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Vol. LVI, No. 1U7

March 20, 1967

by Assistant Secretary Palmer M9

by Assistant Secretary Sisco 458


Transcript of BBC Interview UU2

For index see inside back cover

Secretary McNamara Comments on Risks
of Anti-Ballistic-Missile System

Following is the transcript of an interview
with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNa-
mara by James Mossman of the British
Broadcasting Company's television program
"Panorama," which was videotaped at Wash-
ington on February 15. Portions of the inter-
view were televised on "Panorama" on Feb-
ruary 20.

Q. Mr. McNamara, is it your opinion the
introduction of an ABM system in America
and Russia would destabilize the nuclear
relationship ?

A. No, certainly not. I don't believe it
would have any significant effect on the nu-
clear balance of power. I don't believe that
either nation, if it has the technical and
financial capability to prevent such an ef-
fect, could tolerate that eff"ect. And therefore
I don't believe it would be destabilizing.

Q. Well, why do you oppose its implemen-
tation then ?

A. Because I think that it would require a
very large investment, that it would not sig-
nificantly change the balance of power; it
would not protect our people, and therefore
it would be wasteful. That's my primary rea-
son for objecting to it.

But beyond that, I believe it would ac-
tually increase the risk to both of the parties
were they to deploy anti-ballistic-missile sys-
tems. And I say that, paradoxical though
it may sound, because of my strong feeling
that each of us, the Soviets and the West,
must, to the extent it is technically and finan-
cially capable of doing so, erect a deterrent
against a potential strike by the other.

We have that deterrent capability today; in


a very real sense the Soviets have it as well.
We feel we must keep it. I don't know of
any reason why they should think differently
than we in this point. The question is. Would
the deployment of an anti-ballistic-missile
system make it impossible to keep it? and I
think the answer is "No."

Were the other side to fail to react to the
deployment of an anti-ballistic-missile sys-
tem, the deterrent balance would be changed.
But if the other side has the necessity to
react and the capability of reacting, one must
assume it will. And I think it would.

Q. But you're saying —

A. But therein lies the problem of addi-
tional risk and a paradox. Because each of
us is operating with uncertain knowledge of
the other, and, hence, when we react, we
react on the basis of uncertain knowledge.
Because we know our knowledge is uncertain,
in effect we overreact, because we forecast
the most extreme set of circumstances. We
credit the other side with a much greater ca-
pability than in all likelihood it has. We react
to that much greater capability than exists,
and, hence, after the deployment, we are in
effect worse off than we were before. And
the world is facing a greater risk.

Q. Did either side — if either side starts
deploying ABM's, the other side will then
step up its offensive capacity?

A. Yes, yes —

Q. And both sides will do this?

A. — yes, exactly. And, in effect, this has
happened already.

Q. You've responded to them?


A. We have started to respond to them.
We knew a year or two or three ago that
;hey were beginning to move toward deploy-
ment of ABM's, and last year we presented
to the Congress a program of reaction; and
jecause our knowledge of the Soviet ABM
deployment was uncertain and incomplete, I
estimated the worst possible set of circum-
stances, circumstances almost surely beyond
what we will actually face. We reacted to that
greater-than-expected threat — if you will,
greater-than-probable threat — and therefore
the Soviets in a very literal sense are worse
off today and will be worse off in the future
than had they never started to deploy an
anti-ballistic-missile system.

Balance of Offensive-Defensive Actions

Q. You would prefer to react by building
up the offensive side of your capacity and
not by competing in the defensive?

A. Why yes, because if their action is to
^protect their people, it reduces our deterrent
unless we build up our offensive force to
have the power to penetrate that defense.
So it isn't an either/or situation. It isn't we
either build our offense or we build a defense
to protect our people. The only logical and
rational reaction to a Soviet defensive move
is for us to strengthen our offense. Now, that
doesn't mean we shouldn't also consider a
defensive move. But if we do so consider it,
it's for reasons other than as a reaction to
their defensive move.

