29. Editorial Note

In a May 30, 1964, letter to President Johnson, Seaborg formally requested approval in principle of the Whetstone series for FY 1965, which included 50 tests for weapons development, about 8 for the development of nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes (Plowshare Program), another 12 tests for the Department of Defense, and 1 or 2 tests by the United Kingdom. He also requested specific approval for 17 AEC tests, including 1 Plowshare event, 1 Department of Defense test, and 1 possible U.K. test for the first quarter of FY 1965 (Whetstone I). (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Volume 2, Tab 7, June 16, 1964, FY 1965, Underground Nuclear Test Program, Box 1) Copies of this letter, along with its four enclosures and a paper entitled “Briefing for the President: Underground Test Program, FY 1965, Parts I and II, June 1964,”were transmitted to NSC members under cover of a June 15 memorandum from Bromley Smith. (Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 70 D 265, NSC Meeting—June 16, 1964)

In a June 13 memorandum to President Johnson, McGeorge Bundy summarized these papers and gave his own recommendations on possible decisions the President might make. (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Volume 2, Tab 7, June 16, 1964, FY 1965, Underground Nuclear Test Program, Box 1)

For an account of the June 16 NSC meeting, at which the Whetstone series was discussed, see Document 34.

In a memorandum to Seaborg, June 22, Bundy reported that the President had approved in principle the FY 1965 testing program with a few exceptions, including one Plowshare event, tests above or near one megaton yield, and the Long Shot event at Amchitka Island, Alaska, for all of which specific Presidential approval was required. Bundy added that the President also approved all the tests proposed for the first quarter of FY 1965. (Department of State, S/S-RD Files: Lot 71 D 171)

In an August 27 letter to President Johnson, Seaborg requested approval of 18 tests, 16 by the Atomic Energy Commission and 2 by the Department of Defense, and also of Sulky, a Plowshare cratering experiment, for the second quarter (Whetstone II) of FY 1965. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Nuclear Testing—U.S. Testing Program, Volume III, Whetstone Series—FY 1965, Box 28) Bundy informed Seaborg in a memorandum, September 25, that except for Sulky the President had approved his request. (Ibid.) Adjustments to the schedule for Whetstone II are contained in a letter from Seaborg to McGeorge Bundy, October 20. (Department of State, S/S-RD Files: Lot 71 D 171) Regarding Sulky, see Document 58.

In a letter to President Johnson, December 14, 1964, Seaborg requested approval of Whetstone III for the third quarter of FY 1965, [Page 63]which was to consist of 12 tests by the Atomic Energy Commission and one or two by the Department of Defense. One of the AEC events was to be a Plowshare experiment. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Nuclear Testing—U.S. Testing Program, Volume III, Whetstone Series—FY 1965, Box 28) Bundy informed Seaborg in a memorandum, January 8, 1965, that the President had approved his request. (Ibid.)

In a letter to President Johnson, March 17, 1965, Seaborg requested authority to conduct Whetstone IV for the fourth quarter of FY 1965. The request consisted of 13 new and 3 deferred third quarter AEC weapons development tests, 1 AEC Plowshare test (Palanquin), and 3 Department of Defense tests. The test program was described in some detail in an undated enclosure to Seaborg’s letter. (Department of State,S/S-RD Files: Lot 71 D 171) In a memorandum to Seaborg, April 2, McGeorge Bundy stated that the President had approved all these tests. (Ibid.)

The United States conducted 48 tests in the Whetstone series for FY 1965. Breakdown by quarters was 11 (July-September 1964); 13 (October-December 1964); 10 (January-March 1965); and 14 (April-June 1965). (United States Nuclear Tests, July 1945 through September 1992, pages 22-25)

A history of the Whetstone series is U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency, Operations Nougat and Whetstone: Events—Hard Hat, Danny Boy, Marshmallow, Mudpack, Wishbone, Gumdrop, Diluted Water, and Tiny Tot, 15 February 1962-17 June 1965 (DNA 6320F, 1984).