287. Memorandum for the Record Prepared by Col. Legere, January 231

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  • Daily White House Staff Meeting, 23 January 1963

1. Mr. Bundy presided throughout the meeting.

2. Bundy and Klein mentioned Prime Minister Fanfani and the Jupiter withdrawal from Italy. Fanfani does not want any North Atlantic Council presentation or consideration until 30 January, in part so as to permit President Kennedy to break the ground first at his press conference tomorrow.

3. The meeting this morning mostly addressed the subject of tactical nuclear weapons, in general and as specifically embodied in the currently active study by the Chairman’s Study Group. Monday evening Kaysen showed me a new draft of his memorandum for Mr. Gilpatric on the proposed guidelines for the Tactical Nuclear Weapons study, and yesterday (Tuesday) noon I was able to show it to Major Smith. Attached is a copy of the paper as of 21 January. Apparently Kaysen wanted to clear his draft with Bundy before sending it to Mr. Gilpatric, and Bundy said that he had spent quite a bit of time last evening reading the paper and thinking about the problem in general. I feel that I should report that, throughout the discussion of this topic, Bundy’s entire tone and approach conveyed a deep, even if contemptuously supercilious, mistrust of military motives and distrust of military minds. In any event, the following aspects arose, not necessarily or exactly in chronological order:

a. By way of extending Bundy’s education on this subject, Kaysen noted that the Army at first, and then the Joint Staff in turn, had always been operating on the firm assumption that tactical nuclear weapons were indispensable. With reference to his draft memorandum to Gilpatric, Kaysen ventured to predict that the response of the AEC would indicate that they could only extend the deadline for their decision on FY 65 production if someone or other were to approve an additional loss (or cost) of $X—Kaysen actually used $32 million as an example, but on what basis I do not know. Bundy of course did not say that it would be all right to absorb an additional multimillion dollar cost, but [Typeset Page 1136] the “atmosphere” was such that I gather the impression [Facsimile Page 2] that the money would probably prove no problem if the government, and especially the sluggish military, could be brought around to a more rational view of and planning for tactical nuclear weapons. Incidentally, Kaysen mentioned earlier in the discussion that Harry Rowen and Alain Enthoven were collaborating at Defense level on a similar and parallel paper for the SecDef, presumably keyed to the JCS deadline—and presumably (my own view) designed to undercut the anticipated views of the JCS.

b. At this point Bundy expressed a concern about tactical nuclear weapons which was somewhat in extrapolation of the usual New Frontier concerns. He wondered how it might be possible to tie this more or less purely military JCS study to the requirement for a rational US diplomatic posture. All this sounds a little turgid but Bundy did mention de Gaulle by saying that the latter, because he did not have any tactical nuclear weapons on the horizon and because he would probably like to have them, might be impressed to some degree with a US tactical nuclear weapons posture; at least that is the way I came out in trying to follow his thinking. Later on he stated somewhat more explicitly that the forces one wants for war are not necessarily those which one may want “diplomatically.” He asked Kaysen how this sort of thinking might be made to appear in any final governmental exercise on tactical nuclear weapons. Kaysen, who was probably a little behind Bundy for once, said that he thought the “interpretive paper,” which “General Taylor” would be doing in connection with the routine Joint Staff study, could be circulated at an appropriate time to the highly placed policy men in the government.

c. I got two requirements out of this morning’s discussion on tactical nuclear weapons. The first was to find out from General Taylor’s office what statements we had made or what assurances we had given to the Germans concerning tactical nuclear weapons; when Adenauer was here Bundy specifically referred to a statement which General Taylor may have made along the line of: “You Germans will have available to you just what we will have available to ourselves.” The second requirement was that I “keep in touch” with the progress of the Tactical Nuclear Weapons study within the Joint Staff and within the Office of the Chairman.

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4. There ensued a brief, sprightly, and metaphysical discussion on the future of a nuclear test ban agreement, with emphasis on the Chinese and the French (“our Chinese,” as someone called them). The only point which I was able to pick up was that, in the event of a US-UK-USSR test ban agreement, the signatory powers might establish a “two year grace period” during which the likes of the French and Chinese, and anybody else who possessed the capability, could taper off their national tests.

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5. Bundy thought that his Staff input into the President’s NSC talk yesterday had been highly productive, especially Komer’s ideas on the neutral countries and specifically on Nasser, and Dungan’s ideas on foreign aid. Bundy called the President’s talk a “Bravara” performance, and the expression “mood music” was also applied to specific subjects which the President covered. In connection with foreign aid, Bundy mentioned that the mood of the Congress and the people was one reason for having nominated a fine old hard rock like General Clay to the Chairmanship of this foreign aid Group. Someone said that General Clay seemed to be acting too toughly, but Bundy said that there were a lot of people in the Group to keep him in line; Max Millikan, MIT associate of Walt Rostow, came in for specific mention. It therefore looks to me as though the Administration is once again trying to use the Old Saddler as a stalking horse for their risky or unpleasant business.

  1. White House staff meeting concerning the tactical nuclear weapons study, the nuclear test ban agreement, and Kennedy’s January 22d comments to the National Security Council. Secret; Eyes Only. 3 pp. National Defense University, Taylor Papers, WH Staff Mtgs.