should be prepared by FCDA in collaboration with other agencies and submitted for Council consideration. In his view, a shelter program should be national in scope, dual-purpose in character, accompanied by a public information program, and reinforced by self-help features, so that a person building a shelter for himself would be generally regarded as a patriotic citizen, not an eccentric.

An expenditure of $750 million in FY 1959 would start the program. Maximum use should be made of existing facilities (schools, tunnels, etc.) in their present state or modified as necessary. New Federal and State buildings should incorporate fallout shelters, and existing Federal buildings should be modified to provide such shelters. FHA regulations should be modified to encourage home-owners to build shelters. Fallout shelters should be incorporated in the new highway building program. Parking facilities, as well as additions to schools and hospitals, should be built underground and should double as shelters.

In conclusion, Governor Hoegh said he was convinced there was no practical alternative to a fallout shelter program. Without it there would be no hope of protecting the people; with it, the people would be protected and the United States would have an additional deterrent to [Page 12] enemy attack. The first shelter in America had been a reinforced log cabin. Now our duty was clear: To provide for the common defense.

The Director, ODM,2 said that a decision on the fallout shelter program would be one of the President’s most difficult decisions. The ODM staff was generally in agreement with FCDA, but he (Mr. Gray) was personally not ready at this time to recommend adoption of a shelter program because he did not know precisely what program was proposed. (For example, was the program to be fully or partly Federally financed, or was it to be largely on a voluntary basis?) Mr. Gray felt that in addition to the humanitarian aspects of the problem, two major questions would have to be considered: (1) Whether the President could continue to conduct the affairs of the United States in the absence of a shelter program; (2)—a philosophical question—whether it was the duty of the Federal Government to guarantee the protection of individuals against disaster.

Mr. Gray said he was deeply concerned by the Gaither Report, which had recommended fallout shelters, with a delay in blast shelter construction. This recommendation presented great difficulties; it was tantamount to asking the Federal Government to say that protection would be provided for the countryside, but not for the cities. He was also deeply concerned by the fact that little was now known about the behavior of people in a shelter situation—whether people would live for two weeks in shelters with 10–20 square feet per occupant.

Mr. Gray said he had examined various alternatives to the recommended shelter program. For example, he had inquired into the possibility of contributing the two million tons of surplus aluminum in our stockpile to shelter construction. He had found that aluminum was an effective substitute for other materials, but that contribution of our surplus aluminum would cover only one-third of the cost and might not be a sufficient incentive. He had also thought about the possibility of a War Damage Equalization scheme to obtain revenues for shelters, but did not think such a scheme should be adopted now—but it might have to be adopted in the future.

Mr. Gray then indicated that he was not impressed by the argument that the United States should adopt a shelter policy because NATO had such a policy. It was true that the literature of the NATO Senior Planning Committee contained a shelter policy approved by the North Atlantic Council, but the principle of shelter had not actually engaged the specific attention of the heads of governments.

Mr. Gray felt that the people should be told that evacuation is not the answer to the fallout problem; that protection requires shelters. It did not [Page 13] follow, however, that the Federal Government should undertake a full-scale program for shelter protection.

Mr. Gray believed the Gaither recommendations were not sufficiently clear and did not include a financing program. He would recommend (1) adoption of the concept of shelter; (2) frank communication to the people; (3) initiation of a research program to provide information on the kinds and types of shelters (such research to include blasting shelter prototypes with large bombs) and on siting (which the Gaither Committee did not deal with). Mr. Gray thought we should be willing to spend substantial sums on full-scale research. In the military services, funds expended for research and development on weapons systems, though substantial, were a small percentage of the cost of the operational systems. Applying this principle to shelters, we might well spend for shelter research and development one percent of the estimated cost of a completed shelter program.

Mr. Cutler then called upon the Director of Central Intelligence for a report on what the Russians are doing in the field of shelters, a question which had vexed the discussions at the lower levels.

