141. National Security Decision Memorandum 591

  • TO
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • The Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
  • SUBJECT
    • FY 1971–72 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

The President has approved the proposed Nuclear Weapons Stockpile for end FY 1972, the proposed adjusted stockpile composition for end FY 1971, and adjustments to the previously approved FY 1970–71 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile caused by fire damage at the Rocky Flats plant, submitted by the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission on February 6, 1970.2

Accordingly, the President has approved [less than 1 line not declassified] nuclear warheads as the stockpile composition for the end of FY 1972. He also approved [less than 1 line not declassified] nuclear war-heads as the adjusted stockpile composition for the end of FY 1971. [Page 511]This will mean a planned production by the Atomic Energy Commission of [less than 1 line not declassified] warheads and a planned retirement [less than 1 line not declassified] during FY 1972, resulting in [less than 1 line not declassified] nuclear warheads during FY 1972 from the adjusted FY 1971 stockpile.

The President directs the production and retirement of those quantities of atomic weapons and atomic weapons parts necessary to achieve and maintain the approved stockpiles; as well as the production of the additional parts of nuclear weapons necessary for transfer to the United Kingdom pursuant to the agreement for cooperation.3 Authority to produce parts of nuclear weapons for transfer to the United Kingdom will be operative only if the 1958 Agreement with the United Kingdom is extended to provide for the transfer of such parts during the period covered by this Memorandum.

The President has authorized the Atomic Energy Commission in coordination with the Department of Defense to initiate production of such long-lead-time nuclear warhead parts as may be necessary to prepare for FY 1973 production of warheads required by the Defense Management Summary.

The President authorizes the Atomic Energy Commission to produce and transfer to the Department of Defense parts of nuclear weapons, not containing special nuclear material, as may be agreed by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Defense, for utilization in nuclear weapons or other defense programs for training, research and development, or manufacturing or production.

The President authorizes the Atomic Energy Commission in coordination with the Department of Defense to make such changes in the production and/or retirement of nuclear warheads in FY 1971 and FY 1972 as may be necessary to reflect changes in Atomic Energy Commission material availabilities, production/retirement capabilities, or quality assurance requirements, or as a result of related changes in military requirements, so long as the quantity of warheads involved in any single action does not exceed [less than 1 line not declassified] for FY 1971 or [less than 1 line not declassified] for FY 1972. He further authorizes the Atomic Energy Commission in coordination with the Department of Defense to make changes in the production and/or retirement of nuclear warheads in FY 1971 and FY 1972 as may be necessary [Page 512]to reflect changes (not to exceed ±10%) in each year in strategic offensive, strategic defensive, tactical and fleet anti-submarine/anti-air warfare warhead totals as may be required by the Department of Defense because of changes in military requirements or adjustments in delivery assets. Any changes indicative of a major or significant shift in defense policy or Atomic Energy Commission production capabilities will be submitted for the President’s approval.

The FY 1972–1973 stockpile approval request should be submitted with the Department of Defense deployments request in November, 1970. This request should address the issues of:

  • —the number of strategic bombs in the stockpile and the appropriate load factor for our strategic bomber force, and
  • —the size of the tactical nuclear weapon stockpile in light of the effect of NSDM 274 on the number of tactical aircraft and of decisions made in other NSDMs and on currently outstanding NSSMs on nuclear weapons and regional strategy issues.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 363, Subject Files, NSDMs, Nos. 51–96. Top Secret.
  2. Packard and Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the AEC, submitted an undated memorandum to President Nixon with the following subject line: “FY 1971–72 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile and Certain FY 1970 Adjustments.” (Ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–216, NSDM 60)
  3. The United States and the United Kingdom reached two agreements pertinent to nuclear technology and weapons in 1958. The first became effective when the two nations exchanged notes on February 22. It stipulated that the United States would, as necessary, supply the United Kingdom with IRBMs. (9 UST 195; TIAS 3990) The second, which was signed on July 3 and became effective August 4, permitted greater exchange of nuclear information and materials between the two countries in order to improve their mutual defense capabilities. (9 UST 1028; TIAS 4078) See Department of State Bulletin, March 17, 1958, pp. 418–419; July 28, 1958, p. 157; and August 25, 1958, p. 310.
  4. Document 56.