15. NSC Report1

NSC 5802/1
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to the





  • A. NSC 5408
  • B. NSC 5606
  • C. NSC Actions Nos. 1574, 1781, 1814, 1815, 1841 and 1842
  • D. Executive Order No. 10173
  • E. NSC 5802
  • F. NSC Action No. 1862

The National Security Council, the Acting Secretary of the Treasury, the Attorney General, the Acting Director, Bureau of the Budget, the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, and the Federal Civil Defense Administrator, at the 355th Council meeting on Febraury 13, 1958, adopted the statement of policy contained in NSC 5802, subject to the amendments thereto set forth in NSC Action No. 1862–b.

In adopting the statement of policy in NSC 5802, the Council also (NSC Action No. 1862–c, –d, –e, –f, and –g):

c. Agreed that the statement of policy in NSC 5802, as finally adopted and approved, is intended to supersede NSC 5408; but is not intended, of itself, to cancel or change any program set forth in NSC 5408, each of which programs should be reviewed by the responsible departments and agencies in accordance with paragraph 1–b of NSC 5802.

d. Recommended that the responsible agencies should use, on a continuing basis, available passive devices for the detection of fissionable material, pursuant to paragraph 14 of NSC 5802.

e. Noted that the Department of State would undertake to examine and report at the next Council meeting, on whether, if there were substantial evidence that any shipment entering the United States under diplomatic immunity contained radioactive material, the Department should advise the diplomatic representatives of the country concerned that the shipment would be opened by U.S. officials, in the presence of representatives of such country, to determine the nature of the radioactive material.

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f. Requested the Departments of the Treasury and Justice, in view of the decision in Parker v. Lester:

To draft an Executive Order, to supersede Executive Order No. 10173, which will enable Federal authorities to take the most effective action possible in the circumstances to deny access to U.S. merchant vessels, ports, and waterfront facilities on the part of individuals considered inimical to the security of the United States.
To draft proposed legislation, which would enable Federal authorities to take more effective action in this area, for consideration for submission at this session of the Congress.

g. Requested the Department of the Treasury to prepare for Presidential approval the programs to implement all aspects of paragraph 19 of NSC 5802; such draft to include (1) instructions taking into account the new Executive Order referred to in f–(1) above and (2) appropriate provisions along the lines of those stated in NSC Action No. 1781 (which related U.S. policy toward Poland to the port security provisions of NSC 5408).

The President has this date approved the statement of policy in NSC 5802 as amended, adopted, and enclosed herewith as NSC 5802/1; directs its implementation by all appropriate Executive departments [Typeset Page 45] and agencies of the U.S. Government; and directs that the departments and agencies indicated in the table on “Primary Responsibilities for Implementation” (with the exception of the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency) report, in a special annex to their respective annual status reports, on progress in implementing the appropriate paragraphs of NSC 5802/1.

James S. Lay, Jr.
Executive Secretary

cc: The Secretary of the Treasury

The Attorney General

The Director, Bureau of the Budget

The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission

The Federal Civil Defense Administrator

The Chairman; JCS

The Director of Central Intelligence

The Chairman, IIC—The Chairman, ICIS

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Paragraph and Subject Primary Responsibility
5—International Collaboration State in collaboration with Defense
6—Strategic Warning (1st two sentences) Intelligence agencies under DCI coordination within existing law and established policy
(Last sentence) All appropriate agencies
7—Tactical Warning Defense
8—Active Defense Defense
9—Passive Defense of Retaliatory Capability Defense
10—Improvement of Alert Status of Air Defense Forces Defense
11—Emergency Employment of Military Resources in Civil Defense Defense in collaboration with FCD
12—Research and Development All appropriate agencies
13–18—Internal Security IIC and ICIS coordination
19—Port Security Treasury, keeping IIC and ICIS fully informed
20—Continuity of Government ODM in collaboration with all participating agencies
21—Protection and Dispersal of Federal Facilities ODM in collaboration with all participating agencies
22—Continuity of Industry ODM
23—Stockpiling of Civilian Survival Items ODM in collaboration with FCDA
24–27—Civil Defense FCDA
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1. This statement of policy on “continental defense” does not encompass all elements of U.S. or allied strength contributing to the defense of North America, but is limited as follows:

