U.S. Department of State
96/12/03 Press Release: Foreign Relations Series, Vol. III,
1958-1960 National Security Policy; Arms Control and Disarmament
Office of the Historian
For Immediate Release:
December 3, 1996
Release of Foreign Relations Series, Volume III, 1958-1960, National
Arms Control and Disarmament
The Department of State is releasing Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume III, National Security Policy; Arms Control and Disarmament. This is the last of 75 print volumes documenting the foreign policies of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. These volumes of the Foreign Relations series, the first of which was published in 1979, along with eight microfiche supplements, have presented the official record of more than 30,000 foreign affairs documents from the Department of State, White House, and other agencies for the years 1952-1960.
The volume released today presents the record of the most significant aspects of the U.S. defense posture. Throughout the 1958-1960 triennium, the formal, detailed annual reviews of basic national security policy began to reevaluate the concept of "massive retaliation" adopted earlier in the Eisenhower administration and to take into account the possibilities of limited war. Changes in strategic doctrine came under study because U.S. officials foresaw a virtual parity in nuclear weapons between the Soviet Union and the United States. Senior administration officials were also engaged in ongoing evaluations of the Soviet Union's ballistic missile and nuclear testing programs and the relative positions of the U.S. and Soviet strategic forces. In addition, officials engaged in intensive discussions on the recommendations of the 1957 Gaither Report on strategic offensive and defensive weapons systems, including measures to reduce the vulnerability of the Strategic Air Command to a hypothetical Soviet surprise attack and enhance U.S. military readiness, and the advisability of initiating a nationwide fallout shelter program. Some documents also describe briefings of the National Security Council on the disastrous effects of an all-out U.S.-Soviet nuclear war on the two nations.
The volume also focuses on the Eisenhower administration's ongoing attempt to negotiate a comprehensive agreement banning nuclear testing. The published documents trace the proposals advanced by the administration's disarmament specialists calling for a testing cessation, which were usually opposed by the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission. Also covered are the Eisenhower administration's internal and public reactions to the Soviet announcement in March 1958 of a suspension in its nuclear testing program and the meetings of technical experts from the Western and Soviet blocs in Geneva seeking common ground on an effective inspection system.
The U.S. objections to Soviet demands for a veto on inspections and disagreement between the United States and the Soviet Union over the required number of them to detect underground explosions in disarmament talks are covered in some detail. The compilation also documents the administration's consideration of a threshold concept, banning tests above a certain measurable seismic magnitude, and efforts to maintain British and other Allied support for U.S. arms control initiatives. A microfiche supplement to this volume, to be published in 1997, will contain additional documentation on both national security policy and arms control and disarmament.
For further information or for copies of the summary, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663- 1127 (fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Volume III may be purchased for $58.00 ($72.50) from the U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954.