67. Editorial Note

Both the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China conducted nuclear tests in late September 1969. China conducted its first underground nuclear test on September 22. United States intelligence detected the test [less than 1 line not declassified]. The Central Intelligence Agency produced an intelligence memorandum two days later than began as follows: “[2 lines not declassified].” On September 25, President Nixon received a memorandum from his Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger summarizing the CIA analysis. The real significance of the test, according to Kissinger, was that the PRC had made sufficient progress in its nuclear program to tackle the technical challenges involved in an underground test. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 958, Haig Chronological Files, September 1969 and ibid., Box 519, Country Files, Far East, Vol. III, respectively)

The Soviets conducted a nuclear test on September 25. On September 26, Kissinger sent to Nixon a memorandum reporting that the [Page 248]Soviets had tested an SS–9 inter-continental ballistic missile employing three reentry vehicles, the eighth such test since August 1968. [1 line not declassified] according to Kissinger’s memorandum. Nixon highlighted this section of the memorandum and wrote in the margin, “K[issinger]—We’d better keep a close eye on this.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 11, President’s Daily Briefs, September 23–30, 1969)