The Director of Central Intelligence said that reports from Moscow tended to cast doubt on the validity of the conclusions in an earlier estimate. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow had been able to find few overt signs of a Soviet shelter program. CIA was still attempting to get the basic facts. However, it was clear that the Soviets, during the period of their nuclear inferiority in the late ’40s and early ’50s, had been extremely reluctant to inform their people of the nuclear danger. They had simply carried forward their World War II shelter programs (e.g., the Moscow subway). Mr. Dulles believed a shelter program was in existence in the USSR, but the earlier estimates may have gone too far in stating its size. The program was probably limited to new construction of public buildings, subways, and apartment houses. It might seem strange that a shelter program could be concealed, but Mr. Dulles believed concealment was possible. [2 lines of source text not declassified]The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was not in a good position to discover all the facts. Mr. Dulles estimated that one-sixth of the Soviet urban population had shelter available, but this figure was a guess and might be too high. The Russians were publicizing warning, etc., not shelter. In a month Mr. Dulles hoped to have a full analysis of the Russian program.. However, the Russian program need not determine action on the U.S. program.

The President wondered whether the discussion was not getting at cross-purposes. The Gaither Committee had not recommended blast shelters for the present; yet the Director of Central Intelligence was reporting on Soviet World War II blast shelters. The United States had very impressive World War II shelters, including one in the White House, which would be no good against a one-megaton bomb exploded in the [Page 14] Soviet Embassy. The reports on Russian blast shelters and the Gaither recommendations on fallout shelters were entirely different.

Mr. Allen Dulles said the Russians had no fallout shelters as such, and no blast shelters strong enough to withstand the latest nuclear weapons.

The Secretary of State said he thought it was necessary to consider not only the theoretical aspects but also the practical by-products of a shelter program. If it were possible by a wave of the hand to create shelters, we would be better off with them than without them. But in this area of judgment he believed it would be impossible to carry through the program contemplated without extremely serious consequences. Secretary Dulles asked the Council to consider the impact of a shelter program on the psychology of the American people. There were practical difficulties in the way of maintaining, at one and the same time, both an offensive and a defensive mood. We had been operating on the theory that the best war preventive was a retaliatory capability in cooperation with our allies. Secretary Dulles felt that we would be capable of preventing an atomic war against us as long as we had the capability to retaliate by devastating the Soviet Union. This was a sound policy from which we should not deviate. It was difficult to combine a strong offense and a strong defense. Burrowing into the ground would inevitably have a bad effect on our offensive mood and capability.

It had been suggested, Secretary Dulles continued, that shelters would make our diplomats bolder. He was not sure such would be the case. Even with shelters, there would be large numbers of casualties in the event of nuclear war. He thought a peace-at-any-price mood might result from the fact that large numbers of people in the urban centers would be unprotected. A shelter program would bring home to the people our lack of faith in our capability to deter war, and would make us less bold.

Secretary Dulles also thought that the effect on our allies of a Fortress America complex would be serious. A shelter program of the magnitude contemplated would have serious effects on our economic aid program, which is vital because the termination of economic aid could mean loss of the cold war. Since it was not possible to have all desirable programs, a shelter program would tend to get the people to concentrate on the United States as a Fortress America.

Moreover, the concept of shelter varied from year to year; in the last five years Secretary Dulles had heard constantly differing suggestions for civil defense. The present proposals, which were entirely different from their predecessors, might be out of date in a few years.

Secretary Dulles said the Gaither Report suggested helping our allies to build shelters. He wished to point out that our allies have no shelter programs on this scale. If we adopt greater protective measures [Page 15] than our allies (who can’t afford it), we will place strains on our alliances. We should try to do the best we can without a great program.

For such reasons as these, Secretary Dulles did not think we should adopt a shelter program of the magnitude suggested. However, he did not mean that we should pay no attention to shelter. Undoubtedly some form of shelter should be encouraged in new construction. In conclusion, Secretary Dulles said he was not opposed to a quiet program along the lines suggested by Mr. Gray, in order to develop a higher degree of protection.

The Secretary of Defense said he agreed with most of what the Secretary of State had said. The shelter problem was a knotty one because the opponents of such a program question whether the Government does not have to consider the welfare of the 40 million who might become casualties in the absence of shelter. Anything that can be done to improve either our offense or our defense would add to our deterrent capabilities. Secretary McElroy believed (and the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred in his view) that U.S. resources should be used to develop offensive capabilities and an active defense as the best deterrent. If we use our limited manpower and material resources on shelters, they will not be available for productive use, a field in which we are competing with the Russians. If necessary, the United States could build shelters without economically destroying the nation, even though shelter construction would be a large non-productive use of resources added to the already large non-productive use of resources for military purposes.

