20. Memorandum of Discussion at the 356th NSC Meeting1

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  • Discussion at the 356th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, February 27, 1958

Present at the 356th NSC Meeting were the President of the United States, presiding; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; and the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Acting Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General (participating in Items 2–4); Mr. Maurice H. Stans for the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Federal Civil Defense Administrator (participating in Items 2–4); the Acting Secretary of Commerce (participating in Item 1); the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; The Assistant to the President; the Deputy Assistant to the President; the Director, International Cooperation Administration; the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs; the Deputy Secretary of Defense; the Special Assistants to the President for Information Projects, for National Security Affairs, and for Science and Technology; the White House Staff Secretary; the NSC Representative on Internal Security (for Item 4); the Director of Guided Missiles (for Item 2); [Typeset Page 82] Brig. Gen. Austin W. Betts, USA, Office of the Director of Guided Missiles (for Item 2); Mr. A.G. Waggoner, Office of the Director of Guided Missiles (for Item 2); Assistant Secretary of State Gerard C. Smith; Assistant Secretary of Defense Mansfield D. Sprague; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the main points taken.

[Omitted here are agenda items 1–3.]

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General Cutler reminded the Council that at its last meeting, and in connection with the discussion of the continental defense policy, the Council had discussed internal security measures to protect the United States against the clandestine introduction of nuclear weapons, including their introduction through diplomatic pouches, baggage or shipments. As a result of the discussion, the State Department had undertaken to study and report on whether, if there were substantial evidence that any shipment entering the United States under diplomatic immunity contained radioactive material, the State Department would be prepared to 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. General Cutler then called on the Secretary of State to report on the results of this study.

Secretary Dulles said that his people had studied the matter in the light of international law, and he proceeded to read the procedure on which the State Department had agreed; noting, however, that this proposed procedure had not been staffed through the Department of Justice.

After Secretary Dulles had read the proposed procedure, Mr. Allen Dulles asked whether under this procedure we would permit our shipments to the Soviet Union under diplomatic immunity to be investigated by the Soviets if they alleged something against us. He pointed out that we needed to get certain items into the USSR. Secretary Dulles replied that in this kind of situation we would be obliged to accept the practice of reciprocity.

The National Security Council:

Concurred in the following procedure recommended by the Secretary of State, pursuant to NSC Action No. 1862-e, relative to the use of devices to protect against the clandestine introduction of nuclear materials as provided in paragraph 14 of NSC 5802/1:

If a detection device indicates substantial radioactivity in a diplomatic shipment, the shipment will be detained and the Department of State will request [Facsimile Page 3] the appropriate foreign diplomatic mission in Washington to have one of its officers appear at the port of entry to remove the objectional object for examination.

If the request is refused, the shipment will be removed from the United States forthwith. If examined, the material will either be [Typeset Page 83] permitted to enter if it is not dangerous or removed as soon as possible if it is dangerous.

Foreign diplomatic missions will not be advised of this policy. The Department of State will develop procedures for giving appropriate instructions to all U.S. personnel concerned with the entry of diplomatic shipments.

NOTE: The above recommendation, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of State for appropriate implementation in coordination with the Interdepartmental Intelligence Conference and the Interdepartmental Committee on Internal Security.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Agenda item 4: Shipments Entering the United States Under Diplomatic Immunity. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Extracts—3 pp. Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records.