IMPLICATIONS OF GROWING NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES FOR THE COMMUNIST BLOC AND THE FRE

Created: 6/14/1955

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5 14 Juno 5

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE5

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IMPLICATIONS OF GROWING NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES FOR THE COMMUNIST BLOC AND THE FREE WORLD

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IMPLICATIONS OF GROWING NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES FOR THE COMMUNIST BLOC AND THE FREE WORLD

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the effects of increasing nuclear capabilities on public attitudes and national policies in the Communist and non-Communist world (excluding the US).

ASSUMPTION

That no international agreement is reached to restrict or prohibit thetesting, or use of nuclear weapons.

CONCLUSIONS

most important effect In non-Communist countries of growing nuclear capabilities is to diminish the willingness of most governments and peoples to incur risks ofecond effect is topublic desireeduction oftensions, and for the use of all possible means, even including those which the governments themselves may consider ill-advised, to workettlement with the Communist powers. Finally, there is increased public pressure on governments to find some means of international disarmament, andsome means of insuring that nuclear weapons will not be used in war.

Evidence from the USSR indicates that the Soviet rulers are well aware of the nature and the power of nuclear weapons, which had generally been minimized publicly in Stalin's time. We believe that they are deeply concerned by the impli-

cation of these weapons. US nuclear capabilities almost certainlyajor deterrent to overt militaryby the USSR.

s nuclear capabilities furtherand the possibilities of mutual devastation grow, the tendencies toand compromise presentlyin non-Communist countries will probably be accentuated Aversion to risks of war, pressures for disarmament, and fear of general war, will almostbe more marked than now. The difficulties of conducting policyuch adversaries as the Communist leaders will probably be increased, and the chances may become greatereakening of the non-Communistby successive concessions. At the same time the Soviet leaders themselves, because of their recognition of theeffects of nuclear weapons, will still almost certainly be concerned not to

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pursue aggressive actions to the point of incurring substantial risk of general war.

We believe that the allies of the US, and especially the major allies, willin the alliance despite thc increase bf nuclear capabilities, at least as long as general war docs not appear imminent Jf general war appeared inimincnt oroccurred, their policies wouldin large measure on the course of events. Some of the allies might have no choice, and could not remain uninvolvcd even if they wished to do so. Some might consider the issues at stake insufficiently important to risk general war, and might therefore declare themselves neutral at an early stage of the crisis^ Somemight estimate that full-scale nuclear war between thc US and the USSR would end with complete or near-complete destruction of the war-making potential of both powers, and therefore that neutrality might beaferofitable position. If events developed inay as to confront governmentslear and immediate choice be-

tween nuclear devastation andwe believe that practically all would choose neutrality.

s its nuclear capabilities grow, the USSR willreatly increasedto inflict destruction, particularly on the US itself. Nevertheless, the Soviet leaders will probably still not be confident that they could attack the US withweapons without exposing the USSR to an even more devastating counterblow. We believe, therefore, that the USSR will continue to try to avoid substantial risks of general war despite the increase of its nuclear capabilities. However, as these capabilities grow, Soviet leaders, may come to estimate that the US, because of fear for itself or for its allies, or because of pressure by its allies, will bedeterred from initiating full-scale nuclear war. They may therefore come to believe that local wars will be lessthan at present to expand into general war, and thus that superior Bloc military capabilities in certain local areas can be exercised without substantial risk ofgeneral war.

DISCUSSION

CURRENT OPINION CONCERNING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

uring the past year public concern about nuclear weapons has increased considerably In most of the non-Communist world. The enormous explosive power of the newer types of weapons and Uie lethal character offall-out have been brought vividly to attention by popular and scientific publicity accompanying recent tests. Depictions ofwar are dismaying; in addiUon. well-qualified scientists frequently issue warnings of Uie biologic and genetic perils which might arise from continued experimentation with

nuclear weapons. The public has been tbe recipient of accurate informaUon which is disquicUng, and of misinformation which iss reacUon has varied in intensity from time to time and from countryew clear and powerful trends have emerged among the people of nearly all the principal countries of the non-Communist world.

he first of these is an increased fear of war. This feeling Is general rather thanlt is fear of war In principle rather than panic arisinglear and present danger. Most people appear to believe that general

war is not likely within the next lew years. However, their aversion to war, heightened as it is by consciousness of the appalling power of nuclear weapons, creates abnormally strong opposition to courses of action which presentinor risk of war, and producesfor courses of action which offerope of peace, however illusory. If general war became imminent these popular feelings in thc non-Communist nations could be afactor in influencing government action.

