IMPLICATIONS OF CERTAIN US EARTH SATELLITE PROGRAMS (SNIE 100-6-58)

Created: 7/29/1958

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE NUMBER 8

IMPUCATIONS OF CERTAIN US EARTH SATELLITE PROGRAMS

RELEASE IN FULL

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DIRECTOlt OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation Ot this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations ol the Departments al Slate, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

Concurred In by the INTELLIGENCE ADVJSOKV COMMITTEE on tt July ISM. Concurring acre The Director ol InteUigence and Research, Department of State; the Assistant Chiel ol Staff. Intelligence. Department at the Army: (he Director of Hatal intelligence; tlie Assistant Chief of Staff. Intelligence. VSAF; and the Depatg Director lor InteUigence, The Joint Staff. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the IAC and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau ofabstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.

CENNTELllOENCB AGENCY

DISSEMON NOTICE

I This estimate was dtssemiiiaUd by the Central Intelligence Agencr. This copy ia Tor the information .tnd use of the rrciplonl tndiraUxju the front cover and ofunder hi* jurttdkiioneed to know basis Additional CsitnJial (Usscniuuiiion may be authorized by ihe followingithin Iheir respective departments:

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UTION: White House

NaUOMl Security Councilof State Department of Defense OptraUoas CoonUnaOng Board Alomlr iJirrgy CoounUSloo Federal Bureau of In'pslg&Ujc

IMPLICATIONS OF CERTAIN US EARTH SATELLITE PROGRAMS'

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the political and psychological reactions lo US launchings of earth satellites with reconnaissance capabilities, and to assess the reactions to alternative methods of handling the mformational and foreign policy aspects of such launchings.

ASSUMPTIONS

L The US will be capable of launching small test vehicleseconnaissance satellite program about the end8 and effective reconnaissance vehicles about the middle

There has been no international agreement prohibiting the use of outer space for military purposes, or requiring that al) outer space projects bo underoperation or control.

There has been no Soviet announcementoviet reconnaissance sateliite operation and the US has no rjersiiasive evidence of one.

NOTE

The third assumption does not prejudge whether the USSR will launchsatellites. It merely states the situation existing at this time. If the Soviets should putatellite and announce it, or if the US possessed persuasive evidence that one was in orbit, the situation might be greatly different, and thecontained in this estimate would probably no longer apply.

CONCLUSIONS

Both the US and the USSR are on record as advocating that outer space

' The title olestimate, when lued oeparalelp from Uie estimate, it classified

should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes, and most people throughout the world hope that outer space will not be used for military purposes. Whatever

country first becomes identified as using earth satellite vehicles tor militarywill therefore probably incurblame for projecting into outer space Uie political-military contestthe great powers However, an important segment of opinion inallied with the US would readily recognize the value of US reconnaissance satellites as strengthening the USand thus contributing to Iheof world peace. )

The Soviet leaders would probably notS reconnaissance satelliteas evidence of any basic shift in the balance of military power or as requiring them drastically to revise their estimate of US intentions. They would conclude, however, that US reconnaissancewould have some effect in reducing Soviel capabilities for surprise attack and for concealing military preparations. They would almost certainly feelto react strongly to what they would regardiolation ofhallenge to their prestige.

Ii the US launched reconnaissance satellites without publicly announcing that it had done so, the fact wouldbecome known anyway. We believe the USSR would attempt to neutralize or to destroy such satellites to the extent they were capable of doing so. Somecapability to neutralize may exist now,apability to destroy probably could not be developedhe Soviet leaders would probably alsoropaganda campaign against the US. Soviet charges against the USympathetic audience,in the neutralist nations. While allied governments would probably sup-

port the US, particularly if consulted in advance, some of them would do soand would encounter considcra-able public opposition. We doubt that anti-US sentiment and propaganda would be violent or prolonged, but there would be renewed anxiety and disappointment throughout the worldcientific achievement had again led to an increase in international tension. )

If the US announced its reconnaissance satellite programaluable addition to free world security, public reaction in allied countries would be more favorable because tlie stigma of covert action would be removed. Nevertheless, there would be people in allied as well as neutralistwho would regard the US statement as provocative. The Soviet leaders would feel themselves confrontedirect challenge, and would initiate intensive efforts to neutralize or destroy the USThey wouldomplaint in the UN and carry on an intensivecampaign against the USThey would probably winsupport in the neutralist )