Only those U.S. policies are included which are essentially defensive in nature, i.e., which contribute directly to the defense of the North American Continent and to the protection of that element of our retaliatory capability based on the North American Continent.
This statement of policy does not include programs. The omission from this statement of programs does not of itself cancel or change any program set forth in NSC 5408. However, the responsible agencies should review such programs in the light of this policy statement to determine whether such programs are currently valid or should be cancelled or changed.


2. The defense of the United States is an integrated complex of offensive and defensive elements and of military and non-military measures. Each of these has its proper role in deterring an attack or in the defense of the United States should an attack occur. 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. Particular emphasis should be accorded those active and passive defense measures essential to the protection of the U.S. capability for prompt nuclear retaliation. An effective North American continental defense system will constitute one of the key deterrents to an attack on the North American Continent.

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3. The United States should be prepared at all times to counter an attack on the North American Continent in such a way as to deter Soviet attack or, if an attack occurs, to insure our survival as a free nation.

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Such preparation requires that the United States achieve and maintain, in collaboration with Canada and other Free World nations, a continental defense readiness and capability which will protect and permit the launching of our nuclear retaliatory forces, even in the event of surprise attack.
Such preparation should:
Provide warning to alert the nation to impending attack.
Counter enemy subversive and clandestine efforts.
Prevent the threat of nuclear destruction from unduly restricting U.S. freedom of action or weakening national morale.
Maintain adaptability to make timely changes as technology permits and as the nature of the threat changes.
Provide appropriate measures of protection for the civil population.
Such preparation should include appropriately organizing, protecting and placing in a condition of readiness the resources of the country essential to national survival.


4. The time-phasing of U.S. “continental defense” measures should take into account the threat posed by the present nuclear megaton attack capability of the USSR and by anticipated future improvements in Soviet weapons and delivery capabilities, particularly the achievement of a significant ICBM capability.2 Effective continental defense requires that the United States should be constantly on guard against “technological surprise” and should continually strive for technological superiority.

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5. Continental defense requires close collaboration with certain allies; in particular, Canadian agreement and participation remain essential to effective continental defense. Efforts should also be continued to achieve more effective collaboration with Mexico and Iceland.

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6. As achievable tactical warning time decreases, it becomes increasingly important to obtain strategic warning of Soviet Bloc attack against the United States. Even if some risks have to be taken, vigorous efforts should be made, including the development of new techniques, to collect and accurately evaluate indications of hostile intentions that would give maximum prior strategic warning of hostile action against the United States. Because it cannot be concluded that the United States surely will, or surely will not, have strategic warning of attack, U.S. planning should take account of both possibilities.


7. Tactical warning of an impending attack, including very high- and very low-level altitude detection and sea surveillance, should be provided to assure adequate time for counter-offensive forces to initiate action, for defense forces to achieve alert readiness, and for civil defense, internal security and other non-military measures to be effectively implemented. To this end:

Our early warning radar network and its seaward extensions should be improved.
Weaknesses in identification techniques should be remedied.
An effective early warning radar system against ICBM’s should be developed and brought into operation as an integral part of the air defense system, as a matter of the highest national priority.


8. The United States should continue to improve, and to maintain at a high state of readiness, an effective, integrated system of air surveillance, weapons, and control elements, providing defense in depth capable of detecting, identifying, engaging, and destroying enemy aircraft or missiles approaching or operating over the North American Continent before they reach vital targets.

