196. National Security Decision Memorandum 1281

  • TO
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
  • SUBJECT
    • FY 1972–1974 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

The President has approved the proposed Nuclear Weapons Stockpile for end FY 1973 and end FY 1974, except for the production of [less than 1 line not declassified] 155–mm projectiles in FY 1974, and the proposed adjusted stockpile for end FY 1972, submitted by the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission on May 20, 1971. A decision to proceed with the 155–mm projectile production program is deferred pending the results of the current NSC studies concerning tactical nuclear weapons requirements and rationale.

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Accordingly, the President approves a total stockpile of [less than 1 line not declassified] for the end of FY 1973 and a total stockpile [less than 1 line not declassified] for the end of FY 1974. The President also approves a total adjusted stockpile [less than 1 line not declassified] for the end of FY 1972. This will mean a planned production by the Atomic Energy Commission of [less than 1 line not declassified] and a planned retirement of [less than 1 line not declassified] during FY 1973, a resulting net increase of [less than 1 line not declassified] during FY 1973 from the adjusted FY 1972 stockpile. It further means a planned production of [less than 1 line not declassified] and a planned retirement of [less than 1 line not declassified] during FY 1974, resulting in a net increase of [less than 1 line not declassified] during FY 1974 from the end FY 1973 proposed stockpile.

The President directs the production and retirement of those quantities of atomic weapons and atomic weapon 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.

The President authorizes 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 1975 production of warheads required to support approved and planned Department of Defense forces.

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. These parts may be used in nuclear weapons, training programs, research and development, 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 1972–1974 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 1972, [less than 1 line not declassified] for FY 1973, or [less than 1 line not declassified] for FY 1974. The President 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 1972–1974 as may be necessary to reflect changes (not to exceed [H11006]10%) in each year in strategic offensive, strategic defensive, tactical and fleet anti-submarine/anti-air warfare warheads totals as may be [Page 863]required by the Department of Defense because of changes in military requirements or adjustments in delivery assets. Any such changes above indicative of a major or a significant shift in defense policy, force capability, or Atomic Energy Commission production capabilities will be submitted for the President’s approval.

The President authorizes the Department of Defense to designate as retired and to retain custody of nuclear warheads for a period of up to one year from the date the designation is made if necessary to reduce Atomic Energy Commission requirements for weapons storage during periods of high production workload at Atomic Energy Commission assembly facilities.

The FY 1973–1975 stockpile approval request should be submitted with the Department of Defense nuclear weapons deployments request in February, 1972. In addition to the information and displays of the type contained in enclosures 1, 2 and 3 of the FY 1972–1974 stockpile approval request,2 the following information should be included:

  • —The number and general type of nuclear weapons required to support approved U.S. and NATO war plans, including the SIOP, SACEUR’s General Strike Plan and U.S. contingency war plans involving the possible use of nuclear weapons.
  • —The number and type of nuclear-capable delivery forces (bomber, fighter, missile, artillery, etc.) in approved Department of Defense force structure plans associated with each general type of nuclear weapon. This information should be in sufficient detail to indicate loading factors of specific weapon delivery systems.
  • —The rationale for nuclear weapons stockpile components in terms of the number and type of threat targets, the number and type of weapons required to attack these targets and the results expected to be achieved against enemy capabilities.
  • —Rationale for the production of new weapons to be introduced into the stockpile during the time period of the request. Total program costs and production schedule should be included.

Several National Security Council studies are underway concerning future strategic and tactical nuclear weapons postures and requirements.3 [Page 864]When completed, these studies may lead to decisions that will result in changes to the size and composition of the nuclear weapons stockpile. Therefore, the stockpile requests herein approved for FY 1973 and FY 1974 may be subject to change in the future.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, NSDMs, Nos. 97–144. Top Secret.
  2. Packard and Seaborg’s undated memorandum to President Nixon regarding the FY 1972–1974 nuclear weapons stockpile includes the following three enclosures: Proposed FY 1972–74 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, Warheads Required to Support Quality Assurance and Reliability Testing Programs, and Summary of Special Nuclear Materials Requirements for FY 1972–FY 1974 Nuclear Weapons Program. (Ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–226, NSDM 128)
  3. NSSM 64, “U.S. Strategic Capabilities,” July 8, 1969, is Document 41. NSSM 65, issued on July 8, 1969, and entitled “Relationships Among Strategic and Theater Forces for NATO,” initiated studies of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons capabilities and rationale in the European theater. NSSM 65 is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972. NSSM 69, issued on July 14 and entitled “U.S. Nuclear Policy in Asia,” is Document 42.