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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Nuclear Proliferation

Documents on the history of nuclear proliferation, the arms race, and disarmament efforts. See also the related collections in the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project. (Image, US Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missile, US Army)

  • July 19, 1994

    Council of the European Union, 'Joint Action Regarding Preparation for the 1995 Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons'

    The EU Working Group on Non-Proliferation developed the first draft what later became the Council Decision 94/509/CFSP. The draft identified three decisions: to convince states outside the Treaty to join it; to encourage participation in the remaining Preparatory Committee meetings;and to build consensus for indefinite extension. The proposal was a so-called “A” Item, meaning that the Foreign Ministers would not even discuss it; they only were to approve it.

  • December 10, 1995

    State Department Telegram 28705 to US Embassy in India, 'Arrange Wisner-Varma Meeting on Testing Issue'

    Telegram instructing the Charges d'Affairs to arrange an urgent meeting between the United States Ambassador to India and the Indian Prime Minister's Pricipal Secretary to discuss American concerns that India will launch a nuclear test. The State Department was ready for a demarche to the Indian government to express “grave concerns” about the possibility of a test.

  • December 11, 1995

    State Department Telegram 285472 to US Embassy in Tokyo, 'ACDA Director Hollum’s Meeting with Japanese Officials'

    Talking points for Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director Hollum from the State Department. Hollum was instructed to “urge” the Japanese to convey their concern to the government of India and “strong opposition [to] any such tests.” The State Department did not want to make any public statements about the situation because that “would be counterproductive,” that is, it would tip the U.S.’s hand Japan to tell Tokyo to voice its concerns over the possible Indian Nuclear Test to New Delhi.

  • December 11, 1995

    Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Memorandum by Robert S. Rochlin, 'Implications of an Indian Nuclear Weapons Test'

    Memo from senior scientist at the ACDA, Robert S. Rochlin, discussing the possible serious political and diplomatic consequences of India launching a nuclear test. In the event that Roa had made a decision to test, the United States did not have enough a“leverage” to encourage a policy reversal or to prevent a regional arms race; Washington would need to organize a “concerted intervention by all the major states.”

  • December 12, 1995

    Email, ITAIN Division Reports to Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee, CTB, Nuke, 'Indian Nuclear Update'

    Email from ITAIN Division to Reports to the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee regarding the state of India's nuclear reactors. Directed to the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee, the message provides a glimmer of the intelligence watch over the Indian nuclear test site. At least two sites were under observation, one where the mysterious cables had been rearranged, and the other where there was much “personnel activity.” The meaning of the acronym "ITAIN" is presently unknown.

  • December 13, 1995

    Email, ITAIN Division to South Asian Romp n’ Stomp, 'India Update – 19951213'

    Email from ITAIN Division to South Asian Romp n' Stomp regarding the state of cables at an Indian nuclear facility. According to this message, the cable at the test site had changed its shape again, from a thick cable to two smaller connected cables. The “Stemming pile” is a reference to the mound of dirt that would cover the test device once it had been placed in the hole. The meaning of the acronym "ITAIN" is presently unknown, as it the jokey reference to “South Asian Romp n’ Stomp.”

  • December 15, 1995

    Draft State Department Telegram to US Embassy Beijing, 'Possible Indian Nuclear Test'

    The State Department writes to Islamabad urging Pakistan to not react if in fact India chooses to launch a nuclear test. On 15 December the New York Times published a story by Tim Weiner, under the headline “US Suspects India Prepares to Conduct Nuclear Test.” While some Indian journalists and policy experts were convinced that the story was a US government plant, Weiner had simply used due diligence in pursuing a lead from a non-government expert on nuclear proliferation issues. Worried that the story would exacerbate regional tensions by encouraging Pakistan to “act in a manner that jeopardizes our nonproliferation efforts in South Asia,” the Department wanted to enlist the Chinese to encourage the Pakistanis to “exercise restraint in response to these reports.”

  • December 15, 1995

    Talking Points, State Department, South Asian Regional Affairs, 'Additional Testimony and Q’s and A’s for Congressional Briefing'

    State Department talking points for analyzing the issue of a potential Indian Nuclear Test. These talking points review the state of play after Ambassador Wisner’s demarche to the Indian Foreign Ministry. Recognizing Prime Minister Rao’s cautiousness, US government officials did not believe that he had made a decision to test, but they were aware that he was under great pressure to do so. Therefore, the U.S. government was working with allies, encouraging them “to urge India not to test.” Parallel discussions were taking place with the Pakistanis over the production of enriched uranium over above the 3 to five 5 percent level that could be used to fuel nuclear reactors. The Pakistanis were denying that they were producing highly enriched uranium but intelligence reports suggested that they were contemplating such action or had already begun the process.