If the US. in connection with itssatellite program, declared its intention to pass to the UN thereceived, there would probablyore favorable reaction, even incountries. Despite this moreworld reaction, the USSR would probably denounce the US proposal and take whatever action it could toor destroy the US satellites.)

the US, before implementing itsoffered to cooperate withand other countries In utilizing re-

connaissance satellites as part of ainspection system on behalf of the UN, world reaction would be generallyThe Soviet leaders wouldreact cautiously, fearing that an open attack upon the US proposal would hurt them. They would probably not accept the proposal, but instead would delay and maneuver in an effort to depict the US proposal as dishonest and tothe development of an independent US satellite program. )

c do not believe that the Sovietin international disaramamentwould be significantly affected by the US reconnaissance satellite pro-

gram at least until the USSR had tested ils capabilities to frustrate this program by political or physical means. If they thoughtS program was unpre-ventable, they mightorm ofwhich wouldreduce its value to the US. They might agree to cooperative use of satellites with limited reconnaissance capabilities, such as those proposed for monitoring atest ban, but they would be more likely toomplete prohibition of reconnaissance satellites capable ofsignificant information on Soviet military installations and preparations.

DISCUSSION

Gcnerol Altitudes and Policies

Man's capacity to put satellites into orbit around the earth has stimulated more intense interest than any other scientific achievement since the explosion of the first atomic bomb. As the developments in the field of nuclear energy5 created hopes that the world was at the thresholdew era ot cheap energy from which all mankind would benefit, so the achievements of recent months have created hopes that man could explore the mysteries of outer space and discover new truths concerning the origin of life and the nature of the universe. At the same time there is growing concern and apprehension lest these scientific advances lead only to the projection into outer space of the political-military contest between the great powers.

The USSR, by its initial efforts in the earth satellite field and by its continuing progress, has enhanced its prestige throughout the world. In many countries, particularly in the underdeveloped and backward areas, theachievements have been widely acclaimed as proof of the scientific and economicwhich the USSRitself so recently an

underdeveloped countryhas made.the Soviet scientists had placed earth satellites in orbit with rocket systemsfor military purposes, the Sovietwere able to dramatize their effortcientific achievement by launching theirfirst, under the program of theGeophysical Year. At the same time, the military implications of the launchings have alsoeep impression on world opinionah impression which the Soviets themselves have not refrained from

he US earth satellite program, like that of lhe USSR, is generally regarded as anfor both scientific and militarySophisticated people, particularly in allied countries, realize that both the US and the USSR are making great efforts tor^apn'j.iit.ei. and this fact is pioh-ably more widely known than relatedefforts. Most people throughout the world hope lhat the scientific rather than the military aspects of space programs will be emphasised and that the two great powers will cooperate with each other toward that

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Whatever country Is first identified as using earth satellite vehicles for militarywill therefore probably incurblame fur frustrating these hopes. If. as we assume In this paper, the US were the first to be so identified, an important segment of opinion in countries allied with the US would readily recognize the value of USsatellites as strengthening Uie US de torrent and thus contributing to theof world peace. On the other hand, there would also be many peoplein neutralist and underdevelopedwho would react negatively, since they already regard the US as too preoccupied with military security.

oth the US and the USSR are on record as advocating that outer space should be used exclusively lor peaceful purposes. The US has made proposals to this end in the UN General Assembly, in the UN disarmament negotiations, and in direct communications to the Soviet government. Although the USSR hasan on the use of outer space for military purposes and international cooperation in the study ot outer space, it has tied to these proposals the elimination ofbases from the territories of otherThe Soviet leaders apparently believean on the use of outer space forpurposesat least during the nextyearswould benefit the US strategic position at lhe expense of that of the USSR, since it would outlaw ICDM's and IRBM's and give greater weight to the US deterrent, which is derived principally from superiority in manned aircraft and access to overseas bases.

he Soviet leaders probably anticipate that the US will acquire and exercise thelo launch reconnaissance satellites. In assessing the strategic effects ol thisthey would have to consider the extent to which these satellites would add to UScapabilities against the Bloc. This judgment may present some difficulty,since itdditionrior estimate of US Intelligenceature and effectiveness of the equipment In reconnaissance satellites. For

tlie purposes of this estimate, it is assumed that the Soviet leaders would estimate that the reconnaissance satellite programhole would substantially Increase US knowl edge In importantonsequently they would probably concludeerfected US reconnaissance program wouldain to the West's relative capabilities,by (a) reducing existing Sovietfor surprise attack and for concealing military preparations, (b) increasing the USSR's own vulnerability to attack, as aof better US target and otherand (c> necessitating additional Soviet programs to compensate for losses in internal security.