Q. Well, what would those reasons be then?

A. We might wish to protect our own peo-
ple and reduce the loss to this nation in the
event deterrence fails. We must have, or
must try to have, two capabilities in our nu-
clear forces. One is a capability to deter a
Soviet attack on the West and the other is
a capability to limit damage to the West in
the event deterrence fails. It's this second
capability which we might seek to obtain by
deploying an anti-ballistic-missile system.

Q. Do you think —

A. I say, "seek to obtain" because I don't
believe we can attain it.

Q. If one did deploy that system, do you
think it would make people, in a sort of
ghastly sense, prepared for a war which they
might overcome. Hence, endanger — accelerat-
ing the possibility —

A. No. No, I don't think so. And the reason
I say that is I don't believe any responsible
group of people in this country or any re-
sponsible leader, scientific or political or
military, believes that any anti-ballistic-
missile defense we could presently contem-
plate would so reduce damage to this nation
as to make nuclear war acceptable —

Q. Do you think the Russians —

A. — or desirable.

Q. Do you think the Russians believe their
system would work ?

A. No, I — I think they believe it would
work in the sense of being to their advan-
tage to deploy it, reducing the damage to
their people in the event of war, but I don't
believe they think it would work to the extent
of making nuclear war acceptable. The rea-
son I say that is that they have been almost
fanatical on the subject of defense for years;
over the past decade or decade and a half
they have spent perhaps 214 times as much
as we have spent on air defense. And yet,
they must know that that air defense was
sievelike, and I mean literally sievelike, be-
cause we always had the capability to pene-
trate it. There was never any doubt in our
minds, and I don't believe there was any
doubt in their minds.

At no time during that decade and a half,
when they were spending 21/2 times as much
as we, did they ever indicate that they
thought we lacked a capability to deter their
strike against us. And if we had that capa-
bility to deter it, it simply meant that we
could penetrate their defenses. So they were
in effect by their action admitting we could
penetrate their defense.

Q. Why did they make this tremendous de-
fensive buildup? Is that just their own na-

A. It's their psychology. It's their strong

MARCH 20, 1967


emotional reaction to the need to defend
Mother Russia.

Q. Mr. Rosy gin [Aleksei N. Rosy gin,
Chairman of the Soviet Council of Ministers]
said in London that it is better to build de-
fense weapons than offensive ones. Is that a
valid distinction ?

A. No. No. They're not alternatives. As I
mentioned a moment ago, we must build
more offense because he's building more de-

Nature of Bargaining Factor

Q. Oh, yes, I see that. I'm very confused by
this distinction. I must say that I think
you've made it pretty clear. I have been told
by supporters of the ABM system here that
it will give you a strong bargaining factor
with the Russians if you started one now to
lotv level before negotiations.

A. Well, it depends on how rational they
are. If they really believe that a move to
deploy a defense is in no way a warlike move,
they probably would not react adversely to
our deployment of a defense, and in that
event our statement, "We would deploy if
they deployed," would not give us a bargain-
ing lever to move them to restrict their de-

If they believe that our reaction will be,
as it will be, to increase our offensive force
and that, because we have uncertain knowl-
edge of the power of their defense, we must
in effect overreact, then I would think that's
the strongest —

Q. Stronger bargaining factor —

A. — bargaining position from which we
may negotiate. And that's exactly the fact.
That's what we're doing, and that's what
we're going to continue to do, and the risk
is great to them; the risk of loss to their
people will be greater as a result of this
action than it would be otherwise, and the
cost to them of financial — in financial terms
of diversion of resources will be very high

Q. If you look at the world through the
Russian eyes for a moment, they're building

up a defensive system. They say you have a
vastly superior striking force. Doesn't that
make sense if you say you fear that they may
even believe that this thing would be effec-
tive to some extent? Aren't they in fact
literally responding to what apj)ears to be
a vastly superior offensive force?