Secretary McElroy felt that public support was an important factor in the shelter program. It would be difficult to ask the people in the cities, the main source of taxes, to put up the money for a shelter program which would give no protection to the cities. This concept of no urban protection would have tremendous implications in public opinion. In his own hometown a bond issue for a modest civil defense program had recently been turned down. People would support a large shelter program only if they were given a terrific scare by the Administration.

Admiral Strauss said his notes paralleled the remarks of the Secretary of State. He felt we had insufficient information on which to base so radical a project. Aside from the financial aspects, the arguments were imponderable and could be cited on either side of the question. Take the deterrent argument, for example: If shelters, when completed, are a deterrent, then the Russians might be moved by a big shelter program to strike before the shelters are completed. A vast shelter program might lead the Europeans to think we had panicked. Like Secretary Dulles, Admiral Strauss wondered if we could simultaneously encourage an offensive and a defensive psychology. He asked whether vast shelters would be as accessible and as cheap as individual family shelters. He would recommend that certain unanswered questions on shelters be [Page 16] defined, that the answers be obtained, and that the subject be considered again by the National Security Council.

Dr. Killian said he wished to make two interpretive points: (1) A program of fallout shelter does not mean ignoring the cities. Fallout shelters in a city would protect the city in case of attack outside the city (e.g., an attack on SAC bases). (2) Many persons feel that a decision not to build shelters imposes a great responsibility for improving our active defenses and assuring the safety of SAC; and that greater priority should be accorded active defense and retaliatory capability. We must be able to fend off a surprise attack. Dr. Killian agreed with the comment that more information on shelters was needed.

General Twining said that the people who are responsible for backing up governmental decisions live in the cities and would object to a lack of urban protection. Moreover, our productive power is concentrated in the cities and would be lost to us in the event of attack unless the cities were protected.

The Vice President said consideration should be given to what Congress would do with a shelter program. In his view, submission of a large shelter program to Congress would result in lobbying, a fantastic boondoggle, and a great debate. A study of the shelter problem would be desirable, but submission of a program to Congress this year would produce an unmitigated mess.

The President noted that it had been said that fallout shelters might save 50 million people, a reduction of 35% in casualties. In talking about such figures, we were talking about the complete destruction of the United States. There would be no way of living in a situation of such large casualties. In studies of the problem, lesser damage should be assumed or we would be forcing ourselves toward the conclusion that we should surrender. The President asked how much the NATO countries were doing on shelter.

Governor Hoegh said Denmark was sheltering 25% of the urban population, had spent 1 million kronen in 1957 and would spend 3 million in 1958. France planned to provide blast shelter in target areas, fallout shelter elsewhere.

The President, interrupting, asked about the dual-use concept. How could an underground garage be used for shelter if it was full of autos?

Governor Hoegh replied that there would be room for large numbers of people even before the autos were moved out.

Secretary Dulles said it was his impression that the European countries were carrying on a World War II type shelter program which was not designed to meet the nuclear threat.

The President asked how deep a city blast shelter would have to be. Such shelters seemed to him to require a stupendous engineering feat. Admiral Strauss replied that blast shelters had to be far underground. [Page 17] Moreover, the problems of air, electricity, etc., were not simple. Dr. Killian agreed that shelter construction was not a simple problem.

The President said he had been impressed by General Twining’s point. We were talking about saving people in the rural areas, but we might still lose if all the productive power of our cities were destroyed.

Governor Hoegh said he favored research on blast shelters, but hoped our active defense would become so strong that enemy planes could not bomb the cities.

The President said the corollary to Governor Hoegh’s observation was: If we can keep enemy planes away from our cities, we can keep them out of the United States altogether. He asked whether the U.S. Government was expected to construct or help to construct a shelter in every home. If we provide incentives to individual shelter construction, it must be done without hysteria, must be accepted as routine. The President said there was a great temptation to say we are strong enough to trust to advances in active defense and put all our resources into improving active defense; but he was sympathetic to the FCDA problem.

Mr. Cutler then called on the Director of the Budget to begin the briefing on the “Costs and Economic Consequences” of the Gaither programs.

Mr. Brundage said he felt the initial estimates of receipts and expenditures should be reviewed, and had accordingly prepared certain charts.

