140. Memorandum of Discussion at the 432d Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda item 1.]

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

Mr. Dulles said the briefing he had prepared last night on the meeting of the USSR Supreme Soviet had to be modified this morning in the light of the latest news. Khrushchev had made a very tough speech to the Supreme Soviet,1 especially from the military point of view. If the reduction of military forces proposed by Khrushchev was carried out, the Soviet Army and Navy would total 2,423,000, a figure below the level suggested by the USSR as a minimum level in 1956.2 Apparently the USSR had now decided to reduce its forces quietly and unilaterally. Khrushchev had stated that the Soviet Air Force was being replaced by rockets, that he was stopping the production of bombers, and that submarines were losing their importance. He had said that the USSR possessed formidable weapons, but that weapons still in process of development were still more formidable. He had asserted that the safety of the USSR would be assured by its nuclear and ballistic missile strength. He had also declared that while the U.S. was catching up with the USSR, the latter would not sit idly by. Mr. Dulles said that intelligence had already reported the slowdown in bomber production referred to by Khrushchev.3 In connection with the meeting of the Supreme Soviet, Khrushchev had demoted Kirichenko, whom we thought had a grip on third place in the Soviet hierarchy, to an unimportant post in the provinces. Khrushchev had also completed the liquidation [Page 499] of the MVD, which was once a dreaded repressive organ, but which now had little importance since the MGB had become the major repressive organ of police power. The President said the Khrushchev speech did not appear at first glance to be a very tough speech. What Khrushchev said in this speech was substantially what he had told the President,4 except for the statement that submarines were becoming of less importance. Mr. Dulles said Khrushchev’s remarks on submarines could not be taken as gospel. Khrushchev would probably reduce the numbers of old Soviet submarines and build nuclear submarines instead.

[Here follow discussion of unrelated subjects and the remaining agenda items.]

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Prepared by Marion W. Boggs on March 31.
  2. For text of Khrushchev’s January 14 speech, see Current Digest of the Soviet Press, February 10, 1960, pp. 3–16, 23.
  3. See Document 36.
  4. Reference may be to an intelligence estimate [document number and title not declassified], dated February 9, which mentioned the slowdown in Soviet bomber production and used information derived from Khrushchev’s January 14 speech. (Department of State, INR-NIE Files)
  5. No further record of Khrushchev’s remark to Eisenhower on changes in Soviet military policy has been found.