85. Memorandum of Discussion at the 433d Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and Agenda Item 1. “The Role of the Military Air Transport Service in Peace and War.” See the Supplement.]

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

[Here follows discussion, included in the Supplement, of a Soviet missile tested the previous day.]

Mr. Dulles felt the Soviets would want to make a good deal of the two kilometers CEP1 which they say they have achieved. He thought it was possible that the Soviets intended to support their position in forthcoming diplomatic negotiations by a dramatic demonstration of the long range of their missiles. General White, on the contrary, believed that when the Soviets want to achieve maximum diplomatic impact, they will name the time and the target which they wish to hit, and will attempt to put the missile on the target. Dr. Kistiakowsky pointed out that the 24 hour postponement in the launching of the Soviet missile suggested that the Soviets had fired something new rather than an old-type missile.

Mr. Dulles said he was about to appear before a Congressional Committee and predicted that he would be asked about the Soviet firing. The President said that Mr. Dulles could tell the Committee that the Soviet missile had fallen in the impact area and that it had been seen by our observers in the area. The Attorney General felt Mr. Dulles should [Page 367]emphasize that there is no assurance that the Soviet report of the missile CEP is accurate. Mr. Allen said we should perhaps indicate that since our CEP is two miles, we assume Russian accuracy is about the same. The President felt, on the other hand, that we should give no credence to the announced Russian CEP until the Russians predict the exact spot they intend to hit and allow us to observe the firing.

Mr. McCone asked whether there would be other Soviet missile firings in the Pacific. Mr. Dulles said he assumed the firing just described was one in a series of shots.

The President said that in Congressional testimony it could be said by US officials that the Soviet missile had impacted in the impact area, but we ought not to betray the extent of our surveillance of the area.

Mr. Dulles then turned to Khrushchev’s recent speech before the Supreme Soviet.2 He said this speech was very important and had been the subject of a careful analysis by CIA. He was inclined to accept Khrushchev’s statement on manpower strength and on the reductions in certain hardware production. He was willing to accept tentatively Khrushchev’s figure of 3.6 million men under arms in all the Soviet forces, although this figure was less than the figure previously carried in intelligence estimates. CIA had already observed the virtual cessation of bomber production in the USSR and cuts in the production of other weapons, e.g. naval vessels. Incidentally, Mr. Dulles noted that the first reports of Khrushchev’s speech had lumped submarines and surface ships together as obsolete. This turned out to be an error in translation. Actually Khrushchev had said only that surface ships were obsolete. Mr. Dulles estimated that the reduction in Soviet armed forces proposed by Khrushchev of 1.2 million could probably be effected within two years, by the fall of 1961 according to Malinovsky.3 Mr. Dulles felt it made a good deal of sense for the USSR to reduce its forces in view of the possibility of serious competition in 1960 through 1962 between the military on the one hand and the civilian economy on the other as represented by the Seven Year Plan. The USSR needed more manpower for its industrial program. Reduction in military manpower would also result in the reduction of 16–17 billion rubles in the explicit Soviet military budget. Mr. Dulles pointed out, however, that the real military budget, as opposed to the announced military budget, of the USSR was 160+billion rubles. Mr. Dulles did not believe that the reductions announced in the Khrushchev speech would affect previous estimates of Soviet ICBM capabilities. Apparently the Soviet forces were about to undergo a thorough reorganization. Khrushchev has become a missile enthusiast and wishes to speed up the rationalization of Soviet forces. He may also wish [Page 368]to fix our attention on the missile field, where he thinks the Soviets have superiority. He apparently wishes to achieve armed forces which will consist of strategic attack and air defense forces armed with missiles, ground forces also armed with missiles and having great airborne capability, and a navy consisting largely of submarines. Mr. Dulles said that Khrushchev may be considering a percentage withdrawal of Soviet forces from Eastern Europe. The Khrushchev program of reduction is probably not palatable to the Soviet military and Khrushchev may have had some difficulty getting the military to go along. Evidence of this is the fact that the Chief of Staff and other important military figures did not make speeches before the Supreme Soviet. The demotion of Kirichenko4 may also have been related to opposition to the Khrushchev military program. Mr. Dulles concluded by reporting that the tone of Khrushchev’s speech reflects the belief that the USSR can overcome capitalism without general war, indicates great reliance on missile forces as a shield behind which communism can compete with the West, and seems to exclude general war as a deliberate Soviet policy.

Mr. Gray asked whether Khrushchev did not express regret that the US military budget provided for no reductions. Mr. Dulles replied in the affirmative. In response to questions, Mr. Dulles said the published Soviet military budget provided for the expenditure of 96 billion rubles. The President said Khrushchev had told him that Soviet military costs were about half US costs. The President assumed Khrushchev must have been using a four-to-one exchange rate between the dollar and the ruble, which led him to conclude that the Soviets probably have a military budget equivalent to about $48 billion. Khrushchev had also told him that the Soviet scale of military effort was very close to our scale of effort. Mr. Dulles agreed that the total Soviet military effort was comparable to ours. The Vice President asked what percentage of the Soviet GNP was devoted to military purposes as opposed to the US GNP. Mr. Dulles said the Soviets devoted about twice as much of their GNP to military purposes as we did. The President pointed out, however, that the GNP of the US contained a number of items not included in the Soviet GNP, e.g. advertising.

[Here follows discussion of Soviet-Cuban relations.]

The National Security Council:5

Noted and discussed an oral briefing by the Director of Central Intelligence on the subject, with specific reference to the recent Soviet test [Page 369]of a missile which impacted in the Pacific; further evaluation of the recent speech by Khrushchev before the Supreme Soviet of the USSR; and the planned Soviet exposition in Havana, Cuba.

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Boggs.
  2. The Soviets had announced that the missile had landed within two kilometers of its target.
  3. Dulles also reported on Khrushchev’s address at the NSC meeting on January 14; see vol. X, Part 1, pp. 498 499.
  4. Marshal Rodion Y. Malinovsky, Soviet Minister of Defense.
  5. On January 13, the Soviet newspaper Pravda announced that A. I. Kirichenko, a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, had been appointed to a minor provincial post.
  6. The following paragraph constitutes NSC Action No. 2182, approved by the President on January 26. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)