The charts were displayed and explained by the Deputy Director of the Budget, Mr. Stans. The charts indicated that over a five-year period the United States could absorb the cost of the highest priority measures recommended in the Gaither Report and come out with a surplus. But if the cost of shelters were added, the result would be a $19 billion deficit; and if the contingency items of the Gaither Report were added on top of shelters, the deficit would be $36 billion over five years.

Mr. Brundage said the charts assumed continuance of existing taxes.

The President said if good times continued indefinitely, an increase in taxes might be considered, i.e., more “pay as you go” in government spending.

Mr. Scribner3 pointed out that the figures as to receipts on the Budget charts had been furnished by the Treasury Department. The forecast of receipts was based on the assumption that the economy early in 1959 would be restored to its early 1957 levels. Otherwise, receipts would decline. Mr. Scribner agreed that the United States could take on the Gaither “highest value” measures without additional taxes. He asked [Page 18] whether the Gaither measures were included in the FY 1959 Defense budget. Mr. Cutler and Dr. Killian answered in the negative.

Mr. Scribner said he believed it was not feasible to secure the support of the people for a shelter program. If we want to obtain the support of, and collect taxes from, all the people, we can’t start with protection for only part of the population. Popular demand would compel shelter construction in all areas. Shelters would result in a substantial budgetary deficit unless taxes were increased. Mr. Scribner believed we should not rely on deficit financing in order to get shelters. If there were a need to help the economy, we should cut taxes instead of increasing expenditures. Shelters should stand on their own merits as a defense program, not as an economy booster.

Dr. Saulnier, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said he wishes to discuss three questions: First, the answer to the fiscal question of how much deficit depended on a series of assumptions as to GNP, aggregate personal income, Treasury receipts, and so forth. Every effort to obtain an answer to this question produces a difference of opinion as to the size of the deficit that would be incurred if a large shelter program were adopted, although there is agreement that there would be some deficit. However, this question is largely academic. If shelters are needed, fiscal considerations need not prevent their construction.

Secondly, said Dr. Saulnier, with respect to the question of matériel, it was clear that a shelter program of the magnitude contemplated would put a heavy but not unbearable burden on the construction industry. Materials for shelters could be obtained if a shelter program were adopted.

Thirdly, from the point of view of anti-recession measures, Dr. Saulnier believed shelters should never be thought of as a stimulus to the economy. The economy does not need this stimulus; it will have as much stimulus as it can stand from active defense programs. The construction industry was close to a full-employment condition, and shelters would add to its burdens. The shelter program is long-range; the economic cycle is short-range. It is therefore impossible to plan shelters as an anti-recession measure.

In conclusion and summary, Dr. Saulnier said (1) there was no need for shelters for purely economic reasons, (2) economic considerations need not block a shelter program needed for other than economic reasons.

Mr. Gray said it might be presumptuous of him, but he did not agree with the Budget and Treasury figures. He agreed with Mr. Scribner that the decision as to shelters should be taken on other than fiscal grounds. He was not recommending adoption of a shelter program, but he felt that the Council should come to a conclusion on the concept of shelter, on communication to the people, and on incorporation of shelter in new schools and Federal buildings. On the latter point, Mr. Gray noted that [Page 19] the new addition to the State Department building did not include shelters.

The Secretary of State said the State Department was expendable.

Admiral Strauss said the AEC had been dispersed as a substitute for shelter.

The President asked in what respect Mr. Gray differed with the Treasury–Budget figures.

Mr. Gray replied by saying that economic recovery would cause GNP to increase faster than shown on the charts. The Treasury–Budget figures, in his view, showed a “too-late take” from taxes. The figures assumed civilian expenditures to be growing as part of GNP, while tax receipts were falling as part of GNP.

Mr. Brundage said fiscal considerations should not determine the decision on shelters.

Mr. Scribner felt the charts were optimistic as to tax receipts beyond 1959.

The President said that every time a new military program was started, the third, fourth and fifth year costs were greater than originally estimated. He felt that the fixed cost for the Department of Defense shown in the Budget charts was a very bad assumption. The factor of increase should be taken into account in the estimates.