A second trend in mass opinion, vigorously exploited by the Communists, is one ofopposition to the manufacture, testing, and use of nuclear weapons. According to US-sponsored polls in Western Europe, an overwhelming majority of the people favor an East-West agreement prohibiting theof all nuclearhere is even significant popular support for vague proposals to "ban theithoutguarantees that thc USSR wouldthe ban. In West Gennany and Italy the pollubstantial minority of opinion against thc employment of nuclear weapons even in the assumed circumstance that Invasion and occupation of the country could be prevented in no other way, andhe weapons would be used only againstforces. The polls also indicate that there is little public recognition in Western Europe of the Importance of nuclear weapons to Western defense concepts, and littlethat thc miliiary plans of NATOuse of such weapons.

In opposing the use of nuclear weapons, little distinction ls made between "tactical" and "strategic" employment. Therereat deal of feeling that the next combat use of nuclear weapons, of whatever size and for whatever purpose, would forthwith break: through inhibitions which now exist and which might otherwise prevent any use of such weapons. Moreover, thereeeling that employment of nuclear weapons would

'These polls were taken In4 and early ISM in thc UK, Prance, West Germany, and Italy. They were conducted by competentand gave results considered to be accurateargin Of plus Or minus sue percent.

carry grave risk ofmall war Into general war. This feeling seems to be based in part on the ground that useeapon of such unprecedented power would surely provoke retaliation and counter-retaliation on an ascending scale. It also seems to stem from some of the more publicized statements concerning modern warfare, which give the impression that any limitation of the scope or area of air attacks would be militarily

Together with the broad trends of public opinion concerning nuclear weapons, more complex and sophisticated-views are held by individuals or groups in official, scientific, military, and generally better-informedPerhaps the most widespread of these opinions is that general war will never again occur, because the destructive force ofweapons has made it so obviouslyA variant of this Is the idea that even if general war should occur, nuclear weapons would not be used because thewould not be disposed to invoke tho almost unlimited destruction that their use would entail. Contrary views arc also freely expressed. It is argued that nuclear weapons, destructive as they are, now constitute merely another Item in the arsenalilitaryand must be considered asimplements of war. It is pointed out that general war is as. apt to happen by miscalculation us by design, and thatof profitability may not be the decisive factor in determining its occurrence.

The deterrent value of nuclear weapons Is generally recognized by the better-informed, even by those who do not think that it is so great as to make general war out or theIt is widely believed that thenuclear superiority of the US in the past has been an important deterrent to thc aggressive tendencies of the USSR, and thus an important protection to the liberties of free nations. As Soviet nuclear capabilities grow the picture changes, but Weslerncapabilities continue to be consideredeterrent to major Soviet militaryThese views constitute an important check on the uncritical "ban the bomb" sentl-

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which arc assiduously nourished by Coramunist propaganda. We do not believe that official or educated opinion ln any major Western nation presently favors an outlawing of nuclear weapons without adequateIt is probable that most Informedis tending to thc conclusion that control of nuclear weapons by Inspection isimpossible, and that guarantees to bewould have to beifferent nature

The Intensity of public feeling aboutweapons, and the extent of knowledge, differ greatly in various parts of theworld. In Japan feelings were aroused almost to hysteria at the time of the accidental fall-outapanese fishingfrom thc Bikini teats; In no other country of the world have there been so manysome highly emotional, some cooler and more rationalagainst theand the testing and the use of nuclear weapons. In the UK there has beenconcern, much well-informed debate, and. almost uniquely In the westernefinite attempt at guidance from theoffered by'.Str Winston Churchill himself. In the other countries of Western Europe agitation has been somewhat less, and the level of debate much lower, than In the UK. Among the neutralist countries, India has exhibited the greatest degree of concern on the subject of nuclear weapons, though this has been more evident on official levels than among the general public. It isnotable that vigorous condemnation of nuclear weapons in India has Involved more manifestations of feeling against thc US than against the USSR.

