12. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara 1



  • Verification of a Freeze on Strategic Nuclear Vehicles (U)
Reference is made to the memorandum from the Acting Assist-ant Secretary of Defense (ISA) I-21210/64, dated 11 February 1964,2 which requested comments on an Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) paper, subject as above.
By JCSM-128-64, dated 15 February 1964,3 the Joint Chiefs of Staff forwarded a preliminary analysis of the national security implications [Page 24]inherent in a “verified freeze” of the number and characteristics of strategic nuclear offensive and defensive vehicles. That study served to focus attention on the many complex problems involved in defining and subsequently negotiating the basic elements of an acceptable freeze agreement. The Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded from the preliminary analysis that there was real doubt whether practical solutions could be found to some of the problems. One of the principal areas of doubt was the negotiability of the type of verification system that would be adequate to provide necessary assurance of compliance with the provisions of an agreement. Certainly such a system would be intrusive to a greater extent than the USSR has been willing to consider in the past. However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recognize that many benefits would accrue if a breakthrough could be made in opening up the Soviet Union to the level of inspection deemed necessary. On the other hand, they also note that if, through the negotiation process, the position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on adequate verification were substantially eroded, national security could be adversely affected.
The ACDA paper would apparently place major reliance on US intelligence to verify a freeze agreement. In particular, no provisions are made for aerial surveillance and unscheduled on-site inspections, other than of production facilities, at the option of the United States. The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the verification system negotiated should be completely sufficient within itself to assure compliance with an agreement. US intelligence, on the other hand, should only be relied upon to validate any list of installations, to cross check information and data obtained from the inspection system, and to establish priority for the type and area of inspection. Any other role could result in either a compromise of US intelligence sources with degradation of US intelligence capability or in an inability positively to confirm suspected violations. The latter case would tend to negate the tension-reducing objectives of the agreement by creating situations whereby legitimate suspicions could not be definitely allayed. Thus, before a US position paper on verification can be formulated, the foregoing role of US intelligence in the verification process must be accepted.
In addition to the freeze on the number and characteristics of strategic nuclear offensive and defensive vehicles, the preliminary analysis by the Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded that consideration should also be given to including other items under the freeze, such as launchers and fissionable material production. Accordingly, the attached Appendix4 has been prepared consistent with the inclusion of these items and compatible with the view expressed above on the role of US intelligence.
In view of the fundamental nature of the comments provided in the Appendix, a detailed review of the verification portion of the ACDA paper is not appropriate until basic differences are resolved and the paper has been redrafted. It is recommended that the views expressed in the Appendix be incorporated in the redraft and that such redraft be referred to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for review.
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Maxwell D. Taylor 5
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 4023, 388.3 (January-February 1964). Top Secret; Restricted Data. Attached is a February 24 covering memorandum from Barber to Fisher enclosing copies of this memorandum and JCSM-147-64, entitled “Basic Elements of a Freeze.” JCSM-147-64 has not been found.
  2. Not found.
  3. Entitled “President’s Proposal To Explore a ’Freeze’ on Strategic Nuclear Offensive and Defensive Vehicles.” (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 68 A 4023, 388.3 (March-August 1964))
  4. Not printed.
  5. Printed from a copy that indicates Taylor signed the original.