Mr. Allen, Director of the U.S. Information Agency, said the effect abroad of a shelter program would be bad. The Europeans already think we have a war psychosis. A shelter program would lead them to think we have succumbed to war hysteria. As far as shelters strengthening our diplomats was concerned, his own attitude as a diplomat would be to apologize for a vast shelter program. During his stay in Greece, tourists from Russia had not mentioned shelters, but had talked only of peace. Nations intending to commit aggression have usually built up a combative spirit, not peace talk. Mr. Allen suggested that from a public relations point of view (which of course was not decisive), the shelter aspect of the Gaither Report should be made public and flatly rejected.

The President said he was told, during his conversations in Europe, that a great U.S. shelter program would insure neutralism in Europe.

The Vice President suggested that it be assumed that 40 million people would be killed in event of enemy attack if we had shelters, and 60 million would be killed if we did not have shelters. If 40 million were killed, the United States was finished. He did not believe we could survive such a disaster. Our major objective must be to avoid the destruction of our society. Would 40 million vs. 60 million make much difference to the USSR as to the deterrent? Since we have limited resources, we must concentrate on those measures which might deter attack rather than on [Page 20] shelters, which will not stop an attack. As the President had suggested, we should study what we should do to survive.

Governor Stassen said our deterrent policy was our most important policy and the one on which prime emphasis should be placed. But we should not put all our eggs in one basket. A nuclear war might occur despite our deterrents. Then the key question would become: Do we survive and rebuild? The key to survival is protection against radiation. The demoralizing effect on rebuilding would be great when it was realized that the Government had done nothing to provide shelters. We should move forward with our allies on fallout shelters, subject to the maintenance of our deterrent power.

Mr. Cutler recalled that the shelter problem had been before the Council a number of times, and various studies had already been called for and presented to the Council. He thought that two possibilities remained: (1) to reject shelter in favor of a greatly increased retaliatory power; (2) to adopt the concept of fallout shelter as a modification of our civil defense policy and ask inter-departmental committees to study the development of a specific program.

Mr. Cutler felt studies were not needed on two aspects of the problem: (1) the psychological effect of a U.S. shelter program on our allies, because no one was more competent on the subject than the Secretary of State; (2) the impact on the American people, because the advice available at the Council table was superior to that of any panel.

The President said that damage on the scale reflected in the Net Evaluation studies meant the complete paralysis of the country, and there would be no reason for shelters. On the other hand, if active defense measures could bring the problem down to manageable proportions, so that some cities, some communications, etc., would survive, then shelters might add to survival. It would be silly to talk of recuperation if everything was destroyed. We could also destroy Russia, and the result would be two wounded giants doing nothing. Casualties of the magnitude being talked about would mean that civilization could not be rebuilt in a century—or even two centuries.

Mr. Cutler said he gathered there was no disposition on the part of the Council to reject the concept of shelter. As he saw it, it was the feeling of the Council that the concept of shelter should be incorporated in civil defense policy; that it was not yet clear what the Federal Government should do; and that a specific program, with the initial steps spelled out, should be brought back to the Council for consideration.

The President said the studies should include the question: What are the manageable proportions of disaster? There was no use in talking of recuperation after 100 million casualties. We must talk in reasonable figures. We are going through the dispersal exercises on the assumption that something will be left after an enemy attack.

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Secretary Dulles said the study should take into account the political considerations advanced in the Council discussion; it should not be just a theoretical study. A policy premised on vast destruction and embracing measures to meet such destruction would lead to loss of allies abroad and followers at home.

The President said perhaps the NATO countries, not the United States, should take the lead in shelter programs.

Secretary Dulles remarked that perhaps the United States and the USSR should conclude a disarmament agreement under which neither would build shelters.

Mr. Cutler then reported on the tentative schedule of follow-up reports on the Gaither Recommendations (see paragraph g of the action below).