In the Sino-Soviet Bloc there has until lately been comparatively little diffusion ofaboul thc nature of nuclearRecently, however, the Soviet regime has begun to make some informationat firstimited, largely mUitary,but later to lhc general public. The government has not yet undertaken thepublicity program that would appear to be necessary for an effective civil defense effort. In Communist China, radio broad-

casts on nuclear subjects increased greatly during thc early monthsheseemphasized the feasibility of defense against nuclear weapons and belittled theof such weapons on the outcomear. Most of the propaganda, however, was related to the campaign toignaturesetition for the banning of nuclearII is unlikely that many Chinese will understand the petition that they sign.there Is no reason to doubt that ln the Communist countries the people fearweapons, insofar as they understand what such weapons arc.hould also be noted that the Communist rulers, within as well as outside their own empires, have given publicity to discussions of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, and to descriptions of the advantages to be derived from such uses if tlie "capitalist war-mongers" can be restrained. However, within the entire Bloc thcof popular attitudes in Influencingpolicies is slight.

ublic discussion of nuclear weapons by the highest Communist authorities has been comparatively scanty. During the Stalinthe military significance of these weapons was generally played down, probably because the Communist rulers initially desired tothe importanceeapon they did not possess and subsequently wanted to deny that the possession of greater nuclear capabilities gave theecisive military advantage. Inowever, Malenkov declaredotable speechull-scale nuclear war would lead to the destruction ofboth Communist and non-Communist. This view has suice been officially andrepudiated by thc CommunistTlie Soviet leaders now assert that full-scale nuclear war would Involve theonly of capitalist civilization, while Communism would survive even though badly battered. Nevertheless, Malenkov's remarks were the first public acknowledgment byleaders of the terrible power of lhe new weapons. It may be that their own weapons tests played some part In this expressedWe believe that the Soviet rulers, though noi tho Soviet people, are now well

acquainted with the nature of nuclearand are deeply concerned about their

INFLUENCE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS CAPABILITIES ON CURRENT NATIONAL POLICIES

he influence of nuclear capabilities on current national policies is best considered in the context of two other factors whichthe present era of internationalations. The first of these lies ln theof the Communist movement and of the rulers of the Sino-Soviet Bloc.as theyelief in the eventualof Communism throughout the world, and in their mission to strive toward thisthe Communist leaders characterize their relation to the non-Communist world as one of unremitting and permanentCoexistence can be for them onlyaggressionuty when it can be undertaken with good chance of success. When one partyuarrel feels this way, the procedures of adjustment and compromise between nations become difficult and even dangerous; conflict is normal, stability is only temporary, but there still remains theof what form the conflict may take.

IG. The second factor is the bi-palarization of world powerthe division of the world Into two camps, with almost no nation of military consequence left outside thc alignments.esult of this division therereat rigidity and lack of room for maneuver inrelations, There ls no third force ofstrength to manipulate and perhaps alter the balance of International power. The disputes of lesser states have cometo involve tlic conflicting interests of thc two great power centers. The danger that small wars will grow Into general war isthan it was when power was more evenly distributed in the world, and restraint on the part of the great powers ls the only effective influence which may act toar of limited objectives fromeneral war.

onsiderable degree the existence of nuclear weapons tends lo accentuate the bi-

polarization of power, for no nation or group of nations can pretend totrong third force without possessing such weapons in quantity, together with adequate delivery capabilities. However, thc primaryof these weapons is not that they have shaped the structure of the currentsituation, but rather that they have enormously Increased the potential destruc-tiveness of the wars which are likely to arise out of that situation. From, this fact flow practically all thc influences which nuclear weapons exert on national policies at theday.

Thc most important effect of the nuclear weapons situation on the current national policies of most non-Communist nations is to diminish the willingness of their governments and peoples toincur risks of war, even though it Ls virtually impossible to protect theof free nations in the present worldrunning suchecond effect is lo increase public desireeduction oftensions, and for the use of all possible means, even including those which the governments themselves may consider ill-advised, to workeneral settlement with the Communist powers. Finally, there is increased public pressure on governments to find some means of disarmament, andsome means of insuring that nuclear weapons will not be used in, combat. Desire for disarmament is of course no new thing; it is intensified and magnified at present,by the pervading fear of nuclear

