2. Memorandum for the Record by Director of Central Intelligence McCone1


  • Meeting with the President—5:30 on 8 January 1964
Reviewed Estimate 11–142 as outlined in attached memorandum dated 8 January.
Reviewed general reconnaissance satellite program, demonstrating two or three photos, particularly the one of Washington. Advised the President we had now identified 234 ICBM launch sites and about 700 IRBM launch sites, about 125 probably in operation. While this was a lesser number of ICBMs than we had, we must always bear in mind that they are very large and carry warheads in the several megaton range and this gives me concern.
Advised the President we were going to conduct the inspection of the Dimona reactor in Israel starting January 14th, a good team had been selected from the AEC and I knew they were good because of the background of my personal relationship with them.
Gave the President the memorandum on 20 Latin American countries which he retained to read.3
Reviewed the status of Cuban economic developments, armed shipments and troop training as reported in [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] dated 8 January 1964, attached.
Discussed briefing of Congressional Committee Chairmen. President advised he planned a dinner for the Chairmen and the senior minority members of principal committees and their wives. After dinner—the wives upstairs—he would ask me to give a 10-minute review of the Soviet economics; McNamara 5 minutes on the military posture; and Rusk 5 minutes on the political problems.
Advised the President I had completed plans to brief the Heads of State, Europe, as follows:
  • President Segni and Saragat of Italy when they are here next week.
  • Following week I would brief De Gaulle and others in Paris and Erhard and others in Bonn.
  • Then I would brief Lord Home and his party when they are here in February.
  • This was agreed.
Reviewed briefly President Kennedy’s letter to me of January 16 and asked for reaffirmation of DCI responsibilities as outlined in the letter or any modifications which he desired.4 The President kept the letter and advised he would communicate.



We now have [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]satellite photography for intelligence purposes.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Search of very large areas for new installations. This coverage is supplied by the Corona satellite, which has been primarily a CIA development.

[1 paragraph (5 lines of source text) not declassified]

[1–1/2 lines of source text not declassified] pictures are taken from an altitude of about 100 miles over targets in the Soviet Union and elsewhere when required. The satellites stay in orbit [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and the film is recovered in special reentry vehicles by aircraft near Hawaii.

[Page 6]

The Corona/Search satellite first returned film from orbit in August 1960, and has performed successfully 29 times since then out of 46 attempts. It is launched from a Thor-Agena at a total cost of about [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] dollars per shot. The Corona can cover three million square miles per mission in stereo, mowing a two hundred mile wide strip below its trajectory.

We are able to blow these film strips up to 40–60 times their original size and produce photographs of ICBM sites and other critical targets which are truly remarkable. The quality of photographs that we get is especially highly classified.

This type of photography provides a major source of raw intelligence data and is one of the most important inputs for our national estimates of Soviet strategic capabilities. So far, we have covered over 100 million square miles of the earth’s surface. 95% of the USSR has been filmed to date. In this year alone, we have covered 65% of the USSR and 45% of China. From all of this photographic coverage we have identified some 18 ICBM Complexes in the USSR containing more than 2346 ICBM pads. Over 700 IRBM/MRBM positions and more than 1100 surface-to-air missile sites have also been located and reported.

We are now looking at ways to improve the present system further and to invent a successor with greatly improved capabilities. In the meantime, we have constructed the National Reconnaissance Plan so as to provide one Corona/Search flight each month indefinitely.

[2 paragraphs (14 lines of source text) not declassified]

[1 line of source text not declassified] will bring you especially important examples of this photography to discuss in conjunction with our regular intelligence meetings.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, DCI Meetings with the President, 01 January–30 April 1964, Box 6. No classification marking. An undated outline of topics for this briefing of the President is attached but not printed.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Not further identified.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXV, Document 99.
  5. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified].
  6. The typed number “220” is crossed out, and “234” was inserted by hand.