A. Well, if they are, they are responding
in an erroneous way. I — in a sense, if I were
they, I wouldn't consider our force vastly
superior. It is superior in numbers for rea-
sons we needn't go into, but we're quite pre-
pared to say, and I've stated publicly, that
we with our force, superior as it is in num-
bers, do not have sufficient power to destroy
them without in effect destroying ourselves
in the process. So what we are really saying
is that they have power to deter large-scale
nuclear attack initiated by the U.S., and we
have power to deter large-scale nuclear at-
tack initiated by the Soviet Union.

Q. This is the plateau you want to freeze?

A. Well, no, no, I'm not suggesting I want
to freeze it; I'm just saying that is a fact,
and technically it's a relationship that's very
difficult for either of us to move out of un-
less the other simply fails to act in a rational

Q. In your testimony, Mr. McNamara, you
seem to hint that the story ivasn't ahvays in
terms of numerical superiority. Were you
hinting that their payloads might be bigger
than yours, that —

A. No, no, no. Certainly not, because I
don't think a difference in payload is of great
significance here. No, I was simply saying
that numerical superiority today in these
weapons does not bring with it the political
advantage that numerical superiority in mili-
tary forces brought with it over the past two
or three centuries.

Q. Would your talks with the Russians on
disarmament be limited to the ABM?

A. Perhaps not. I think it would depend on
their interest in other subjects. It might very
well move into offensive weapons as well.

Q. Can I ask if, as part of an arrangement,
you would expect them to dismantle an ABM



system if you weren't going to build one

yourself ?

A. Well, it's much too early to —

Q. Well, let me put it this way: Hypothet-

ically, if the Russians pushed on ivith an

ABM system, you couldn't afford not to do

the same ?

A. No, I won't even state that liypothet-
ically. Our position at present is that we
believe it's disadvantageous to the parties to
engage in deployment of ABM's against each

We do wish to engage in conversations
with the Soviets to seek to limit ABM de-
ployments. We are anxious to avoid any arms
race in strategic nuclear weapons. We do
recognize the talks may be unsuccessful, how-
ever. We have provided, therefore, in our
new financial program, now lying before our
Congress, for the appropriation of $377
million as a small initial payment on the
deployment of an ABM system in this coun-
try, should that later prove desirable.

I've said publicly I don't believe it would
be desirable, if its purpose were the defense
of our cities against Soviet attacks. But it
might be desirable for other reasons. For ex-
ample, the protection of our offensive weap-
ons. Because we can strengthen our offensive
weapons force which move is required as an
offset to their defensive move by either add-
ing weapons or protecting the weapons we
have in it. And for the latter purpose, we
might wish to deploy an anti-ballistic-missile

Question of Chinese Nuclear Threat

Q. Is there any logic in having an ABM —
anti-ballistic-missile system — at a low level
both for you and Russia, perhaps to counter
a Chinese nuclear threat in the seventies?

A. There may be. Yes, there may well be.
We haven't made a decision on that yet; it
isn't necessary for us to do so, because the
lead time required by the Chinese to develop
and produce and deploy any substantial
offensive force is greater than the lead time
we require to deploy a defensive force. So
this is a matter for the future.

U.S., U.S.S.R. To Exchange Views
on Limiting Nuclear Arms Race

statement by President Johnson '

I have a brief announcement to make. I have
received a reply from Chairman Kosygin to
my letter of January 27." This reply confirmed
the willingness of the Soviet Government to
discuss means of limiting the arms race in
offensive and defensive nuclear missiles.

This exchange of views is expected to lead
to further discussions of this subject in Mos-
cow and with our allies. It is my hope that
a means can be found to achieve construc-
tive results.

' Made at the opening of a news confer-
ence at the White House on Mar. 2.
' Not printed.

Q. Some of the military men seem to be
rather aghast about your cool assumption
that you have a lot of time to decide these

A. Well, we don't have perhaps a lot of
time, but we have more time than requires
the forces of decision this year.

Q. Would you say that an ABM system
would make your ability to protect your
allies more credible, as also is being argued?

