The Kennedy Coup (The Paladin Papers Book 6)

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He did not believe that intelligence sources and methods — whether imagery, signals intercepts, or agent reporting — could replace on-the-ground examination of test sites, and he thought most disarmament proposals were quixotic. Meanwhile, the AEC had turned much of its attention from weapons development toward peaceful applications of nuclear energy, and Ameri- can nuclear scientists had moved into other endeavors; as a result, US laboratories were left poorly prepared to respond to a new Soviet testing program.

As he pointed out to the NSC, the Soviets had reversed their position since , when Khrushchev had told Eisenhower that he would permit inspections. Even if the superpowers compromised — for example, by prohibiting atmospheric tests while permitting them underground — McCone ques- tioned whether such an agreement would halt proliferation, one of the long-term goals of a test ban treaty.


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Any nation that wanted to develop nuclear weapons he mentioned West Germany, India, Japan, and Israel could do so with subterranean tests alone. Moreover, McCone insisted, pur- suing a test ban would spell an end to the program for devel- oping peaceful uses of nuclear energy called PLOWSHARE because monitoring systems could not dis- tinguish between tests for weapons or for other purposes. The Com- mittee originally had six members: the secretaries of state and defense, the chairman of the AEC, the presidents national security and science advisers, and the DCI.

Other offi- cials attended meetings depending on the subjects under dis- cussion; usually around two dozen or more people were present. The committee met sporadically, sometimes not for weeks or months at a time. U McCone attended 13 meetings of the committee while he was DCI, most during his first two years when the issue of nuclear weapons was most salient. His level of participa- tion varied. At some meetings he said nothing; at some he confined himself to intelligence questions; and at others he discussed negotiating postures and policy strategies. State Department Meeting on 18 Dec.

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Meet- ing of Principals.. Among numerous examples, he counseled ACDA Director Foster to make sure that any disarmament treaty not require the United States to close down defense contrac- tors facilities.

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In a command economy like the Soviet Unions, factories were kept running even at a very low level of production so they could be brought up to full output on short notice. McCone had noticed this characteristic of Soviet military plants when he toured Russia in I was dis- appointed in those days to find idle aircraft, engine, tank, and armament plants, which had been main- tained for years to provide instant mobilization poten- tial, not usable until large amounts of money had been spent and a great deal of time consumed in re-equip- ping, modifying, etc You must find some way in your negotiations to safeguard us against such a disad- vantageous position.

On another occasion, McCone suggested that the admin- istration exploit intelligence about a possible new Soviet weapons systems for propaganda gains. Washington and Moscow feared that communist China was close to developing its own atomic weapon, and Kennedy believed that the superpowers needed to cooperate to delay or prevent that from happening. Kennedy also calculated that a US-Soviet agreement would weaken the international communist movement by worsening ten- sions between Moscow and Beijing, and he resolved to stabi- lize the nuclear situation so the United States could confront the Soviet Union more aggressively and flexibly in other areas.

With the removal of the missiles from Cuba, the Sovi- ets had come to accept the principle of international verifi- cation, and even the traditional obstacle to a treaty — on-site inspection — seemed surmountable after Kennedy indicated he was willing to accept fewer inspections and permit underground testing. Finally, a ban on above-ground testing would impede the Soviets more than the United States. Even though the United States had fewer high-yield weap- ons which required atmospheric testing than the Soviets, the administration concluded that developing more low- yield weapons which could be tested underground had greater strategic value.

Meanwhile, influ- ential advocates of the unlimited development of nuclear weapons — notably physicist Edward Teller — insisted that the United States should develop a megaton warhead as soon as possible. Presumably he hoped that McCone would press the point in policymaking circles. Replying cautiously, the DCI recommended that the controversial Teller refrain from speeches and television appearances and not raise the nuclear issues public profile right then. The administrations policy, McCone assured him, was under careful review, and Teller would be consulted before any decision was reached.

McCone did not like the course the review appeared to be taking. A prohibition on testing would keep the United States from improving its nuclear weapons without guaranteeing that the Soviets would not cheat. Discussion with Dr. McCone did not disapprove of developing a megaton weapon on principle and believed that it had significant military value.

Meeting with the President.

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See, e. Indicating that the laboratory directors felt unrepresented at the White House, McCone recommended that the president meet with them — a suggestion with which Kennedy readily agreed. ACDA was a consumer of intelligence, not a producer. Doing so might suggest that McCone was letting his per- sonal skepticism about arms control influence his manage- ment of the intelligence process.

He told McGeorge Bundy in April that he was most anx- ious not to have to oppose a test ban treaty; in fact, as long as he was in the administration, he would not do so openly. In view of his private convictions and past public statements, however, he could not support a test ban as currently envis- aged. Perhaps, McCone suggested, he should resign.

Well aware of the repercussions, especially among the DCIs con- gressional allies, Bundy headed him off, reminding McCone that he had already made his position dear to the president and that, in any case, the entire issue lay outside his compe- tence as DCI.

Should McCone need political insulation, Bundy added, he would provide it. Following this discussion, McCone did not play the resignation card again. Many thanks. Historian John Prados has written that McCone detailed an Agency analyst to the Senate Armed Services Committee during the summer of to help Stennis develop a case against the treaty.