The effect of these factors on the USSR's estimate of East-West relations and theof power would depend on its assessment of the effectiveness of its own intelligenceas well as upon its own military and political intentions. Apart from its effect upon the Soviet capacity tourprise attack, it seems unlikely that the USSR wouldS reconnaissance satellite program as evidence ot any basic shift in the balance of power Nor is it likely that theprogram would by Itself result in any drastic revision of tlie Soviet estimate of US intentions.

Nevertheless, the Soviet leaders would recognise that the launching of USsatellites would introduce into the worldolitical factor of considerableThey would appreciate thepresented for anti-US propaganda. They would probably also recognize that the manner in which the US handled the foreign policy and public relations aspects of its launching of reconnaissance satellites, and the manner in which the USSR itself reacted, would affect world opinion anderies of precedents affecting the ultimate uses and control of outer space itself.

'Assuming photographic, inlra-red. and electronic capabiliUes. the USSR would consider UnitUS Knowledge will, lor example, reduce the secrecy ot Soviet mLMie launching sites, air-bases, actual air and missile operations, and location ol major secret Industrial complexes.

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Soviet reaction to USwould nol. however, be whollyterms al assessing potentialpolitical gains and losses. TheSoviet preoccupation withbe greatly stimulated. The Sovietwould almost certainty feel compelledstrongly lo what they would regardviolation of their security and atheir prestige. Thus, in whateverUS handled the public relations andpolicy aspectseconnaissanceprogram, there would probably be anin Soviet-US tensions.

II. World Reactions if the US Launched Reconnaissanco Satellites WithoutAny Public Disclosure

If the US chose to launch reconnaissance satellites without making any publicthat these satellites containedequipment, we believe It most unlikely that the USSR or even the rest of the world would long be ignorant of it Information which has already been disclosed* or which will leak out or be obtained by espionage, and perhaps the characteristics of the satellites themselves, would leadtrongif not to absolute proofthai certain US-launched satellites containedequipment.

The USSR's reaction would be affected in some measure by its estimate of itsto prevent these satellites fromtheir objective. Passive defense would certainly be attempted. To destroy, damage, or neutralize an earth satellite would bethough nol technically impossible. It should be notedull-scale satellitesystem capable of supplying timely, reliable, and regular information use-iui in providing warning as well asomplicated systemumber of satellites, as well as extensive ground installations for receiving anddata.

most <lcfinlUvc disclosure appears in the June 2'S.ssue ol Aviation Week. Theof the article in this magazine has been widely disseminated by Uie press services.

believe that, wilhin the limits ofIhe USSIt will certainly seekUS reconnaissance satellite*.time will elapse between theeconnaissance test vehicle andof the first effective USsatellite, the USSR would of courseopportunity to experiment against thelimited US capability, and todevelop and improve various techniquessatellites as the US

We believe that In the next two years the USSH will probably not be able to destroy or physically damage US reconnaissance lest vehicles, even though It might have some capability lo neutralise them. It is possibleapability to destroy satellites by one method or another could be developed as earlyhen the first effective USsatellites are assumed to be in orbit, althoughs more likely that this Soviet capability would not exist until later ineriod. Destruction is likely to be very costly.

Even assuming that0 the USSR bad developed an effective capabllily for the physical destruction or damage of USsatellites, several considerations might deter the Soviets from using it. The Soviet leaders would weigh the extent to which neutralization methods were effective and the specific technical or military disadvantages of physically destroying US reconnaissanceThey would also consider the possi-biUty of embarrassing failures and thepossibility that physical destruction of US reconnaissance satellites could leadspaceinally, the Soviet leaders intght feel that such an act would have an undesirable effect upon their foreign policy tactics.

On the other hand, they would probably believe that physical destruction of thesatellite might discourage the US from proceedingull-scale program. They might also believe, particularly if Uie US satellite reconnaissance effort became known, thai for reasons of prestige, they

ought torompt and ellcclivcdemonstration in reply, if this were at all possible. While specific technical, military, and political considerations not now foreseen might affect Soviet decisions, we believe on balance that the USSR would makeefforts to neutralize US reconnaissance satellites. If it believed that its security and prestige had not been adequately safeguarded by neutralization, the USSR would make maximum efforts to destroy these satellites.

