159. National Security Action Memorandum No. 3451


  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense


  • Nuclear Planning

The President wishes to have developed recommendations for enlarging the participation in and understanding of nuclear planning by both the political and military authorities of our major NATO allies.

Two alternative approaches should be considered: one which assumes the creation of a “NATO Nuclear Force” and one which does not.

Among the possibilities examined should be the creation of a permanent body of restricted membership within NATO with functions including both intensified consultation and the direction of U.S. and U.K. nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles assigned to NATO and/or collectively owned. The proposals should cover the full range of activities involved in planning for the operation of existing forces and the development of future forces: intelligence, deployment, targeting, considerations affecting use at times of crisis, research, development, production and budgeting, etc.

The primary operational focus of these arrangements should be the defense of NATO territory.

For purposes of this exercise, it should be assumed that any “NATO Nuclear Force” Plan which later may be agreed upon will not include:

Mixed-manning of submarines;
A surface fleet capable of delivering nuclear weapons. The following matters should be addressed, in addition to functions:
participation or membership;
probable U.K., German, French, other NATO and Soviet reactions;
appropriate U.S. negotiating strategy and procedures for its execution.

The President also wishes to have developed other forward-looking proposals that would increase the cohesion of NATO and the North Atlantic community. These should embrace two kinds of measures:

Military and non-military programs affecting primarily the affairs of the Free World;
Constructive political, diplomatic, and economic initiatives addressed to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The President wishes to have these proposals ready for review by Thursday, May 12.

W. W. Rostow
  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 72 D 316. Secret; Nodis. Rostow sent a draft of the NSAM, dated April 18, to Johnson attached to an April 21 memorandum. In the memorandum, Rostow stated that he, Rusk, McNamara, Acheson, Ball, and Bator all agreed on the need to concentrate on nuclear consultation. However, McNamara believed that a European clause contained in the draft should be excluded. (Johnson Library, Papers of Francis Bator, Box 28, Nuclear Role for Germany) Apparently the draft was discussed at a meeting at the White House on April 21, since the European clause was deleted and the second paragraph of the text printed here was added.