The National Security Council:4

Continued discussion, initiated at the last meeting, of the comments and recommendations by the respective departments and agencies on the Report to the President by the Security Resources Panel of the ODM Science Advisory Committee (NSC 5724), as contained in NSC 5724/1, with particular reference to a nation-wide fallout shelter program (paragraph III-B–3 and Annex B of NSC 5724), “Costs and Economic Consequences” (paragraph V of NSC 5724), and the schedule of reports called for by NSC Action No. 1841–b.
Agreed that, during a long future period of continued threat of Soviet bloc nuclear attack, in order to maintain the defense of the United States, to protect most effectively the civil population, to sustain the morale of the American people, and to retain the support of our allies, predominant emphasis should continue to be placed upon measures to strengthen our effective nuclear retaliatory power as a deterrent and to improve our active defenses, as compared with—but not to the exclusion of—passive defense measures such as shelter for the civil population. This agreement was based upon an over-all appraisal of how best to defend the people of the United States against nuclear attack. The cost and over-all economic consequences of a shelter program was only one, but not the determining, element in this appraisal.
Noted the view of the Secretary of Defense that further consideration of military measures to strengthen our effective nuclear retaliatory power as a deterrent and to improve our active defenses, as scheduled for future consideration by the Council in accordance with g below, [Page 22] might involve recommendations for further military expenditures in this Fiscal Year and subsequent Fiscal Years.
Agreed that the United States should not now initiate a nationwide fallout shelter program of the type recommended by the Security Resources Panel, but that existing civil defense policy for protection of the civil population, in case of nuclear attack, by emergency dispersal of urban population on attack warning (paragraph 22–d, NSC 5408)5 should be modified to incorporate the concept of fallout shelter for protection of the civil population against radiation hazard; on the basis that:
In accordance with b above, predominant emphasis will continue to be placed upon developing and maintaining effective nuclear retaliatory power as a deterrent and upon improving active defenses.
Improvements in active defenses can give reasonable promise, together with fallout shelters, of limiting estimated civilian casualties, in the event of nuclear attack on the United States, to a level which will permit the United States to survive as a nation and will in no case be greater than a similar casualty ratio in the USSR.
Measures to carry out this concept must be undertaken in ways that will obtain the support and cooperation of the American people, without (a) creating public overconfidence in shelter or a public passive defense psychology, (b) causing Congressional and public reaction prejudicial to higher priority national security programs, (c) losing the support of our allies or causing them to adopt neutralism, or (d) presenting the posture of the United States as that of a nation preoccupied with preparations for war.
Implementation of this concept will be deferred pending Council consideration of the report requested under e below.
Requested an Interdepartmental Committee, consisting of representatives of the Federal Civil Defense Administration (Chairman), the Department of Defense, the Office of Defense Mobilization, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Atomic Energy Commission—consulting as appropriate with representatives of the Departments of State and the Treasury, the Special Assistants to the President for Science and Technology and for Public Works Planning—to develop recommendations as to appropriate measures to carry out the concept in d above; including in each case the magnitude, nature, timing, cost, means of financing, and assignment of responsibility. Such recommendations are to be submitted to the Council by March 15, 1958, and should indicate whether these measures should include:
Research and development program on fallout shelters—and to a lesser extent on blast shelters—including prototype testing and site-planning of various sizes and types.
Incorporation of fallout shelter in all new Federal construction and by remodelling existing Federal facilities.
Urging states and municipalities to incorporate fallout shelter in their new construction and by remodelling their existing facilities.
Urging private industry to incorporate fallout shelter for employees in any new construction and by remodelling its existing facilities.
Multi-purpose use of shelters.
Wide dissemination of information and instruction on means and methods by which, and the extent to which, private citizens may provide in their homes fallout protection for themselves and their families.
An over-all public information program.
Noted that the Director of Central Intelligence would prepare a revised estimate on Soviet Civil Defense and Shelter Programs for submission to the Council before March 15, 1958.
Noted the following tentative schedule of reports developed by the Department of Defense in consultation with the Special Assistants to the President for National Security Affairs and for Science and Technology, pursuant to NSC Action No. 1841–b.

To be submitted approximately January 30, 1958:

(1) Report on whether decisions should be made now:

To produce additional first-generation ICBMs beyond the 130 currently programmed, to be operational prior to the end of FY 1963;
To build additional launching sites required to make operational any additional first-generation ICBMs so produced; and
To harden such additional launching sites.

(2) Report on whether to order now production of more than 3 Polaris submarine missile systems; and on possible further acceleration of production.

(3) Report on whether to install interim defense against ballistic missiles attack at SAC bases, utilizing modified available anti-aircraft missiles.

To be submitted approximately March 15, 1958:

(4) Presentation of Department of Defense plan for national-level study relative to capabilities of forces for limited military operations.