These considerations do not. of course, hold true in equal measure for all countries. For someChina, South Korea, and perhaps othersthey do not seem to hold true at all. Thc great question, however. Is whether they operate on thc Communistto approximately the same degree that they do on non-Communlsl governments. We believe lhat both Soviet and Chineseleaders desire to avoid substantial risks of general war, and that this desire arises in great measure from their recognition ofsuperior US nuclear capabilities and of the probable consequences of nuclear war-

fare to them. They probably also believe that onder present circumstances overt military aggression over recognized national frontiers Jfc substantial Soviet, Satellite, or Chinese ebrnmunlst forces would present substantial fcks of general war. and we therefore believe ttutt they will avoid such aggression ln uie hear future. It may be, however, that Uie Communist rulers do not to Uie same degree as non-Communist governments and peoples believe Uiat small wars tend to expand. The Communist rulers also may count heavilyiminished willingness of non-Communist governments and peoples to risk general waractor Inhibiting Uie expansive tendency of small wars. We believe Uiat suchof view could hold grave dangers for Uie West.

Few current national policies arc traceable exclusively to the existence of nuclearThese include primarily changes inequipment, organization, and doctrine. Most important are the USSR's manufacture of nuclear weapons, its creation of means for delivering these weapons against distantand its efforts loore ef-fccUvc air defense system. Along with Ihis have come changes In the equipment anddoctrine of Soviet forces, largely for Uie purpose of adapting Uiem to Uie requirements of nuclear warfare. With the same end in view the French arc. for example, reducing Uie size and Increasing Uie mobility of their ground divisions. The UK Is devoUngincreased attention to the problem ofUie British Isles against air attack, and for Uie first time has given the largest share of military appropriations to the RAF.

A notable act of policy directly related to Uie nuclear situation Is the British decision to make their own thermonuclear weapons. This decision has had the approval of the leaders of both parties, and of the nationChurchill explained thai possession of these weapons constituted thc mostdeterrent to an attack by the USSR on the United Kingdom, and that if such an atlack was to be averted It would almosthave to be primarily through suchforce rather than through the weap-

ons and techniques of defense. Secondly, he declared that Uie UK could not expect tomuch influence upon uie policies of other countries If it-remained dependent for itsupon the deterrent power of US weapons. Finally, he remarked that while the British could rely on thc US as an ally if war came, they could not be certain that the war plans of the US would include such an employment of thermonuclear weapons as would be most effective for the defense of the British Isles.

We believe it virtually certain Uiat US nuclear capabilitiesajorto overt military aggression by the USSR. Apart from this we cannot estimate withlhe broader effects of the nuclear sib-uatlon on current Soviet pobcies. It does not seem likely that US nuclear capabilities are primarily responsible for the presenttone of Soviet policy or for such manifestations as the agreement to withdraw from Austria. We believe, however, though it is not demonstrable, that the Soviet leaders arc seriously concerned about the prospectestern Germany armed at some future date not only with conventional forces but with nuclear capabiliUes as well.

On5 the USSR submitted new disarmament proposals which departed from some of Its previous posiUons on Uie subject. Soviet motivation in advancing Iheseis probably highly complex, and we cannot yet estimate whether thereirect relation between them and Soviet concern overnuclear warfare.

III. PROBABLE FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

the nuclear capabilities of thc USUSSR continue to develop alongand adequate defenses are notnation will acquire weapons, carriers,sufficient to destroythe important strengths of Uie other.degree to which such destructioncarried would be related to the courseswhich each side felt compelled toor frustrate.eneral warcourses of action to be prevented orwould probably be initiallyfor both sides even if dissimilar in

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respects. Therefore destruction could be carried as far as to eliminate progressively the source ol all Important courses of action by both sides. Such destruction couldarge proportion of both populations, destroy the principal cities, communications systems and administrative apparatus, and at least temporarily put an end to coherent andnational existence. This destruction could be extended to thc allies and satellites of both major powers. However. If one side should be able rapidly to prevent or frustrate the most critical actions of thc other thedestruction to be expected to both sides might be reduced materially.

do not undertake to estimate, Inhow far the defense systems of theand their associates might becut down tliis gross capability for Some competentthat an attack by either side onwould inevitably result in theof both, regardless of defense systemsdegree of surprise attained In the Ifiew becamenuclear war would appear to beout of the question, for no nation isseek inevitable destruction. Wc thinkmore likely, however, that thereonsiderable clement of doubtmatter In the US and the USSR if notcountries. Certainty ofunlikely to be accepted. There willalways appear on each side to be aiflim one, of surviving as annational entity while achieving theof the enemy. It appearshowever, that both the US and thehave toegree ofin modern times, and thatinvolved In thc conflict might havethat if thc US or USSR consideredthey would suffer somethingtotal destruction of national Over the very long term, thcweapons development will probablythe advantage of tactical surprise.

such circumstances the publicattitudes described abovetoday would probably be intensified.

