50. Memorandum for the Record/1/
Washington, September 15, 1964.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, DCI (McCone) Memo for the Record, 11 Sept-31 Oct 1964. Secret; Eyes Only. Dictated by McCone on September 17.
Memorandum of Discussion at Luncheon--September 15th Secretary Rusk's Dining Room/2/
/2/See also Document 49.
Secy. Rusk, Secy. McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, Mr. McCone
1. Reviewed the needs for photographic [intelligence on] Lop Nor Chinese Communist nuclear test site./3/ I explained the need for the U-2 mission as discussed and recorded in USIB meeting of September 10th./4/ Rusk took the position that finite intelligence on when a ChiCom test might be made was not of importance to him from a policy standpoint, as he knew it was inevitable and he knew of no political action he would take if finite information was given to him. Bundy seemed to agree. After extended discussion, I stated that I could not conceive of our failing to take some actions if finite information was in our hands, i.e., Rusk might contact Gromyko or Dobrynin; the President might communicate with Khrushchev privately; we might discuss the subject with our Allies, both in Europe and the Far East; and we might take some position in the press through leaks or planted information. Certainly we should discuss the subject with Thailand, Laos and South Vietnam. It was agreed that the embarrassment and consequences of failure outweighed the advantages and therefore, while the final decision was up to the President, Rusk would not recommend the mission. Bundy agreed. McNamara indicated his concurrence but was non-committal.
/3/In a September 12 meeting with Rusk, as recorded in McCone's September 13 memorandum for the record, McCone stated that the "status of the Lop Nor site and certain clandestine reports indicated a test was imminent." Rusk told him that "Dobrynin had told Thompson at lunch that the ChiComs 'would get off a test at any time.'" (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files: Job 80-B01285A, DCI (McCone) Memo for the Record, 11 Sept-31 Oct 1964)
/4/No record of the meeting has been found. In the September 12 meeting between Rusk and McCone cited above, Rusk told McCone that he opposed the proposed mission because the political consequences of the loss of a plane outweighed the advantages.
Note: In a 5:00 o'clock meeting, I suggested that the mission could be accomplished [3 lines of source text not declassified]. All immediately agreed that this plan was a good one and should be approved. Subsequently at a meeting with the President (which I did not attend because of another appointment) the President approved the Takhli-Lop Nor plan and this was reported to me by McGeorge Bundy in a telephone call.
[Here follows discussion of other subjects.]