217. National Security Decision Memorandum 1741

  • TO
    • The Secretary of Defense
    • Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
  • SUBJECT
    • FY73–75 Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

The President has approved the proposed Nuclear Weapons Stockpile for end FY75, and the proposed adjusted stockpiles for end FY73 and end FY74, submitted by the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission on May 23, 1972.2

Accordingly, the President approves a total adjusted stockpile of [less than 1 line not declassified] for the end of FY73 and a total adjusted stockpile of [less than 1 line not declassified] for the end of FY74. The President also approves a total stockpile of [less than 1 line not declassified] for the end of FY75. 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 FY75, resulting in a net increase of [less than 1 line not declassified] during FY75 from the adjusted FY74 stockpile.

The nuclear weapons stockpile levels and composition approved by the President represent authorized ceilings, not to be exceeded except [Page 963]as provided below or otherwise approved by the President. The ceilings are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances, budgetary actions or policy decisions which could affect our future nuclear weapons posture.

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

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 FY76 production of warheads required to support approved and planned Department of Defense forces with nuclear warhead systems approved by the President.

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 FY73–75 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]. 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 FY73–75 as may be necessary to reflect changes (not to exceed ± 10 percent) in each year in strategic offensive, strategic defensive, tactical and fleet anti-sub marine/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, military capability or Atomic Energy Commission production capabilities will be submitted for the President’s approval.4

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The President authorizes the Department of Defense to designate as retired and, in coordination with the Atomic Energy Commission, 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 FY74–76 stockpile approval request should be submitted with the Department of Defense nuclear weapons deployments request in February 1973. In addition to the information and displays of the type contained in Enclosures 1, 2 and 3 of the stockpile approval request, the rationale should be presented for any new weapon systems to be introduced in the stockpile during the period of the request. Total program costs and production schedules should be included.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, NSDMs, Nos. 145–264. Top Secret; Restricted Data.
  2. On July 3, Kissinger forwarded to Nixon, under a covering memorandum, a May 23 memorandum from Schlesinger and Rush outlining their plan for the FY 1973–1975 nuclear weapons stockpile. Kissinger asked Nixon to approve the recommendations contained in Schlesinger and Rush’s memorandum. Nixon initialed his approval of Kissinger’s memorandum. (Ibid., NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–235, NSDM 174)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 141.
  4. On July 18, NSDM 178, entitled “FY 1973 Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization,” specified the overseas deployment of the nuclear stockpile. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 364, Subject Files, NSDMs, Nos. 145–264)