107. Memorandum From Spurgeon Keeny of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • CIA Memorandum on Status of Soviet ICBM Force

The attached CIA memorandum on the status of the Soviet ICBM program2 does not contain any new worries, and I am not really clear as to why it was issued at this time.

The estimates are essentially the same as those contained in the most recent NIE on Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Attack (NIE 11–8–65, dated October 7, 1965).3 Actually, the specific estimate in the attached that, in mid-1966, there will be about 315 operational ICBM launchers (of which 90 will be of the new single-silo type) lies at the bottom of the range of 310–364 (of which 90–140 would be new single-silo type), as estimated for mid-1966 in the ′65–NIE. The estimate in the attached of 440 launchers in mid-1967 is about in the middle of the range of 420–476 launchers estimated for that time in the ′65–NIE.

The estimates in the ′65–NIE were up somewhat from the ′64–NIE4 which estimated that in mid-1966 there would be 285–320 launchers [Page 333] and in mid-1967 there would be 330–395 launchers. The change in the ′65–NIE reflected the firm information on the introduction by the Soviets of complexes of single-silo launchers which one might compare with our own Minuteman system. The numbers in the attached, however, are within the range predicted in the ′64–NIE for mid-1966 and only 10 percent higher than the range predicted for mid-1967.

The Soviet build-up does of course make the option of a disarming preemptive strike less and less plausible. However, this has been recognized in DOD planning for a couple of years. As you know from the most recent DOD budget exercise, DOD planning has now passed far beyond numbers like these. We are now worrying about much more massive missile deployments coupled with possible Soviet MIRVs (multiple independent reentry vehicles) and the extensive deployment of a Soviet ABM system.

To give you a little perspective as to how bad things have looked in the past, I would remind you that the ′58–NIE5 estimated that the Soviets would have around 315 ICBMs in mid-1961, and that the ′59–NIE6 estimated that they would have this number in mid-1962, and that the ′61–NIE7 gave them this capability around mid-1964.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t still be scared, but I don’t see anything new in the attached to contribute to this emotion.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Intelligence File, TKH April–December 1965, Box 7. Top Secret.
  2. Entitled “Soviet ICBM Single Silos Nearing Operational Status,” December 8; not printed.
  3. Document 97.
  4. Document 55.
  5. Presumably a reference to NIE 11–5–58, August 19, 1958; for a summary, see Foreign Relations, 1958–1960, vol. III, pp. 135136.
  6. Reference may be to NIE 11–8–59, February 9, 1960; see ibid., pp. 325330.
  7. Presumably a reference to NIE 11–8–61, June 7, 1961; see ibid., 1961–1963, vol. VIII, Document 29.