To be submitted approximately April 1, 1958:

(5) Report on whether to accelerate early warning radar system for ICBM attack by advancing the operational dates (a) of long-range tracking radar at the Thule Station from December, 1960, and (b) of the stations in Alaska and Scotland from December, 1960, for the warning radar, and from December, 1961, for the tracking radar. (This report will be submitted prior to April 1, 1958, if the Department of Defense needs authority for such acceleration at an earlier date.)

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(6) Report on:

Whether to accelerate the improvement of SAC reaction time against an enemy bomber attack and against an enemy ICBM attack;
Whether to accelerate the dispersal of SAC aircraft to SAC bases; and
Whether to disperse SAC aircraft to non-SAC military bases and to commercial airfields in ZI;

indicating SAC alert and dispersal status as of the reporting date and at the end of FY 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1961.

(7) Report on whether to improve defense of SAC bases by:

Accelerating the installation of anti-aircraft missile defenses at the 29 bases now planned;
Installing such anti-aircraft missile defenses at more than the 29 bases; and
Accelerating research and development on area defense against ICBMs to enable prompt decision on installation of such a system.

(8) Report on whether to increase the number of operational IRBMs beyond the 8 squadrons (120 missiles) now planned to be operational by the end of CY 1960 (taking account of the likelihood of availability of additional overseas launching sites).

(9) Report on status of measures to increase emphasis on the program to improve anti-submarine effort.

To be submitted approximately August 21, 1958, as a supplement to the Annual Status Report as of June 30, 1958:

(10) Report on the status of efforts to improve and insure tactical warning against aircraft, including radar modernization and lengthening of seaward extensions.

(11) Report on status of research and development on how to deal with enemy “blinding” of our radar by electronic countermeasures and enemy low-level attack below our radar coverage; and, on the basis of such research, a report on the feasibility of installing improved radar by the period CY 1961–1963.

(12) Report on JCS recommendation on the Continental Air Defense Operational Plan to determine the manner of providing further strengthening of our active defenses, including defense against submarine-launched missiles.

Note: The above actions, together with NSC Action No. 1941, as approved by the President, subsequently circulated to all holders of NSC 5724 and NSC 5724/1; and referred for appropriate implementation as follows:

d and e:
To the Federal Civil Defense Administrator, in collaboration with the Secretaries of State, Defense and the Treasury, the Director, ODM, the Director, Bureau of the Budget, the Chairman, AEC, and the [Page 25] Special Assistants to the President for Science and Technology and for Public Works Planning.
To the Director of Central Intelligence.
To the Secretary of Defense.

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

The Director of Central Intelligence displayed a chart containing a tabulation of Soviet missile tests during 1955, 1956 and 1957. He said that, on the basis of the best obtainable intelligence, there had been a substantial dropping off in Soviet missile testing recently. For example, there had been no ICBM test since early September; no test of an IRBM in the 950-mile range since August, and few tests in the 150-mile range. Why had this decline in testing occurred? Did the Soviets feel they had “over-alerted” the United States? Or were they holding tests which defeat our detection methods?

The President said it would be logical to expect that testing would increase if the first tests were successful.

Mr. Dulles said one would have expected more testing of the longer-range missiles.

The President said that, shooting from the hip, he would be inclined to think the Soviets were having some missile trouble. In his experience, the higher the stage of development of a weapon, the more frequent was the testing.

General Twining said General Norstad was of the opinion that the Soviets were having trouble with their missiles.

Governor Stassen asked whether any seasonal factor would account for the decline in Soviet testing. Mr. Dulles replied that the seasonal factor was minimal.

Admiral Strauss said perhaps the Soviets were content with previous tests. In August 1951 and August 1953 there were no Soviet atomic tests because the Soviets were content with their 1951 device as a trigger.

The President said it was incredible that a military organization should be content with an existing weapon. Mr. Dulles did not think the Soviets could be content with a limited number of 950-mile range tests.

The National Security Council:

Noted and discussed an oral briefing by the Director of Central Intelligence on the subject, with specific reference to a tabulation of Soviet missiles tests during 1955, 1956 and 1957.

Marion W. Boggs
NSC Secretariat
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Boggs on January 17.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Gordon Gray.
  4. Fred C. Scribner, Jr., Under Secretary of the Treasury.
  5. The following paragraphs and note constitute NSC Action No. 1842, approved by the President on January 21. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)
  6. For text of NSC 5408, “Continental Defense,” dated February 11, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. II, pp. 609633.