At the sarne time, however, the USSR would probably make strong publicagainst the US as soon as it had usable evidence that the US had launchedsatellites. We believe the Soviet leaders would not limit themselves to press and radio charges but would also bring the issue into the UN. They would readily see the political advantage to be gained byUS public professions of Interest in using outer space for peaceful purposes only, and the US secret use of outer space forpurposes.

Wc do not believe that the Soviet leaders would be inhibited from takingine because the USSR Itself had reconnaissance satellites under development or because they were taking physical measures against the US satellites. They would cite the USas justification for Soviet counteraction, including neutralization or destruction of US satellites and the launching of reconnaissance satellites of their own.

We believe that the USSR wouldympathetic hearing of its case. Thenations in particular would bein their suspicions that the US was more concerned to increase its military strength than to advance the cause of peace and progress Although governments allied with the US would probably support the US, some or them would do so reluctantly and would encounter considerable publicIf the US had consulted with its major allies in advance of launching reconnaissance satellites, allied governments would be less likely to be critical of the US, but they would still have to contend with those who favored

a more conciliatory policy toward the USSR and who would regard the US program as provocative and as tending to increasetensions.

The US action would make it morefor allied governments to defend (heir relations with the US, and it would strengthen the hand of pro-Communists and neutralists everywhere. Ine doubt that anti-US sentiment and propaganda would be either violent or prolonged. In some quarters there would probably be considerable satisfaction that the US hadechnologicalwhich strengthened the free worldNevertheless, there would also beanxiety and disappointmentthe worldcientific achievement had again been the occasion for an increase in international tension. This reaction would be more acute If there were Soviet efforts to destroy US satellites and if these effortspublicly known.

We do not believe that the Soviet position in international disarmament negotiations would be significantly affected by the Soviet discovery lhat the US hadatellite reconnaissance capability, at least until the USSR had tested its own capabilities toUS programs by physical and political means. Even in the event that the Soviet leaders found it impossible lo frustrate the program they would probably be reluctant to accept satellite reconnaissanceorm of international inspection. They might agree to cooperative use of satellites with limited reconnaissance capabilities, such as thoseforuclear test ban, but they would be more likely toomplete prohibition of reconnaissance satellitesof yielding significant information onmilitary installations and preparations. Failing in this effort to single out suchfor prohibition, and faced withontinuing US program, they would seek further ways nf inhibiting and retarding it, possibly by pressingorm ofination which because of Sovietwould substantially reduce its value lo the US

HI. World Reactions if the US Announcod Its Satellite Programaluableto Free World Security

If, In announcing the launching of Its first reconnaissance lest vehicles, Uie USthe potential for developing betteragainst surprise attack and noted inthat after further development the US would be better able La defend Itself and its allies, public reaction in the allied countries would probably be more favorable. Probably the most significant difference from thecase would be that the stigma of covert action would be removed There would, of course, be those within allied as well ascountries who would regard the USas provocative. If the US had consulted with its allies in advance and obtained their agreement, allied governments could with more authority and conviction defend USagainst this type of criticism.

A formal US announcement wouldthe USSRirect and immediate problem. The Soviet leaders could notsilent in the face of what they would regardirect challenge. If theyapability lo neutralize or destroy USthey would do so; If they did not haveapability, they would speed up their efforts to acquire one. They would probably estimate that they could not profitably make open threats to destroy US satellites unless they were capable of carrying out such threats promptly.

In any case, the USSR would lodge aIn the UN and carry on an intensive propaganda campaign against Uie USsatellite program. The USSR would, as in the case of undisclosed US luunehings, probably gain considerable support incountries Those with strongfeelings would be receptive to Soviet arguments about the violation of national sovereignty by "cosmicven if the US claimed its satellites were reconnollering the USSR only, many would doubt lhal this was true or technically possible

IV. World Reaction if the US. in Initiating Irs Reconnaissance Satellite Program, Declared Its Intention lo Pass to the UN fhe Informalion Obtained

We assume that, In adopting this course of action, the US would declare its continued support of the principle of utilizing outer space for peaceful purposes only, and Itsto intensify its efforts to reachfor lestricUng the use of outer space to peaceful purposes. In this context, the declared intention to place in UN hands the Information obtained by reconnaissancewould be intended to demonstrate US desire for agreement Moreover, in order to emphasize the Impartiality of the offer, some satellites actually launched would have to reconnoitor large parts of the worldthe territories of the US and its allies. The US announcement might be made at the time of the firstr it mighteneral program well in advance, with the statement Uiat Uie US would forego its unilateral program if internationalwere reached. Wc assume that the US would alsoate beyond which, In the first case, it would no longer forwardto the UN. or In Uie second case no longer forego the unilateral launelungs, if nohad been reached.

