1. Notes of Conversations1

[Here follow notes of several conversations and meetings, including an NSC meeting on Indonesia.]

At 5 p.m. Secretary of Defense McNamara, Secretary of State Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, Kermit Gordon and I met with the President in his office to clarify the President’s intentions with respect to the fissionable materials production cut; that is, would it apply only to FY 1965, or whether the longer-range aspects of cutting to 2000 megawatts and eliminating six reactors were intended.2

I pointed out that I thought if the longer-range aspects were intended, that it would be difficult to negotiate power cuts without an overall longer-range plan. In this connection, I recalled that this longer-range plan of cutting to 2000 megawatts was geared to the 1968 and 1972 peg points of long-range weapons requirements suggested by McNamara. McNamara and Gordon did not support this point of view and felt that the meeting of December 21st was consistent with the view that the decisions had been made only for FY 1965, with the longer-range plan yet to be finalized.3 McNamara mentioned his earlier suggestion that the adoption of the AEC figure of a cut to 3700 megawatts might be reasonable [Page 2]in order that there would be less of a minimum before it would be necessary to increase power to meet the requirements for civilian purposes.

The President decided that, so far as the budget message was concerned, he would refer only to the FY 1965 cuts, and he asked us not to reveal any longer-range plan at this time.4 He agreed that McNamara, Rusk, and I should hold a “backgrounder” following his budget message tomorrow.5 Rusk had some doubts that he should properly participate, but the President felt that it would be very worthwhile to have him there to bring out the possible connection to arms limitation. (My own impression is that there is some confusion over the details of the decision taken by the President on December 21, 1963, to cut production, that this decision was clearly to cut electric power for U-235 production to 2000 megawatts over a three- to four-year period, and to shut down six reactors.) The memorandum prepared for the President (copy of my letter to President of December 19, 1963, attached)6 as the basis for the December 21, 1963, meeting supports this view. Perhaps there has been some change in this December 21st position in the meantime of which I had not explicitly been told.

Beginning at 5:50 p.m. I called Senators John Pastore, Clinton Anderson, Henry Jackson, Albert Gore and Congressman Chet Holifield and advised them (with the exception of Jackson—reached on January 8th) that the President has decided to mention in one sentence, in his State of the Union message tomorrow, that he is taking steps to cut back production of fissionable material by 25% (U-235) and closing down four production reactors. I said I had just gotten this word and wanted them to know beforehand. (Note: I mentioned to both Pastore and Holifield that we would like to meet with the JCAE to go over a few things just prior to the budget submission to Congress, and suggested January 17th. I asked them to hold that evening free for dinner, and we would be in touch with them.)

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At 6:05 p.m. I called Elmer Staats (BOB) and told him that we are going to revise our draft statement on the cutback and that we are now working on the version which I left with him. I said it wasn’t clear whether we would issue a statement, but Rusk, McNamara, and I would hold a background press briefing at 3 p.m., tomorrow, at the State Department. Before that time it can be decided whether or not it will be necessary to issue a statement also. Staats said he would appreciate seeing the statement in the morning.7

  1. Source: Glenn T. Seaborg, Journal of Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1961-1971, Vol. 7, pp. 187-188. No classification marking. Seaborg kept a handwritten journal that he edited into a typescript in 1985. It is the edited, typed version that appears in the published Journal. Of the 25 volumes, plus 3 volumes of appendices, Volumes 7-17 cover the Johnson presidency. Copies of the Journal are available through research libraries and institutions, including the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Presidential Libraries of Kennedy and Johnson, and the libraries of the University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles.
  2. Reference is to a proposal that President Johnson intended to make in his State of the Union address. At a meeting earlier that afternoon, Seaborg, McGeorge Bundy, Harold Brown, Elmer Staats (Deputy Director, Bureau of the Budget), and others discussed the following proposed sentence for this address: “It is in this spirit that we are cutting back our production of enriched uranium by 25%, shutting down four plutonium piles and closing many non-essential military installations.” Because the participants disagreed about whether the President’s message should mention longer-range cutbacks or only those for FY 1965, they decided to confer with the President and “if the President wanted to refer only to the FY 1965 cutback in production, the sentence should be modified in order to make this clear.” (Ibid., pp. 182 and 186)
  3. For Seaborg’s notes of the December 21 meeting, see ibid., p. 123.
  4. The sentence in President Johnson’s State of the Union message, given at noon on January 8, reads: “It is in this spirit [of not seeking an excess of military power that could be provocative and wasteful] that in this fiscal year we are cutting back our production of enriched uranium by 25 percent.” (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-64, Book I, p. 117)
  5. In an entry for January 8, Seaborg noted: “I participated with Secretary of Defense McNamara and Secretary of State Rusk in a background briefing of several hundred reporters in the State Department Auditorium on the State of the Union Message; we gave out a press release (copy attached) and explained the details of the production cutback.” (Seaborg, Journal, Vol. 7, p. 192) For text of the referenced AEC press release, January 8, see ibid., pp. 193-195. For the Department of State transcript of the background briefing, see ibid., Appendix: Press Conferences, pp. 117-140.
  6. Ibid., Vol. 7, pp. 103-105.
  7. This statement was presumably the AEC press release; see footnote 5 above.