135. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

Defense and AEC resubmit for your approval the proposed FY 1968 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile,2 and certain related adjustments to the FY 1967 stockpile as previously approved by you on April 19, 1965.3 The requirements set forth are consistent with the long-range Defense forecast [Page 413] (through 1974) of weapons and special nuclear materials presented in your current Budget.
The stockpile proposal was first submitted to you last January and it was returned to Defense to obtain formal JCS concurrence (although the JCS had previously concurred informally in the proposal). The JCS looked again at certain of the figures and some minor changes have resulted in the new submittal, largely resulting from a decision to stretch out the retirement of certain tactical and strategic bombs that are becoming obsolete and the retirement of the Nike Hercules warheads.
An important aspect of the new proposal is that the approved FY 1967 stockpile figure is being reduced from [numbers not declassified]—a reduction of [number not declassified]. The proposed FY 1968 stockpile will be further reduced [number not declassified] to a total of [number not declassified]. Thus, the current proposal will cause a net reduction of [number not declassified] from the currently authorized stockpile total—or a reduction of nearly [number not declassified] from the total you approved in April 1965. The reduction of megatonnage of yield would be proportionately larger because a large number of high yield weapons are being retired. At the same time, however, we are getting a more modern stockpile better tailored to specified military missions.
The recommended stockpile is within the projected availability of special nuclear materials, and the number of new weapons is within AEC capability to produce. There are potential plutonium requirements in the possible deployment of the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Poseidon/Minuteman warheads which, if approved, would substantially increase plutonium and weapons fabrication requirements in future years. On the basis of present estimates, however, there will be enough plutonium available by the end of FY 1967 to meet the firm Defense special nuclear requirements through 1974, not including the above possible additional requirements.
The Bureau of the Budget has reviewed this proposal. BOB believes that some obsolete weapons should be retired on a faster schedule than is now being proposed. It does not recommend that you disapprove this stockpile action, but BOB will make this a budget issue for discussion with Defense this Fall. There is no immediate major cost impact from maintaining the approximately [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in the inventory in FY 1968. The important thing will be to make sure that the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] do not become a part of the permanent base that is used for estimating requirements.
I recommend that you approve the proposed stockpile and sign the attached memoranda to Defense and AEC.
W.W. Rostow 4



See me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 8. Top Secret; Restricted Data.
  2. See Document 133.
  3. The President’s approval has not been further identified. Documentation on the background to this approval is in the Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 70 A 1265 Atomic-400.23 (6 Mar 65).
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  5. This option is checked. For the President’s July 12 memorandum to Secretary McNamara, see Document 136. A similar memorandum to AEC Chairman Seaborg, July 12, is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. 8.