267. Memorandum for the Record, April 251

[Facsimile Page 1]


  • Daily Staff Meeting, 25 April 1962.

1. Mr. Bundy presided at the meeting today (in tennis clothes).

2. DefCons—no change.

3. The following matters were discussed:

a. Kaysen mentioned that he was not going to the NATO Athens meeting.

b. Klein mentioned some Berlin memorandum he had prepared for the President’s information, which evidently brought out the fact that the Germans themselves had first taken the initiative some time ago to propose a Peace Treaty. (Legere—you may want to look at this.)

c. I told Bundy we had sent him a copy of the McNamara speech. He had flipped through it and thought it was pretty good and passed it to Kaysen for detailed comments. Kaysen’s reaction was that it was a very powerful speech and he was preparing a memorandum on it. Bundy asked me what I thought of it, and I told him I thought it was a little too over-powering, that it ought to be fuzzed up at the end to solicit the thoughts and views of the Alliance; further, that the detailed pitch on downgrading tactical nuclears would over-complicate the speech and might result in its not selling the primary points that they wished to put across. Bundy seemed mildly receptive to these ideas. He said yes, the ideas on tactical nukes make some of the people around town unhappy, including General Taylor.

d. Bundy announced that he had backgrounded Marquis Childs and talked him into denouncing Sulzberger in today’s Post.

e. There was a long discussion on how to background the press on our disarmament draft treaty, which I won’t go into. Bundy did say that he felt that Dobrynin thinks that arms control is important and, as a result, is a good channel of communication.

f. Komer reported that our Ambassador in Burma had come in with a message which analyzed Nu Win’s statements to date, and predicted that we are in for a rough time. Komer had several thoughts [Typeset Page 983] on how this should be countered, but Bundy said he would like to see a paper on it and think it over.

[Facsimile Page 2]

g. Bundy went into one of his philosophical asides, stating that we really have a large problem in the role of tactical nuclear weapons. The BNSP, of course, touches on this, but he has never been able to determine whether this reflects agreed Government policy, or is a try-on for size.

h. Kaysen said that he had sent the draft NATO communique to Bundy, but that he heard that the State Department wanted to pull out one of the key paragraphs. Bundy said that in that case he would not send it down to the President but would let the State Department complete staffing it out.

4. On the way back from the meeting, I talked to Carl Kaysen. He asked if the Services and the JCS had ever seriously considered the tactical nuclear weapons problem. I responded that I felt that they had considered it but that the discussion between DOD and JCS had never resulted in any meeting of the minds. The DOD staff approach has been to suggest drastic reduction in tactical nuclear weapons which the JCS feels is not feasible, particularly in the NATO context, in the foreseeable future. As a result, the conversations have been a complete stand-off. Kaysen said, well nobody is suggesting that you take all tactical nuclears out, just at division and below. I suggested that if that were so, it would be easy to concentrate on Davy Crockets and not get all confused with all the weapons in the inventory. He agreed and said yes, that was right, of course there is not much point in having a lot of 8” howitzers and Honest Johns rattling around Europe. We didn’t have time to pursue the conversation any further, but he said he would talk to Ted Parker and see what he thought about it.

  1. Readout of White House staff meeting concerning McNamara’s upcoming speech; the role of tactical nuclear weapons in U.S. national security policy; Berlin; Burma; and Dobrynin’s views on arms control. Secret. 2 pp. National Defense University, Taylor Papers, WH Mtgs.