A. No, no. No, because we would have to
say what was the truth, and that is that an
ABM system, assuming the Soviets react to
it, as I believe they must, will not protect
either our population or our allies' popula-

Q. When you worked with President
Kennedy, Mr. McNamara, you — betiveen
you — created a much wider set of options for
offensive possibilities; you opened up a lot of
options. Noiv, wouldn't the ABM system just
be adding another option?

A. Not if it's — not if it's reacted to by
one's opponent.

Q. You must think I'm very stupid, but
I'm getting the point.

A. No, this is exactly the point. You see,

MARCH 20, 1967


we start with the assumption that the U.S.
must be able to deter a large-scale Soviet
attack on Western Europe or the continental
U.S. I think everyone would agree that this
is the foundation of our security. We must
have that capability.

But if we accept that, I think we're forced
to accept that the Soviets must have a
similar requirement. They must be capable
of deterring a large-scale Western or U.S.
attack — NATO attack, if you will — upon the
Soviet Union. I don't know anyone who
would really disagree with that, as being to
them a requirement.

Do they have the technical and financial
capability to achieve that requirement? I
think they do. If we deploy an anti-ballistic-
missile system and give, as you call it, pro-
tection to our allies and/or ourselves, to the
extent that they don't react they have lost
a part of their deterrent. They're failing to
meet this requirement which is absolutely
essential to their security. And therefore, I
think we must assume they will react to our
defensive move if they have the technical
and financial capability to do so. And we
believe they have.

Effect on Nuclear Proliferation

Q. Do you think the deployment with an
ABM system either here or in Russia and
both places would encourage a (proliferation
of nuclear weapons elsewhere in the world?
This is also said —

A. Well, I don't think so. I've read com-
ments made by the political leaders of some
of the neutral states and some of the — par-
ticularly some of the states that have no
nuclear weapons of their own — which say in
effect they're going to cut off their nose to
spite their face, because they're not going to
sign any nonproliferation treaty unless par-
ticularly the Soviet and the U.S. agree not to
deploy any antiballistic missiles, for example.
Completely non sequitur — no relationship
whatsoever to the problem of the nonnuclear
states —

Q. Do you have

A. — and I don't believe that when it
comes down to the point of actually accept-
ing the treaty, this will be an important
factor. In fact I'm very sympathetic to their
desire to see what they consider to be a
nuclear arms race brought to a halt. But I
don't believe that failure to sign a non-
proliferation treaty — or refusal to sign a
nonproliferation treaty — is a move toward
deescalating the nuclear arms race. Quite
the contrary.

Q. One is in the midstream of a great arms
race, really, isn't one ?

A. Yes, but it's not between the two
nuclear powers. It's the potential arms race
between the nonnuclear powers, a race to
obtain nuclear weapons. And this is the race
that must be called to a halt, in the interest
of all of us, not just in the interest of the
nuclear powers but particularly in the in-
terest of the nonnuclear powers.

Q. Hoiv do you effectively try in the future
to stop the — you say it isn't an arms race
betiveen you and the Russians, but how do
yoti try to deescalate your position?

A. Well, I think we try to do so by the
kind of discussion you and I are having
right now — to try to make clear to our own
people that beyond a certain point there is
no gain from increasing the size of one's
nuclear forces; to try to make it clear there's
no gain by deploying antiballistic missiles;
and to try to make it clear, not only to one's
own people but also to one's opponents — and
that, of course, is the reason why we're so
very interested in engaging in a discussion
on this subject with the Soviets.

Q. But, do you think there's any realistic
possibility of having a sort of rollback which
would give public parity to you and the Rus-
sians, literal rparity?

A. Well, I don't want to speculate on —

Q. Do you think it's possible —

A. — on what's possible. We haven't en-
gaged in substantive discussions of this ABM
subject and associated subjects as yet with



the Soviets. We're very anxious to do so, but
I don't want to predict how the discussions
will evolve —

Q. I'm not thinking of your specific dis-
cussions. I'm just thinking of the general
psychological truth. Wouldn't it be a mx>re
stable relationship ?

