229. Memorandum of Discussion at the 462d Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and discussion of unrelated matters.]

Turning to Berlin, Mr. Dulles said the termination by Bonn of the trade agreements, to take effect December 31, had not resulted in any immediate stoppage of commerce. He anticipated no announcement on a new agreement and no movement against shipping during the rest of 1960. The Bonn cabinet had recognized the possibility of continuing interzonal trade even after expiration of the trade agreements. If a new trade pact is negotiated, West Germany may insist that all interzonal shipments go through Berlin to make it difficult for East Germany to tamper with Berlin. The Federal Republic is seeking assurances that her allies will not take advantage of the termination of the trade agreements to sell goods to East Germany. The initial East German reaction to the termination of the agreements was cautious, possibly because East Germany is waiting to hear from Khrushchev. East German pin pricks against Berlin are continuing, however. For example, visitors to the Steinstucken Enclave must have special permits.

Mr. Merchant said the mildness of the East German response to the termination of the trade agreements may be due to the unavailability of Khrushchev. On the other hand, this was the first time West Germany had been willing to consider economic counter-measures as a response to East German harassment. West Germany will have considerable [Page 602] economic leverage and if this leverage is used, the Western allies may have some ammunition against East Germany.

Mr. Gates asked whether the Contingency Group on Berlin was still meeting. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had some concern over the fact that the East Germans are practicing intercepts of their own transports with their fighters in the air corridors leading to Berlin. Mr. Gates wondered whether the ambassadors of the allies in Washington should not review the situation. Mr. Merchant said a meeting of the ambassadors had been held two weeks ago1 and another was scheduled soon. A Four-Power Working Group in Bonn was working hard on non-military counter-measures. Mr. McCone asked about economic counter-measures by other NATO countries. Mr. Merchant said no decision had been made and a recent meeting of the NATO Council was discouraging. Mr. McCone said a real counter-measure against East Germany would have to include all NATO countries within its scope. Mr. Merchant said the U.S. was working toward that objective but the U.K. was reluctant to support economic counter-measures.

Secretary Anderson said that a high German official who had recently visited Washington had asked whether the West German counter-measures were sufficiently strong.2 Mr. Anderson had replied that economic action was preferable to military action. The German official had then said that if he decided on strong economic counter-measures which led to East German interference with traffic, then he would have been responsible for involving the U.S. militarily. The German official felt a complete agreement was needed under which all allies would take the same economic counter-measures. This was an outstanding problem which could mean the difference between war and peace. The German official said he was aware that the U.S. suspected that German economic counter-measures were not strong enough. However, the German did not wish to take measures which would involve the U.S. militarily; he did not wish to take the responsibility for precipitating a new war. Mr. Merchant said our attitude was the reverse of that just described. We think strong economic counter-measures will minimize the risk of hostilities. Mr. McCone felt that economic counter-measures should be broadened. Mr. Merchant said the problem was being discussed in the NATO Council.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Boggs.
  2. No record of a meeting of Ambassadors on September 22 has been found, but a memorandum of the conversation of the Four-Power Working Group on Germany Including Berlin on September 22 is in Department of State, Central Files, 320/9–2260.
  3. Regarding the conversation with Erhard on September 26 at which these views were aired, see footnote 4, Document 219.