7. National Security Action Memorandum No. 2821
In a telephone call to President Johnson on February 11 at 12:20 p.m., McGeorge Bundy reported on “three small matters,” the first of which had to do with “a project Plowshare peaceful uses experiment which will vent and may be detected in Canada.” Bundy continued, “The recommendation of State and of myself and I’m pretty sure of Bob McNamara is that we ought to put this off til after the election. You don’t want the Russians accusing you of breaking a treaty. There’ll be some fuss in the Commission, but they themselves are not prepared to do it in the grazing season because of the fear of American farmers complaining, which seems to make it clear that we’re not quite ready to run these risks. I would prefer to sign the instruction myself and to sign you on it directly, unless you are deeply interested.”
President Johnson: “No, it’s all right, if all of you follow the agreement.”
Bundy: “Well, as I say, Seaborg would love to do it, but he’s a special interested party, and I think I can cool him off. If I get a tough reaction, I’ll come back.” (Johnson Library, Records and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation between President Johnson and McGeorge Bundy, February 11, 1964, 12:20 p.m., Tape F64.13, Side A)
Bundy then called Seaborg at 3:45 p.m. and said that unless Seaborg objected, he was planning to issue the NSAM that day. Seaborg replied that he had no objection “so long as this is only a postponement and that this does not actually preclude the shot. (In my opinion this decision may be a mistake in view of the very small risk and the history of the Senate Test Ban hearings, need for Plowshare, etc.).” (Seaborg, Journal, Vol. 7, p. 366)
- The Secretary of State
- The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
- Project Sulky
In view of the delicacy of the balance of US-USSR relationship in other major areas plus the tight schedule for conducting Sulky at this time, the President has decided to defer further consideration of Sulky without prejudice until next winter in the expectation that the intervening time could be profitably used for a review of possibilities for improving nondetection and to give a longer period in which to select the most favorable wind and weather conditions.
In addition, the President requests the Secretary of State, in consultation with other responsible officers of the Government as appropriate, to give immediate consideration to the probabilities and problems involved in obtaining from the nations signatory to the Test Ban Treaty approval for the utilization of nuclear energy for peaceful explosions under adequate international controls. The President requests that a first report on this matter be available to him by the end of March.