217. Memorandum From William Y. Smith to the President’s Military Representative (Taylor)0


  • Comparison of US and USSR Atomic Energy Programs1

Of the attached thick volume,2 only the first 9 pages need to be scanned. Even then, the report does not contain much that is new. It does reaffirm the following points.

Although US has overall superiority to the Soviet Union in the field of nuclear energy, the USSR has apparently made technological advances at rates at least equal to those achieved by the US in several areas which are of prime significance to the Soviet national defense posture. [3-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]
The Soviet system for control of nuclear weapons is generally similar to that of the US, but we have thus far been unable to identify Soviet storage of nuclear weapons within the satellites.
The US has 26 nuclear submarines in operation and a total of 61 have been authorized. The USSR has about 20 nuclear submarines. The Soviet missile nuclear submarines carry either 3 ballistic-type of 6 cruise-type missiles, both of short range and with a yield approaching 3 megatons.
It is estimated the Soviets could have an aircraft nuclear power plant in early 1963-1964.
[2 lines of source text not declassified] The US has conducted more nuclear tests, but the USSR has detonated a larger total yield. It is known that 10 or more additional small yield Soviet tests were not detected.
  1. Source: National Defense University, Taylor Papers, WYS Chron File, Jul-Sep 62. Top Secret; Restricted Data.
  2. NSAM No. 168, from McGeorge Bundy to the Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Director of Central Intelligence, June 26, directed the three agencies to prepare a comparative study of U.S. and Soviet atomic energy programs, “using insofar as practicable the recent [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] , and 1 AP 1-62 and comparable data on the U.S. program.” Bundy requested completion of the report by August 1. (Department of State, S/S-RD Files: Lot 71 D 171) See Documents 78 and 183. 1AP 1-62 has not been found.
  3. Not attached and not found. At the White House daily staff meeting on August 3, Chuck Johnson reported that this comparative study of U.S. and Soviet atomic energy programs had been finished, “but that Mr. McCone was considering it and had not yet released it. Bundy said that the President would like to see this as soon as possible, preferably this weekend.” (Memorandum for the record by Ewell, August 3; National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Daily Staff Meetings, May-Sept 62) According to Ewell, at the August 6 White House daily staff meeting, Johnson remarked that the paper, which was “very interesting,” was not to be distributed, but the President had a copy and Johnson was holding Bundy’s. Ewell added that he thought General Taylor would like to see this study, and Taylor wrote in the margin, “Let me see.” (Memorandum for the record by Ewell, August 6; ibid.)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.