314. Memorandum of Conversation Between Eisenhower and Herter 1

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At my request, the President agreed to see me to discuss the projected moves to be taken by Ambassador Lodge at the United Nations on Monday, the 21st, in connection with the Soviet request for a Security Council meeting to consider the question “on taking urgent measures to end the flights of the United States military aircraft carrying atomic and hydrogen bombs towards the frontiers of the Soviet Union.”

I advised the President of the suggestions which the Secretary had sent back to us from his plane trip to Duck Island and stated that these had all been incorporated in the speech prepared for Lodge to deliver. I also told him we had given careful consideration to the filing of a resolution of our own (Tab A) and had prepared two other resolutions (Tabs B and C) in the event the Soviets should file a resolution of their own and it would be necessary to protect our position. I told the President that after we had consultations with Ambassador Lodge and our own staff, I had felt it wiser not to file any resolution of our own if it were possible to dispose of whatever move the Soviets might make in a single session. However, should the Soviets at the last moment file any resolution other than a merely clumsy denunciation of the United States, members of the Security Council would undoubtedly ask for 24 hours delay in which to consider the resolution, and that I would then have an opportunity of consulting with him as to the next move.

The President read the draft speech Ambassador Lodge had sent us, which differed somewhat in arrangement and wording from our suggested draft but which in substance was almost identical. The President read it through carefully and, with the exception of two paragraphs which I had myself questioned, felt it was excellent and agreed that we should proceed along the lines recommended.

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The President then expressed real distress that releases apparently approved by the Department of Defense should have led up to the protest lodged by the Soviets. He called Secretary Quarles expressing his unhappiness with regard to these approved releases, and apparently Secretary Quarles said he would institute a very thorough review as to what had led up to them. I had told the President I did not think there was any security violation involved [Facsimile Page 2] but that I thought the release of the type of information which had caused the difficulties should be carefully reviewed with the Department of State and the President in the future because of the international implications involved.

I have today sent to General Goodpaster a memorandum, with attachments, which showed that the whole “Fail Safe” concept had been made public as early as November 1957.

Christian A. Herter


Three draft resolutions.

  1. Source: U.S. position on Soviet complaints about “fail safe” procedures. Confidential. 2 pp. NARA, RG 59, Central Files, 330/4–2158. Drafted on April 21.