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Defense against Bomber and Non-Ballistic Missile Attack. Such a defense in depth should include interceptor and fighter aircraft and air defense missiles. In addition to primary air defense forces, all other forces with an air defense capability which can be made temporarily available should be made immediately available and employed as required within this system in the event of attack or the threat of immediate attack.
Defense against ICBM Attack. In view of continued USSR advances in ballistic missile development, the United States should develop an anti-ICBM weapon system as a matter of the highest national priority.
Defense against the Threat of Missile Attack Launched from Ocean Areas. In order to meet the threat of missiles launched from ocean areas, the United States should develop and maintain at a high state of readiness integrated sea surveillance systems which will provide for detection and tracking of surface ships and submarines operating within [Typeset Page 49] missile-launching range of the North American Continent; and should improve its defense against submarine-launched missiles and its anti-submarine capability.


9. Passive measures, such as dispersal, reduction of reaction time, and protection of essential facilities, should be taken to minimize the vulnerability of U.S. retaliatory striking forces.


10. The United States should continue to improve and maintain the alert status of its primary air defense forces, and cooperate in improvement of Canadian primary air defense forces, so as to provide an immediate reaction to warning of an enemy attack. Passive defense measures, such as dispersal and protection of essential facilities, should be taken to minimize the vulnerability of air defense forces.


11. In the event of attack on the United States, the active defense of the United States and the U.S. nuclear counter-offensive will be the paramount and most immediate tasks of certain U.S. forces. Additionally, certain other forces will be immediately involved in support of these defense and counter-offensive forces. Forces not required in the execution of essential military missions should be prepared to assist civil authorities, for a temporary period, in maintaining law and order and in other essential civilian tasks.

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12. A vigorous research and development program should be maintained in order to develop new weapons and needed improvements in the continental defense system and to counter improving Soviet technological capabilities for attack against the United States. Of particular importance are the following (without indication of priority):

Early warning capability against enemy aircraft and non-ballistic missiles, by radar and other techniques.
Detection and defense against very high- and very low-level attacks.
Reduction of vulnerability to electronic countermeasures.
Submarine detection, identification, and defense against submarines and submarine-launched missiles.
Early warning capability against ICBM’s, by radar and other techniques.
Active defenses against ICBM’s.
Defense against satellites and space vehicles.

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13. The Soviet Bloc should be confronted with internal security measures presenting such risks as will serve as a deterrent to covert attack against the United States.

14. In particular, the United States should, to the extent practicable, increase safeguards so as to provide adequate deterrents (a) to clandestine introduction of nuclear weapons by any means such as submarines, small craft, merchant vessels, aircraft, illegal entries of persons and things, and diplomatic channels; and (b) to utilization of such weapons against vital targets. Intensive efforts should be continued to develop active and improved passive devices for the detection of fissionable material introduced by such means, and to assure their effective use.

15. Measures should be taken to protect U.S. aircraft and airports, as appropriate, against sabotage, espionage, and other subversive activities, and to provide appropriate safeguards relative to the operations within the continental United States of Soviet Bloc airlines.

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16. Selected industrial and governmental facilities of a highly critical nature should be protected against espionage and clandestine attack by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and conventional sabotage.

17. Selective counterintelligence coverage should be maintained of foreign diplomatic and official personnel suspected of engaging in activities beyond the scope of their normal diplomatic assignments.

18. Plans for the detention in the event of emergency of persons potentially dangerous to the United States should be maintained in a high state of readiness.

Port Security3

19. Measures should be taken (a) to protect U.S. ports and vessels therein against sabotage, espionage, and other subversive activities, (b) to supervise and where appropriate deny entry of vessels, and (c) to provide appropriate safeguards relative to the presence in U.S. ports of Sino-Soviet Bloc vessels. In so far as feasible, having due regard for legal procedures and rights, subversives should be excluded from vessels and waterfront facilities.4

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20. Plans and relocation facilities needed to ensure the continuity of essential wartime functions of the Federal Government should be completed and maintained in a state of operational readiness at the earliest time practicable.

