278. Editorial Note

The Committee of Principals met on April 17, 1963. Seaborg’s journal entry reads as follows:

“From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. I attended a meeting of the Principals in the Conference Room of the Secretary of State. Present were: Rusk, George Bunn, McNamara, Maxwell Taylor, Nitze, Haworth, Kaysen, Keeny, Wiesner, Foster, McCone, Murrow, and Bundy, as well as Kavanagh, Kelly and others.

Rusk opened the discussion by requesting an expression of feelings as to the value of a test ban treaty in today’s context; that is, he wanted to find out whether there were any recent developments which might lead to a change in view that such a treaty would be in the national interest. The consensus was that a test ban treaty is still in the national interest and that the danger to the U.S. from unlimited testing and an unlimited arms race is greater than the danger due to any inadequacies in the test ban treaty.

“However, McNamara and others indicated that they think there is an increasing resistance to a test ban treaty in Congress. McNamara felt that part of the trouble is that congressional committees are summoning staff people from various agencies and departments of the Executive [Page 682] Branch and interrogating them in such a way as to get one-sided views. He feels that representatives of the Executive Branch should be better coordinated to counteract this movement and should testify only in the presence of a legal advocate to help keep them in balance. It was decided that there should be a coordinating group for this purpose and that Bundy’s office should arrange this.

“The discussion then went on to the Annex II, i.e., the provisions for Plowshare in the present draft treaty. I presented my views on this in some detail. I said that my reasons for calling this to the attention of the Principals are: 1. Much progress had been made in the uses of peaceful explosives in recent years, and 2. It has been called to my attention recently that we can’t do much in this area under the present treaty. I said that, therefore, I have looked for modifications in the Plowshare article on the assumption that we would want to make progress in the Plowshare program. This led to the idea of a quota system of some five or six Plowshare experiments per year, with a limit on the yield, such as 50 kilotons. In the limit, this approach could be the same as the present Annex II (copy attached) except for the deletion of the one sentence on the internal and the external disclosure of the devices. I read excerpts from Annex II and said that it could be strengthened even further by having limitations on instrumentation and international manning of the instrumentation. I also read from Kelly’s memorandum that a number of the proposals have been received for uses of Plowshare in building harbors, canals, excavations, mining, oil recovery, scientific experiments, etc. I mentioned, in connection with scientific experiments, that we have recently learned from a Russian scientist, that they have conducted an underground experiment for the production of new transuranium elements and that this scientist hopes that a test ban treaty could make such experiments possible.

“I said I see the difficulties in my suggested approach because the possibilities for weapons testing under the guise of Plowshare would be inconsistent with the concern about cheating through clandestine underground testing. I said that there would be an adverse reaction to the elimination of Plowshare and that my suggested approach has the advantage that it wouldn’t be necessary to go to Congress to obtain authorization to reveal weapons designs, which would be difficult even for obsolete weapons.

“After a great deal of discussion, in which the inconsistency of adopting this Plowshare approach from the standpoint of opening the door to weapons testing was emphasized by McNamara, Bundy, Wiesner, Foster and McCone, it was suggested by Rusk that, nevertheless, another look at the wording of Annex II be made to see whether it would be possible to devise a scheme whereby Plowshare could go forward. After this has been done, the matter will be considered further at another [Page 683] meeting of the Principals.” (Seaborg, Journal, volume 5, pages 431 and 434)

For McCone’s account of the meeting, see Document 277. Goodby’s memorandum of this meeting and a summary of actions taken are in the Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Departments and Agencies Series, ACDA, Committee of Principals 3/61-11/63. Both are in the Supplement.

Regarding Annex II of the March 23 draft treaty, see footnote 1, Document 272.