OCT 15 1959


SUBJECT: Request for Authority to Provide Atomic Weapons for U.K. Air Defense Forces.

Discussions with the United Kingdom at the military level have revealed that it is technically feasible to equip Royal Air Force Lightning interceptor aircraft with the U.S. GENIE rocket carrying an atomic warhead and thus greatly improve the air defense of the United Kingdom and important elements of the U.S. strategic offensive housed therein as well as the RAF's strike forces. Decision by the United Kingdom to produce the Lightning aircraft to bolster a rather inadequate air defense system is largely contingent upon the terms under which the United States will provide GENIE rockets.

As you know, arrangements exist whereby U.S. nuclear warheads stored in the United Kingdom may be made available for expenditure by RAF strike forces pursuant to mutually agreed operational plans and in accordance with joint decision by the two Governments. It is practicable in the case of the U.K. IRBM's and their bomber forces for the United States to retain full custody and control of the U.S. warheads allocated for these systems until you authorize their release and transfer.

These existing arrangements cannot be applied to the British interceptor aircraft because of the likelihood they may be required to take defensive action against hostile aircraft on very short notice before Presidential authorization for the transfer of weapons to the United Kingdom may be obtained. Accordingly, if the British aircraft are to have the sane operational capability as U. S. aircraft under the command of NORAD, authorization for the delivery of the weapons to U. K. personnel without maintaining the present degree of physical custody by U.S. personnel will be required. We believe that this can be accomplished within the scope of the law by means of your authorization of the use of atomic weapons by British forces under specified conditions, for air defense of the


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United Kingdom and the United States forces therein, together with a governmental agreement based on the following concepts:

(a) The United States will retain ownership to the weapons, including the right to evacuate or demolish them.

(b) The United States will maintain custody or the weapons at all times while they are on the ground, including the time when they are loaded on U. K. aircraft, and will authorize these weapons for carriage by U. K. military aircraft in flight only when the RAF has declared a state of alert based on criteria equivalent to criteria for a U.S. declaration of "Air Defense Readiness" or higher state of alert (either of which constitutes a state of maximum air readiness) and such state of alert is confirmed by USCINCEUR or higher authority.

(c) The United States will authorize expenditure of those weapons against a target when the RAF has declared such target as "hostile" and this identification has been confirmed by USCINCEUR or his representative under the provision of rules of interception and engagement mutually agreed upon by the Government of the United States and the Government of the United Kingdom.

We recommend that you approve the attached authorization for expenditure and the negotiation of an agreement with the government of the United Kingdom based on the concepts set forth above.

If you approve this proposal and so desire, we will jointly inform the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy at such time as you deem appropriate.

Secretary of Defense

Secretary of State


Presidential Authorization for Expenditure of U.S. Atomic Weapons in Air Defense of U.K.


S/AE - Mr. Sullivan. L- Mr. Hager RA - Mr. Pessenden
S/AE - Mr. Farley/VBNA - Mr. Willoughby EUR - Mr. White

Concurred in by initials appearing on original M - Mr. Murphy of Memorandum for Secretary.

Drafted by:

OSD - Col. Shankle
S/AE – RFCourtney/PRutte
L/SFP - JPender

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Recognizing that the United States, in implementation of the North Atlantic Treaty and in accordance with bilateral agreements, has based important elements of its military forces in the United Kingdom, it is essential that the best possible air defense for the protection of these forces and Royal Air Force strike forces be provided.

Accordingly, I deem it necessary in the interest of national defense within the meaning of section 91b(1) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, that the use of U.S. air defense weapons incorporating atomic warheads be authorized in the air defense of the United Kingdom and U.S. forces therein by U. K. forces, in accordance with the concepts set forth in the joint memorandum of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to the President on this subject dated and such use is hereby authorized.

The foregoing authorization will come into effect when the necessary arrangements, including rules of interception and engagement, have been negotiated with the appropriate authorities of the United Kingdom by the Department of Defense in coordination with the Department of State and hare been submitted to and approved by the President.