A. Well, it depends on how they react. If
they react in an unfavorable fashion, it
wouldn't be more stable.

Q. I've got one more personal question. Do
you find it extremely difficult to ivalk a tight-
rope between all the different pressure
groups over an issue like this — the pros and
cons ? Is your job very difficult ?

A. No, I don't^

Q. — or do you say what should be done?

A. No, I don't find it difficult, but I don't
mean to say there aren't pressure groups
either. There are very strong pressure
groups, but perhaps the word "pressure
group" is the wrong designation for them.
Emotions run high on this subject, and for
that reason the argument is fierce. But I
don't find it difficult to argue fiercely when I
believe in what I'm doing.

Q. Thank you very much.

President Johnson Renews Call
for Nonproliferation Treaty

The Conference of the 18-Nation Commit-
tee on Disarmament reconvened at Geneva
on February 21. Following is the text of a
message from, President Johnson which was
read at the opening session of the conference
by William C. Foster, U.S. Representative to
the conference.

Wliite House press release dated February 21

The Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Com-
mittee reconvenes today in a time of renewed
hope. Conclusion of a treaty banning weapons
of mass destruction in outer space, and a
treaty for a Latin American nuclear free

zone, give new impetus to the effort to bring
the arms race under control.

The Disarmament Committee now faces
a great opportunity — a treaty to prevent the
spread of nuclear weapons. I earnestly hope
that it will soon be possible to recommend
draft provisions of a non-proliferation treaty
for the consideration of the Committee.

As I pointed out to the Congress in my
State of the Union Message,^ the world is
"in the midst of a great transition, a transi-
tion from narrow nationalism to interna-
tional partnership; from the harsh spirit of
the cold war to the hopeful spirit of com-
mon humanity on a troubled and threatened

Our deepest obligation to ourselves and to
our children is to bring nuclear weapons
under control. We have already made con-
siderable progress. The next step is to pre-
vent the further spread of these weapons.
If we fail to act now, nation after nation
will be driven to use valuable resources to
acquire them. Even local conflicts will involve
the danger of nuclear war. Nuclear arms will
spread to potentially unstable areas where
open warfare has taken place during the last
decade. Indeed, all the progress of the past
few years toward a less dangerous world
may well be undone.

A non-proliferation treaty must be equi-
table as between the nuclear and the non-
nuclear-weapon powers. I am confident that
we can achieve such equity and that the secu-
rity of all nations will be enhanced.

Such a treaty will help free the non-nuclear
nations from the agonizing decision of
whether to pursue a search for security
through nuclear arms. Freed from the fear
that non-nuclear neighbors may develop such
weapons, nations can devote their efforts in
the field of atomic energy to developing
strong, peaceful programs.

I have instructed our negotiators to exer-
cise the greatest care that the treaty not
hinder the non-nuclear powers in their de-
velopment of nuclear energy for peaceful

1 Bulletin of Jan. 30, 1967, p. 158.

MARCH 20, 1967


purposes. We believe in sharing the benefits
of scientific progress and we will continue to
act accordingly. Through IAEA [Interna-
tional Atomic Energy Agency], through
EURATOM [European Atomic Energy Com-
munity], and through other international
channels, we have shared — and will continue
to share — the knowledge we have gained
about nuclear energy. There will be no bar-
rier to effective cooperation among the sig-
natory nations.

I am sure we all agree that a non-prolifera-
tion treaty should not contain any provisions
that would defeat its major purpose. The
treaty must, therefore, cover nuclear explo-
sive devices for peaceful as well as military
purposes. The technology is the same. A
peaceful nuclear explosive device would, in
eflfect, also be a highly sophisticated weapon.

However, this will not impose any techno-
logical penalty on the participating nations.
The United States is prepared to make avail-
able nuclear explosive services for peaceful
purposes on a non-discriminatory basis under
appropriate international safeguards. We are
prepared to join other nuclear states in a
commitment to do this.

More generally, we recommend that the
treaty clearly state the intention of its sig-
natories to make available the full benefits of
peaceful nuclear technology — including any

benefits that are the bjrproduct of weapons

To assure that the peaceful atom remains
peaceful, we must work toward a broad

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