386. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey 0

556. Verbatim text. There follows for immediate delivery to Minister of National Defense Sancar a letter from Secretary of Defense McNamara. Signed original being pouched. No public release planned.

“5 Jan 1963.

“Dear Mr. Minister:

“You will recall that, during our conversation in Paris on December 13,1 I expressed the view that the Jupiter missiles should be replaced by improved missiles now becoming available.

“In 1957 when the decision was made to install these missiles they, along with the Thors, were the only strategic ballistic missiles the Alliance had ready for operation. The Jupiters helped greatly to build up our early ballistic missile strength, but, with the rapid advances in technology and the accelerating growth of missile forces, they no longer form a major part of the Alliance’s missile strength. In this year alone, the number of operational strategic ballistic missiles in the Alliance will increase from about 450 to abut 850. More importantly, as a first generation missile these Jupiters are easily located by the enemy and vulnerable to both conventional and nuclear attack. It is questionable whether they would survive a Soviet surprise attack. Such a system today promises to be relatively ineffective and it presents a vulnerable and tempting target—conditions which we should seek to avoid if we can find an alternative weapon system which better meets our military needs. This is especially true since we must continue to anticipate Soviet stimulated crises of comparable or even greater intensity as for example might occur at any time over Berlin.

“It seems to us desirable on these counts to replace the Jupiters with an alternative weapon system which better meets our common needs and, in connection with the replacement, to accelerate the delivery of another modern weapon system, the F–104Gs.

“We believe the best available alternative to Jupiter would be the Polaris missile submarine system. In addition to being less exposed than the Jupiters, these missiles would have a very much higher probability [Page 744] of survival in the face of a sudden nuclear attack. We propose that Polaris submarines operate in the Mediterranean, be assigned to SACEUR and be targeted by him with Turkish participation. This Polaris force can be on station by April 1.

“I strongly agree with the sense of your comment to me as to the importance of our Allies and our enemies understanding that the substitution of this modern weapon system creates a more formidable military posture for Turkey and for NATO. It has been our policy and will continue to be our policy to assist our Allies in the provision of increasingly effective military defenses through a measured and continued phase-in of modern weapons. In this way the Alliance can have the benefit of the most effective deterrent force we are capable of devising while denying to the Soviets an opportunity to bring political pressures to bear by threatening attacks against highly vulnerable weapons of more limited military value.

“We wish it to be clearly understood that in advancing the proposal for substitution of Polaris for Jupiters, we envisage working out all aspects in closest harmony with the Turkish government and would of course be responsive to your view on how the substitution can most expeditiously be effected. Finally, we would believe that Alliance interests would best be served if the substitution were conducted in a low key as a natural evolution to a better weapon system, as in fact is the case, rather than having the substitution misrepresented in any way. In this connection, I think we might consider making clear to the Alliance that our two governments previously discussed this matter as far back as April 1961.

“Since my return from Paris I have looked into the possibility of associating an acceleration of the delivery of F–104G aircraft to Turkey with the replacement of the Jupiters. By a series of emergency actions, I believe it would be possible to deliver sufficient aircraft to Turkey to equip the first squadron in April 1963; this could be done as part of this modernization program.

“If your government agrees with these proposals, appropriate staffs of our two governments in cooperation with SACEUR could begin discussions immediately with a view to working out specific arrangements. Ambassador Hare shortly will raise this matter with the Turkish Government.


  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 782.5611/1–563. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution. Cleared by Meloy, Hare, the Department of Defense, and Bundy; and approved by Kitchen and Ball.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 384.