According to Elder, however, Stennis requested that CIA send a expert to assist the committee staff with technical details, and that the analyst went with clear instructions not to take sides on the treaty issue. A poll of senators taken that month found only 57 supported a treaty that followed the administrations proposals — 10 fewer than needed for ratification. In his reply to Khrush- chev s missive, Kennedy ignored the Soviet leader s invective and focused instead on the one positive suggestion — that American and British emissaries go to Moscow for talks.

His landmark speech on 10 June at American Uni- versity paved the way for test ban negotiations to begin in the Soviet capital in July. Signaling his seriousness, the presi- dent chose the venerable, tough-minded W.


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  • Averell Harri- man to lead the US delegation. McCone confronted some of the arguments for an agreement, and evidence of possible Soviet tests enabled him to question the bans enforceability. Among other points, he staunchly opposed using the planned multinational nuclear force as a bargaining chip to win agreement on a nonproliferation treaty. He believed the security of Western Europe depended on creation of such a missile force as a deterrent against several hundred Soviet offensive missiles.

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    Moreover, McCone thought the United States should not sign an agreement that prevented the Brit- ish and French from improving their own nuclear deter- rents. Otherwise, the United States would be forced to defend Europe unilaterally for decades to come. At no time was I asked my opinion concerning the treaty That I opposed the treaty.

    A test ban, the NSC asserted, was in the national interest, both as a precedent for solving other international problems and as a first step toward curtailing nuclear proliferation. McCone knew that from an intelligence standpoint the second point was debatable, but at this late stage in the pro- cess he declined the presidents invitation to comment.

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    McCone came very close to submitting a formal dissent in early July. The agreement — more commonly known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty — - prohibited signatories from conducting nuclear explosions in those environments. Underground testing could con- tinue, however, and the reduction of nuclear stockpiles was not addressed. Communist China was left unchecked; it refused to sign the treaty, and the Soviet Union would not agree to take joint action with the United States against Beijing's nuclear program.

    Short of resigning, the DCI had no option but to support the accord. His prior record on the issue aside, he served in an administration determined to move ahead in arms control, and, with improved monitoring technology available to the United States, he found opposing a limited test ban to be politically, and to some degree technically, untenable.

    Moreover, in the time since McCone headed the AEC, two important issues had been, in his judgment, resolved. First, the United States did not need large megaton weapons, which could only be tested in the atmosphere, to preserve its strategic advantage. It could accomplish the same with more, smaller-yield war- heads that could be tested underground. Second, an effec- tive ABM system could be developed without further above- ground testing. Consequently, McCone told Congress, he endorsed the treaty with the proviso that we pursue underground testing, that we keep our lab- oratories vital, that we plan a comprehensive atmo- spheric program, anticipating that the Soviets will violate the treaty, and that we maintain our proving grounds [in the Pacific region] in a state of readiness at all times.

    I have always supported an atmospheric test ban, but contrast this sharply to a comprehensive test ban with [an] inadequate verification system.

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    He was less sure about those advantages, however, and wanted to keep administration officials from being lulled into a false sense of security. NSC Meeting In later years, McCone told interviewers t W hr s upported the treat JJnited States had technical collection systems that could detect Soviet violations. Eisenhower and presidential aspirant Nelson Rockefeller, the governor of New York, on the treaty after it was signed.

    McCone pointed out to the former president that, except for the provision banning nuclear testing in outer space, the proposed treaty was the same as the one his administration had proposed in and The general replied that Soviet advance- ments in ABMs had altered the situation since then, but he said he would endorse the treaty if McCone and the JCS, independently and without direction from the White House, also supported it.

    Their final position paralleled the DCIs. After members of the Senate Foreign Relations, Atomic Energy, and Armed Services Committees held hearings on the treaty, including testimony from McCone — who stressed the four safeguards described above — the Foreign Relations Committee approved the treaty on 29 August by a vote, and the full Senate ratified it on 24 September, The treaty went into effect on 10 October, when the instruments of ratification were exchanged at ceremonies in Washington, London, and Moscow.

    He warned that the United States must not lock itself into a limited inspection regime when new intelligence sources might indicate that previously unknown or unsuspected test loca- tions needed to be inspected. Occasions might arise when Congress, the American public, and US allies would not be convinced that the Soviets were or were not complying with the treaty unless the US government publicized information 53 McCone untitled memorandum on the test ban treaty.

    Arrm Cnntrnland Ditarwurmmt. Discussion with Governor Rockefeller Prevent- ing such revelations was one of the main reasons McCone insisted that the United States not rely on intelligence as a substitute for comprehensive on-site inspections to verify Soviet compliance. In comments at meetings of the Com- mittee of Principals during , he addressed details of con- ducting those inspections — including the wording of phrases pertaining to them in subsequent protocols.

    He wanted to avoid giving the Soviets more chances to violate the spirit of the tr eaty by taking advantage of ambiguous language in its letter. He continued in that func- tion after Lyndon Johnson became president. For instance, in February he argued against conducting an underground excavation test under the PLOWSHARE pro- gram because it might release radioactive debris in detect- able quantities.