Aversion to risks of war, pressures forand for compromises and settlements, and fear of general war, would almostbo more marked then than now. The difficulties of conducting policy against such adversaries as the Soviet leaders wouldgrow, and the chances Increase of aof tlie non-Communist position byconcessions. At the same time the Soviet leaders themselves, because of their recognition of the devastating effects ofweapons will still almost certainly be concerned not to pursue aggressive actions to lhcs point of lncurrlng_subslantlal risk of general war.

We believe that the alUes of thc US, and especially the major allies, will continue ln the alliance, at least as long as general war does not appear Imminent. Their reasons forso would be: to keep their intereststhe protection of US power, to contributeountervailing force sufficient to deter thc SovieU from launching war, and to beosition to exert influence on thc policies of the US and of other members of tlieUnder the new circumstances they would probably try to Increase their influence over US policies. Many of them would even more vigorously than at present counselurge compromise, and advise theof risk, particularly if their own vital interests were not involved- They would be aware that thc US itself was for thc first time exposed to major devastation if It becamein general war, and they might consider that tlie US would therefore be somewhatto Influence in the direction of caution than it had sometimes previously appeared to be

Tills disposition to caution would beif the conviction grew that the USSR and the US both so clearly recognized the disas-trousness of general war that they would be constrained to avoid it even If they becamein localized conflict. In thesethere wouldessening of the fear of general waruch greaterln international relations. There would be greater willingness to accept the

risks of small wars, especially by the countries whoso interests were directly Involved. It ^conceivable that in time there might even be ^willingness to accept limited employment of oilclear weapons in such wars. If lt werecertain that the risk of general war developing was negligible.

nother development which could alter the International situation would be theof significant nuclear capabilitiesumber of nations ln addition to the US and .the USSR, 'llie British are already building up their strength ln this respect TheWest Germans. French, and some other nations clearly have the scientific andcapacity to do so. although the effort would be costly. It li thus possible thatecade or more nuclear capabilities may be much more widely distributed among nations than they are at present. The results ofevelopment cannot be predicted. Italmost certain, however, that theinfluence of the US and the USSR would be somewhat reduced.

hether the allies of the US wouldif general war became imminent oroccurred is uncertain. Theto war might be such that someallies had no choice, and could noteven if they wished to do so.might be such that most of tlie alliesthc Issues at stake insufnclenthtto risk general war,

clarcd themselves neutral at an early stage of tho crisis. Some governments mightlhat full-scale nuclear war between the US and the USSR would end with complete or near-complete destruction of thepotential of both powers, and therefore that neutrality might beaferofitable posilion. If events developed inay as to confront governmentslear and immediate choice between nuclear

devastation and neutrality, wc believe that practically all would choose neutrality.

s nuclear capabilities grow, the USSR willreatly Increased capability lodestruction, particularly on the US Nevertheless, the Soviet leaders will probably still not be confident Uiat they could attack the US with nuclear weapons wlUiout exposing the USSR to an even morecounterblow. We believe, therefore, that Uie USSR wUl continue to try to avoidrisks of general war despite thcof Its nuclear capabilities. However, as these capabiliUes grow, "Soviet leaders may come to estimate that the US, because of fear for Itself or for its allies, or because ofby its allies, will be Increasingly deterred Irom initiaUng full-scale nuclear war. They may therefore come to believe that local wars will be less likely than at present to expand into general war, and thus that superior Bloc military capabilities in certain local areas can be exercised without substantial risk ofgeneral war.

n diplomatic ncgoUaUons the Soviet leaders will almost certainly try to takeof thc Increased urgency wtth which Western governments, pressed by their better-informed public opinion, will strive to escape nuclear war through peaceful solutions. We believe it likely thatituation of sharp and general internaUonal crisis Uie USSR would seek to undermine Westernby reminders of the consequences of the employment of nuclear weapons. We believe it unlikely, however, that the USSR would make open and direct threats of nuclear attack since thc Soviet leaders wouldfear Uiat such tactics might bringltuaUon in which general war wouldunavoidable, and they might even fear that they wouldreventive atiack by the US.

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