Plans should provide a ready and certain system of attack warning, reaction and decision-making, with adequate communications and provision for conducting emergency operations.
Emergency Federal relocation facilities should be equipped as required to permit immediate activation upon arrival of relocated personnel, and should be continuously staffed as determined by the President.
The few most critical emergency Federal relocation facilities should be protected against blast, thermal and radiation effects at the earliest time practicable. Other Federal relocation facilities in “the Federal arc”5 should be protected against fallout.


21. a. Except as otherwise determined by proper authority, new Federal facilities and major expansion of existing Federal facilities, important to national security, should not be located in target areas. The location of new or expanded military installations, excluding the Pentagon and other similar administrative headquarters, shall be within the sole discretion of the Secretary of Defense.

b. Fallout shelter should be incorporated in the construction of new Federal civilian buildings, of suitable size, designed after this date, along the lines stated in NSC 5807/1.


22. a. (1) Dispersal of private industrial facilities, and the inclusion of fallout shelter therein, as appropriate, should be encouraged.

(2) Guidance and leadership should be provided to industries essential to initial recovery from nuclear attack in the development of plans and programs designed to insure the continuity of essential production and services.

b. Action should be taken to determine the critical industries (such as drug, liquid fuel) in which construction of hardened, dispersed plants is essential to insure national survival.

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23. Civilian items essential to initial recovery from nuclear attack should be identified, minimum requirements determined, and industrial inventories located and related to Government and State stocks. Where total availabilities appear inadequate, measures should be developed to meet minimum requirements with the least disruption of the economy, the least cost to the Government, and maximum encouragement of private participation.


24. An essential ingredient of our domestic strength is improved and strengthened civil defense which seeks, by both preventive and ameliorative measures, to minimize damage from nuclear attack and to contribute to deterring such attack.

25. In order that Federal, State and local governments may carry out their essential responsibilities during and after nuclear attack or other grave emergency, the capability of State and local governments to function effectively should be strengthened by Federal assistance in the form of guidance, direction and resources. Such assistance should include pre-attack planning for the use of local resources and, as provided in paragraph 11 hereof, of military forces not required in the execution of essential military missions.

26. Civil defense policy for protection of the civil population in case of nuclear attack, while continuing to include local planning for the emergency dispersal of urban populations on attack warning, incorporates the concept of fallout shelter in accordance with NSC 5807/1.

27. The United States should continue its present policy of supporting activities which will:

Warn the people of impending attack and make possible essential communication before, during and after attack.
Give emphasis to the protection (including dispersal where necessary) of essential civilian survival supplies, equipment and facilities.
Provide for a continuing effort in research and development of civilian measures in radiological defense, defense against chemical and biological warfare, mass communications, medical care, survival requirements, and other survival measures.
Provide appropriate and adequate information to the public of the nature and extent of the dangers from nuclear attack on the United States now and in the future, and of the measures being taken or which could be taken to alleviate them.

  1. Source: “Continental Defense.” Top Secret. 12 pp. NARA, RG 59, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Continental Defense.
  2. SNIE 11–10–57, “The Soviet ICBM Program”, December 17, 1957, estimates that the USSR will probably have an operational capability with up to 10 prototype ICBM’s, capable of carrying high-yield nuclear warheads, during the period mid-1958 to mid-1959; and could have 100 operational ICBM’s about one year after its first operational capability date (i.e., mid-1959 to mid-1960), and 500 ICBM’s about two, or at most three, years after first operational capability date (i.e., mid-1960 to mid-1962). It is estimated that the first 100 to 200 Soviet ICBM’s would have a fifty per cent system reliability and that succeeding weapons would have a system reliability up to seventy per cent. [Footnote is in the original.]
  3. Certain measures under this heading are supplemental to those contained under the previous heading, “INTERNAL SECURITY”. [Footnote is in the original.]
  4. Experience has shown that only a very small percentage of the persons believed to be subversives can be excluded under procedures acceptable to the courts. [Footnote is in the original.]
  5. Relocation sites are located in dispersed sectors within a westerly arc approximately 30–300 miles radial distance from Washington, D.C., zero milestone. [Footnote is in the original.]