152. Letter From the Ambassador at Large (Thompson) to Secretary of State Rusk1

Dear Boss:

Nick has asked that I inform you of the following since it might bear on conversations you will be having in Paris.2

Yesterday, Secretary McNamara held a meeting attended by Nick, Foy, Dick Helms, Don Hornig, Cy Vance and myself.3 He showed us a memorandum which he had given to the President on the problem of production and deployment of the Nike-X.4 McNamara’s long and thorough memorandum went into the pros and cons of the whole question. The President had studied it and asked those of us at the meeting to prepare, individually, memoranda describing what we each thought Soviet reaction would be to a light defense against Soviet missile attack which would cover 25 large cities and a second heavier defense which would cover 50 cities.

This operation overlapped a discussion which I had with Ambassador Dobrynin the day before.5 I reported this to the meeting and was authorized by the President6 to pursue the matter with Dobrynin. I enclose copies of the memcons.7

All of this has been very closely held here. My guess is that the Soviets will take us up on this; but the matter is, of course, urgent because of McNamara’s budget problem. However, the Soviets will be preoccupied with a meeting of the Central Committee and the Supreme Soviet. One of the reasons we went as far as we did was to try to head off any decision they may be making at the Supreme Soviet which will approve their plan for 1967.


Llewellyn E. Thompson 8
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/AL Files: Lot 67 D 2. Top Secret. An attached December 8 covering memorandum from Thompson to Ambassador Bohlen indicates that the letter should be opened only by the Secretary.
  2. See footnote 8, Document 148.
  3. No other record of this meeting has been found.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 150.
  5. Regarding Thompson’s December 6 conversation with Dobrynin, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Document 168, footnote 2.
  6. The words “by the President” were typed in the margin and inserted in the text at this point. Regarding the President’s authorization, see ibid., vol. XI, Document 168, footnote 4.
  7. Not attached.
  8. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.