  • December 15, 1995

    Email, ITAIN Division to South Asian Romp n’ Stomp, 'India Update 19951215'

    A subsequent email from ITAIN Division to South Asian Romp n' Stomp regarding the state of cables at an Indian nuclear facility. US government observers were perplexed (“clear as mud”) by what they saw at the test site—the cables looked different, perhaps because the satellite photography had been taken at a different angle, and the National Photographic Intelligence Center (NPIC) was not sure what the explanation was. At Drill Site 3, where much activity had previously been observed, “lotsa trucks and folks” were busy and a “probable satellite television truck” had been deployed. One wit observed that that was for MTV viewing on “long lonely nights.” An alternative interpretation is that the analysts were seeing a digital communications system using small dishes that could send encrypted messages via satellite. The meaning of the acronym "ITAIN" is presently unknown, as it the jokey reference to “South Asian Romp n’ Stomp.

  • January 19, 1996

    State Department Telegram 008785 to US Embassy India, 'CTBT Letter from the President: India-Specific Talking Points'

    A State Department telegram outlining talking points on why supporting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was in India's best interest. As it became evident that Rao was not going to make a decision to test, President Clinton resumed pressure for Indian support for the CTBT by signing off on a letter to Rao about the test ban. The State Department sent the Embassy talking points about the value of Indian support for the CTBT for Ambassador Wisner to use when delivering the Clinton letter.

  • January 24, 1996

    State Department Telegram 012545 to Intsum Collective, 'Intsum: India: Nuclear Test Unlikely'

    Provides an overview of preparations for the nuclear test as well as a discussion on the pressures weighing on Indian Prime Minister Rao to launch the test. Prepared by one of INR’s South Asia experts, Steven Ghitelman, it provides an overview of the test site preparations that began in November and decided described Prime Minister Rao as facing pressures to test from the BJP and from the nuclear establishment. The pressures were not insurmountable because other considerations were important, such as avoiding international sanctions, continuing steps toward economic liberalization, and pressures to support the CTBT. Ghitelman concluded that it would be “vintage Rao” for him to allow the scientists to prepare for a test “while not authorizing them to conduct one.” That is what happened.

  • July 08, 1996

    Email, Caroline Russell, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, to Lawrence Schein, Robert Rochlin, et al

    Caroline Russell of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) discusses how the Indian program is not yet ready for a test and that pressure for one is more politically than technically motivated.

  • August 12, 1996

    US Embassy in New Delhi Telegram 9250 to State Department, 'Ambassador’s Meeting with Opposition Leader'

    Report on US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner's meeting with Indian Opposition Leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and halting any nuclear test. The Ambassador found the meeting unproductive. The CTBT was central to the discussion but it was evident that Vajpayee was not interested and his “body language” indicated that he was inclined to favor a nuclear test. During one point in the discussion, Vajpayee asked, “What if we start underground tests?” According to the embassy’s message, “we interpret his question about testing as indicating that [he] and the BJP would favor a test” and would not be persuaded by U.S. arguments—“reason”—to forego one.

  • November 01, 1996

    Email, Caroline Russell to Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Staff, 'Priority: India Nuclear Debate – Comments from Raja'

    Caroline Russell emails her staff at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency regarding Raja Ramanna's recent statements regarding the state of India's nuclear program. Ramanna was the Director of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and was quoted in the Times of India stating that India already had a capability which did not need to be tested.

  • November 30, 2001

    Military Intelligence Digest Supplement, US Defense Intelligence Agency, 'Iraq: Procuring Possible Nuclear-Related Gas Centrifuge Equipment'

    This DIA article briefly describes Iraq’s effort to procure aluminum tubes from 1986 to 1991 and discusses the potential for their use for conventional military purposes.

  • September 13, 2002

    Technical Intelligence Note, US Department of Energy, Office of Intelligence, 'Iraq: Recent Aluminum Tube Procurement Efforts'

    Although the Department of Energy dissented against other Departments' opinions on the Iraqi aluminum tubes its intelligence office went along with the prevailing view that Iraq was trying to “rejuvenate” its nuclear program.