A US offer ol the typeIf made some tunc before actual launch-ings occurred, wouldorereaction, even In neutral countries, than the previous two cases. The US action would probably be regarded as less provocative and as containing elements of forbearance and good will.

ore favorable world reaction, the USSR would probably not accept the US proposal It would probablyide variety of allegations about the US proposal, for example, that the US was trying to bring about an agreement favorable to the US through threats, that the US would not In fact turn over all Uie information it received, and that the US was "spying" on everybody.if the US announcement were made well in advance of actual implementation, the

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leaders would probably seize upon this as an opportunity, through prolonging theto delay unilateral US launchlngs. When the US satellites were finally launched, the Soviets would almost certainly denounce the launchlngs and would probably exercise what capabilities they possessed to neutralize or destroy the satellites.

enerally favorable worldwide response, the US might still encounter certain difficulties with some allies and neutrals. For example, the proposal to place the Information obtained in the hands or the UN wouldbe regarded in some quarters as little moreubterfuge because of thocontrol by the US o( the release of the material. Some countries which would be pleased lo have US satellites reconnotter the Soviet Bloc would be less pleased to have US satellites reconnoiter their own territories and to have the US then place the Informationthus obtained in UN hands, where presumably it would be open lo alL

sum. although there would beworldwide skepticism, opportunitiespolitical maneuvering, and somewith the US allies, the US wouldIn world opinion by making anthe type here assumed

V. World Reactions if the US Offered to Cooperate wilh the USSR and Olher Countries in Utilizing Roconnaissance Satellites as PartultilateralSystem

tills case, the US would offer lowith the USSR and other countriesreconnaissance satellites as partmultilateral inspection system on behalfUN, for the enforcement of armsagreementsrogram wouldbe more restricted than one whichcould carry out unilaterally. Inwilli makingroposal theIndicate that it would be unableindefinitely the unilateralol ils reconnaissance satelliteno ugiecment wore reached, but that it

would not necessarily set an early deadline for completionatisfactory agreement.

Wc believeand wc think the Soviet leaders would slmiliarly estimatethat the world reaction toroposal would be generally favorable. In allied and neutralist countries alike, the emphasis uponand International control woulda favoroble popular and official response. The Soviet leaders would probably realise that the opportunities were greatly reduced for profitably charging the US with "snoopnlk" diplomacy, war-mongering, and militarism They might conclude that openly to attack Lhe US proposal would hurt them Theirtherefore, would probably be cautious and reserved white Lhey tested the USand measured world-wide reaction to them.

It is possible that the Soviet leaders might weigh the considerationeconnaissance satellite program by tbe US was unpreven table and that it would be wiser to go along with il than to fight it. For example, tliey might feel that it would offer them the opportunity to argue in disarmament talks that asatellite program, as here assumed, was Justification for dispensing with thelarge-scale air and ground inspectionwhich the US has heretofore considered

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owever, wc believeS proposal along the lines assumed here would probably not be accepted by the USSR, even though the resl of the world would reactrior agreement on the cooperative use of earth satellites for limited purposes, such asuclear lesl ban, mighl make it more difficult lor the USSR to reject the US proposal completely, but wc believe lhal the Soviets piubably would not agree to anysatellite reconnaissance syslem which infringed upon the secrecy of their mili-taiy activities. The Soviet negotiators would probably delay and maneuver In an effort to depict tlie US proposal as dishonest. They would probablyo attach conditionssuch as elimination ol foreign baseswhich they thought lhe US would not accept, in order lo place upon lhe US the onus for any

breakdown in negotiations. In any event, they wouldas in the preceding cosesec vitally important advantages to be derived from retarding the development ol anUS satellite program, and theywould lor that reason seek to prolong any negotiations which took place

hould tlie negotiations break down and the US then proceednilateral pro-

gram, Free World opinion would probablyto be favorable to the US for havingincere effort to Internationalize the reconnaissance satellite program. DespiteFree World opinion toward the US efforts to achieve an international program, the Soviet reaction would piobably not bedifferent from that under thecases.

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